Double church closure sparks uncertainty over Leeds landmark

Hunslet St Mary's Church. PIC: Bruce Rollinson
Hunslet St Mary's Church. PIC: Bruce Rollinson
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A Leeds church has been shut down and another with history dating back 150 years is at risk of permanent closure.

St David’s, in Dewsbury Road, Beeston, has closed in recent weeks due to a dwindling congregation, while Hunslet St Mary’s, in Church Street, will not open to visitors for winter due to a heating failure.

It had been suggested that St Mary’s, known for its Grade II-listed church tower and spire dating back to 1861, was certain to close with its rebuilt 1970s buildings facing possible demolition.

But the Church of England has confirmed that, although the congregation at St David’s has been disbanded, worshippers at Hunslet St Mary’s are continuing to meet and the facility’s future will be debated next year.

The Archdeacon of Leeds, Paul Hooper, said: “St Mary’s Hunslet has been allowed to close for the winter because the heating has failed and the congregation will be meeting in Belle Isle instead. There remain questions about the fabric of the building however, and consultations about the possibility of a more permanent closure will continue in the New Year.”

He said that the Church of England is committed to maintaining a presence in Hunslet.

St David’s closed with a special service on November 22, while Hunslet St Mary’s held its last services earlier this month.

Rev Lindsey Pearson, parish vicar at Beeston St David’s, said: “It’s [St David’s] been very small for quite a long time. We were spending all our time worried about the buildings and that’s really not what it’s meant to be about.”

She continued: “It’s best to be realistic rather than let it continue to decline.”

There are a number of other St Mary’s churches in south Leeds, including in Beeston and Middleton, which both remain open.

It is thought that a number of the regular visitors to St David’s have joined St Mary’s in Beeston already.