Green Hammerton, York, North Yorkshire
A late eighteenth century village Congregational chapel which underwent a liturgically advanced remodelling after acquisition for the Catholic parish of Our Lady, Acomb in 1961. The church sits in a small burial ground and is at the heart of a conservation area.
In 1870 a small Catholic chapel holding 150 was built at Nun Monkton, the next village to Green Hammerton, where a ferry linked villages on both sides of the Rivers Nidd and Ouse. This chapel was closed in 1949 and later demolished, and Mass was held in Green Hammerton Reading Room.
In 1961 the parish of Our Lady, Acomb purchased the former Congregational chapel in Green Hammerton for £325. This had originally been built in 1797, with an internal gallery added in 1801. In 1902 the lean-to porch was rebuilt with a gabled roof. At the same time a lean-to Sunday school addition was built at the rear.
After its acquisition by the Diocese of Leeds (in which it then lay), the architect Derek Walker of Walker and Biggin (Leeds) was invited to convert the chapel for Catholic use. Walker had recently (1959) undertaken an ambitious reordering of the church of Our Lady of Lourdes at Leeds, and was at that time undertaking a remodelling of St Augustine, Harehills. His work at Green Hammerton was to a tighter budget, but is liturgically no less adventurous. He redesigned the interior in a fashion which owed little either to the Nonconformist origins of the building or to traditional Catholic arrangements. A simple wooden altar was placed on the long axis in front of the (liturgical) north wall, with seating (chairs, not pews) arranged around this. The church was dedicated by Bishop Dwyer of Leeds on 20 August 1961.
More recently, Walker’s radical arrangement has been diluted by the removal of the altar to the conventional location at the liturgical east end and by the replacement of chairs with traditional pews, brought from the former Catholic chapel of ease at Minskip.
The church is orientated north-south, but this description follows conventional liturgical orientation.
A small chapel of three bays with a western porch. The longer south elevation faces towards The Green. Reddish-brown brick laid in an irregular bond, eaves and pantile roof, raised coping to west gable. The east end abuts the former manse (now in separate ownership). Later (1902) red brick and slate lean-to addition to the rear, housing the former Sunday school and now sacristy, kitchen etc. The south elevation has three large equal brick arches set within wider arched recesses. Arched window openings with later painted softwood joinery and opaque glazing. Central arch cut out at its apex and inset stone panel recording the opening of the chapel on 8 October 1797.
The west elevation has a gable pediment and arched window openings on either side of the porch, with a stone sundial just over the ridge, added in 1808. The brick porch has a pantile roof, and was altered or rebuilt in 1961, from which time dates the hardwood entrance door, the thin vertical strips very much a leitmotif of the Walker scheme.
The interior is 1960s in character (although later adapted). The very simple wooden truss roof is painted black, below which has been introduced a modern open timber structure, rising up towards, and with down stands and bronze light fittings over, the former altar area. Hardwood former reredos with slatted vertical timbers on the north wall, flanked by hessian-clad doors with bronze strip rails. These lead to sacristies, WCs, kitchen etc, housed in the former schoolroom area. There is also a cage of vertical timbers over the windows along the south wall, reducing the visual impact of the windows without sacrificing light.
The more recent adaptation of the chapel has involved the introduction of pitch pine pews facing towards a modern timber altar at the liturgical east end.
Architect: Not established; redesigned by Derek Walker
Original Date: 1961
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed