St Saviour's, Leeds, England


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Mystery Worshipper:
Church: St Saviour's
Location: Leeds, England
Date of visit: Monday, 10 February 2020, 6:00pm

The building

Photo: © Mark Stevenson and used under license A Gothic Revival structure built between 1842 and 1845 to designs by the Irish architect John Macduff Derick, who built several churches in Ireland and the north of England and who designed that mid 19th century curiosity, the boatmen’s floating chapel on the Oxford Canal. St Saviour’s is thought to be the first Anglo-Catholic church built outside of London. The cornerstone was laid on Holy Cross Day and the church was originally to be called Holy Cross; however, the bishop objected. The tower is a much later addition, dating from 1937. The interior is traditional Anglo-Catholic, and is rumoured to have more stained glass than any other church in Yorkshire. There was a statue of the Sacred Heart, Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Walsingham, and holy water on the entrance. Many long and elaborate candlesticks on the altar and reserved Sacrament in the tabernacle with sanctuary lamp. There were crucifixes everywhere!

The church

St Saviour’s was purpose-built as an Anglo-Catholic church right from the very start. Edward Bouverie Pusey, one of the champions of the Oxford Movement, anonymously financed the building of the church. Low mass is celebrated on Mondays; sung mass on Sundays.

The neighborhood

Leeds, in West Yorkshire, is England’s largest legal and financial centre outside London. The church seems to be in a fairly quiet area of Leeds, Richmond Hill, which is just outside the city centre.

The cast

The parish priest, assisted by a full choir.

What was the name of the service?

Solemn Evensong and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

How full was the building?

Practically empty, unfortunately.

Did anyone welcome you personally?

A friendly parishioner gave me a service sheet.

Was your pew comfortable?

It was about average.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?

Unfortunately I came slightly late, so I'm not quite sure.

What were the exact opening words of the service?

Sorry, I was too late to hear this.

What books did the congregation use during the service?

Magnificat, a prayer book published monthly.

What musical instruments were played?


Did anything distract you?

Incense and the twinkling of so many candles lit on the altar.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?

Solemn evensong. The parish priest wore a gold cope and biretta during the service. More Catholic than the Catholics – lots of incense, genuflecting and chanting. The altar and priest were thoroughly censed during the Magnificat. They even said the Catholic version of the Lord’s Prayer. At Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament after evensong, there was incense, genuflection, monstrance and bells.

Exactly how long was the sermon?

No sermon.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?


And which part was like being in... er... the other place?


What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?

I took some photographs and was shown to the parish hall for food and drink.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?

Fantastic! Lots of homemade cakes, pizza, scones, chocolates, tea and coffee! Amazing treat to be so well fed.

How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?

10 — One of the nicest churches I have ever visited. Very heartfelt welcome and very warm environment after the service.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?


What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?

Smelling the incense as I opened the church door!

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