Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
CHURCH OF ST CUTHBERT, 53 Wilmer Road, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD7 3AW


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Statutory Address:
CHURCH OF ST CUTHBERT, 53 Wilmer Road, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD7 3AW

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

Bradford (Metropolitan Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Roman Catholic church, 1890-91, with minor later alterations, by WH & JH Marten. Interior with Stations of the Cross and sculptures by Eric Gill.

Reasons for Designation

St Cuthbert's RC Church, constructed in 1890-1 by WH & JH Marten, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* Artistic interest: The interior contains rare early-mid C20 works of art of exceptional quality by the internationally renowned artist, Eric Gill, including 14 Stations of the Cross, a relief of St Anthony, and a sculpture of the Madonna, which showcase Gill's great skill and mastery of linear expression * Artistic symbolism: Gill's sculpture of the Madonna (1937-8) depicting the Virgin Mary as a mill girl is a particularly bold and striking portrayal that makes direct references to the church's industrial location in Manningham and the occupations of some of the church's original congregation * Historic interest: The church has significant historic interest derived from its association with Mgr O'Connor, the parish priest at St Cuthbert's from 1919-1952. Mgr O'Connor was the inspiration for GK Chesterton's Father Brown and had a unique relationship with Eric Gill to whom he was a close friend and mentor, collaborating with Gill on the controversial 'Song of Songs' and 'Song of the Soul' amongst other works


By c1890 St Patrick's parish in Manningham had outgrown the chapel and school it had converted from a terrace of back-to-back houses in 1876. In preparation for a new church, land on the west side of Wilmer Road overlooking Heaton Reservoir was bought, and the foundation stone for the new church was laid on 14 June 1890. The church was completed in August 1891 to the designs of WH & JH Marten, at a cost of approximately £3500 excluding internal decorative work. St Cuthbert's RC Church was dedicated on 19 August 1891 by Bishop Gordon of Leeds. The church was re-ordered in the 1970s.

The internationally renowned artist Eric Gill (1882-1940) converted to Catholicism in 1913 and he designed and carved a set of fourteen Stations of the Cross in 1920-4 for Father John O'Connor (designated as a Monsignor in 1937) and St Cuthbert's RC Church. The inscriptions were chosen by both Gill and O'Connor. Gill also carved a statue of the Virgin Mary and a relief of St Anthony for the church, and he designed a statue of St Joseph (carved by May Bateman). Mgr O'Connor was Gill's friend and mentor and is said to be the inspiration for GK Chesterton's fictional Father Brown.


MATERIALS: Coursed rubble stone, with ashlar dressings, Welsh slate roofs, coped gables, and terracotta ridge tiles.

PLAN: Church is aligned north-west to south-east. Nave with side aisles set underneath separate roofs, single-storey narthex with octagonal baptistery set to south-east (ritual west) end, polygonal apse to chancel, gabled confessionals and side chapels to north-western ends of each side aisle.

EXTERIOR: Nave and chancel set underneath a single steep roof. Windows with ashlar surrounds and leaded glazing (some with stained glass). South-east (ritual west) elevation has a single-storey, lean-to narthex in front with a central, Gothic-arched doorway with double plank doors and carved angel imposts. Doorway is flanked by single lancets set within pointed brick arches, gableted buttress to right and far right flanking a graduated triple lancet window set within a wide, pointed brick arch. Single-storey, octagonal baptistry to far left of narthex with a polygonal roof and two-light pointed-arched window to each face. Gabled nave front above and behind narthex surmounted by a stone cross finial. Large four-light ritual West window with cusped tracery, stained glass and an attached statue of Christ on the cross. Window is flanked by two smaller blind cusped lancets all set within a wide, pointed brick arch. Gable is flanked by single octagonal turrets with short stone spires rising to same height as nave apex. North-east end return of narthex facing Wilmer Road with a coped gable containing a Gothic-arched doorway with double plank doors, gable is surmounted by an Iona cross finial and is flanked by short square turrets with graduated pyramidal roofs and gableted buttresses. Buttressed, single-storey side aisles lit by small chamfered lancets. Clerestory above with five graduated, triple-lancet, ashlar windows to each side set within pointed brick arches. Octagonal turret to north-east side breaks through nave roof and marks the junction between nave and chancel, and incorporates a bellcote and conical, red tiled roof. Two gables (facing on to Wilmer Road) with gableted buttresses to north-west end of north-east side aisle. That to left projects forward slightly and contains confessionals, that to right contains the Lady Chapel and is slightly larger with stained glass sexfoils to the north-east side and north-west end return. Further confessionals and side chapel to south-west side aisle without gables but side chapel also lit by two sexfoils. Chancel with single three-light pointed-arched window to north-east side in same style as those to clerestory, octagonal apse lit by five tall, stained glass lancets. Enclosed, single-storey link containing sacristy to north-west end of church connects to attached presbytery, which is covered by a separate list entry.

