23rd September 2017
Our group was led into a spacious quadrangle to see the elegant Victorian Almshouses. These were dedicated in 1864 as homes for the retired workers from the Madresfield estate and the poor of the parish.
From the outset the community enjoyed daily Anglo-Catholic worship which continues to the present time. Residency in the community has been expanded to welcome practising Anglicans from anywhere in the country. Many visitors still attend Sunday celebrations of the Mass.
Both the Almshouses and St Leonards Church, a masterpiece of Victorian Gothic architecture, were designed by Philip Charles Hardwick,a member of the Oxford Movement. This was reflected in the Anglo Catholic choir school tradition. The choristers, who boarded within the community, sang in daily services until the choir school closed in 1945.
The church is famous for its frescos, devised by Revd James Skinner, the first vicar-warden. Frescos of saints, (female!) surround the walls of the St Leonards. St Leonards, a grade 1 listed building, continues to benefit from the generous donations of benefactors.
Within the community were the cloisters, reconstructed medieval chapel, theological library and the Grand Hall. It was there that two of the residents plied us with coffee, tea and cake.