Building » Bradford – St Patrick

Bradford – St Patrick

Sedgefield Terrace, Bradford 1

The second Catholic church to be built in Bradford, and the oldest one still in use. With the associated convent and schools it forms part of a dense urban church group. Architecturally, the church and presbytery are good examples of mid- Victorian Gothic design by George Goldie, who was born in York and designed many Catholic churches in Yorkshire and elsewhere.  They make a strong statement on Westgate; the convent and schools less so. The quality of the interior of the church has been eroded by the re-ordering and re-decoration of the early 1970s, but some notable fittings survive in situ.

The area around Westgate, on the northwest edge of Bradford, grew rapidly during the mid 19th century, with an influx of Irish immigrants to work in the mills. St Patrick’s was founded by Canon Thomas Harrison, from St Mary’s (the first Catholic church in Bradford, originally built in 1824-5). Local anti-Catholic feeling was such that it was necessary to conduct the transaction in the greatest secrecy, employing two intermediaries. The sellers, Misses Mary and Elizabeth Rawson, were later furious to discover that the land they sold in 1850 was to be used for a Catholic church.

The new church was opened on 13 July 1853 by Bishop Briggs. St Patrick’s was established as a separate parish in 1855. The interior of the church was not fully fitted until the 1860s, under Canon Scruton, who added the south porch (1869) and presbytery (1866). The interior was re-decorated with stencilling and the Lady Chapel re-ordered to his memory; he died in 1887. The church was finally consecrated in 1903 when the debt from construction was settled, at the church’s Golden Jubilee. The convent was first established in 1869, before moving to a new building adjoining the church in the later 19th century, and the 2-storey, L-plan school (Scruton Memorial Schools) was built in 1892 for 800 children, designed by Edward Simpson. Internal re-ordering in response to Vatican II was undertaken by Canon Coghlan between 1968 and 1972.

The church complex is set in an inner city area, now surrounded by business and industry, on a dense grid of streets along the south side of Westgate. The open area on the opposite side of Westgate was the site of the hospital; there is a mosque close by.

There is a World War I memorial set on the side wall of the presbytery; the statue of St Patrick is missing from the corner of Westgate/Sedgefield Terrace. The liturgical east end of the church is orientated to the north; liturgical compass points will be used here. The 6-bay nave has a pointed arcade on octagonal and cylindrical piers, with carved stone statues of the twelve apostles between arches. The chancel has a 3-bay hammerbeam roof, with remains of the 1880s painted scheme on the walls. The Caen stone Lady Chapel altar dates from 1867 and the Gothic oak parclose screen was installed after 1887, designed by Dunn, Hansom and Dunn of Newcastle. The lean-to aisle ceilings are covered in modern boarding, with the 1880s stencilled polychrome decoration visible in places. The fine east window is by Hardman of Powell and Hardman, installed in 1871 to the memory of Fr Lynch. The Nicholson pipe organ was first erected in the west gallery, moved to the southeast organ loft in 1902. Liturgical fittings in the chancel and the glazed screen below the west gallery are 1970s. There are late 19th century brass wall memorials to the Fattorini, Farrell and Foster families. The 1903 account by Canon Earnshaw indicates that the interior was richly decorated and finished prior to the 1970s re-ordering and over-painting.

Average total Mass attendance on Sunday is 200, with up to 50 people on a weekday; the majority of people travel from outside the parish. The parish has declined in recent years with changing demographics in this part of the Bradford and a growing Muslim community. There is no longer a hall or primary school associated with the church; the latter closed in 1990. A small community of Franciscan friars of the Renewal live in the former convent, now called St Pio Friary; they run a soup kitchen. The attached former school is occupied by a community furniture project. The parish does not have the funds to tackle the repairs and adaptations required to the buildings.

Heritage Details

Architect: George Goldie

Original Date: 1852

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: II