Ackworth - Our Lady of Lourdes

Barnsley Road, Ackworth Hill Top, Wakefield, West Yorkshire

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A cruciform, simple brick building given external interest by the use of cast stone modern tracery to the windows. The interior is plain and has been marred by the introduction of a suspended ceiling.

From  1918,  Fr  Broderick  based   in  Fitzwilliam  and   then  Kinsley,   said   Mass occasionally at the Grange in Ackworth. At the founding of the parish of Ackworth and Kinsley in 1920, Eagle House was bought in High Ackworth and a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes. In 1937, the parish was re-founded as Kinsley with Ackworth and a new church and presbytery built in Kinsley.Our Lady of Lourdes was then built at Ackworth Crossroads (now Hill Top) in 1939, about two miles southwest of High (and Low) Ackworth villages.  It was a developing community and is now bigger than the two villages combined (and still growing).Probably in the early 1970s, a low ceiling was introduced into the church and some re-ordering undertaken. Some further re-ordering was undertaken and new lighting installed in the early 1990s. The church remained a chapel of ease to Kinsley until 2004 when both were incorporated into Hemsworth parish and served by the priest resident there.

Our Lady of Lourdes is built on a north/south axis parallel to the Barnsley Road, but liturgical compass points are used throughout this report.

This cruciform plan church is built of red brick with cast stone detailing and a pitched pantiled roof. There is no foundation stone and the author has not discovered the name of the architect, but some details suggest Charles E Fox (soldier courses up the gables, the raised brick cross in the east wall and the tripartite window to the south transept). It is certainly a more architecturally accomplished building than the simple church  erected at Kinsley the previous year  (presumably for  the same priest)  by Empsall, Clarkson & Clarke.

The tall windows of the three bay nave have cast stone tree-like tracery and metal framed glazing set on the inside face of the deep brickwork openings. (Unfortunately, all the tracery is obscured externally by sheets of polycarbonate). The north ‘transept’ is not open to the nave, but is in fact a flat roofed single storey block containing a confessional (west half) and the sacristy (east). The eastern external sacristy doorway has been bricked up. Above the two labelled internal doors with painted surrounds there is a glazed roundel with cruciform cast stone tracery, now cut in two by the inserted ceiling. The south transept is open to the nave – though the opening is also cut in half by the ceiling – with a simplified Venetian window in its south wall, also with tree-like cast stone tracery and decorative metal framed glass. Externally there is a triangular headed niche in the gable above the window, with a modern white- painted stone statue of Our Lady placed on a projecting platform painted blue like the back of the niche. The gable cross is missing. The east wall of the transept contains a large internal altar niche that projects externally as a square block. Between it and the chancel rises a brick chimney from the underground boiler chamber beneath.

The west end has a stepped flat topped gable wall rising above the pitched nave roof. Its gable cross is also missing, but the substantial decorated base survives, over a stone cross (instead of a west window), that appears to be a recent insert. It was perhaps like the raised brick cross of the east wall? There is no west door, but a single storey five sided apse, designed as a baptistery but now used as an area for serving refreshments. There are three small square headed windows. Its internal round arch (the apex also cut off by the ceiling) is flanked by round headed altar niches.   The main  entrance  is  from  the  southwest  flat  roofed  porch,  up  three  stairs  with  the original iron rails and double panelled wooden door set within a carefully detailed cast stone surround.

The chancel has three nearly square windows with metal framed glazing to north and south, but no east window; the original altar sanctuary extends enough to allow a small side window to each side. As the external east gable has no soldier course and does not rise above the pitched roof like the other gables, it has possibly been reduced (perhaps when the present pantiled roof was put on?); the present terracotta Victorian-style cross at the apex is clearly not original.

The internal space is made low and almost oppressive by the suspended ceiling. There is a continuous painted inscription (gold letters on white) running around the whole interior. The eastern apse of the south transept containing a statue of Our Lady is  covered  with  mainly  blue  mosaics  by  Father  Bill  Burtoft  of  c.1990-95.  The sanctuary furniture is recent, with the shadows of the hanging crucifix creating a dramatic backdrop to the big wooden altar.

Diocese: Leeds

Architect: possibly C. E. Fox

Original Date: 1939

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed