Ø July 11 Leeds (Thursday)
Happy to leave Printworks, I walked to the Liverpool Lime Street station for the 9:56 train to Leeds. Boarding of the 3 carriages was restricted until 10 minutes before departure, but I had luggage space and a reserved seat for the 70 minute ride. No WiFi and probably 5 minutes late into Leeds. Maps initially gave me very weird directions, so I restarted the phone and I was directed straight down Boar and Duncan to Crown Street, where the building was. Of course, I enter on the awkward side, needing to haul up a half dozen steps, wheeled through a courtyard to another lift to the top floor. Keys were on the ledge as promised, and I got my bag into my room. I plugged in the toothbrush to finish its charge (it takes 24 hours) and considered my options.
My plans for my two days based in #Leeds were to explore the city one day, and the second take two “day trips” by train to Wakefield and Bedford, two nearby cathedral towns. The city itself has just a Catholic cathedral, but there is also Leeds Minster as well as a major university. Because the Minster closes at 2pm, I figured to start there. The Minster and Parish Church of Saint Peter-at-Leeds has a single large clock- and bell-tower at the end of the north transept, across Kirkgate from a large green. It is not the seat of the Diocese of Leeds, as the five bishops (Bradford, Huddersfield, Leeds, Ripon and Wakefield) in the diocese have three cathedrals (Bradford, Ripon and Wakefield.) I found it quite confusing, likening it to the concept of the Trinity, but applied to west Yorkshire.
The Minster is the Bishop of Leeds’ base. Restored in the mid nineteenth century, much of the ornately carved wood is painted black, contrasting nicely with the red tones in the pews. The pews in the side aisles are perpendicular to those in the nave, and sit under galleries with stepped bench seating. Beyond the crossing, the presbytery is open, with two sets of three steps leading up to the high altar and the apse walls covered with brilliant stained-glass. Behind the altar is a marble reredos with mosaics of Christ and the saints.
Setting out on a wander, I came across a large plaza with an open air and covered market, the Leeds City Market at Kirkgate. Produce, clothing, flowers, sundries; it was entertainment for a quarter hour, and then I crossed to a circular building, the Corn Market. From there heading northwest, I came to the Cathedral Church of St Anne. A large neo-Gothic building of a tan sandstone, the cruciform layout runs east to west with a single bell tower at the west side of the north transept. A wide central nave aisle with blond-wood pews is flanked by two narrow side aisles. The Eucharistic chapel in the north transept has a lovely gilded carved wooden altarpiece.
The main altar is up four steps which rise beyond the crossing and into the sanctuary at the east end. The cathedra is carved stone, with a wooden seat and back, which sits to the center and blocking the high altar. The reredos of this altar is another gilded wooden altarpiece, very large and ornate. In the transept a painting in the shape of a cross commemorates the 14 Yorkshire Martyrs.
When I left the #LeedsCathedral, I headed out to the east, wandering through new construction of high-rise student apartments on the edges of the University. Feeling a bit tired and hungry, I entered a corner pub, The Brunswick, where I had a half pint of Fierce, a sour red and a “beef burger with Emmenthal, Monterey Jack , sauce and pickle.” It was probably the best burger ever: crispy and crunchy on the outside of the two patties, it had a degree of sweetness to counter the tart ale. The seeded bun was simple and just the right size, and the sauce was decent. The place was empty (admittedly at 2:30), but the ale prices wouldn’t encourage a student crowd anyway. The barkeep recommended The House of Trembling Madness in York, my next port of call.
Heading back to the flat, I wandered through several shopping areas and arcades, into the Corn Market before going upstairs. Actually, up the lift, as my notes indicate that my right knee was continuing to bother me. Manuel, a host originally from Madrid, had arrived, and suggested a massage therapist on the second level of the Corn Market. He also gave me directions to the local Royal Post. I gathered up 2 kilograms of touristing paperwork and headed there, mailing it in a plastic envelope for £13, with a 42-day delivery period. [It was in Florida before me, 3 weeks later.] I returned to the Corn Market and climbed to the massage space. In session, I phoned and checked online for an appointment, but no availability until Tuesday.
