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English Church Architecture -

Bradford (U. A.).


HEATON, St. Barnabas (SE 143 357)     (April 2016)

(Bedrock:  Carboniferous Westphalian Series, Elland Flags from the Lower Coal Measures)


This impressively elemental church by Thomas Henry and Francis Healey, was erected in 1863-64 save for the matching N. aisle which was added three decades later to exactly the same design.  At the time, the brothers were in the process of taking over the firm for Thomas Healey Sen. had died of a stroke in November 1862 and the church's foundation stone was laid during the period of about a year while the firm continued trading under its pre-existing name of Mallinson & Healey, with James Mallinson sometimes working in collaboration with Healey's sons before establishing a new partnership with W.S. Barber, probably late in 1863. The precise authorship of this church, therefore, can only be established from the surviving records for the plans are not signed by Mallinson.  Who precisely was responsible for this church must nevertheless remain a matter of some doubt, not open to stylistic analysis since neither Mallinson nor the Healeys adhered to any particular style, seeming to be more anxious not to be considered to be working to a formula.


The Mallinson and Healey firm was not originally chosen for this commission, however, which was given to the obscure partnership of Messrs.  Knowles and Wilcock.  The Rev. Henry Milton sent the architects' plans with a grant application to the Incorporated Church Building Society in the autumn of 1862, and received an excoriating reply, which elicited this embarrassed response:

                                                                                                        nr. Bradford.
"Rev. Sir,
"I received yesterday the communication from the Society relative to Heaton Church, pointing out several defects in the plans and also severely condemning the principle of the whole and recommending a more careful consideration before their next meeting.  I confess I feel in a great difficulty in this matter and before showing this communication to our architect, should be greatly obliged if you would afford me a little information on one or two points.
1. If the specific defects only were remedied and the general plan remained the same, would the committee be likely to make a grant or does the recommendation to a further consideration imply that no grant will be made unless an entirely new plan is adopted?
2. If the alteration of the specific defects should be considered enough, will it be sufficient to show these alterations on the ground plan alone or would a totally new set of plans have to be drawn up?
"I  should mention that our architect is a resident of the District - one of our most influential men, and gives his services gratuitously.  I know he has peculiar ideas on Church Architecture and I don't believe he either would or could totally remould his plan.  If the committee will accept the alteration of specific defects as enough, a great deal of difficulty would be avoided.  I must communicate with him, and if he resigns all interest in the matter, I must employ another architect (better known to the Society and more experienced in Church building).  If he does not resign, I shall be compelled, most unwillingly, to do my best to raise the necessary funds independently of the Society.
"Your opinion on the foregoing subject would really oblige me.
                                          Yours, Rev. Sir,
                                          Your obedient servant,
                                          H.A. Milton."
                                                                                        Correspondence held in the Lambeth Palace Archive.


The Society's reply seems not to have survived but was clearly not very helpful for Henry Milton found it necessary to write again:

                                                                                                        17th Dec. 1862.
"Rev. Sir,
"I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter and the plans of Heaton church.  I should still be obliged if you would let me have when convenient another set of forms necessary to fill up, before the plans are again presented.  Our architect will not be able to have them ready before the February meeting but I think they will then receive a grant.  He sent me an indication of his design which he wished me to forward to the Society but as this would do no good now, I withhold it.
"I cannot but regret the language in which your architect's report was couched.  In such a case as ours it puts the clergyman into a very difficult position, since in a poor district, the raising of the necessary funds requires the most painful labours and as our architect is giving his services gratuitously and has very extensive influence with the subscribers, an offence to him (such as the report certainly was) endangers the success of the whole undertaking.  Any general remarks upon the plan I will reserve until the next application.
                                          I am, Rev. Sir,
                                          Yours very truly,   
                                          H.A. Milton."

Knowles and Wilcock submitted their new plans early in 1863.   In spite of the above correspondence, the Society's response was not significantly more restrained.  An additional weariness creeps in to Henry Milton's reply now.

                                                                                                        9th March 1863.
"Dear Sir,
"I make no comment now upon the second refusal by the Society to make a grant for Heaton Church but send a line to ask you to be so good as to return the plans etc. as early as possible to Messrs. Knowles and Wilcox, Architects, Leeds Road, Bradford.  Will you also let me have a line to answer the following questions:
1. Whether in case a third application is made it will be necessary to write out another form and again obtain the signature of the Bishop, Archdeacon and Incumbent [i.e. of Bradford parish church].  I should greatly regret to have to trouble them again upon the subject.  The Archdeacon examined our plans last time with great care and expressed his full approval of them.  If you would kindly return me the last form sent, I will make such alterations on it as are required.  The details in the plan can be altered without changing the main design.
2. Whether it is your opinion that a grant will ever be made so long as an architect is employed not already known to the Board.
                                          I am, dear Sir,
                                          Very truly yours,  
                                          H.A. Milton."

