Bradford- St Anthony of Padua

Bradford Road, Clayton, Bradford, West Yorkshire

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An interesting Post War church by a firm of architects who specialised in Catholic churches. Not however nationally significant and compromised by the removal of the original steel ‘tower’ and by the replacement of windows in UPVC.

Clayton, a village west of Bradford, has long since been absorbed both visually and administratively into the city. In 1940 a chapel-of-ease was set up in the village and in 1947 the Diocese purchased the Lidget Grange estate on the Bradford Road east of the village. The upper floor of a barn on the estate was converted in 1948, becoming St Anthony’s in 1950. The estate was sold to the Franciscan Sisters of Littlehampton and a new school was opened in 1954. Mass was said in the school until a permanent church could be built on land between the convent and the school. An initial, and ambitious, design was drawn up by Peter Langtry-Langton (then a fourth year architectural student) and published in the Catholic Building Review (Northern edition). This was too expensive and Peter’s father, Jack, redesigned the church. The job was run by Arthur Harrison. St Anthony’s was opened on 27 July 1961.

The church has the altar facing north but in this section all references will be to conventional orientation, i.e. as if the altar faced east.

St Anthony’s consists of a broad and short nave, north aisle and sanctuary. The roof is distinctive with a long low pitch rising eastward over the nave and then dropping down over the sanctuary. The high altar was originally set in a shallow eastward projection under a squat  tower.  The church  is built  of  brick with  full-height  slit windows and small rhombus-shaped windows high up, with diagonal glazing bars. The west front has the main entrance with a cantilevered hood, a three-light window above and, to the right, a recessed panel of stonework with a crucifix set in at high level. This part was originally the base of an open steelwork ‘tower’ removed in the early 1970s due to maintenance problems. To the left is a statue incised in shallow relief on a corbel. Secondary entrance set back on the north side into the north aisle. The short rectangular tower-like projection over the altar has tall three-light windows to the sides and a blind window to the east with a cross superimposed over it.

The interior is broad and spacious, the main space uninterrupted by columns. The structural posts are expressed internally, supporting an immense origami-like roof of pyramid forms. The westernmost bay has a gallery extending over two thirds of the width of the nave with a timber and glazed screen below separating off the entrance area.  Sanctuary  arch  of  almost  flat  form  with  curved  corners,  more  like  the proscenium arch of a theatre. The sanctuary is boldly lit from the sides and from above. The east wall has a crucifix set against a wall of large rectangular panels (removable) with brass margin strips, originally covered in green baize cloth, part of the re-ordering by Peter Langtry-Langton of c.1974. Blessed Sacrament chapel (originally Lady Chapel) with the altar built-in and with full-height fins which enclose a mosaic designed by Peter Langtry-Langton and made by Andrews of Leeds (also part  of  the  re-ordering).  Stained  glass  by  John  A.  Dean  (c1957-2007).  Polished Hopton Wood stone communion rails of simple bold form. A section has been removed and the stone used to form brackets for statues and two credence tables. Contemporary light fittings and pews in the nave. The main altar also dates from the re-ordering. The north aisle is broad and, together with the chapel, has a four-bay arcade to the nave. Veined black marble font of unusual form to the right of the sanctuary but originally in the baptistery under the west gallery.

Diocese: Leeds

Architect: J. H. Langtry-Langton

Original Date: 1930

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed