Bingley - Sacred Heart

Crownest Lane, Bingley, Bradford 16

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Attractive group of church, former school and presbytery that fits well into the Victorian street scene; the buildings are of local interest.

Bingley, a Pennine town with medieval church, grew in the 19th century with workers’ housing and mills built alongside the river Aire and Leeds-Liverpool canal. Proposals for a Mass centre in Bingley were first put forward by in 1863 by Fr Connell, priest at Keighley, although from 1863 Bingley was served as a mission from St Patrick’s Bradford, under Fr Herbert Walker. The latter first celebrated Mass at the Fleece Hotel in Bingley in 1869, later acquiring a building in York Street. Fr Edmund de Thury acquired the site at Crownest Lane, in the 1870s. The first parish priest was Fr Puissant, who built the present chapel and former school buildings, from designs by Edward Simpson. The church was opened on 11 May 1880 by Bishop Cornthwaite, dedicated to the Sacred Heart. The presbytery was added later in the 1880s by the next priest, Fr Alfred Watson. The growth of the local Catholic community led Fr John Hawkswell to build a new church at Cross Flatts in 1940, and with adjacent parishes, land for a new secondary school was bought in Cottingley in 1948, where Mass was said in the school chapel. The current Cottingley church was built in 1997. The school attached to Sacred Heart closed and was replaced by new buildings at St Joseph’s primary school, built on former allotments to the southeast of Sacred Heart church in the 1970s.

The Victorian suburb of Crow Nest developed on the steeply sloping hillside on the east of the Aire valley, overlooking the town. Crownest Lane climbs steeply from the valley floor, lined with stone-built late 19th century terraced workers’ housing, an attractive Pennine town setting. The church is built across the slope on a corner site, with the former school playground to the east. The temporary buildings in the playground are used by the day nursery. The whole site is bounded by sandstone walls with copings.

The liturgical east end of the church is orientated to the west end of the building; this description will use liturgical compass points. The building is built across the slope so that the former school rooms are on the lower ground floor beneath the church, which is entered by a porch on the upper level. The L-plan group incorporates church in one arm and presbytery in the other, with schoolroom at the angle. The church is built of snecked sandstone, with nave and chancel under one roof, covered with Welsh slates, with coped verges and cast-iron eaves gutters. The single-storey porch against the west gable has a hipped roof and side doorway with square chamfered stone surround. The nave has five pointed windows to each side, with 3-light leaded timber hopper windows. The east gable end overlooking Crownest Lane has four lancets at first floor level. The Lady Chapel is expressed by a double-gabled transept on the north side of the narrow chancel. Below the church, the former school room has large flat-headed timber windows with relieving arches facing Crownest Lane, with 2-light windows to the return. The gabled porch to the lower ground floor on the street corner served the girls’ entrance, with lavatories in a gabled single-storey building. The former boys’ entrance was via a tunnel on the Crownest Lane frontage, now with 20th century glazed screen. The 2-storey presbytery attached to the left of the Crownest Lane elevation has a gabled frontage with sash windows.

The plain interior of the church has an exposed 5-bay roof with scissor trusses. Walls are plain-plastered. The 1889 west gallery has a plain pine front, and a timber glazed screen below was installed in the 1970s, creating a narthex. The baptistery was originally below the gallery, but is now at the southeast corner, in an area formerly used as the sacristy and vestry. Screens were removed from this area in c.2002 to create one large space, the altar rail removed and the whole of the east end carpeted. The abstract stained glass in the east window was installed in c.2002, a gift of the McKean family. The liturgical fittings are all modern; the grey marble forward altar dates from 1973. The Lady Chapel reredos appears to be a re-used chimney piece oak overmantel, possibly from the presbytery. The Stations of the Cross are oil paintings on canvas in timber frames.

Diocese: Leeds

Architect: Edward Simpson

Original Date: 1880

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed