Sunday, January 6, 2013

St. Peter's, Harrogate

St. Peter's Church is nestled into downtown Harrogate, almost literally surrounded by shops and restaurants and banks. When building began in the late 1800s the area wasn't hemmed in. Mrs. Mary Anne Fielde donated her large garden for a church and a school (which was completed before the church) and her house for the first vicarage.

One angle where you can see St. Peter's unobstructed

J. H. Hirst of Bristol was the architect and began the church. By 1871 the nave was opened for worship, though it took another five years to complete the rest of the church. Ripon Bishop Robert Bickersteth consecrated it on 3 October 1876. The tower remained incomplete for another fifty years, due mostly to insufficient funding. In 1926 the tower was completed but funding ran short again, so bells were not cast and hung until 1963! The parish has undergone various renovations, including one that just ended in 2012.


Main altar

The pulpit is unusual in size (a little small for the rest of the building) and in being made of stone. Many Archbishops of Canterbury have preached from it, including the recently retired Rowan Williams.

Also unusually decorated

The side chapel was dedicated as the Lady Chapel in 1910 and refurbished in 1966. Now it is a quiet prayer chapel. L went in to kneel down. I knelt beside her and we prayed the Our Father. Then we discovered a small artificial tree on which we could hang petitions. I wrote out a petition for L; J decided to write his own. He went to sit in the chapel and work on it while L and I looked around some more. When he finally gave it to me, it was mostly illegible to me. I'm sure God can read what J meant to write!

Lady Chapel

L and the prayer tree

The stone heads in the nave are an unusual decoration. They represent various archbishops from the 1800s. The guide book said that archbishops with crosses are typically local archbishops whereas those with shepherds' crooks are visitors.

Archbishop ? from York

Archbishop ? from Canterbury

Originally, the church was decorated in a "high church" fashion, with detailed stained glass windows that included painted glass.

Various saints with varying sunlight behind them

West Window

St. George flanked by Sts. Gabriel and Michael, Archangels

Another unusual feature is the little kitchen and dining area which is in the nave. One distinctive ministry of St. Peter's is feeding the hungry, which they do each day, providing breakfast for the homeless and distributing evening meals to any who come.

Blended in as well as can be expected

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