St James the Deacon: The Parish

The Parish

With the construction of the "New" Dringhouses Council Estate after the Second World War, it was felt that a new Church was needed for the growing population between Dringhouses and Acomb. Since then of course we have seen many private dwellings also appear within the parish boundary, and the boundary itself changing.

Originally the area contained many brickponds and was of place of great natural beauty. These ponds were filled in with dustbin rubbish and the building programme started.

In 1952 the Archbishop of York (Dr. Garbett) licensed the Revd. Alan Wood in his Chapel at Bishopthorpe Palace and appointed him Priest - in - Charge of the new MISSION DISTRICT. He gathered together a small faithful nucleus who held Communion Services in their own homes. At this time he lived at 146 Wains Road. In 1953 Archdeacon Townley (later Bishop of Hull), Chairman of the York  Diocesan New Churches Building Fund, in consultation with the Revd. J. H. Molyneux and the Revd. Oxby Parker, Vicars of Dringhouses and Acomb respectively, decided to purchase a site on Thanet Road. Here it was intended to build firstly a dual purpose Hall/Church, secondly a Vicarage, and thirdly a Church. With completion of the Church, the dual purpose building was to become a Church Hall only. With the help of a grant of £15,OOO from the Medd bequest, stage 1 was able to start.

On 12th December 1953 the site was Blessed by the Bishop, of Selby, the Rt. Revd. Carey Knyvett, and the first sod cut by Mr. Louis, Lawton, Vice-Chairman of the York Diocesan Board of Finance. The building, designed by George Pace and constructed by Wm. Anelay Ltd., was completed in 1955. On 13th September that year it was blessed by Archbishop Garbett, one of his last functions before his death.

So began the work of the new Mission District of St James the Deacon, Acomb Moor, with 466 houses including 150 of the new "prefabs" from St. Stephen's, Acomb and 604 houses from St. Edward the Confessor's, Dringhouses - a grand total of 1070 houses. Now (in 2018) there are 4,651 homes in the parish! (Source: Church of England Research & Statistics unit).

The infant Church grew from these beginnings. The net profit at the end of the first year was the princely sum of 16s. 41/2d. (85 pence in today's terms). The Church was always entirety independent of Acomb and Dringhouses, and these early days saw a very hard struggle to survive with very little money, a tiny adult congregation and 400 children in the Sunday School! The Revd. Alan Wood left in 1957 and for 6 months there was on interregnum with services mostly taken by the Revd. Morton Howard. Then on 25th January 1958 the Mission District was upgraded to a CONVENTIONAL DISTRICT with the Revd. J. W. Horton, B.A. being licensed as Priest-in-charge by Archbishop Ramsey.

The Vicarage was completed in 1960 and everyone's thoughts and prayers turned towards the building of a "real” church. By this time all the new were being built on green belt land behind Wains Road (Woodthorpe) and it soon became apparent that the Hall/Church would be left right on the fringe of the developing parish. After much heart - searching it was decided in 1966 to purchase a new site from The Shepherd Building Group Ltd. which would be more convenient for the anticipated spread of housing.

Looking ahead to the days when the "real" church would be built on the Woodthorpe site, an attempt had been made to build up a nucleus of a congregation in that area. Initially services were held at 10.30am every Sunday in four different houses in Woodthorpe - 53 Acorn Way, 20 Moorcroft Road, 100 Bramble Dene and 106 Moor Lane, this experiment, started on 3rd May 1964 and ended on 29th January 1967, regrettably failed to attract a single new member to the congregation.

The period from 1958 to 1970 however did see an immense amount of Youth work. Despite the small adult congregation there was a large number of children attending Sunday School and a membership of 70 in the Church Lads Brigade and the Church Girls Brigade.

The increasing status of the church led on 14th May 1968 to an Order in Council by H.M. The Queen at Buckingham Palace, published in the London Gazette whereby the designation of the area changed from a Conventional District to a STATUTORY DISTRICT. This was followed on 5th July by the Revd. J. W. Horton being licensed by the Bishop of Selby as the first Vicar.

Back now to the "new" Church. On 1st September 1968 the ball started to roll with a procession of clergy, choirs and laity from the "old" Church, St. Stephen's and St Edward the Confessor to the newly purchased site. An open air service was held at which the preacher was the Ven. C. R. Forder, Archdeacon of York, and a large Cross and notice board were erected to mark the occasion. Then on 7th September 1969, Evensong was sung on the site and the first sods were cut by the Churchwardens, Mr. L. Howell and Mr. W. Barker, followed by Mr. F. Stroud (Secretary), Mr. H. J. Matthewman (Treasurer) and a large number of Iaity.

The building now to be erected like the Hall/Church, was designed by Mr. George Pace. It was finally consecrated by Dr. Coggan, the, Archbishop of York, on 2nd July 1971, and on this date the area officially became a PARISH under the conditions of the Order in Council dated 14th May 1968.

From ‘A Guide to St James the Deacon, Acomb Moor, York by Geoff Winn’

Since then of course, the parish has developed considerably and the church has changed and developed to meet the growing needs of the area. The original vision of having church, hall and Vicarage all on one site took some years to finally come together, with a new Vicarage being built on land next to the church (on the corner of Rycroft Avenue/Sherringham Drive) in 2000, and a new church hall added to the east end of the Church in 2010.

The interior of the church was also re-ordered in 2014, to create the Horton Room (named in memory of Fr Horton), a meeting room with a kitchenette, for church and community use.

St James the Deacon: His Life & Legacy
St James the Deacon: His Life & Legacy

Our Parish
Parish Boundaries