Mount St Marys Church aka Church of the Immaculate Virgin Mary


The now abandoned Mount St Mary’s Church or the Church of the Immaculate Virgin Mary is a Grade II* listed building and a redundant Roman Catholic church in Leeds. It was founded in 1851 and designed by Joseph Hansom, with extensions by Edward Pugin. It is located next to Mount St Mary’s Catholic High School, Leeds.

Construction began on the 24th May 1853 as the foundation stone was laid by John Briggs, the Bishop of Beverley. The Church was then consecrated on 29th July 1857 in a ceremony also presided over by John Briggs however at this time the church had not been completed… in fact it the Church did not open in its entirety until 13th September 1866.

Due to local rehousing which took place between 1935 and 1950 the parish of Mount St Marys Church dropped dramatically from around 6000 to 1100 people and this marked a further steady decline to only 790 people in 1979.

In June 1989 the Church was deconsecrated and handed over to the administration of the Diocese of Leeds with dwindling numbers of parishioners and the increased costs of maintenance and repairs being quoted as the reasons. It is estimated at its closure date that the essential anticipated repairs were around £1.5 million. Since its closure, the former Catholic Church was sold to Sanctuary Housing Trust for a nominal fee and very little work has been completed. Fencing was erected to prevent members of the public going near the crumbling building. Scaffolding has surrounded the Church for several years now but only essential repairs mainly to the roof have been undertaken and internally the building continues to be in a deteriorating state.

The church is an example of nineteenth-century Gothic Revival architecture. It has a brick exterior, and a steep slated roof similar to the main parts of St Walburge Church in Preston and Plymouth Cathedral. It has a tall nave and a semi-circular chancel. It is east facing with north and south transepts. Each transept has a rose window above three smaller lancet windows.[8]

There are gables above the windows over the aisles and above the polygonal apse, with Greek crosses carved into them. The tracery is decorated, including the large west window. It has geometric tracery with an arched doorway below. Included with the windows are hood-moulds to stop rainwater hitting the stonework below

There is one central aisle with two narrower ones on either side. There are columns, each supporting a Gothic arch, either side of the main aisle, six from the back to the chancel. From there, there are seven steps leading up to the sanctuary with two more columns until the bay-shaped sanctuary. The bay has three gothic arches around it, separating it from the back east side of the church. The altar is marble, but the top surface of it has been smashed into pieces since the church was closed. Around the altar are three sculptures set into the wall. The centre one depicts angels; the north side one depicts church leaders and saints; and the south side one depicts royalty, all kneeling towards an emblem of the Blessed Sacrament being crowned by the angels.

Our Visit

Visited with Spider Monkey, Matt Hampshire and Pete ‘Hands’ Costello… Another iconic Leeds building that had been on my to-do list for quite some time. After several failed attempts we thought we would have another go at this one and see if we could finally see the interior. After a little while, we found a way in and had a chance to shoot the inside. The Church seemed really huge compared to some others I have been in, I’m not sure if the fact it was so stripped out made this seem even more prominent but either way it lived up to expectations after viewing it from the outside several times :). The weather was pretty overcast so no dramatic light rays, I’d love to revisit this one in different conditions but I was quite happy with the colour tones of the place and how they came out on the pictures. Another fun visit with good company and another building crossed off the list 🙂

If you’ve made it this far… thanks for reading / checking out the pictures. Leave me a comment below or hit the like button to let me know you’ve enjoyed the shots and to encourage me to keep posting more 🙂

Limited Edition prints and Canvases, as well as regular prints, are available for all of the images above on request and visit the store for more prints and products.

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