Building » Leyburn – St Peter and St Paul

Leyburn – St Peter and St Paul

Richmond Road, Leyburn, North Yorkshire

With its Georgian Gothick character, the church is perhaps old-fashioned for its date, after Catholic Emancipation and coinciding with the ascent of Puginian Gothic. Nevertheless, this is a very complete and unaltered building, and the box pews are a highly unusual and valuable survival in a Catholic chapel. The church, presbytery and school form a handsome group.  

Leyburn, like Ulshaw Bridge, was a Catholic mission founded by the Scrope family of Danby Hall, and the Scropes financed the building of the existing complex of chapel, presbytery and school.

A history and full description is provided in the list entries for the church and presbytery, which were revised and expanded, and the church upgraded to II*, in 2016 (following Taking Stock).

List descriptions



Summary: Church of 1835, built to a Georgian preaching box design. The interior is very unusual for a Roman Catholic church as it is furnished with box pews.

Reasons for Designation: The Roman Catholic church of St Peter and St Paul is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * Box pews: as a nationally rare example of a Roman Catholic church with well-surviving box pews, a style of seating more typical of C17 and C18 Anglican churches; * Architectural interest: as an elegant Georgian preaching box style of church, here employed for Catholic worship; * Historic interest: as one of the first wave of Roman Catholic churches built after the 1829 Catholic Emancipation Act and that the choice of architectural design was conservative and old fashioned for the 1830s; * Group value: with the attached presbytery and the school room forming the upper floor of the stables to the rear.

History: The church of St Peter and St Paul, with its presbytery and school room, was built in 1835-6 by the firm of Chapleo and Sons for about £2000. It was under the patronage of the Scrope family of Danby Hall, although it was probably mainly paid for by public subscription as Simon Thomas Scrope (1758-1838) had been made bankrupt in 1832. One of the major benefactors is believed to have been Frederick Riddell of Thornbrough Hall who owned the land. The church opened on 14th October 1835 and the school the following year. Church attendance recorded for Sunday March 30 1851 was 125 for the morning service and 50 in the afternoon; by 1868 the congregation had grown to over 200. The stained glass east window was designed by Louisa Cecilia Bolton, niece of the parish priest, when she was only 16 or 17 years old. It was restored in 2010 and extended to include the lower part of the window previously concealed by the reredos the upper part of which had been removed as part of the re-ordering of the sanctuary in the late C20. This re-ordering, which saw the removal of two side altars shown in an early photograph, also uncovered two original arched niches now used for statues.

Details: Roman Catholic church, 1835, built by the local firm of Chapleo and Sons. MATERIALS: principal, southern elevations of squared limestone rubble laid to courses with sandstone dressings; rubble stone without dressings to the rear, northern elevations; stone slate roof. PLAN: Georgian preaching box of three bays, orientated with the altar at the south east gable end. The sacristy is accommodated in the adjoining presbytery which is separately listed. EXTERIOR: is very simply detailed with a plain ashlar plinth, rusticated quoins and an eaves string course to the south east gable which is raised and coped with moulded stone, topped by a plain Latin cross. The opposite gable end has a small bellcote with ball finial. The entrance doorway and windows to the principal elevations have chamfered surrounds and simple hoodmoulds with stops shaped as shields. The east window is tall, with a two-centred arch with simple Y tracery. The side windows are similarly arched but have timber sash windows divided into small panes with glazing bars, those to the arched portion imitating intersecting tracery. The entrance is at the far northern end of the south west side wall. Scaring to the centre of the north west gable, which is otherwise blind, suggests the site of a previous entrance. The north eastern side wall is abutted by the presbytery (Grade II) and, to the rear, by a modern boiler room* and chimney* which is not of special interest. This elevation has a single window, which lights the gallery, which has a plain rubble stone surround, but retains a timber sash window similar to those of the southern side, with glazing bars imitating intersecting tracery.

INTERIOR: the northern half of the northern-most bay is partitioned off to form an entrance stair hall, the rest of the building forming a single undivided space, the sanctuary being merely defined by steps. The church retains a full complement of panelled box pews to both the ground floor and the small western gallery, excepting the centre of the gallery which is occupied by the organ. The panelling to the pews and the gallery front have beading imitating trefoil headed lancet windows. The walls are plastered, the east end being highlighted with a giant surround to the east window formed by triple shafts with acanthus-leaf capitals. This is flanked by giant, blind openings with ogee arches framing smaller arched niches with hoodmoulds. Openings to the side walls, those to the west mainly being blind, also have hoodmoulds. The ceiling is square panelled with gilt bosses in the form of Bottonée crosses.

STAINED GLASS: the windows are plain glazed except for the east window which has a polychrome, mainly geometric design, but incorporating figurative depictions of the Angel Gabriel and various saints.

FITTINGS: the stone high altar, including a tabernacle and low reredos, remains in situ. The free-standing altar incorporating a painting of the Last Supper* is modern, as are the other fittings* to the sanctuary and the confessional* sited under the western gallery, these modern items are not of special interest. The carved stone font, also set beneath the gallery, dates to 1875.

