History

Our history

The (originally Anglo-Saxon) settlement of Gipton has a long history, being found in Domesday Book.  It was absorbed into neighbouring Leeds  in the Victorian period.  During the 1930s,  when Leeds City Council embarked on a programme of slum clearance, Gipton was chosen as the site for one of the first garden suburbs in the North. The first new council houses were completed in 1935, and the following year a temporary MissionChurch known as the “tin hut” was constructed. This church is its replacement.

 The Anglican Church of the Epiphany  is a Grade 1 listed building; its full title is the Bishop Burroughs (of Ripon) MemorialChurch. The total cost of the building was £15,000 in 1938. It was given ‘listed’ status in 1993

  • It is an early example of a reinforced concrete frame with brick cladding, chamfered concrete plinth, concrete floor bands and raised coped parapets   
  • The  architect was Nugent Cachemaille-Day, whose designs were strongly influenced by a church in Coutances, Normandy. The church was built by Armitage Hodgson of Leeds
  • The foundation stone was laid on 12 July 1937 by Elsie Burroughs, sister of the late Bishop of Ripon , Rt. Revd. Edward Burroughs, who had died in 1934. The church was consecrated by the  Bishop of Ripon, Rt. Revd.Dr Geoffrey Lunt, on 14 May 1938
  • A proposed 100 foot bell tower over the south porch was abandoned as too expensive; a spire of steel and concrete with an illuminated star over the altar was substituted, but was removed in 1976 for safety reasons

 The basic shape is cruciform but this is not immediately obvious. There are transepts where the nave ( the seating area) joins the chancel (the worship space).The St Nicholas Chapel is in the south-east  transept, the north-east one is used for storage. There are two porches at the west end.

The sanctuary, with the altar, is slightly raised on a circular plinth with simple curved altar rails and built-in furniture. To the east of the altar, but raised by 16 steps above it, is the Lady Chapel, and in the space below this are the vestry and other facilities.

The east end is apsidal– semi-circular- with an impressive and unusual arrangement of sweeping curves, in the manner of French Romanesque churches. The choir galleries, most unusually, are behind the altar, facing the nave on the same level as the Lady Chapel, with the semicircle of the ambulatory (processional walkway) wrapping round  the chancel.

                                            The glass in the Lady Chapel by Christopher Webb is  a brilliant blue depicting the sky with the Epiphany star.   “Expressionist, not to say jazzy”, thought Pevsner.

The labyrinth painted on the Lady Chapel floor adds to the ambience of this special space.   

 

 

The interior is light and spacious with 18.5m high circular concrete columns supporting flat ceilings, those of the side aisles being slightly lower than the nave.   The windows are very slim, narrow and straight- headed and very close to each other along the sides and the east end.  Sadly, much of the glass is damaged.

 Early structural problems included roof panels coming loose because the fixing nails were too short and made of iron rather than copper; the wooden floor tiles rose.  Problems with the acoustics were known as “the Epiphany echo”. Since 1976 there has been general deterioration in the fabric and a repairs programme costing nearly £300,000, partly funded by English Heritage, has just begun.

In 1962 a single storey development to the west end of the church provided a church hall which was extended five years later.  Current provision is of a large hall with stage, a small hall, a meeting room, kitchen and toilet facilities; access is available both directly and through the church. All these facilities are well used and a source of income.

Acknowledgements

Richard Jaques– English Heritage, architectural report

LeedsCity Council — Listed Building description

Pevsner — Yorkshire West Riding, 2009 Edition.

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Epiphany Star Window by Christopher Webb

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