St Chad’s, Far Headingley, Leeds is Listed Grade II* and was designed by Edmund Beckett Denison, later the 1st Lord Grimthorpe, with W H Crossland, and was consecrated in 1868 but then radically extended in 1910.
In 1996 church members embarked on plans for a millennium project of renewal and re-ordering. However, it was not until 2006, when a significant legacy was received, that the congregation believed that their dreams could be made a reality and Richard Crooks Partnership instructed to produce detailed plans. Work began on site in September 2010.
All the fixed pews were removed and a Yorkshire stone floor laid throughout the worship area incorporating underfloor heating. At the front of this worship area a raised nave sanctuary of Yorkshire stone was formed as the focus of regular worship. The new oak and ironwork communion rail is removable as is the altar platform to enable the space also to be used for concerts and performances. The Chancel area beyond is retained largely as laid out in 1910 although the choir stalls are now able to be wheeled back to provide additional clear space for performances. Overhead are two vertically stored projection screens which when not in use are hidden behind the attached columns of the arcades.
The adjacent Lady Chapel which was formed when the chancel was re-designed in 1910 has now been enclosed with frameless glazing inserted within the stone arcading to create an intimate space for smaller services, meetings and children’s groups.
Upon entering the church, full height frameless glass screens form a draught lobby large enough for welcoming visitors.
Once inside the initial focus of attention is the font now located within the worship area at the west end. The former Baptistry under the bell tower has now been enclosed by glazed oak screens designed to match the already present oak wall panelling and now forms the Children’s Creche. Similar matching oak panelling is used on the new kitchen and toilet pod built into the south east corner of the church.
The building now benefits from level access, facilities for disabled, upgraded lighting installation, new heating and full audio-visual facilities for use in worship, concerts and performances. Visitors have remarked that despite all these changes St.Chad’s has retained its distinctive character but with that added ‘Wow’ factor.
The 1917 pulpit was taken apart by craftsmen and the constituent parts reused. Pierced and fretted carved panels were used to form a new free-standing choir frontal while a carved figure of St Chad which once surmounted the pulpit was remounted and placed on a nave column. A large section of the original pulpit steps has been reconstituted as an audio visual desk and placed at the rear of the church.
The quality of the re-ordering scheme has also been recognised outside the Parish boundaries and the project has been awarded a Commendation in the Conserved Buildings category of the Leeds Architecture Awards 2011.