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English Church Architecture.

 

LOWER DUNSFORTH, St. Mary  (SE 444 648),

NORTH YORKSHIRE. 

(Bedrock:  Triassic Sherwood Sandstone Group, undifferentiated sandstone.)

 

A small church designed by Mallinson and Healey c. 1860, which was probably surpassed the following year by their more impressive school-and-school-house.

 

 

 

One of the subjects examined by this web-site is the near-complete oeuvre of a little-known but regionally dominant, mid-nineteenth century architectural firm specialising in ecclesiastical work, in order to discover how they built their local reputation, how they maintained a financially competitive edge and sustained a very busy practice with few or no staff, and what 'success' looked like in terms of monetary reward and the provincial architect's acquired position in Victorian society.  The firm chosen is the partnership between James Mallinson and Thomas Healey (fl. 1845-62/3), who worked out of offices in Halifax and Bradford.  The majority of the extant church buildings for which the partners were responsible are listed below and should ideally be examined in chronological order.  They are:

  1.  Queensbury, Holy Trinity (Bradford)  (1843)  (Mallinson alone) 19. East Keswick, St. Mary Magdalene (Leeds) (1856)
  2.  Wyke, St. Mary (Bradford)  (1844)  (Mallinson alone) 20. Claremount, St. Thomas (Calderdale) (1857)
  3.  Clayton, St. John the Baptist (Bradford) (1846) 21. Clifton, St. John (Calderdale) (1857)
  4.  Baildon, St. John the Baptist (Bradford) (1846) 22. Salterhebble, All Saints (Calderdale) (1857)
  5.  Manningham, St. Paul (Bradford) (1846) 23. Thornaby-on-Tees, St. Paul (Stockton-on-Tees) (1857)
  6.  Mytholmroyd, St. Michael (Calderdale) (1847) 24. Thornhill Lees, Holy Innocents (Wakefield) (1858)
  7. Bankfoot, St. Matthew (Bradford) (1848) 25. Bugthorpe, St. Andrew (East Riding) (1858) (nave only)
  8. Shelf, St. Michael & All Angels (Bradford) (1848) 26. Bowling, St. Stephen (Bradford) (1859)
  9. South Ossett, Christ Church (Wakefield) (1850) 27. Girlington, St. Phillip (Bradford) (1859)
10. Barkisland, Christ Church (Calderdale) (1851) 28. Lower Dunsforth, St. Mary (North Yorkshire) (1859)
11. Boroughbridge, St. James (North Yorkshire) (1851) 29. Welburn, St. John (North Yorkshire) (1859)
12. Langcliffe, St. John the Evangelist (North Yorkshire) (1851) 30. Ilkley, All Saints (Bradford) (1860) (chancel only)
13. Cundall, St. Mary & All Saints (North Yorkshire) (1852) 31. Horton, All Saints (Bradford) (1862)
14. Heptonstall, St. Thomas the Apostle (Calderdale) (1853) 32. Hepworth, Holy Trinity (Kirklees) (1862)
15. Mount Pellon, Christ Church (Calderdale) (1854) 33. Dewsbury, St. Mark (Wakefield) (1862)
16. Thorner, St. Peter (Leeds) (1854) (partial reconstruction) 34. Heaton, St. Barnabas (Bradford) (1863) (Mallinson with T.H. Healey) 
17. Withernwick, St. Alban (East Riding) (1854) (reconstruction) 35. Tockwith,  Church of the Epiphany (North Yorkshire) (1863) (as above)
18. Mappleton, All Saints (East Riding) (1855) (not the tower)  

 

 

 

 

 

Completed in 1860 to the designs of Mallinson and Healey, this was destined to be a small church in a smaller village, and a very different proposition from the partnership's more usual commissions for large, cheap churches in West Yorkshire's manufacturing towns.  Here there was no need to raise a pennant for the Established Church in an ocean of Dissent, though the building does boast a tower and spire, if only of modest proportions.  The building also serves the hamlet of Upper Dunsforth and was erected on the site of what had become a ramshackle chapel-of-ease of Norman origin at a very considerably greater than distance from Healey's office in Bradford's Tyrell Street than he usually took on, but the task probably came to him because eight years earlier he had redesigned the neighbouring and rather larger, St. James's, Boroughbridge, which, like St. Mary's, was also served by a curate attached to the mother church of St. Andrew's, Aldborough. albeit a different one.   Dunsforth's curate was the Rev. C.R. Scholfield, who was appointed in 1858 and seems to have spent most of his five year tenure, seeking to raise the necessary funds.  With the supposed precision characteristic of the age, the final cost of the works was 2,267.12s.10d, which may have included the cost of building the school and schoolhouse (now an attractive private house) nearby.  (See the excellent little guide to the church by J. Sanderson and V. Story, 2011, publisher unnamed.)

 

The church  (seen at the top of the page from the  southwest) comprises a nave and a comparatively short chancel, just one and a half bays in length, together with the southwest tower with surmounting broach spire already mentioned and a cross-gabled N. vestry adjoining the chancel west of the sanctuary.  The lower stage of the tower also functions as a porch and has a double-hollow-chamfered outer doorway, diagonal buttresses rising about halfway up, and bell-openings with cusped Y-tracery.  Both these, and the windows in all parts of the building, although they vary widely, are broadly commensurate with the geometric style of c. 1300, but an ogee has crept in above the central light of the chancel E. window (as seen in the photograph, above left).  Viewed at close range, the notch in the trefoil cusping of some of the lights is not particularly attractive and the 'hammered sandstone from the Lingerfield quarry near Knaresborough' employed for the external masonry (church guide, p. 11), looks too gingery when the sun is at a low, to create an urbane impression.

 

The interior is better.  The stone now appears grey (is it the same one?) and the broad arch from the chancel to what must formerly have been the organ chamber (although only a poor little upright piano stands in it now) creates a modestly attractive perspective from the nave.  The vestry opening behind it, preserves a re-set Norman doorway (admittedly rather worn), saved from the former chapel.  The chancel arch is merely double-flat-chamfered above semi-octagonal responds, but most of the furnishings have attracted some decoration:   the font of Caen stone (illustrated above right) has a large bowl with curved undersides and the Symbols of the Evangelists carved in roundels on the cardinal faces, supported on four black marble shafts;  the pulpit, which unfortunately has been lowered (ibid., p. 13) has large carved figures of saints on the sides of the drum;  and the reredos consists of seven blank arches with the outer pair on each side supported on black marble columns.  The original stained glass by Wailes in the chancel windows illustrates, to the east, the traditional scene of Christ on the Cross with SS. Mary and John on either side, and in the two-light window to the south, the text 'Suffer little children, and forbid them not to come unto me' (Matthew, 19, v.14).  (See below.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is interesting to note that Mallinson and Healey also designed a school and integral school house for Lower Dunsforth, immediately after their work on the church (as revealed by plans preserved in the North Yorkshire Record Office, Northallerton, cat. NG:SB).  This also survives and is probably a better building than the church (as illustrated in the church guide, p. 14).  The two-storeyed principal range is half-hipped and runs parallel with the front elevation, and a central, cross-gabled 'wing', also half-hipped, projects towards the viewer, lit by a two-light square-headed window in each storey and with the left-hand side of the gable changing from a 60 to a 45 angle in its descent in order to incorporate an adjoining Gothic porch.  The result is vey reminiscent of the work a couple of year's earlier by Butterfield on the school, cottages and almshouses at Baldersby St. James, and since Baldersby  St. James is barely nine miles to the north-north-east of Lower Dunsforth (and less than half that distance from Cundall) it would have been surprising if Healey had been unaware of it.