The 2017 King of Prussia Gold Medal for church repair & conservation architecture has been won by diocesan architects Richard Crooks Partnership for bringing back to life the historic St Mark's Church, in Leeds, after extensive interior conservation.
Secretary of the Diocesan Advisory Committee, Lisa McIntyre says, “ Although the building now belongs to Gateway Church (after being made redundant in 2001), it shows that we have some of the best professionals operating in our diocese and it shows that tired buildings can be revived”.
At the ceremony held at St Mellitus College, London, Prince Nicholas von Preussen presented Richard Crooks Partnership with the King of Prussia Gold Medal, which was a gift of King Frederick William IV of Prussia (1795 – 1861) to the Incorporated Church Building Society in 1857.
The judges said: “The sheer ambition of this whole project as well as the quality of the work was very inspiring. This previously redundant church was brought back into use for worship by Leeds 'Gateway', a modern church community of which 75% are students.
"The community purchased St Mark's in 2010 and has achieved gradual, comprehensive conservation of this large building. 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.”
St Mark, Leeds
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. Richard Crooks Architects oversaw the re-slating of tower roof and 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. In 2013, new floor was constructed with underfloor heating to the worship space and a mezzanine.
Regular worship and administration opened in St Mark's in March 2014. All facilities are available for use by community groups for meetings, concerts, conferences and other events.