Holy Trinity Church was consecrated on August 27th, 1727. It was the third major Anglican church to be built in what was a rapidly growing town, Leeds. The medieval church of St Peter (Leeds Parish Church) was re-built in the 19th century and re-consecrated in 1841, and St John’s, Briggate, dates from the 17th century. First established on ground said to have been the venue for travelling theatres and circuses, Holy Trinity was an important venue for the musical and artistic life of eighteenth-century Leeds.
By the early 18th century, the town was at the start of its development into an industrial city, and both St Peter’s and St John’s were over-crowded. In 1714 a group, including a number of the wealthier merchants and the famous Leeds historian, Ralph Thoresby, began to campaign for a third church. At the beginning funds were not readily forthcoming, and it was only when Lady Elizabeth Hastings of Ledsham Hall gave generous support of £1000, that the project could go ahead. Other contributions came from as far afield as Newcastle, and ranged from £300 to 5s. Although it needed the support of the aristocracy, it was a project initiated by merchants and largely supported by them and the ordinary working townspeople of Leeds.
By now it was becoming fashionable to build homes to the west of the town centre to escape industrial pollution. It was here that they wanted to build the church on land obtained from Mrs Jane Sleigh, land which in the past had been the site of travelling theatres, circuses and the Leeds Fair.
Built between 1722 – 27, the body of the church is to Etty’s design as illustrated by Ralph Thoresby in his ‘Vicaria Leodiensis’ (1723), but only a few years later, the tower is shown with a third stage, housing the clock, the whole topped by a spire (Cossins 1726, and others). The building accounts show a sum of £1 10s paid to John Wright for gilding the Fleece which still forms part of the weather vane.
Dimes and Mitchell (2006) comment that the grit stone (Rough Rock), which is of the highest quality, is cut in very large blocks that would have been expensive to transport. It was taken from the Meanwood Quarry, and ‘enjoyed a national reputation’ The church was built in the late English renaissance style of durable moor stone.
The external feature is a steeple, rising to 180 feet. It contains two bells, the older of which dated 1728, is the oldest bell in Leeds. Originally, Holy Trinity was built with a wooden spire, which blew down in 1839. It was replaced with the present three-stage addition.
Ann Nicholl - Lay Minister: