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Heworth Methodist Church, Heworth Village (the name of the street), York, by Edward Taylor (1831-1908), with the extension,with its meeting rooms, on the right. [Click here for the OS 25" map of the area in 1909] Opened in 1890, the church was built in yellow brick, with carved stone pinnacles and string courses, etc. The site was a confined one, and initially the development comprised a rectangular church lying north–south, with a small vestry to the east, a tower at the pavement, and meeting rooms in a square block set back from the road and at right-angles to the church. Taylor had designed meeting rooms for the Central Methodist (Centenary) Church earlier in his career; they are a typical provision at a Methodist church. In the twentieth century, extensions with a foyer and more meeting rooms were added on at least two occasions, and these eliminated the L-shaped block of cottages on the west side which is shown on the 1909 map.
Left to right: (a) A window of the church. (b) The tower. (c) Detail of the carvings.
The style is vaguely Perpendicular, as shown by the squared hoodmoulds on most windows. The tower is elaborated but, being well-proportioned, is not heavy. It has a ring of pseudo-gargoyles imitating those on two of the medieval churches in York, St Helen’s and All Saints, Pavement; St Wilfrid’s, Duncombe Place, near the Minster (1862-4), built as the pro-cathedral for the Roman Catholic diocese of Beverley, also imitates this medieval use of gargoyles, which were functional spouts to shed rainwater.
Left: Distant view of York Minster. Right: The Methodist and Anglican towers from Harrison Street, behind Heworth Village.
The church is set on one of the quieter streets of a busy junction at the centre of Heworth, now a suburb of York with late 18th-century and early 19th century housing at its core. From the junction is seen a distant view of the towers of York Minster, but more noticeable is the tower of the Anglican parish church of Holy Trinity. This was the first church built in Heworth, but it was only provided in 1868-9, some twenty years before the Methodist church. Its architect was George Fowler Jones, who had trained Edward Taylor. Comparisons are unavoidable.
Left: Looking west from Heworth Village. Right: Looking east from East Parade.
“Corner tower with pyramidal spire with pinnacles and gargoyles vying with that of Holy Trinity church nearby” say Nikolaus Pevsner and David Neave (178). Further on, they describe Holy Trinity as having "a decorative top to the tower which is echoed by that to the E on the Heworth Methodist church" (249). Clearly Taylor’s design had to cope with the dominating presence of his master’s church – on that open corner site, with wide lawns all round it. He chose the distinctive pleasant yellow brick, and a later Gothic style which does not emphasise the vertical but encourages a sturdy compression. Not every Methodist church has a tower, or makes so much of one. There is no sense of competition, but a rational difference: it is a nice touch that the finials of the two towers are very similar.
Ordnance Survey 25” Map, taken from the National Library of Scotland.
Pevsner, Nikolaus, and David Neave. Yorkshire: York and the East Riding. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2002.
Created 1 July 2020