Back at the flat, I put my legs up and charged the phone while I made a list of future train rides, so I could buy tickets for the next two weeks. Then I took a nap. Out about 7, I stopped at The Pack Horse for a Theakston Old Peculier, a dark amber. The dining recommendations I got were either kitchen-less or not where I was told they’d be. So I entered The Conservatory, got a pint of a light amber, DE14, to go with my chicken, chorizo and thyme risotto, garlic ciabatta and house salad. Books covered the walls, lighting was adequate and I was away from smokers – all was good. The ale wasn’t to my taste, having a vinegar edge. The bread starter was the carbs I needed, with a little salt. Adding parmesan and black pepper to the risotto, and it was perfect – good size chunks of chicken with small cubes of the sausage. A bowl of salad, it consisted of one-inch bits of green leaf, tomato wedges, cucumbers, blanched green peppers in a light vinaigrette. I switched out my beer for a Hobgoblin (Wainwright) which was much better. Tempted into dessert and a decaf cap, the chocolate salted caramel tart with Chantilly cream and raspberry coulis was less sweet than what is served across the pond, and quite wonderful. On my way back to the flat I took a few shots.
Ø July 12 Wakefield and Bradford (Friday)
#Wakefield is a city of about one hundred thousand 15km south of Leeds. The fifteen-minute train ride dropped me at the base of a hill, which I climbed, bringing me to the city hall and the first sign I saw for the cathedral. Set along the north edge of a large quadrilateral pedestrian shopping expanse paved in brick, the single black spire rises above the surrounding London plane trees.
The tower rises over the west entrance, and the better photo angle is from the southeast corner, down some steps. (Or return in late fall after the trees lose their leaves.) A relatively narrow church, the entry leads to the baptismal font, a labyrinth on the floor and an open nave filled with stackable chairs. Chandelier-like lighting fixtures hang from the points of the arches separating the side aisles, filled with chairs running their length. The nave altar sits before a dark, open wooden rood screen to the quire. The central aisle rises another level filled with windows to support the wooden ceiling.
The Cathedral Church of All Saints became a cathedral for the Diocese of Wakefield in 1888, and remained so until 2014 when it became a co-equal with the Ripon and Bradford Cathedrals for the Diocese of Leeds. The nave altar is a wonderfully crafted wooden table. Without a transept, the central aisle flows through the rood screen into the chancel.
The crucifix giving the screen its label is above and the Christ figure is clean-shaven, as is St John. Two green winged serpents are at the base of the figures. Organ pipes rise above the console behind the north side of the choir stalls, and are also across the north aisle. The ceiling in the chancel is a rich sky blue, leading to the stone aching over the high altar. The reredos at that altar is a large altarpiece of carved and painted wood with gold gilding, depicting the crucifixion and other scenes from Christ’s life. The bishop’s throne is set into the north wall, part of a carved wall bench, designated by the diocesan seal.
Behind the altar is the chapel of St Mark, an extension added in 1905. Quite simple, the altar table and backing are rich dark wood with gilded carvings, and a green and gilt baldachin. Carvers (probably Victorian) have decorated the stalls, screens, columns and wall surfaces with natural and fantastical creatures throughout the church. Treacy Hall, an addition to the north, has a small café and shop, where I was able to get my lapel pin: a cross similar to the Jerusalem cross. While there, I spoke at length with a woman staff, where we touched on a variety of subjects: #LeedsMinster and Diocese, beer, wine, suburban churches, Ely, the lack of a tour, and the missing photo form mentioned on the website.
Leaving the church via the door to the south porch, I walked through the market along Kirkgate back to the train station. What did I miss? Historically, Wakefield was a site of a battle during the War of the Roses, and was a Royalist stronghold during the Commonwealth. The ruins of Sandal Castle are nearby. The Hepworth Wakefield is located on the banks of the River Calder: an acclaimed gallery, it includes works of Wakefield natives Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore. It is across the river from the train station.
