The first Children’s Church Heritage Trail in the North of England has been launched in inner-city Leeds.
The trail, compiled for St Hilda’s Church in Cross Green, is a questionnaire aimed at eight to 12-year-olds to guide them around the building’s most interesting and unusual features.
Year six pupils from nearby Richmond Hill Primary School helped to launch the innovative project by exploring the Grade II listed place of worship and completing the questions.
The youngsters, aged 10 and 11, were charmed by the story of St Hilda, who banished snakes from Whitby with her inherent goodness – and were thrilled to go on a “snake hunt” around the church, looking for the creatures in pictures and paintings.
Other highlights included the rood screen, a partition at the front of the church which has room for the choir on top - thought to be the only one of its kind in the city – and the clever mechanics of the font lid, which enable users to lift it with one finger despite its weight.
Stephen Savage, volunteer helper at St Hilda’s, had the idea of the trail and helped create it with the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies (NADFAS).
He said: “It’s to help children get to know a bit more about art and architectures and focus their attention on the main features of the building, so they’re not looking without any help.
“This guides them to the most interesting features.”
The questions encourage the children to look at the architecture and furnishings of the church, which serves one of the most deprived areas of the country. And a corresponding answer sheet is provided for accompanying adults.
The church has a rich and colourful interior, with plenty of features to appeal to children.
Amanda Kay, school and community support advisor at Richmond Hill Primary, said: “It was really interesting and the children loved it. They were captivated from the minute their walked through the door.”
The launch was held yesterday – on the 130th anniversary of the church’s dedication.
The trail is part of an education programme to encourage children and their families to learn about architecture, history and furnishings in churches.