English Church Architecture -
CUNDALL, St. Mary & All Angels (SE 423 731) (November 2015)
(Bedrock: Triassic Sherwood Sandstone Group, undifferentiated sandstone)
This is one of three churches in the immediate area constructed to the designs of Mallinson and Healey of Halifax and Bradford, the others being at Boroughbridge and Lower Dunsforth, both of which were served by curates probably appointed by the Rev. G.K. Holdsworth, vicar of the mother church of St. Andrew's, Aldborough. Here the case was different, however, and the parish was ministered by the Rev. J. Owen, raising the question of how Mallinson and Healey might have acquired the job, this far from their offices, unless it was simply as a result of satisfaction they were known to have given at neighbouring Boroughbridge, whose new church of St. James was completed two years earlier.
St Mary & All Angels', erected 1853-4, is a small church with no particular distinguishing features, but it would have satisfied all but the most demanding of contemporary seekers after ecclesiological correctness with its well articulated two-bay chancel and all the necessary furnishings for the propitious execution of the rubrics of the Church of England. (See the photograph at the top of the page, taken from the south.) Perhaps the two criticisms that might have been made would have concerned the absence of a screen and the lateness of the building's overall style, which might best described as "mature Decorated", c.1340, rather than that of the Early English/Decorated transition, alone considered aesthetically and morally "correct" by Ruskin and his disciples. The chancel E. window indeed has full-blooded curvilinear tracery, albeit slightly pinched. The S. windows to the nave and chancel, and the N. windows to the former, display an assortment of two-light forms, most of which include ogees (see the selection of designs above). The chancel N. wall to the west of the sanctuary, is abutted by the transversely-gabled vestry. The tower is diagonally buttressed and rises in four stages to the belfry and surmounting battlements, and if there is an obvious flaw in the design of the church today, it lies here, for the bell-openings consist on every side of a single gaping arch, undivided into lights. This may not have been their original form, however, for it seems unlikely Thomas Healey (1809-62) - for it was he who was responsible for almost all firm's ecclesiastical work - would have made such an error.
Unfortunately, the church interior appears to have undergone twentieth century refurbishment for Mallinson and Healey's company diary for 1854 (in the Calderdale Record Office, Halifax) makes it clear that Healey designed the majority of the original furnishings as well as a number of features pertaining to the churchyard. Thus he was at work on the churchyard gates on Monday 16th January, the altar table on Thursday 26th January, and the altar rail (which was to be made of iron) on Monday 30th. When he inspected the church on Tuesday 14th March it was "complete except [for the] porch and pewing" but the following Monday, his assistant was actually making full-sized drawings on some unspecified hinges! Healey was engaged again for part of Saturday 13th May, on the detail of the font, which does survive. (See left.) Such details illustrate how nineteenth century ecclesiastical architects were often involved in every aspect of their commissions, down to some of the smallest details, and demonstrates that wherever reasonable, they ought to be regarded as works of art, entire in themselves, not as subjects for pointless piecemeal modifications at the most latest incumbent's whim. Finally, the chancel stained glass is by Heaton, Butler and Baine. The E. window is particularly attractive and features the angel appearing to the three Marys on Easter Sunday above the text, "He is not here: for he is risen" (Matthew 28, v. 6.)