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St John’s is the oldest church in Leeds city centre. It was built in 1632-34, a turbulent time in England when very few new churches were constructed.
The glory of St John’s lies in its Jacobean fittings, particularly the superb carved wooden screen. Every part is richly decorated with flowers (including tulips), hearts, twisting vines, and grotesque heads of humans and animals. There is more lovely carving on the wall panels, pews and pulpit. The ceiling panels have pretty plaster reliefs, and the corbel supporting the beams have curiously carved creatures, including angels with musical instruments.
John Harrison, a wealthy local wool merchant and notable benefactor bore the entire expense of the church. He also endowed the local grammar school, and built almshouses near the church.
The stained glass dates from the 19th century and includes a memorial window to Harrison, with delightful scenes showing him performing good deeds, and directing the building of the church. Monuments around the church commemorate the citizens of Leeds throughout the centuries, and emphasise the importance of the wool industry to the city’s prosperity.
In the mid-19th century, the parish wanted to demolish the building and rebuild a more convenient modern church. The young architect Norman Shaw led the outcry, joined by the eminent architect Sir George Gilbert Scott. Happily, they prevailed and Shaw was responsible for the restoration, very much in the original style of the building.
Open all the time
Opening hours: Usually open Tues-Sat 11am-3pm.
SE 302337 53.79874 -1.54297
From Leeds railway station take a left towards City Square . At City Square take a right turn crossing into Boar Lane walk along Boar Lane to Briggate , a pedestrian shopping precinct. Turn Left here and walk up Briggate to the headrow at the top . Cross The Headrow and walk onwards into New Briggate where you will find St John the Evangelist Church in Mark Lane on your left
: 0 miles from Leeds station
- Disabled access
- Public toilets
- Disabled access