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English Church Architecture -

Bradford (U. A.).


BAILDON, St. John (SE 156 386)     (September 2017)

(Bedrock:  Carboniferous Namurian Series, Rough Rock from the Millstone Grit Group)



"The modern churches of our manufacturing districts, devoid of historical associations connected with those of older date, may possess little beauty in the poet's eye, but are not the less interesting in the sight of the philanthropist and the Christian.  Reared as they are in the midst of a dense population, and occupied, as we trust they are, by laborious and self-denying clergymen, they cannot but be regarded as a powerful means for the intellectual, moral, and spiritual benefit of the land.  As such, we hail there increase. and without further preface proceed to give a brief account of the consecration of [a] new church in our own neighbourhood during the past week."  
                                                    The Leeds Intelligencer, reporting on the church's consecration.


The church consists of a chancel, nave and independently-gabled S. aisle, designed by Mallinson and Healey in 1846, to which a southwest tower was added in 1928, rising in three stages to battlements.  The S. aisle was built on the foundations of an earlier chapel, considered to be in danger of imminent collapse when the new church was planned but which actually proved so robust, it proved necessary to bring down with dynamite! 


Mallinson and Healey adopted the thirteenth century lancet style for their work and since no tower was intended, they ensured the church would have visual impact in its elevated position from the west by providing the nave and aisle with steep independent gables and placing a double bell-cote on the very edge of the latter.  The opening of the new building was reported in The Leeds Intelligencer and the church also came to the attention of the author of the “New Churches” article in The Ecclesiologist (probably Alexander Beresford Hope), who wrote a straightforward review without finding characteristic opportunity for sarcasm or his usual “more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger” fault-finding, which was generally as bad or worse.  The church has a very good guide written by Canon Bruce Grainger (pub. 1988), from which the following is taken:


"Some features of the old church were retained and re-used, notably the pillars which had formerly supported the lean-to north aisle...  The chancel of the new building was quite plain, with a stone floor and originally there were no choir stalls. The sanctuary was larger than at present... [and the] vestry was originally smaller... There was no tower or baptistry... [and] no west porch, the west doors opening directly into the church.  The congregation usually entered by the  south door and there were seats for 500.  The entire cost of the building was a little over £1,000."


Windows in the 1846 building are all individual  lancets or two-light and plate-traceried, formed of two lancet openings with a pierced quatrefoil above.  The early twentieth century tower is a worthy enough addition, but there can have been no pressing reason for breaking with the existing style to raise it in Decorated form.  A doorway was set diagonally in the angle between the tower and the S. aisle, beneath the tower's stair turret, a porch having already been added over the W. doorway to the nave (in 1897).  (See the photographs above left, taken from the southwest, and below, showing the church from the southeast.)


Inside the church, the five-bay S. arcade is composed of double-flat-chamfered arches supported on octagonal piers, while beyond the chancel arch, an arch in the S. wall of the chancel opens to the organ chamber.  The roofs are of low collar-beam construction, with collars crossing the aisle about a quarter of the way up the pitch, and the nave, about two-fifths of the way up (as seen in the interior view of the church, looking east, below).  Arched braces support the collars, which in turn support struts rising to the principal rafters.  There is a balcony over the nave to the west.

The church was consecrated on March 29th, 1848, but the incumbent, the Rev. Edmund Hodgkinson, who had planned the new building and been largely responsible for the fund-raising, was too ill to attend the ceremony and died the next day.   The new minister was Rev. Joseph Mitton who also died in office after a ministry of twenty years.