Thanks to John Shaw for supplying the references to the Yorkshire Gazette and the link to the useful postcard mentioned (though not shown) here. Thanks also for the attention and interest of the administrator at the church, Ian Gardiner. Photographs and scans by the author; image correction and formatting by Jacqueline Baneree. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL, or cite it in a print one. [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

The church from Holgate Road, with a closer view of the west front.

St Paul's church, Holgate Road. Designed by J. B. and W. Atkinson, 1850 (Pevsner 175). The Inventory describes it as built of brick faced with coarse sandstone rubble and ashlar dressings, and as having roofs of Bangor slate with Staffordshire ridge-tiles. It calls it "an interesting example of the Gothic Revival in York, as practised by a leading firm of local architects."

The church from the railway bridge.

This area of York had expanded rapidly, especially with railway workers, and the church was built particularly to serve the terraced housing nearby, which has a footbridge over the lines to the railway works. The church is on an awkward site where the Holgate Road bridges the main railway line just south-west of York station; the churchyard, or space around the church, seems too small for burials. The present railway bridge dates from 1911, but an earlier, simpler, one is shown on a postcard which must pre-date 1906. Holgate Road was known as Holgate Lane, now it is the A59.

Left to right: (a) Trefoil window above south-east doorway. (b) South-east door, a minor entrance. (c) Original railings preserved in front of this side entrance.

Gleanings from the Yorkshire Gazette (see detailed references in bibliography) include the fact that "the accommodation provides for upwards of 700 worshippers, about one third of the sittings being free. There are doors to the private sittings, and the public seats are open, the whole being stained the colour of oak." Also, the first service in the church opened "in the presence of a pretty full and respectable congregation"; one of the preachers that day "trusted that the sacred edifice would bring together the people of the district amongst whom it was built, especially those employed upon the railway." Another report gives details of an accident during construction, when planks gave way and a man carrying stone up the scaffolding was killed and two others injured: "The padlocks used for this scaffolding were quite new, having been procured purposely to carry considerable weight. Till this accident they were deemed perfectly safe. The coroner's jury returned a verdict of 'Accidental death'."

Plan of the church. Source: Inventory, fig. 36).

The church is approximately rectangular, aisled in six bays with a projection, or narthex, on the west end of the central nave; here is the main doorway. The church has three longitudinal roofs. Pinnacles at the east end, similar to those on the west extension, have been taken down, as shown in the old postcard mentioned above.

This was the first church these architects built in the York area. Later, in 1856, they were responsible for a chapel for the Methodist New Connexion in Peckitt Street, and in 1857-58, for St Paul's, Heslington, which replaced a medieval church on the same site (see Pevsner and Neave 461-2). In 1861-62, they designed a chapel for St Peter's School, Bootham ("In thinly coursed buff stone," Pevsner and Neave 199). Lastly, St Clement's, Scarcroft Road, was built by the Atkinsons in 1872-74; it is described by Pevsner and Neave as "the fiercest Victorian church in York. Red brick with blue brick bands" (163).

The former rectory, also by
the Atkinsons (source:
Google maps).

Here, the perpetual curacy became a rectory at the consecration of the church in 1856 (see Inventory). According to both the Inventory and the Heritage listing, a vicarage had been built by the Atkinsons at 92 Holgate Road in 1850-51 (see also Pevsner and Neave 260). This building is due east of the church but on the other side of the railway. It continues the style of the slightly earlier nineteenth-century terrace which it abuts, but it is symmetrical, of three bays and two storeys. Its porch has engaged fluted columns and an entablature with triglyphs; there are also three-sided bay windows and "good" (i.e., contemporary) railings (all according to the Topographical list). Unfortunately, when seen in July 2021, the house was hidden under netted scaffolding.

Related Material


"Church of St Paul." Historic England. Web. 16 July 2021.

"Ecclesiastical Buildings. An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in City of York. Volume 3, South west (London, 1972): 3-48. British History Online. Web. 16 July 2021.

Pevsner, Nikolaus, and David Neave. Yorkshire: York and the East Riding. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2002.

"Topographical List of Houses Built Between 1800 and 1850." An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in City of York. Volume 3, South west (London, 1972): 123-130. British History Online. Web. 16 July 2021.

Yorkshire Gazette. 15 March 1851: 5 (col. 2, the accident)

Yorkshire Gazette. 11 October 1851: 5 (col. I, opening day).

Yorkshire Gazette. 5 January 1856: 8 (col. 3, consecration).

Created 22 July 2021