King of Prussia Gold Medal Winner 2017
The 2017 King of Prussia Gold Medal is awarded to Richard Crooks Partnership for their work at St Mark's Church, Leeds, Yorkshire
St Mark's Church, Leeds
Richard Crooks Partnership
St Mark's Church is the last to survive of the three Church Commissioner’s churches built in Leeds. After many years with dwindling numbers of loyal but aging regular worshippers, it was declared redundant in 2001. The church had been on both the English Heritage and Leeds City Council’s Buildings at Risk Registers since early 1990s. By 2005 the timber ribbed vaulted ceiling in the south aisle was collapsing. Cold damp conditions had also caused the breakdown of the original Victorian glue based wall and ceiling paintings and deposited brown sticky liquid onto walls, floors, fittings and furnishings. In 2005 Gateway Church identified St Mark's as being suitable for their place of worship, meetings and hub for outreach into the local community. November 2011 to January 2012 saw the reslating of tower roof & new lead gutter linings; strengthening of tower parapets; removal of stained glass windows to north aisle for repair and removal of wall plaster to west end. Between January 2013 and September 2013 internal alterations were undertaken including new floor construction incorporating underfloor heating to the worship space and the installation of a mezzanine floor. October 2013 to January 2014 saw replastering and redecoration of the remaining areas of the auditorium/worship space. Regular worship and administration opened in St.Mark's in March 2014. All facilities being available for use by community groups for meetings, concerts, conferences and other events. August 2015 to January 2016 saw completion of the outstanding masonry repairs to the north aisle and stained glass restoration.
The King of Prussia Gold Medal is awarded to a project which has overcome a major conservation challenge, and this project was chosen unanimously as winner by the judges. The extensive conservation and restoration work uses traditional materials techniques, and was carefully considered and carried out using responsible methods. This is common to the high quality schemes entered for the King of Prussia Gold Medal – and particularly the shortlisted entries. But it is the sheer ambition of this whole project as well as the quality of the work which the judges found inspiring. This previously redundant church, on both the local and national 'Heritage At Risk' registers, was brought back into use for worship by Leeds 'Gateway', a modern church community of which 75% are students. Overcoming legal and funding issues, the community purchased St Marks in 2010, and since then with their project team, has achieved gradual, comprehensive conservation of this large building through a phased programme of work - the most recent of which was carried out in 2016. It is impressive, and unusual, that this young church community chose to rescue a beautiful badly neglected, historic church, with all the complexity and risk that such a project entails. The result is a testament to the courage and ambition of this community and their team.