St Chad’s Church was declared open for worship as a parish church to serve the people of Far Headingley on 11 January 1868. The start of the service was delayed awaiting the Bishop of Ripon’s arrival in heavy snow.
We celebrated the anniversary on the nearest Sunday, 14 January. Our Diocesan Bishop (and Far Headingley parishioner), the Right Reverend Nick Baines, came to preach. The Lord Mayor, Councillor Jane Dowson, and our local MP, Alex Sobel, were also in attendance, replicating the presence of those people in our community who attended 150 years ago.
The original Church had a rounded front, a gem in the gothic perpendicular style. The 1911 reordering to create the shape of the Church we know today was primarily to house the very fine Harrison and Harrison organ, a Cathedral sized organ in a parish Church.
There have been ten Vicars at St Chad’s since 1868. The average length of incumbency has been 15 years: a plum parish! The longest serving Vicar was Canon Marshall who was here from 1907 to 1947, a ministry spanning two World Wars. I have been parish priest here for a mere seven years thus far.
The most recent re-ordering of the interior, completed in May 2011, has created a bright welcoming arena for worship and flexibility for use for local community groups. I am delighted that the Leeds Festival Chorus and the Leeds Symphony Orchestra now use the Church on a weekly basis as a rehearsal space.
Most Far Headingley residents will be familiar with the parish centre but you may not have set foot inside the church. We are aiming to open up the church for 150 extra occasions this year which we will try to publicise widely. Why not visit your parish church at some point in our 150th year?
Reverend Tom Lusty
Priest in Charge, St Chad’s Parish Church, Far Headingley