Building » Harrogate – Our Lady Immaculate and St Robert

Harrogate – Our Lady Immaculate and St Robert

Robert Street, Harrogate, North Yorkshire

A muscular red brick essay in French thirteenth century Gothic, typical of the work of Goldie & Child. The original sanctuary arrangements have been largely lost, but the interior retains its original volumes and a number of furnishings of interest.

Attempts were made to build a church in Harrogate from 1838. Initially it was Dom Hampson OSB, the head of the mission at St Mary’s in Knaresborough, who approached Bishop Briggs about the need for a new chapel. Harrogate was increasing in popularity as a spa town and during the summer months Catholic visitors were seeking out a place of worship. In 1842 over £100 was raised to fund the building of new church in the town. Two separate schemes were put forward but there was opposition from the Anglican vicar of Harrogate and nothing came of either. In 1861 the newly-appointed Fr Francis Goldie rented a room in the Crescent Hotel, and the first Mass was said on 26 May 1861 by Canon Chadwick from nearby Allerton Park; the small wooden altar table said to have been used  is preserved in the present church. In 1863 this informal chapel was moved to another hotel, The Somerset in Parliament Street. The congregation was increasing rapidly, boosted by visitors and the growing number of Irish workers employed on the construction of the North Eastern Railway station. In 1864 Fr Goldie purchased a plot of land at the far end of Station Parade, near The Stray. He commissioned his brother, the architect George Goldie, to design a day school and presbytery on the site; initially the school was used as a chapel. In 1868 he acquired the land next to the school and George Goldie drew up plans for a church with an estimated cost of £3,500. Work began in 1871 and the church was opened by Bishop Cornthwaite in the presence of Cardinal Manning on the 5 June 1873.

In 1906, Fr Saxton enlarged the presbytery, and  in 1908 a Lady Chapel was added from designs by the Leeds architect W. H. H. Marten. The church was consecrated in 1930. The school was demolished 1969, and replaced with the current car park. A scheme for the reordering of the church was also carried out at this time by Weightman & Bullen, involving the creation of a narthex, new confessionals and work to the sanctuary.


See also list description, below. This describes the interior only very briefly. Entry is via a modern narthex, formed under the (liturgical) west organ gallery.  Inside the immediate impression is one of a lofty aisled-church with an open arch-braced roof. The nave is of five bays with arcaded side aisles supported on circular red stone pillars with water-leaf capitals. The central aisle is flanked by rows of plain wooden pews. The arcading continues through to the sanctuary where the capitals are carved with figurative detail. Raised up by two steps, edged by twentieth century marble communion rails which replaced the original brass ones, the sanctuary was reordered in 1969-70 by Weightman & Bullen. The floor has been entirely resurfaced in white polished marble which runs through to the two side chapels. A stone forward altar has also been installed. The (liturgical) east end wall is pierced by a rose window with glass depicting the Agnus Dei, flanked by two smaller circular windows and, lower down, four lancets.

The church contains many fine stained glass windows by Lavers & Westlake, mostly the result of private bequests and dating to the 1890s. The 1908 Lady Chapel contains a highly elaborate altar with carved stone reredos showing Our Lady flanked by angels and decorated with lilies. This chapel was designed by W.H.H. Marten of Leeds and originally had three shrines; the two recesses now house separate small rooms and a modern glazed roof has been added. The chapel was built in memory of Mr James Mollin and the communion rails added in 1916 in memory of Hilda Mary Walker.

List description (church and presbytery)


Roman catholic church with presbytery and repository. 1864, 1879 by Goldie and Child, altered 1906 by Marten of Leeds. Red brick with ashlar dressings and welsh slate roofs with coped gables and kneelers. Gothic revival style. Church has nave and aisles with a short square tower to the north-east. Nave has 12 lancets to the clerestory on the west and 11 on the east. The irregular aisles have some similar lancets. Main front has projecting gabled porch with C20 double doors, flanked on either side by a single lancet. Above 4 tall lancets with pink stone shafts and carved capitals, with between a central buttress. Above a single central shaft with small lancets on either side. This gable topped with an ashlar bellcote with spire. To the right the square tower with ashlar bands, it is topped with a saddle-back roof with 2 bell openings on each facade. Attached to the right an ashlar pointed archway which links to the presbytery.

Presbytery, 2 storeys and attic, with ashlar sill and hood bands. The gabled south front has a 2 storey canted bay window with 3 plain sashes to each floor. Canted comer turret with a single lancet to each face. East front has 2 canted bay windows under a single lean-to roof, above 2 pairs of sashes and a small dormer. Return angle has a large sash on the ground floor and a tripartite window above with hipped dormer. Repository to east has 3 window south front, with central doorway and overlight flanked by single sashes with 3 similar sashes above, and then 3 hipped dormers above. The rounded east end has 2 sashes on the ground floor and a single sash above.

Interior; has 5 bay arcades, the northern two sub-divided within the chancel, all with circular columns and water-leaf capitals. The original wooden roof survives, now painted white, with similar side aisle roofs. A wooden gallery with pews and an ornate organ to the south. Ornate Victorian side aisle chapels, original pews and stained glass.

Heritage Details

Architect: Goldie & Child

Original Date: 1873

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Grade II