It was to no avail, as Rev. Henry Milton seems to have suspected it wouldn't be:

                                                                                                        19th May 1863.
"Dear Sir,
"In consequence of the third unsuccessful application we have made to the Incorporated Society for aid towards the building of Heaton church, we have at length determined to change our architect and are now having a set of plans prepared by Messrs. Mallinson & Healey.  We shall not however be ready to make an application before the July meeting.  As we cannot, owing to the poverty of the place, raise sufficient funds without this grant, I do trust we shall have no further delay.  Will you please let me have a new set of the Society's papers meantime.
                                          Believe me,
                                          Truly yours,  
                                          Henry A. Milton."

Eventually, after this fourth application, a grant of 200* followed.  The total cost of the church was approximately 2,800.

                                                                                                                                            * Leeds Intelligencer,  October 3rd 1863.


St. Barnabas's, Heaton (shown at the top of the page, from the southwest), whoever was principally responsible for it, is one of the Mallinson and Healey's most Ruskinian churches:  it entirely eschews the flexibility of bar tracery in accordance with the dogmas set out in "The Lamp of Truth", privileges mass over line, as encouraged in "The Lamp of Power", and bases its admittedly limited carved decoration on natural forms, as advocated in "The Lamp of Beauty".  Its solitary failure, based on this line of argument, occurs in the context of Ruskin's first essay in The Seven Lamps of Architecture,  "The Lamp of Sacrifice", for this was a remarkably cheap church for one so solidly built.  It was the eighth church erected under the Bradford "Ten Churches" scheme and so attracted, in addition to the grant from the Incorporated Church Building Society mentioned above, a grant from the Bradford Church Building Society, a donation of 600 from Benjamin Wood, churchwarden and owner of Dumb Mills, Frizinghall, and another of 200 from the Earl of Rosse (who also provided the site), in addition to smaller sums from Joseph Wood of Shipley, J.A. Jowett, Titus Salt, John Hollings, Sir Francis Sharp Powell M.P., Alfred Harris, and Charles Hardy of the Low Moor Ironworks Company (Bradford Observer). The later N. aisle appears to have been built at the expense of Frederick Illingworth.


These limited funds proved sufficient in the firm's hands to erect this very substantial building composed of a chancel with a semicircular apse (above right), a southeast tower with a broach spire, and a nave with independently-gabled aisles and shallow S. & W. porches (the latter adjoined to the N. aisle rather than the nave). The walling is constructed of narrow rectangular sandstone blocks, small and regular enough to be mistaken for gault bricks at a quick glance.  The roofs are steeply pitched though hung with heavy grey slates.  The windows sit on a string course, approximately six feet (2 m.) from the ground (except at the east end) and are varied yet consistently plate-traceried, with cusped lancet lights, stepped down in the centre whenever there are three or more of them, and with geometrical shapes above composed of three, four or six lobes set around circles.  The chancel is lit by a three-light N. window and there are three, two-light windows running round the apse. The effect is distinctly heavy, yet not oppressively so, for the dimensions of the building are generous and the site remains relatively open. The ground drops away to the east, so the apse, when viewed externally, soars up about 30' (9.1 m.) from it to the eaves, and even some 20' (6.1 m.) to the window sills.  The tower is unbuttressed and rises in four stages to a very plain broach spire planted full square (i.e. without recessing behind battlements or a parapet) above, in the un-mediaeval manner of William Butterfield's spire at Baldersby St. James (North Yorkshire) or John Loughborough Pearson's spire at his little church of St. Mary, Broomfleet (East Riding). The bell-openings consist of trefoil-cusped lancets pairs separated by circular shafts in shaft-rings with leaf capitals above, and since there is no chamfering or mouldings of any other kind on the outer sides of the lights, their thickness is evident and the impression of solidity and strength enhanced.  The S. porch outer doorway is trefoil-cusped within a two-centred arch.  (See the photograph above left.)


This display of basic geometry is then ratcheted up inside the church, particularly by the single-stepped, flat-chamfered, five-bay nave arcades, supported on thick circular shafts with integral shaft-rings, topped by the chunkiest of square capitals each sporting a slightly different variant of leaf volute carving.  (See the photograph below left, showing the westernmost pier of the S. arcade.)  The chancel arch is double-flat-chamfered with the inner order supported on corbels and the outer chamfer continuing down the jambs.  The nave and aisle roofs are effective and unfussy:  the former has purlins ⅓ and ⅔ of the way up the pitch and tie beams supporting octagonal king posts rising to collars, and the latter have purlins halfway up the pitch and arched-braced collars.  The angles of pitch are in excess of 60.


The reredos, reading desk and pulpit form a matching set of furnishings added in 1889 to the designs of Benjamin Payler of Leeds.  They are made of white stone with coloured marble shafts at the sides or angles and are covered over much of their surfaces with diapering or small repeating flowers.  The brown marble font dated 1907 (above right), is better, however, and consists of an octagonal bowl with blank sunk panels supported on green marble shafts.  Finally, the building contains some attractive stained glass, mostly dated between 1890 and 1910, but not so much as to compromise the building's internal lighting as alternate windows have been left clear, either by design or for lack of money.  The modern, rather clumsy glass in the easternmost N. aisle window is conspicuously at odds with the others, five of which were manufactured by Charles Kempe & Co. of London.