Leeds Parish Church

Leeds Parish Church is a bit out of the centre of the town - though only a few minutes away - cut off by busy roads and not particularly where a visitor's stroll will naturally lead to. It lies to the east side, and may be reached from the central markets by going along Kirkgate, under the rail bridge, and is then seen on the right. The keen Victorian should certainly visit, for its mosaics, its stained glass, and several monuments, including a particularly beautiful one by Flaxman.

R. D. Chantrell was the architect, and the Parish Church, completed in 1841, is a large gothic effort with a square tower, with broad windows and a light, lofty interior. The reredos, a shrinelike gothic triptych of 1872, is by G E Street, and on it and around and behind it, are the excellent mosaics, mostly dating from a few years later. They show saints, standing on grassy hummocks against gold backgrounds, with full accoutrements of pleasing originality, especially Judas with a ship, and John bearing a chalice containing a blue winged serpent. Excellent faces, beards, and hands, and bold simple drapery. The mosaicwork on the reredos itself is different in style, more medieval, with central Christ flanked by assorted angels and mortals, including a Norman crusader. Equally good, but different.

The aisle to the left (north) has a smaller gaudy altar, figures rather overdone with gilt, but decorative gold on torquoise flower designs like little tiles below. Nearby, the best sculpture - the Walker Monument by Flaxman, showing a beautiful curvaceous half-draped angel mourning, seated on a cannon, leaning against a furled sail beneath a palm tree. On the base, a sad lion in high relief. Nearby, the Thomas Lloyd Monument, by Joseph Gott, a native of Leeds and student of Flaxman, showing two soldiers in uniform beneath a bust of the deceased. Also to note, a bust of William Beckett by Marochetti, two stone angels with shields by the monument to Ralph Thoresby, and a further angel, rather touching, with two children. The Marshall monument, showing a profile in a roundel, is by B. E. Spence, and the Leigh Monument is by Richard Westmacott - a sympathetic work showing the subject as a scholarly noble figure seated, heavily gowned, displaying a large book. Not particularly getatable at is the recumbent effigy of Hook, by William Keyworth (also responsible for the lions outside the Town Hall).

Among a small amount of earlier sculpture, we must note a rather beaten up 13th Century effigy of a knight, and a Tudor picture painted on stone showing a kneeling ruffed couple, either side of a single-legged square table bearing their two books, with four children or perhaps page boys behind - familiar enough from 17th Century sculpture, less so (to me at least) in this painted form. Under the table, a symbolic skull and a few limb bones. The treatment rather naive, with fair proportions to the figures and well-drawn heads marred by the misplaced lower legs.

The glass is mostly Victorian, brightly coloured, with that in the East Window imported French ware, and that to the South side including some strong, sombre-coloured designs with elongated figures and accomplished drapery.

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Sculpture pages // Victorian art in Britain