Arriving at the station just after 11, I had a fifteen-minute wait for the train north back to Leeds. Two carriages brought me back, and I changed to a train to #Bradford and rode in one of 2 very old carriages west. At Bradford Interchange two ticket agents were on duty, without customers, so I enjoined one to select and print (and sell) the tickets we’d need through Perth. Of course, about half way through the process, a train was due out, and a queue of about a half dozen “just in time” passengers lined up to get a ticket. My agent just laughed it off and kept to the task.
Walking up Bridge Street, I came upon the Tourist Office and picked up a local map of the City Centre. Walking around The Broadway Shopping Centre, I came to the Kala Sangam Arts Centre and the Cathedral Church of St Peter sitting up a rise from the U-bend of Church Bank. After a false start or two, I found the access through a gate, and up stairs to the Cathedral Close and the path to the church entrance. Continuing around the building, I achieved a full circuit, albeit including the art center in my loop.
A former parish church, it was elevated to cathedral status in 1919, and, like the Ripon and #WakefieldCathedrals, became a co-equal cathedral for Leeds Diocese in 2014. The west entrance passes through the bell tower. The north and south aisles have a banked wooden ceiling and are wide enough for five movable armchairs to handle overflow attendees. The central nave aisle has an extra story of curved arch windows over early Gothic pointed arches and columns, supporting a dark wooden beam ceiling. The stone baptismal font with its carved wooden cover suspended above it is near the entrance.
The transepts are used for display purposes, so there is no real crossing. Four steps lead up to the choir stalls and modern organ, with the chancel continuing to the sanctuary surrounded by a low wooden railing enclosing the altar table. Three chapels are at the east end, with the Chapel of St Aidan (carved wooden Celtic cross) to the north side, and the small and simple Holy Spirit and Lady Chapels to the east, behind a high open metal gating. Named for St Peter, the crossed keys symbol is repeated often.
#BradfordCathedral has its own imp, a red-robed figure which is apparently moved about the church, so spotting it is a delight. Per my guide, the bell tower is active, and tours are a future project, pending safety improvements.
Exiting via the west entrance, I took a few more shots including the hydrangea, before crossing to walk through The Broadway. Thinking to grab a quick bite to eat, I climbed stairs to enter The Bear’s Den. Two women on duty in this pub, one pulled a pint of Growler for me, an IPA, while the other began putting together a charcuterie board for one. Well worth the wait, it all was fit for a magazine cover, and delicious besides. A small space, I did some writing, chatting up the ladies, and asked for an additional half pint, which turned into a full pint. So, after a loo break, I was out to the streets again for a wander before heading to the train station.
Down a slight hill, I came to the space in front of the City Hall. With a clock tower at least twice as high again as the building’s four stories, a bandshell for the Bradford festival was filled with the Bradford Town Youth Symphony Orchestra playing the overture to “The Marriage of Figaro.” It was followed by a modern samba piece, with the woodwinds standing playing rattles, sticks, maracas while the larger string instruments were spun by their players. Definitely a crowd pleaser, as they cleared the stage I left and walked to the station.
Arriving after 4:30, I needed to pay an additional £1.10 to add to my off-peak ticket. Four carriages, I scooted away from a boisterous “hen party” to sit with a commuter, with whom I spoke the entire 15-minute ride. Back in Leeds, I headed to the flat where Manuel was doing laundry. Despite the slow WiFI speed, I did a little on the Internet and then shared the big book’s section on Spain with him. Some he didn’t know, including the Greek Orthodox in Madrid near his flat – he’d seen it, but didn’t know what it was. He pointed out several cathedrals I’d missed in Spain, particularly Salamanca, which he insisted I return and visit.
With the camera download done, I started the upload from the tablet to Dropbox. Practically across the street, and with a strong recommendation from Manuel, I found a table at Mommy Thai. Cash only, it was jammed, but my Tom Yum soup, Gai Grob Sauce Wen – crispy chicken, onions, carrots, sweet chilli garlic sauce and rice – were delicious with a bottle of Chang beer. Back to the flat, I finished my Facebook post, charged the phone and camera, and did most of my packing.