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Hunslet St Mary's Spire Archaeological and Maintenance Works

I'm extremally pleased to have received the following update about planned maintenance and archaeological investigations at the spire and the land around it. This feels like good progress as it will now mean investigative can be undertaken to clarify outstanding question regarding any remaining burials.


Dear Councillors,

I hope this email finds you all well.

We have not been in touch previously, so I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself. I am currently acting as the Closed Churches Officer for Diocese of Leeds where I am working on their existing case load which includes the site of the former church of St Mary’s in Hunslet.

I joined the Diocese in May on a six month secondment from the Churches Conservation Trust to help support the existing team and in recent weeks I have been engaged with organising a schedule of works at St Mary’s. I wanted to update you as to progress and provide some provisional dates for work taking place in the coming weeks, as I understand that some of you have expressed a keen interest in the site previously.

We are hoping to carry out removal of the graffiti on the tower early next week. This will involve the temporary use of a tower scaffold to enable safe working at height whilst the clean-up takes place. Following this we will be undertaking a general tidy up of the site and grass cutting on the week commencing 1st August, this will also include some cutting back of greenery within the fenced off area around the tower, including around the war memorial.

Following advice from our insurers, we will be installing additional safety signage on the fencing around the tower to ensure that the general public are aware that unauthorised access to the area is prohibited. Whilst we have no immediate cause for concern and we continue to undertake regular assessments of the tower, we are working with an engineer to undertake a more detailed evaluation of the entire structure. This will help us to better understand its current repair needs and identify any high priority works. We are hoping to carry out this evaluation in the coming weeks, but a date is yet to be confirmed.

The largest scale activity on the site in the next few weeks will be archaeological trenching works, currently due to take place the week commencing 8th August. Through this work, we hope to improve our understanding of the past development of the site and how this might have affected historic burials. The works will be carried out by a team of qualified archaeologists who will be on site for around one week. This will include the excavation of up to three trenches at various locations across the churchyard. It will be necessary to fence off the area surrounding St Mary’s in order to secure the site and restrict access to the public whilst the works are taking place. Owing to the sensitive nature of the excavations and the proximity of the site to the public footpath/highway, screening will be used where necessary to limit public view of the works.

I want to reassure you that the Diocese remain committed to the ongoing care of St Mary’s and hope that the outcome of these investigations will enable us to make informed decisions about the future of the site. If you should have any questions regarding the schedule of works or any of the activity taking place, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind regards

Clare Chapman

Closed Churches Officer (Church Buildings and Pastoral Reorganisation)

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