INTERIOR: Tiled and floorboard floors to nave and side aisles, and original wooden pews. Boarded and painted ceilings throughout apart from that to the chancel, which is of painted plaster with ribs (some of which are corbelled) decorated with plaster crosses and foliate decoration, and a centrally placed roundel depicting a cross. Original painted and stencilled decoration to church interior now painted over. Stained glass, including that to the nave, side aisles, baptistry, and Lady Chapel, is mostly later and by Leonard Walker (1877-1964). Original chancel windows dedicated to the Fattorini family, well-known Bradford jewellers. Gothic-arched nave arcades supported on coloured marble columns with ornate carved capitals. Ornate carved timber screen, painted white, to south corner with decorative wrought iron gates leads into baptistry containing a marble and stone font, with a ceiling of painted plaster and slender, applied ribs. Tall carved panel by Eric Gill depicting St Anthony holding an infant Jesus aloft attached to wall of south-west side aisle in front of baptistry entrance, stone shelf below. Fourteen low-relief Stations of the Cross (1920-4) carved of Beer stone by Eric Gill (aided by his assistant, Desmond Chute) embedded within the walls of the side aisles with contrasting red lettering and Christ's nimbus picked out with gilding. Those to the north-east aisle incorporate Latin inscriptions, those to the south-west aisle incorporate Greek inscriptions, all chosen by Gill and Father O'Connor. Two confessionals set towards north-western end of each side aisle with decorative carved panelled doors incorporating stained leaded glazing and a crocketed, pinnacled balustrade above. Organ to south-east end of north-east side aisle. Paired arched openings to north-west end of each side aisle lead into Lady Chapel, side chapel and adjacent inner passageways leading to sacristy and presbytery. Chancel arch supported by short corbelled columns, flanked by two statues set upon tall stone plinths. The Statue to the left (1940-2) is of St Joseph holding an infant Jesus in Red Mansfield stone (designed by Gill and carved by May Bateman of Edinburgh). To the right is a statue (1937-8) of the Madonna known as 'The Annunciation' also of Red Mansfield stone, carved by Eric Gill with Mary depicted as a mill girl with her head looking upwards to receive angel Gabriel's message and her right hand placed on her womb referencing Mary's self-chosen title the 'Handmaid of the Lord'. 'The Annunciation' was exhibited at the Royal Academy's summer exhibition in 1938 and Gill's daughter, Joanna, modelled for the drawings. Ornate carved, painted and gilded timber altar rail with an integral octagonal pulpit below the chancel arch. Large arched openings just behind chancel arch to each side containing carved and pierced timber screens with crocketed-arched upper panels. Series of blind pointed arches with columned surrounds to chancel; later inserted doorway to arch to south-west side, two credence shelves and a piscina to arch to north-east side. Triple-arched sedilia to north-east side of chancel. Five tall eastern lancets above blind arches also with columned surrounds. Carved stone altar to centre of chancel, two short altar pillars to tabernacle originally formed part of altar.


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
MacCarthy, F, Eric Gill, (1989)
Smith, J, The Elusive Father Brown: The Life of Mgr John O'Conner, (2010)
Taylor, S, Gibson, K, Manningham: Character and Diversity in a Bradford Suburb, (2010)
Our Worship, accessed from
City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council: Manningham Conservation Area Assessment (June 2005),


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

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 15 Nov 2007
Reference: IOE01/16967/16
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Nigel Wood. Source Historic England Archive
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