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Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, through psalms, hymns and songs from the spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

Colossians 3:16

Whilst the village of Bardsey-cum-Rigton dates back to Roman times or even earlier, Bardsey as we know it today has Anglo-Saxon origins. East Keswick is rather younger, with a settlement recorded here before the Norman Conquest.

Our two churches have similar age differences, with All Hallows dating back to the 9th Century, whilst St Mary Magdalene was built in the latter part of the 19th Century. 


The upper portions of the tower, excluding the parapet, are of later Saxon origin and were built during the tenth century. At this time the church consisted of a west porch, narrow nave and tiny chancel.
The period between 1100 and 1400 saw the adding, and the later widening, of a north and south aisle and the moving of a Norman doorway, to its present position at the west end of the south aisle. This magnificent Norman doorway is now partly obscured by the much later addition of a porch but still clearly shows the architectural typical features of early Norman construction.
A north chapel, which now serves as the Vicar’s Vestry, was built in 1521 as a Chantry Chapel at the request of Edmund Mauleverer of Wothersome. He and his son Robert were interred beneath it. 


It is difficult to appreciate the architecture of this area of the church because much of the space is filled by a pipe organ. This was installed in 1868 in place of a small orchestra of wind and stringed instruments, which had provided music in church during the early part of the nineteenth century.
A second south chapel, which now serves as a choir vestry, was added during the eighteenth century for Lord Bingley of nearby Bramham Park. The descendants of Lord Bingley, the Lane Fox family, have continued the family connection with All Hallows and three of their funeral hatchments now hang on the south wall of the north aisle.


In the early nineteenth century, the walls of the nave and chancel were considerably raised and low-pitched roofs with flat plastered ceilings installed. Clerestory windows were inserted in the wall above the south arcade and the whole church was plastered. Many other “improvements” during this period completely altered the character of this medieval building. In the years between 1909 and 1913 more changes were made, this time to try to recapture the medieval character of the interior; the wall-plaster was removed, floors were raised and repaired, and ancient architecture was uncovered and displayed. Electric light was installed in 1930, and an oak reredos installed in 1933. The southwest corner of the church was refurbished in 1986 to create a reception/display area, incorporating a memorial to the Revd. Bernard Russell, former Vicar of Bardsey. Pews were removed and the Saxon arch to the tower highlighted.


The most recent addition to All Hallows is the Bardsey Millennium Tapestry, which is hung at the west end of the north wall of the church. Created by many people from the village, the four panels of the tapestry, each one reflecting one of the four seasons, picture a wide variety of village life and village people at the turn of the millennium.

All but the most recent records of the church records are in the care of the Leeds City Archivist, as are other registers and ancient documents. Three published works on the village are; 'Bardsey-cum-Rigton, Church and Village' - J. Wreghitt Connon (1909); 'All Hallows Church, Bardsey' - George E. Kirk (1937); 'The History of Bardsey' - Judith Unwin (2007).

If you are searching for your Bardsey ancestors, we may be able to help you. Please contact the Parish Office.


In 1739 the philanthropist Lady Elizabeth Hastings bequeathed a tithe of £50 per annum on condition a church was erected in East Keswick. It is not known why this came to nothing.

In 1676 there were reported to be 95 communicants from East Keswick in Harewood Parish. At the same time records show there were a few Quaker families in the village and they had their own burial ground from 1689 – 1794. Methodists met first in private houses until a chapel was built in 1792.

In the 1850’s subscriptions were raised for a church in Moor Lane. The land was donated by the 3rd Earl of Harewood and plans drawn up by Mallinson and Healey, a firm of ecclesiastical architects from Bradford. Work started in 1856, using stone from Vicar's Whin, a nearby quarry. It was not until 1861 that the church and churchyard were consecrated allowing burials to take place. By 1873 a resident curate was installed in what is now ‘The Old Parsonage’ and finally in 1899 a licence was granted for marriages to take place at St Mary Magdalene.

The original church interior with its timber beamed chancel roof and plaster walls is still recognisable. Early photographs show some ornamentation round the windows which began as plain glass. In 1890 the east window was replaced with colourful depictions from the life of St. Mary Magdalene. Other stained glass was added later. On the north side of the nave a window portrays St. Michael defeating the devil in the form of a dragon on the left side, and St George slaying the dragon on the right. Opposite on the south side of the nave, the window shows the Sower and the Reaper and there are two smaller stained-glass windows in the chancel.

The two bells hung in 1859 needed replacing in the 1930s. Six bells were installed by Taylor's Bell foundry in 1933 but three of these were removed in 1954. In 2017 Taylor Bells refurbished the remaining three bells which were rededicated in February 2018. Music was provided at first by a harmonium, but an organ fund was started in 1894 and the organ installed two years later.

The lych-gate was erected as a war memorial in 1921 and another roll is displayed in the chancel giving names of all those from the village who served.

In 1934 a new vestry was built and it was found necessary to extend the Churchyard in 1946. In the 1950’s a major refurbishment began with the purchase of altar rails from Thompson's of Kilburn and over the next 20 years pews and other furniture were replaced from the same workshop, most bearing the trademark ‘mouse’ carving.

In the late 1980s, the church was again refurbished. A new modern lighting system was installed, the hanging lights being replaced by spotlights and the organ was completely overhauled.

When the Parish Church in Harewood closed for worship in 1978, St Mary Magdalene formally became part of Bardsey Parish, having been under the care of the Vicar there for four years. The 150th anniversary of the church in East Keswick was celebrated with a festival weekend in May 2007.


Further information on the history of the church and its records is available from the Local History Group.

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