Leeds - St Gregory the Great

Swarcliffe Drive, Leeds 14

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Built in 1970 from designs by the Liverpool architects L.A.G. Prichard & Son, to serve the Swarcliffe housing estate. On plan the church forms a square within an octagon. The primary significance of the building lies not so much in its architectural form, which is unremarkable for its time, but more in the quality and extent of its internal fitting out. Of particular note is the stained glass by Jerzy Faczynski and the ceramic reliefs by Adam Kossowski, both of whom worked for the Liverpool architects  Weightman  &  Bullen  on  such  major  commissions  as  St Mary’s, Leyland.

In 1954 Fr Tom Moriarty, parish priest at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, bought land for a new church to serve the Swarcliffe estate. On 11 October 1956 a dual function church/hall (the present parish hall) was opened by Bishop Heenan. This seated 350 at Mass and was built by Spooners of Hull at a cost of £11,500. The presbytery was built in 1960.

Work started on a separate, purpose built church in April 1969. The architects were the Liverpool firm of L.A.G. Prichard and the contractor J. Allison. Built to seat 335 at a cost of £46,291, the church was opened by Bishop Wheeler on 12 March 1970. At this point the dual purpose church and hall became a parish hall.

In 1974 the parish boundary was altered to include new development at Whinmoor (formerly within the parish of Our Lady of Good Counsel). In 1978 Leeds City Council made  a  plot  of  land  available  for  £2,625  and  a  chapel  of  ease  seating  300  and dedicated to St Margaret Clitheroe was built in 1981 at a cost of £140,000, from designs by the Vis Williams Partnership. The chapel of ease was closed in 2006. In 1994 the altar rails at St Gregory’s were removed as part of works carried out for the church’s Golden Jubilee.

On plan, the church is an octagon within a square, with a butterfly roof sweeping up to apexes at each of the cardinal points. At these points the corners are truncated to form the octagon. The exterior is clad in purple brick laid in Flemish bond, with rubble stone-faced projections for the entrances on the west front and to baptistry (north side) and to low flat-roofed link with presbytery (south side). Deeply recessed windows above the entrances and between these, a simple cross mounted on the plain brickwork. Ground to eaves glazing at the mid-way point on the north and south sides; east of this on the north side, 14 asymmetrically-placed square openings with projecting pre-cast concrete frames, housing stained glass.  On the east elevation there is a large area of glazing in the apex, again housing stained glass.  White painted eaves and lead roof.

The  interior  is  a single space,  with  steel  posts  at  the  four  corners  and  a  timber boarded roof rising gently to the centre and subdivided by quadripartite ribs.   The interior is faced in bare brickwork and is laid out on the diagonal axis, the truncated eastern point of which forms a three-sided sanctuary. This is dominated by a large stained glass window by the Polish artist-architect Jerzy Faczynski. By Faczynski also is the stained glass panel in the baptistery (located in a white mosaic-clad re-entrant to the left of the sanctuary) and the 14 Stations of the Cross in the asymmetrically- arranged square openings on the north nave wall. Other furnishings of note include ceramic reliefs of St Gregory and Our Lady by Adam Kossowski, placed over side altars on the north and south sides respectively, and semi-abstract glass panels fixed to the walls in the baptistery and Blessed Sacrament chapel. The latter is a triangular top-lit re-entrant, echoing the form of the baptistery, and gives off the sanctuary on the south side, with a handsome incised gilt tabernacle and gold and white mosaic walls.

There is a simple stone altar and carpeted sanctuary; the church retains its original plain benches. There is a second, more conventional set of Stations of the Cross mounted on the north wall around the Faczynski Stations.

Diocese: Leeds

Architect: L. A. G. Prichard & Son

Original Date: 1970

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed