St Leonard's Church

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The Clayton & Bell decorations

The elaborate wall paintings were devised by Revd James Skinner, the first vicar-warden and work on them began immediately after the consecration of the church in 1864.  

Frederick Preedy was commissioned to execute the wall paintings but neither the Revd Skinner, Earl Beauchamp, P C Hardwick the church architect or Gambier Parry, who acted as artistic advisor, were happy with his work and in 1868 the wall paintings were entrusted to Clayton & Bell of London who executed the entire design. 

They are rightly considered to be one of Clayton & Bell’s masterpieces and ongoing restoration work is returning them to their original glory.  
Read about the wall-paintings

Oriel Window​

The Oriel  window is one of the great glories of the church and served a most unusual function.

Behind the Oriel window was the sick room in Matron's House.  The two windows were opened so the infirm could see or hear the daily services sung by the choristers.  The house is now the Chaplain's residence.  

Font and Cover​

The font bowl is 12th century, originally in the demolished church of St Thomas a Beckett, which stood in the grounds of Great Malvern Priory.  It was then moved to the medieval chapel at Newland where it remained until St Leonard's was built and the chapel demolished.  

The marble plinth and base was designed and gifted by Philip Charles Harwick, the architect of the church and almshouses

The oak and metal cover, which is raised and lowered on a counterweight, was designed by Lavers, Barraud and Westlake of London and executed by Skidmore of Coventry who also made the matching wrought iron chancel gates and railings.

Pulpit & Chancel Screen

  1. The pulpit and left side of screen
    The pulpit and left side of screen
  2. The Cardinal Virtues of Temperance & Fortitude
    The Cardinal Virtues of Temperance & Fortitude
  3. The Cardinal Virtues of Justice & Prudence
    The Cardinal Virtues of Justice & Prudence
  4. The pulpit, screen, gates and railings
    The pulpit, screen, gates and railings
The beautiful pulpit was carved in high-relief by Forsyth of Worcester from Bath stone, marble and Staffordshire alabaster.  

The main figure is St John the Baptist, flanked by the olive tree and vine and on the extreme left is the Pax.  The top of the pulpit is decorated with a wreath of passion flowers.

The chancel screen, also in Bath stone, was carved by White's of Vauxhall.  The four Cardinal Virtues, of black enamel, were designed by Lavers, Barraud & Westlake of London and represent Prudence, Justice, Temperance and Fortitude.

Click photo to open slide-show of the chancel screen

Chancel Gates & Railings​

The particularly fine chancel gates and railings were designed and decorated by Lavers, Barraud and Westlake of London; the wrought iron work, which matches the font cover, being executed by Skidmore of Coventry.

They were gifted to the church by friends of the Revd James Skinner, the first vicar/warden of the Almshouses, and erected c1873.  
  1. The Chancel Screen with Gates & Railings
    The Chancel Screen with Gates & Railings
  2. The Chancel Gates
    The Chancel Gates
  3. The Chancel Gates
    The Chancel Gates

Click photo to open slide-show of the gates & raiilings


The double sided brass lectern, by Harts of Wych Street, London was donated by friends of the Revd G R Adam, curate at the church, in 1884.

The lectern originally stood in the centre of the chancel.

Choir Stalls​

The magnificent choir stalls were designed by P C Hardwick, the church architect, in 1872 and carved in English Oak by James Rattee of Cambridge. 

The north rear stalls are carved with the words Contrition, Gratitude, Unity, Temperance, Truth, Chastity and Humility.  The south rear stalls with Religion, Justice, Compassion, Prudence, Patience, Obedience and Charity.

The clergy return stalls have Miserecordia representing on the north side, Understanding, Ghostly Strength and True Godliness and on the south side, Wisdom Counsel and Knowledge.

Click photo to open slide-show of the choir stalls

War Memorial

Behind the choir stalls on the south side is the brass War Memorial to the nine choristers of the choir school who lost their lives in the Great War, the youngest being only 16 years old, and the one altar server who died in the WWII.

Altar Table

The exceptionally fine Altar table has a top of Sicilian marble, chamfered at the edges and inset with 5 crosses,  on a carved English Oak frame.

The carving, executed by White's of London, is  foliage and oak leaf mouldings.  The altar is rarely seen without a frontal, except when stripped for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday or decorated as you see opposite for the Feast of All Souls'.


Depicting the Crucifixion, the reredos is carved from Caen stone in high-relief by R L Boulton & Sons of Cheltenham, whose speciality was the carving of reredoses.

The gilded canopy, the angel and the emblems of the Passion which flank the sides and top of the crucifixion were decorated by Clayton & Bell.

In 1928 the central scene was re-coloured by the then vicar, which  dramatically changed the reredos from something elegant and ethereal to something crude and ugly.  The gold-leaf background was also painted out with dark blue.

Until this overpainting, the figures were in  cream Caen stone with the robes highlighted in subtle colours and patterns by Clayton & Bell. The figure of Christ is the only one to remain untouched and shows the delicate colour and pattern of the loin cloth against the polished, uncoloured stone.

The Great Coronas

The High Altar Coronas were made by Hart's of London for the consecration of the church in 1864 but were removed in 1928 when the stands were converted into single standar

Until recently, it was thought the coronas were lost but after a flood in the church boiler house in 2015, they were discovered buried in the mud!

They were substantially intact but heavily corroded and damaged; see 'before & after' photos in the slideshow.   However, a local firm undertook their restoration and for the Midnight Mass of  2015 they once again took their rightful place flanking the High Altar.

The return of these magnificent coronas is another step forward in the ongoing restoration programme which  includes the white altar frontal opposite.  This was first used at the consecration of the church in 1864.
  1. The Sanctuary as it was designed to look
    The Sanctuary as it was designed to look
  2. Almost lost forever
    Almost lost forever
  3. Christmas Eve, 2015
    Christmas Eve, 2015
  4. All the many 100s of small parts gathered together
    All the many 100s of small parts gathered together
  5. Discarded in 1928
    Discarded in 1928
  6. Restored to their former glory
    Restored to their former glory

Click photo to open slide-show of the Great Coronas

Sanctuary Lamps

The three Sanctuary lamps, in brass and silver, are by the Birmingham Guild of Handicraft, dated 1904 and were gifted by Lady Beauchamp.

Originally oil-filled, they were electrified about eight years ago.

The Chancel Arcade

One of the most striking architectural features of the church is the magnificent Chancel Arcade consisting of three sets of double columned Sicilian marble pillars.  They stand on richly decorated plinths and the capitals are of finely carved Staffordshire alabaster by White's of London.

The rich and intricate decorative wall paintings which adorn every surface of the Chancel Arcade are detailed in the Guide to the Frescoes.

Piscina & Credence Table

The Piscina and Credence table were designed by Philip Charles Hardwick, the church architect, in 1864 and carved by R L Boulton & Sons of Cheltenham from limestone and marble.  

Both have been restored late 2017.

The Sedilia

The magnificent Sedilia, with its seven angels and their trumpets, was gifted by Agnes Skinner, c1883, in memory of her husband James, the first vicar/warden of the church and almshouses, who was the driving force behind the lavish decoration of the church.

The inscripton reads   ‘in memory of 33 years spent together in great happiness and also of the scholarship and example from which benefitted.’ 

​The Sedilia, carved by Forsyth of Worcester, has undergone a full restoration in 2017

Aumbry & Lamp

The Aumbry and hanging lamp, for the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament, was installed in memory of the Revd Hatherly in 1942.  

The richly decorated door and frame was designed and executed by the Warham Guild and the silver hanging lamp was given by the Guild of St Barnabas.

Click photo to open slide-show of Aumbry & Lamp

The Prie-Dieu

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The very fine Prie-Dieu, or prayer desk,  was the  gift of an anonymous penitent and is richly carved in English oak by Forsyth  of Worcester, who also carved the pulpit.

One side panel represents Mary Magdalen at the feet of Jesus and the opposite panel bears the post-resurrection words 'Noli Me Tangere.'  

The top panel contains an ebony cross with the instruments of the Passion.


Click photo to open slide-show of the Prie-Dieu

The Roof Paintings

In keeping with the rest of the church, the chancel and nave roofs are richly painted and decorated, the work being executed by Clayton & Bell.

The chancel roof represents the elements of earth, air and water, painted in rich intricate colours.

The nave roof is a simpler stylised design of flowers and leaf garlands and the contrast between the two designs is very effective.

Chorister Grafitti

Access to the church tower is extremely difficult to negotiate but this held no qualms for the choirsters of the choir school!  

The walls of the tower are covered with their grafitti which is now of great historical importance.  The slide-show gives two examples.

  1. Drawings by Master Fred Summers in 1895
    Drawings by Master Fred Summers in 1895
  2. The victory immortalised!
    The victory immortalised!

The Organ

Click photo to open slide-show of the grafitti

The church has a fine two manual Nicholson organ, with lavishly decorated pipework and was installed in 1864 in readiness for the Consecration of the church.

The first major clean and overhaul was in June 1936 when an electric blower was fitted and a new stop, 15th on Great, replaced an unsatisfactory clarinet.  

In 1986 a two year restoration was undertaken according to the specifications of Nicholson & Co through a bequest from Gordon Barnes.  The work was carried out by Trevor Tipple with the organ being completely dismantled to enable the rotten floor underneath to be replaced. 
In 2008 the organ was again completely refurbished by Trevor Tipple through a bequest from Pamela Bulmer.  

Click and scroll down page for the organ specification.

The decorative pipework & part of the chancel arcade

Listen to Roy Massey playing the organ

Stained Glass

The church has some fine Victorian stained glass.