Bradford - Sacred Heart

Old Road, Bradford

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A modest example of a village church, designed in traditional style by Charles Simpson, and with a little altered interior with intact sanctuary fittings.

The village of Thornton grew in the second half of the 19th century as employment in farming and hand-loom weaving was replaced by work in the large textile mills owned by Joshua Craven. Mass was first celebrated on Commercial Street in 1922 by Fr Joseph MacMacMahon, parish priest at St William’s. The site of the present church was acquired by him in 1930 and the church opened by Bishop Cowgill in 1931. Sacred Heart was established as a parish in 1938, with Fr Backhouse the first parish priest.

Thornton lies in the hills 5 miles west of Bradford. The church is surrounded by inter-war housing, part of the village’s 20th century expansion. The grassy church yard is bounded by a low stone wall to the street with triangular copings and steel gates, and a yellow brick parish hall and parking to the rear.

The compact church is faced in coursed local sandstone, with nave and chancel under one roof, covered in Welsh slates and with coped stone verges with cross finials. Cast- iron rain water gutters are at the eaves. The chancel is expressed by a small stone bellcote carried up above the south wall, in line with the chancel arch, with one lancet on the south wall. The nave is lit by four trefoiled lancets on each side, with concrete surrounds. The main entrance is via a flat-roofed porch on the south side, with double timber doors, probably original. The east gable of the chancel has a recessed arched panel with a 2-light plate tracery pointed window. The stone-faced flat-roofed vestry to the north has a lean-to porch with steps on its east side, and a post-war extension on its west side. The west gable is lit by one lancet.

Internally, the church has been little altered with the sanctuary and nave fittings apparently all original. The walls are plain plastered with a painted boarded barrel- vaulted ceiling to the nave. The small sanctuary has a simply moulded pointed arch, with carpeted steps. The nave floor is oak parquet below the pews, with red quarry tiles to circulation areas. The plain pews are pine. The font at the west end is a circular bowl on a column, said to be from a North Yorkshire Anglican church. The oak sanctuary fittings include dado panelling and a Gothic-style communion rail, with a richly carved oak reredos and altar in Gothic-style, the latter inscribed Ferdinand Stuflesser, Italy. Side altars, also in oak, to St Joseph and Our Lady.

Diocese: Leeds

Architect: E. Simpson & Son

Original Date: 1931

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed