St Leonard’s Middleton shortlisted for King of Prussia Gold Medal

The award recognises the best in church conservation or repair projects.

exterior of st leonards church within greenery

The restoration of St Leonard’s Church has been shortlisted for the King of Prussia Gold Medal.

St Leonard's Church is a Grade I listed Anglican parish church in Middleton, Greater Manchester.

The building is believed to be located on the site of a Saxon church and the earliest fabric within the church dates from the Norman period. It features a number of elements of historic interest including a 15th century stone tower surmounted by a weather boarded belfry, believed to be one of only two of its type in the country.

The church was built from a cross-bedded and part ripple cross laminated sandstone much of which was laid in vertical beds making it susceptible to delamination. This had resulted in damage to the church tower and a medieval inscription on the south aisle, which had almost disappeared, along with much of the rest of south façade decoration. Inside the church, a 1907 Edgar Wood wooden ceiling in the nave and side aisles had also become vulnerable to water penetration.

We were appointed to carry out an extensive National Lottery Heritage Fund backed restoration project to the church.

This involved masonry repairs and the re-pointing of the tower, south aisle walls and north and south, as well as repair work to the church’s tower roof. Working alongside specialist stonemasons, the damaged medieval quatrefoils and inscriptions on the church’s south-aisle wall were re-carved using on-site plaster casts which were able to reveal further detail and help tell the church’s story once again.

In addition to the repair work, a disabled toilet was created, and the church kitchen was refurbished to support its role as an important community asset.

detail of exterior stonework on st leonard church building

Commenting on the shortlisting, Studio Principal, Steve Welsh, said: “This project has addressed some of the church’s most serious repair needs, helping safeguard the building’s significant, historic fabric for the future.

“The addition of a new disabled toilet has made the church more accessible to visiting congregation and the newly refurbished kitchen has both enhanced the visitor experience and allowed the church to create a new income stream which will play an important part in supporting its future care and maintenance.

"We are delighted that our work has been recognised in this year’s awards and we look forward to celebrating with the other shortlisted entries.”

Part of the National Church Awards, run by the Ecclesiastical Architects and Surveyors Association and the National Churches Trust, the King of Prussia Gold Medal recognises the best in church conservation or repair projects.

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