* Pursuant to s.1(5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that these aforementioned feature are not of special architectural or historic interest.


Websites: St Peter and St Paul Roman Catholic School, Leyburn, The Early Years 1836-1872 – Local history research, accessed 25/2/2015 from

Other: “Churches in the Roman Catholic “Diocese of Middlesbrough: An Architectural and Historical Review” Architectural History and Practice Ltd. March 2008

Presbytery and school room/stables


Summary: Roman Catholic presbytery, built 1835, together with a school room dated 1836 which occupies the upper floor of a detached stables to the rear.

Reasons for Designation: The Presbytery, school room, outbuildings, boundary walls and railings are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Date: as a good, well preserved pre-1840 presbytery retaining a range of period features such as cast iron railings, window shutters and plasterwork; * School room: for the survival of a simple, single roomed Roman Catholic school dated 1836, the year following the opening of the church; * Group value: with the adjacent Grade II* listed church of St Peter and St Paul.

History: The presbytery is thought to have been built at the same time as the adjacent church in 1835. The Bishop’s visitation to Leyburn in the late 1840s noted that it was very sparsely furnished. In 1851 the house accommodated not just Fr.Richard Bolton, the parish priest, but his sister and niece, as well as a young man called Richard Ireland Foss, who was the church’s school master and organist from at least 1845 until his death in 1855. To the rear of the presbytery is a former stable with an upper room with a separate entrance. This upper room is identified as being the first school room for Leyburn’s Roman Catholic school which was established shortly after the opening of the church. The main benefactor is believed to have been Frederick Riddell of Thornbrough Hall who owned the land and is recorded as being the school’s only subscriber in 1847, then paying £4 per annum. The first school master, noted in Pigot’s Directory of 1841, was Richard Chapleo, younger brother of the builder who constructed the church. Records suggest that the school was impoverished and generally accommodated up to around 30 children, but closed in the early 1870s following the opening of a National School in Leyburn in 1864. In 1895 a new Roman Catholic school was opened in a new building just to the south of the church, this later school building is not included in the listing.

Details: Presbytery, 1835, stable with school room above, 1836. Both built by the local firm of Chapleo and Sons. MATERIALS: coursed, squared limestone with sandstone dressings to the front elevation, coursed rubble to the rear; Welsh slate roof. The stable/school is of rubble limestone with a stone slate roof. PLAN: double fronted, double depth with a central entrance and a rear stair hall. The school is a single room above the former stable block sited to the rear of the presbytery.

EXTERIOR: Presbytery, front (south east): approximately symmetrical of three bays and two storeys. Windows are 8-over-8 hornless sashes set in plain, monolithic stone surrounds. The central entrance has a 6-panel door below a semicircular fanlight with radial glazing bars, all set within a round-arched ashlar surround with imposts and keystone. The elevation is quoined to the right (north east) and abuts the church to the left, slightly set back from the church’s quoining, the church being separately listed. The gable end is plain coped and has a two stage ridge stack, a second ridge stack breaking the symmetry by rising between the south western two bays. Presbytery, rear: this has a two storey extension, with a small foot print and a flat roof, which covers the lower part of the round arched stair window. This extension* is not of special interest. The other windows are multi-paned but replacement joinery with renewed cills and lintels* are not of special interest. The gable end is blind. Stable and school: this is a two storey, two bay building forming a detached outbuilding to the rear of the presbytery. Opening onto the rear yard there is a basket arched cart opening with an enlarged, but lower garage opening to the right, with a plain doorway to the gable end. Above there is a simple stone cross inscribed “Catholic School 1836”. Access to the upper floor is via external steps to the rear (north eastern) side, the upper room being lit by two windows to each side wall, these windows having replacement joinery that is not of special interest*. The northern gable end is blind and retains a ridge stack.

INTERIOR: Presbytery: retains original joinery including window shutters and panelling to doorway reveals. Fireplaces are later replacements and a wall with a fire door, has been inserted across the stair hall to divide it from the entrance passage, these later alterations* not being of special interest. Cornicing and other plasterwork suggests that the north eastern first floor room was originally a reception room. The ground floor south western room forms the sacristy for the church. School room: this has a low, beamed ceiling and retains a cast iron fireplace flanked by cupboard alcoves to the northern gable. The southern gable has a small niche probably originally for a cross or statue.

SUBSIDIARY ITEMS: to the north of the presbytery there is a low range of stone-built outbuildings. The plot is mostly defined by a stone wall, but the boundary between the front garden and the entrance drive to the church is marked by a set of low, gothic style cast iron railings incorporating a pedestrian gate.

* Pursuant to s.1(5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that these aforementioned feature are not of special architectural or historic interest.


Websites: St Peter and St Paul Roman Catholic School, Leyburn, The Early Years 1836-1872 – Local history research, accessed 25/2/15 from 

Other: “Churches in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Middlesbrough: An Architectural and Historical Review” Architectural History and Practice Ltd. March 2008

Heritage Details

Architect: Chapleo & Sons (builders)

Original Date: 1835

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Grade II*