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Listed Building
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Kirklees (Metropolitan Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SE 21855 26179


SE 22 NW BATLEY MB KIRKGATE BIRSTALL 2/30 Church of St Peter 29.3.63 II*

Tower of C12 with C15 bell stage, the remainder 1863-70 by W.H. Crossland.

MATERIALS: Ashlar sandstone, graded slate roof.

PLAN: Nave with double aisles, embraced west tower, north and south porches, lower aisled chancel, incorporating vestry and organ chamber on the south side, chapel on the north side.

EXTERIOR: The tower is 3 stages, Norman in its lower 2 stages, to which diagonal buttresses at the bell stage, and an embattled parapet on a corbel table, with stout corner pinnacles, were added in the C15. The lower stage has a narrow west door, of C19 detail but earlier proportions, which has relief foliage in the spandrels, below a 2-light Perpendicular west window. The second stage has narrow round-headed north and south windows, above which is a round clock on the west face. The bell stage has 2-light transomed Perpendicular openings, below which is a 1660 sundial on the south face. The remainder of the church is a single build in Decorated and Perpendicular styles, with embattled parapets and corner pinnacles to nave and chancel. The nave clerestorey has 4 pairs of 2-light Perpendicular and Decorated windows. Inner aisles, under lean-to roofs, have 3-light square-headed west windows. Outer aisles are 5 bays, and have 4-light square-headed windows, except for 4-light west and east windows with intersecting tracery. Porches are in the second bay and are near-identical. They have angle buttresses with diagonal pinnacles, and battlements. The entrance arches have 3 orders of filleted shafts and vertical bands of fleurons, foliage capitals, and arches incorporating bands of foliage. Inside are pointed tunnel vaults with transverse ribs on grotesque corbels. Continuous moulded doorways have doors with ornate strap hinges. In the chancel, angle buttresses incorporate statue niches with figures of saints. The east window is 7-light Decorated, enriched by slender shafts. Chancel aisles have square-headed 3-light east windows. The south aisle has three 3-light windows and offset doorway with hollow-chamfer surround, and the north aisle is 2 bays with central buttress, with 4-light and two 3-light windows.

INTERIOR: The tower has a stepped round arch on moulded imposts, of c1100. The remainder is C19 and mainly in the Decorated style. The 4-bay nave has arcades with octagonal piers, foliage capitals and double-chamfer arches with linked hoods and heads stops. Outer aisles have 7-bay arcades on quatrefoil piers, foliage capitals and hollow-moulded arches. Nave and outer aisles have tie-beam roofs with tracery above the beams. Inner aisle lean-to roofs also have tracery above beams. The chancel arch has shafts, bands of foliage to capitals and a moulded arch. Three-bay chancel arcades have piers of filleted quatrefoil section, foliage capitals and moulded arches with angel stops to linked hood moulds. In the spandrels are corbelled niches with figures of saints below canopies. The chancel roof is 3½ bays. It has hammerbeams in the form of angels, and tracery above arched braces. Chancel-aisle roofs have tie beams enriched with fleurons and tracery above. Nave and inner aisles have plastered walls. Outer aisles and chancel walls are exposed stone. Where visible, the south aisle has a flagstone floor, and there are raised floorboards below pews and choir stalls. The chancel has encaustic and plain tile floors and the north chancel-aisle chapel has a mosaic floor.

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: The east wall has an early C20 wall painting of Christ in Glory by the pre-Raphaelite E. Reginald Frampton (copies of drawings in the church suggest it was the first part of a scheme for the whole nave). The octagonal font, with panelled bowl and stem, is C15 and was discarded in 1771 but reinstated in 1841. The monumental freestone pulpit is probably Crossland¿s design, and has figures of the Four Doctors, and stone steps with wrought-iron balustrade. Benches, probably of 1870, have roundels to the tops and arm rests. (benches have been removed from the aisles). A simple chancel screen has a panelled dado, tracery and iron grille to main lights, and a moulded cornice. Medieval choir stalls have ends with blind tracery and poppy heads, with carvings on the arm rests of foliage and animals. The Victorian freestone reredos shows the Last Supper in high relief under Gothic canopies, with saints in flanking niches, and blind arcading against the east wall. Early C19 metal plaques with Commandments, Apostle's Creed and Lord's Prayer are on the north and south sanctuary walls. There are C18 and C19 wall tablets in the base of the tower and on the outer north wall of the tower. Stained glass includes 2 highly-coloured windows by J.B. Capronnier of Brussels (1872, 1885), 2 by F.X. Zettler of Munich (1879) and 3 attributed to Kempe (1881, 1896, 1898). In the south-east corner of the outer south aisle is a brass to Mrs Popeley (d 1623), unusually depicting her in a shroud, and a repository of discarded fixtures, such as parts of a font, stoups, medieval grave slabs, and several C16 bench ends and 2 of the C17, one dated 1616.

HISTORY: The church was founded c1100 by Radulphus de Paganell, but of that period only the tower survives. The tower was heightened in the C15 but nothing remains from C14 rebuilding. All that remains of the remainder of the medieval church are some grave slabs, font and other architectural fragments. The church was rebuilt on an ambitious scale 1863-70 by W.H. Crossland (1823-1909), architect of Leeds. Crossland, who began his career as a pupil of Sir George Gilbert Scott, built several Yorkshire churches in the Decorated style, and also undertook important secular commissions, including Rochdale Town Hall and Holloway College at Egham, Surrey. The Decorated style and the taste for lavish decoration displayed at Birstall are characteristic of Crossland's churches. In 1997-2000 the first bay of the nave and the aisles were screened off from the main body of the church to create meeting and service rooms.

SOURCES: Pevsner, N., The Buildings of England: Yorkshire, West Riding (1967), 105-6, 616. Lambeth Palace Library, Incorporated Church Building Society Archives.

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The church of St Peter, Birstall, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * For its medieval tower, of which the lower stages are of c1100 and the bell stage and crown are of the C15. * The remainder of the building is a large and ambitious C19 church by W.H. Crossland, a prominent Yorkshire architect, and demonstrates well his preference for the Decorated style and taste for lavish decoration. * The church has a range of good-quality fixtures from the C15-C19, including some C16 and early C17 bench ends, a rare survival and good stained glass. The Popely brass is unusual in iconographic terms.

Listing NGR: SE2185526179


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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Books and journals
Pevsner, N, Radcliffe, E, The Buildings of England: Yorkshire: The West Riding, (1967)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

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