Potter Hill, Pickering, North Yorkshire
Image copyright Alex Ramsay
A prominent and attractively-grouped church and hall designed by Leonard Stokes, with the careful massing and fine attention to detail for which that architect is known. The church contains a beautiful carved font by Eric Gill. Notable for its associations with the seventeenth century Catholic martyr Blessed Nicholas Postgate.
Pickering was one of the Mass centres served by Blessed Nicholas Postgate, ‘priest of the Moors’, who died at York in 1679. The parish possesses many of the martyr’s relics. From 1896 Mass was said at the Salvation Army Hall by a priest from Malton. Those services lapsed in 1900, but in the following year the colourful and energetic Fr Bryan, an Anglican convert priest from Tasmania, took up residence in the town. He acquired two cottages and improvised a chapel, which served for seven years while funds were raised for a more worthy and permanent church and presbytery. He also established a school. Fr Bryan was in tune with architectural and artistic developments of the time, and commissioned Leonard Stokes to design the church and hall, and Eric Gill the font. The church and hall were completed by 1911 and the font (carved at the same time as Gill’s Stations of the Cross at Westminster Cathedral) arrived in 1916.
The church interior is light, with clear glass (some pale green, red and yellow in the tracery lights). It is fairly plain, made more so by the present bare modern furnishing of the sanctuary. A portable altar stone, said to have been used by Nicholas Postgate and placed in front of the wooden altar, is a noteworthy relic. There is an early or original Lady altar, probably designed by Stokes, at the east end of the north aisle, with a painted stone or plaster statue of Our Lady under a stone canopy. According to Martin (A Glimpse of Heaven, 2006), Eric Gill carved a simple cross on this altar. Martin also states that there is a statue of St Joseph said to be by Peter Paul Pugin on the outside south wall. The chief item of interest is Gill’s font, in a lowered baptistery area with a parquet floor at the west end of the church, screened off by contemporary iron railings. Octagonal in form, this is carved on four sides with a foliage design and on the other four with scenes of the Crucifixion,St Joseph with the Christ child (photo), the Baptism of Christ and St Nicholas. At the west end of the nave is a carved holy water stoup in memory of various members of the Carbery family. The benches are plain and of oak.
1911. Architect, Leonard Stokes. Perpendicular Gothic style. Built of stone with a tile roof. The church is approached through a forecourt on the left of which is the church hall. This has a stone porch with a gambrel roof, a large Perpendicular window to the South and hipped dormers in the roof. The church is entered under a squat tower at the North-West corner of the forecourt. Nave and North aisle. 4-light nave windows. Octagonal stone font by Eric Gill.
Amended by AHP 15.01.2021
Architect: Leonard Stokes
Original Date: 1911
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Grade II