Bath Road, Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire
A fine example of a Catholic church in the Byzantine style fashionable in the wake of the building of Westminster Cathedral. Fr John O’Connor, who later built the liturgically-pioneering church of the First Martyrs, Bradford (qv) contributed significantly to the cost of construction.
The first parish priest for Heckmondwike was appointed in 1870 and a school-chapel was built on the present school site in 1873. In 1905 Fr John O’Connor was appointed parish priest. Educated in France and Rome, he took up an existing proposal to build a separate parish church. A site next to the school containing a house known as ‘Fieldhead’ was purchased in 1911 and the foundation stone of a new church, designed by the Dewsbury architect Charles Fox, was laid in June 1914. It is said that Fr O’Connor helped to raise funds for the building works by selling his personal collection of works of art. Apparently the original intention was that the new church should have a central altar (an aspiration that Fr O’Connor later realised at the pioneering church of the First Martyrs, Bradford), but in the event the altar was placed conventionally in the eastern arm of the building.
The central dome is supported on four sturdy columns of Swedish blue marble. The high altar of brown and block marble with its ciborium on columns of green Swedish granite was given in 1933 by Mr P. Meechan and designed by C. E. Fox. Of the three small round windows behind the altar, those to right and left were apparently given by Edward Burne-Jones, who was a friend of Father O’Connor. The church was redecorated in 1957, at which date the present benches were installed in the body of the church and the present front door installed, together with mosaic panel above.
Alternatively known as: Holy Spirit RC Church, CEMETERY ROAD, Heckmondwicke. Roman Catholic church, with minor late C20 alterations. 1914-15. Red brick with grey faience dressings and slate roofs. Byzantine Revival style, latin cross plan. West front has central doorway altered late C20, with double doors and wooden surround topped by a decorated cornice, and above a faience panel inscribed DOMINO PARACLETO. Doorway stands within wide round arch with moulded impost band and 7 circular windows. Either side slightly set back aisles each with a round headed light lancet in faience surround with linking cill band. North and south facades have central transept windows. Each in a large round arch with 3 round headed and graduated lights, with columns between. Aisles to west each have single round headed lancets and those to the east each have two similar lancets, all linked by cill band. The east end has 3 blind apses. Central dome has octagonal brick drum. Each face has a small round headed lancet linked by cill bands. Shallow copper dome surmounted by a cross finial.
INTERIOR has wide nave and transepts with square central space supported on 4 polished marble columns with plain cushion capitals, linking round arches above have moulded plaster cornices with triangular spandrels to circular drum with 8 round headed windows. Apses to nave and each side aisle. Elegant wooden pews. Octagonal stone font. West gallery has panelled front and later organ. Simple geometric patterned stained glass in most windows. This church was built for Father John O’Connor, who contributed liberally to its construction.
Original Date: 1914
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: II