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St  MARY'S  CHURCH

 

After St. John's Chapel was erected, in the middle of the last century, as we have seen in a preceding chapter, Harrogate was for a long period content with this single place of worship, however inadequate it must have been for the increasing population. There might be many reasons for this. The want of railroads and ready communication must at that period have limited the number of visitors, and the permanent residents were neither numerous nor wealthy. The unbroken line of handsome lodging-houses fronting the `finest Park, and a considerable portion of York Place and of Cold Bath Road, were not at that time built, nor even contemplated; still a steady increase of visitors took place, and they were principally of the wealthy classes, who came with their full retinue, and remained for a considerable period. Hence it was that the want of another church began to be felt, and subscriptions were started for the accomplishment of this object. Judging from the result, the subscriptions, however numerous they may have been, were not extravagant in their amount. The plain, unpretending building, dedicated to St. Mary, was the joint offspring of the aforesaid subscriptions, and of a grant from the Commissioners of the Million Act. It was erected in 1824, and consecrated in 1825. There is an endowment of 50 per annum from the Duchy of Lancaster, from which source came also the grant of the site, and two acres of land for a burial ground.

St. Mary's Church is pleasantly situated in the valley of Harrogate Wells, formerly Low Harrogate, on ground sloping from the South, on which side it has a background of thick and extensive plantations. It is conveniently placed for the use of visitors, for whose accommodation it was built, and on whose account are provided so many free seats. It is a district church, in the parish of Pannal, and it is but recently that through the application of what is called Lord Blandford's Act, marriages could be solemnized in the church, and interments take place. It is in the diocese of Ripon. A neat parsonage was built some years ago, and pleasantly situated South of the church.

In the summer of 1862, a memorial window to the late Prince Albert was put up in this church. The window, which is of the Early English style, contains three separate lancet lights, and forms three sides of an hexagon. The side lights have been filled in with twelfth century geometrical design, having quatrefoils of ruby intersected by straps of blue. In the inside of two of those quatrefoils are armorial bearings ; the uppermost containing the arms of her Majesty, emblazoned on a shield surmounted by the Crown of England. The other contains the arms of his late Royal Highness the Prince Consort, quartered with those of her Majesty. This shield is also surmounted by the Crown of the late Prince. In the quatrefoils that are not occupied with the coats of arms the space is tilled up with rich centres of coloured leaves and straps. The remainder of the window between the borders and quatrefoils is filled in with amber glass and coloured semicircles, out of which spring scrollwork containing the leaves and berries of the Herba Benedictus. The border is composed of the same leaves and berries on the variegated coloured ground. The middle light, which is the most important of the three, has for its design an elongated pannel, in which the Ascension of our Lord is represented, surrounded by the Visica Piscis. In the foreground are the Apostles, the most prominent of whom is St. Peter. Above and below the pannel are quarterfoils containing the "Agnus Dei" and "I.H.S." The border of this light is also composed of the leaves of the Herba Benedictus, on a ruby ground, intersected by semicircular shafts of white. The life-like and truly characteristic expression of countenance given to each of the figures is striking in the extreme, and conveys to the mind an impression of the great study the artist must have devoted to the subject. The wonderful expression of calm resignation, not unmarked with a line of grief, in the Virgin's countenance, has been happily caught by the artist ; and the calm, benign, and sympathising look cast by the ascending Saviour on the little group is well adapted to the solemn subject. The colouring is rich, transparent, and brilliant in appearance, especially the amber and green, although it is seen under great disadvantage, being shaded by the thick, heavy foliage of the neighbouring trees. At the base of the window is the following inscription:- three windows were erected by private subscription to the memory of his Royal Highness Francis Albert Augustus Charles Emanuel, Prince Consort, Duke of Saxe Coburg and Gotha, A.D. 1862."

Service at St. Mary's. In summer - Sunday morning at half-past ten, and evening at half-past six; also on Wednesday evening at seven o'clock. In winter - on Sunday at half-past ten and three o'clock.

 
 
 

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