City’s past unlocked at lunchtime

Manorial Court House and Bakehouse, Kirkgate, circa 1438.
Manorial Court House and Bakehouse, Kirkgate, circa 1438.
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Picture peasant farmhouses on what is now a bustling city centre street.

It may be hard to imagine but the early medieval settlement of Leeds was focused on a manor house and church where Leeds Minster stands today, with the farmhouses on the village street of Kirkgate.

The Black Prince statue being assembled in 1903.

The Black Prince statue being assembled in 1903.

How the city’s oldest street was created is the subject of a lecture - part of a free series aimed at office workers next month.

Leeds historian Dr Kevin Grady will present his tenth annual series of four half-hour Wednesday lunchtime public lectures at Holy Trinity Church.

Dr Grady said: “This year’s lectures look at Leeds both ancient and modern. I will be talking about Leeds from its very origins with the creation of Kirkgate as its most historic street to the fascinating history of the development of the city’s shopping centres and department stores culminating in the recent opening of John Lewis and the Victoria Gate arcades.

“In addition, I tell the story of the creation of City Square and review the development of Leeds over the last 30 years.

Lewis's Headrow store in the 1930s

Lewis's Headrow store in the 1930s

“My half-hour lectures aim to tempt city centre workers to nip out of their offices to Holy Trinity Church at lunchtime to enjoy half an hour of the fascinating history of Leeds. The lectures are very enjoyable to prepare and aim to be fun to see and listen to.”

The first lecture, titled The Origins of Leeds: Medieval and Early Modern Kirkgate and Briggate, tells how the historic streets were created.

The Grandest Space: The Making of City Square Revisited (including Colonel Harding’s souvenir photographs), on February 8, tells the story of the creation of City Square which was opened in 1903.

Lecture three on February 15 looks from the late Georgian period to the present day at the development of shops and department stores in Leeds. It is titled From the Bazaar & Shambles to John Lewis: Shopping Centres and Department Stores in Leeds, 1825 - 2017.

In his final lecture, Leeds - A 30 Year Perspective: Development and Conservation 1987-2017, Dr Grady reviews the renaissance of Leeds in this period including the many successes as well as some of the disappointments.

Leeds in Your Lunch Hour lectures will take place from 1.15pm to 1.45pm on Wednesdays from February 1 to 22 At Holy Trinity Church, Boar Lane.

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