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St Stephen's School

Christian life in Kirkstall 

Of course, Christian worship in Kirkstall dates back long before the building of St Stephen's Church.  Around 1152, a party of Cistercian monks from Fountains Abbey chose the forest by the River Aire as a suitable place to found a new monastery.  They obtained land, with permission of Baron de Lacy, the Baron of the West Riding, and built Kirkstall Abbey, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, which was completed in 1182. 

The influence of the Abbey on the Christian life of the local community was significant; local residents were able to attend the services at the granges (farms belonging to the monastery) around the Headingley area.  In 1539, however, Kirkstall Abbey was surrendered to the commissioners of Henry VIII, and dissolved.  The monks were all granted pensions.

To link to the Kirkstall Abbey website click here

Although Christian worship continued at St Michael's Church, Headingley (consecrated in 1627, possibly on the site of an older chapel dedicated to St Giles), St Stephen's is perhaps most closely the descendent of the chapel which was established at Kirkstall Forge.  The Forge can be traced back to the 17th century.  In 1779 it was rented by partners, Butlers and Beecrofts. 

The chapel was built because of the requirement for all workers to attend a place of worship every Sunday.  The Butler family have remained closely connected to St Stephen's Church, providing financial help as well as participating for many years in the life of the church.

History of St Stephen's
Christianity in Kirkstall
Richard Oastler (1789 - 1861)
St Stephen