The Bishop of Kirkstall, Paul Slater, has unveiled a Blue Plaque to honour the life of religious, educational and social benefactor Agnes Logan Stewart of Leeds.
Leeds Civic Trust developed the plan for the memorial wall sign, which has been erected at Bridge Street Church,Rider Street, Burmantofts, Leeds, the site of the former Agnes Stewart Church of England High School.
The wording of the Blue Plaque will be as follows:
AGNES LOGAN STEWART
Between 1872-1880, this religious, educational
and social benefactor established an orphanage
and two schools in the area with her own money.
Her legacy, to support the ‘education of East
Leeds children’ enabled the building of
Agnes Stewart Church of England
High School in 1965 on this site.
Bishop Paul said: “Agnes Stewart was a remarkable woman.
"She left her home and family in the South of England to live in Leeds. She lived simply, and spent her time and considerable wealth caring for children who were living in poverty in East Leeds. She deserves to be remembered.”
Ann Nicholl, a former headteacher at the school and chair of the house of clergy at Diocesan Synod added:
"Each year on 30th April, the anniversary of Agnes Stewart's death, the school community gathered for a service to commemorate her life. During these services, the Christian values by which she lived were emphasised and thanks given for her legacy and the work she had done for children and families in the Cross Green area of Leeds.
"These memories helped to underpin the values and ethos espoused by Agnes Stewart Church of England High School and were particularly relevant as so many of the pupils lived in the same area as the one in which Agnes Stewart ministered."
"The school regularly benefited from her financial legacy, with funds used to support extra curricula activities such as outdoor pursuits, an outdoor centre and sporting activities.
“Considerable funds from the Stewart Trust were used to build the present building on which the blue plaque in her memory is being placed."
Leeds Civic Trust Director Martin Hamilton added “Many Leeds residents who remember Agnes Stewart Church of England High School will be unaware of the life and generosity of the woman the school was named after. We are delighted to mark her important legacy to the poor of Leeds by unveiling this plaque.”
Pictured below at the plaque unveiling, Ann Nicholl, Stephen Reilly Senior Pastor at Bridge Street Community Church, Jane Taylor, Chair of Leeds Civic Trust and Bishop Paul Slater
More on Agnes Stewart
• Agnes Logan Stewart was born in London on June 25, 1820 to a wealthy merchant family. Following a move to Essex, she took an interest in caring for the poor in the area, on her return to London, she devoted herself exclusively to the service of the poor. This included visiting them and time spent teaching in school
• There was a strong religious underpinning to her beliefs, manifesting itself in a life-long connection with the Church of England
• Her move to Leeds is thought to have been prompted by an advertisement in the Church Times in March 1871 which said “Wanted, ladies to work in the Parish of St. Saviour’s Leeds with a view to Sisterhood. Must have some private means.”
• Her charitable deeds in Leeds included the purchase of three large old houses in Knostrop which were brought together to create an orphanage. She was noted for her care. When children were ill, someone said that “we give half pints of beef tea; Mother Agnes gives quarts.”
• Following her death in 1886, her will provided for the training and education of orphans and other poor and destitute children, including provision for apprenticeships to enable children to earn “an honest living.” Money from this Trust fund contributed towards the cost of building Agnes Stewart Church of England High School in 1965.