St Wilfrid's, Harrogate
St Wilfrid's, Harrogate is one of the most interesting churches in Harrogate town, and the only Grade I listed building. Whether you want to attend a service or just go along for a visit, the church is open every day from 9am until after the last service of the day (usually around 6.30pm).
So what makes it so special? Well, unlike other Harrogate churches, St Wilfrid’s was designed and built to be an Anglo-Catholic place of worship within the Church of England. The architecture may be inspired by ancient monasteries, with its cloisters, night stairs to the organ loft and Lady Chapel, but it isn’t an old church (in church years at least) and was consecrated in 1914. The Lady Chapel, cloisters, hall and vergers cottage were all built in the 1930’s. The church was built to make a statement – about its style of worship, which was very different to that of most other churches in Harrogate at the time, and its architecture reflects that difference.
Photo credit: Peter Farmer
St Wilfrid’s was built along with the Duchy Estate, so called because the Duchy of Lancaster owns the land it was built upon. The solid, battlemented tower is very different to the spires of the other churches in town, and it is faced in creamy coloured limestone, which has not darkened over the years.
St Wilfrid’s is one of the top 40 largest parish churches in the country, and the largest parish church in Harrogate. The architect, Temple Moore, designed it to impress and inspire those who walked into it. When you come in through the doors, look up into the soaring roof space and you can see the hole where the bells were lifted up into the tower. The organ is a 1928 Harrison & Harrison instrument and sounds splendid when working. It currently needs a great deal of repair work doing to it and requires a lot of quick thinking from the organist!
On a visit to St Wilfrid’s, you can park along Duchy Road for free, or use the church car park at the rear of the building. If you are entering from the Duchy Road entrance, notice the statue of the scene at Calvary by the main doors. This was installed in memory of Elizabeth Trotter, who donated £10,000 in the early 1900’s to help build the church, and then left £32,000 to St Wilfrid’s when she died. This along with other generous donations enabled Temple Moore and the Reverend Fowell Swann to design and build a church on a large scale, and stake a foothold for Anglo-Catholicism in North Yorkshire.
On a visit to the church, make sure you explore both sides of the building. The north side, facing Duchy Road is very different to the south side. The south side reveals cloisters, the unique arts and crafts style parish hall built in 1936 and designed by Temple Moore’s son-in-law Lesley Moore, and the quaint verger’s cottage (now rented privately). The parish hall is rented out for wedding receptions, parties and events, and through the week hosts daily classes including fitness, dance and Baby and Toddler Sensory sessions. If you are able to go into the hall you will notice the beautiful “lamella” wooden ceiling.
There are few more memorable experiences in Harrogate than visiting St Wilfrid’s, whether it is for one of the daily services, a concert in the church or just walking in off the street. The church is one of Harrogate’s “hidden treasures” and if you do visit outside of service times you may well have the building to yourself, with its unique atmosphere and history. You can find out more about what is going on at St Wilfrid’s by going to www.stwilfrid.org or following the church on Facebook @SaintWilfrid.
St Wilfrid's Church, Harrogate
A magnificent Grade 1 listed church, open daily to visitors andjust a short scenic walk from the centre of town. Designed by renowned architect Temple Moore and his son-in-law Leslie Moore, the church, cloisters, hall and cottage are the only Grade 1 listed buildings in the town of Harrogate. Opening Times and Facilities The church welcomes visitors every day, and has daily services. The church is open to the public from 9am to 6pm most...