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English Church Architecture -

Bradford (U. A.).


BANKFOOT (BRADFORD), St. Matthew (SE 157 303)     (September 2017)

(Bedrock:  Carboniferous Westphalian Series, mixed deposits from the Lower Coal Measures)


This appears to a unique case (if a matching pair of buildings may be so described) of Mallinson and Healey employing the same design twice, for St. Matthew’s, Bankfoot, of 1849, was to be copied a year later, albeit with stylistic modifications, for the church St. Michael & All Angels, Shelf.  The style here is full-blooded Decorated (as witnessed by the photographs of the N. windows below) and it is striking how arbitrarily the partners seemed to switch between First and Second Pointed forms (and even, occasionally, Third Pointed), with little concern for what was currently in vogue (in essence, Second Pointed until the early 1850s and the First/Second Pointed transition thereafter).  The building (seen above from the south) consists of a chancel with a tiny cross-gabled N. chapel and a southeast vestry, and a nave with lean-to aisles, a N. porch and an octagonal bell-cote topped by a spirelet.  The church was described at length in the local newspapers, following its consecration on Wednesday, 12th December, and in view of its modest size, came rather unexpectedly to the notice of the writer of the “New Churches” article in The Ecclesiologist (usually Alexander Beresford Hope), who regretted the "small gallery" and the fact that the Creed, Ten Commandments and Lord's Prayer were "written up on the east wall of the chancel... instead of... the east end of the nave,"  and who reacted with what was surely sarcastic puzzlement over the carving on the capitals to the chancel arch. ("The carving on the north capital represents Samson and Delilah, and on the south David with the lion's jaw.  The symbolism of these subjects we are unable to explain.")


The Bradford Observer, more straightforwardly, gave an  exhaustive description of the church, inside and out, including its dimensions ("Nave, 65 feet by 25 feet 2 inches; Aisles, 65 feet by 9 feet 4 inches; Chancel 22 feet by 16 feet; Vestry, 10 feet by 8 feet") and the names of the contractors who built it and who it probably hoped would want to buy a copy of the newspaper to see their names in print ("Masons - Messrs. Patchett & Co., Queenshead; Joiner & carpenter - Mr. Ives, Shipley; Glaziers - Messrs Firth, Halifax; Slaters - J. & H. Hill, Bradford; Painter - Mr. Peel, Bradford; Clerk of the Works - Mr. Mawson").

"The church owes its origin mainly to the pious liberality of John Hardy Esq., of Tryburgh, in this county, who contributed the magnificent sum of £2,500 towards the endowment, and £500 towards the erection of the building... The nave is separated from the aisles by lofty arches of two orders, resting upon octagonal pillars and plain bases...  The chancel is entered by a lofty arch resting upon attached filleted shafts... The [chancel] roof is of wagon-headed form, having spaces between the rafters coloured blue and semée with stars...  We understand that the entire cost of this church, including the churchyard wall, is about £1,800, and the accommodation for 490 persons." (ibid.) 


Inside the church, the five-bay nave arcades are composed of arches bearing a hollow chamfer and a wave moulding, springing from octagonal piers.  The nave roof has purlins at the ⅓ and ⅔ stages, collar beams supported by arched braces joining the lower purlins, and struts rising from the collars to the upper purlins above.  Following the completion of the building, Mallinson and Healey were commissioned to design a National School for the parish, and this has survived too, immediately opposite across the road, although  converted into a couple of private dwellings.