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1. Origins of the Church

David Jenkins, a native of Cardiganshire, was just 27 years old when he came as incumbent of Pudsey's Chapel of Ease (All Saints) in 1814. Mr Jenkins was one of the first incumbents in the country to apply for a grant to build a new church under the 1818 Church building act. This act became known as the Million Act because a million pounds was made available for building new churches especially in the industrial north.

For more information about "Million Act Churches" there are details on the Yorkshire section of the GENUKI website. See the link on our Links Page. St. Lawrence, Pudsey was one of the first of these churches to be built and the third most expensive in the first Parliamentary Grant.

The building of St. Lawrence Church

In choosing suitable parishes for these new churches preference was given to those whose pew accommodation was most inadequate and to those with suitable sites. The Archbishop of York, after visiting Pudsey to consecrate the newly acquired burial ground wrote to the Church Commissioners: "I am not aware that there is any part of my Diocese in which an additional Church is more wanted than at Pudsey. So great is the present distress in the district from want of adequate employment, that no assistance is to be expected from the inhabitants themselves."

The Archbishop recommended that the architect Thomas Taylor should be commissioned. Mr Taylor was established in Leeds and had already designed 6 Churches.

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Cost

The Commissioners had originally recommended a £6000 Church to accommodate 1500. Later they decided to build a larger Church holding 2000 for which they were prepared to pay up to £15,000.00. The final cost was £13,360.00.

The first stone was laid by Mr Jenkins on 19 July 1821. No expense seemed to have been spared. The use of Westmorland slate instead of local stone would have added much to the cost. The slaters appear to have come from Westmorland, as in the church graveyard is a headstone: In Memory of John Johnson, blue slater, a native of Bowness in Windermere who unfortunately lost his life by a fall at this Church on 6 April 1823 aged 23 years.

Even with a regular labour force of about thirty the building took three years instead of the estimated two.

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The Consecration and after

The Church was consecrated by the Archbishop of York on 30 August 1824.

The morning was ushered in by the ringing of bells and a flag hoisted on the south west pinnacle of the steeple. It was estimated that 2500 spectators attended. When silence was obtained the Archbishop led the long procession up the aisle repeating the 24th psalm. Mr Jenkins preached from the text: This is the house of the Lord God (1.Chron xxii 1). Followed by the 100th psalm and Luthers Hymn

Information is taken from the Story of Pudsey Church by Ruth Strong, 1988, Copyright (C) Pudsey Parochial Church Council

For further reading about the history of Pudsey see the Pudsey Civic Society link on our Links Page.