History Overview

The Church of St Edward the Confessor

The history of the church is more than just facts about a building. It is about the people who have worshipped within its walls and their legacy to future generations. It is very much a story of individuals seeking to know more of God and being prepared to share their faith with the wider world. It is also about their commitment to supporting a physical place of worship, that can act as a place of prayer and witness to the love of Jesus. The history of the church is closely woven with those who served as vicars, and reading their stories reveals a rich heritage of faithfulness and dedication. Whilst there are interesting facts about the building, the heart of St Edward the Confessor lies in those who have dedicated their lives to God’s service within this place.

There has been Christian worship in Dringhouses for over 500 years. The present church was built on the site of a 1725 church previously called St Helen’s. The old church had been built by the Barlow family who were Lords of the Manor of Dringhouses. Frances Leigh (née Barlow) was the last of the Barlow family and on the death of her husband in 1847, Rev. Edward Trafford Leigh, she had a new church built in his memory. The dedication was changed to commemorate his name and thus the new church became St Edward the Confessor.

The foundation stone was laid in November 1847, and a newspaper report from the York Herald, gives details of the consecration which took place on 8th August 1849. Vickers & Hugill of Pontefract were the architects, Mr Roberts the builder, and the principal woodwork was by Mr Coates of York. The service was conducted by the then Archbishop of York, Thomas Musgrave. At both the laying of the foundation stone and the consecration service, Psalm 100 was read, which perhaps best sums up the purpose of the new building:

‘Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
Come into his presence with singing.
Know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and we are his;
We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him, bless his name.
For the Lord is good.
His steadfast love endures forever,
And his faithfulness to all generations.’

Psalm 100 [New Revised Standard Version]

A Brief Timeline

1847 Foundation stone laid
1848 Rev. G H Philips appointed as first vicar of St Edward’s
1849 Church consecrated in memory of Rev. Edward Trafford Leigh
1867 Rev. G H Philips moved to Brodsworth near Doncaster. Rev. T Falkner appointed
1868 Church organ installed
1875 Rev. T Falkner moved to Burton Leonard near Harrogate. Rev. J N Bromehead appointed
1891 Clock erected in the bell turret in memory of Sir James and Eleanor Meek
1892 New chancel screen dedicated
1901 Rev. J N Bromehead exchanged parishes with Rev. E W Evans
1902 New vestry built
1905 Church Room of St Helen opened
1908 Departure of Rev. E W Evans to Goldsborough sees the arrival of Rev. W P Dott
1914 Bells of 1849 replaced by three new hemispherical bells
1919 Rev. W P Dott moved to Croydon. St Edward’s welcomed Rev. A Raine
1922 War memorial unveiled and dedicated
1936 Church Room enlarged
1937 Rev. A Raine moved to All Saints Pavement, York. Rev L Wilkinson appointed
1938 A telephone is installed in the vicarage
1941 Electric lights installed in the church
1945 Rev. L Wilkinson moved to Dewsbury Moor. Rev. B E Shaw appointed
1947 Rev. B E Shaw resigns on health grounds and Rev. J H Molyneux appointed
1950s Various maintenance works to church and vicarage
1962 Plans approved for new vicarage. The house is completed in 1963
1970 Fibre glass spire replaces original
1974 Rev. J H Molyneux retired and Rev. A Girling is appointed
1980s Church continues through a period of growth
1990s Decision made to extend the church due to increased numbers
1996 Church extension dedicated with service of thanksgiving
2000 Rev. A Girling moved to Thurlestone, Devon. Rev. M Baldock arrived at St Edward’s
2000s 21st century marked an increased use of technology. Screens are fitted to enhance worship and support sermons. A website is developed. New liturgy was introduced, and the music diversifies.
2016 A refurbished community hall and a new café in the atrium are dedicated
2017 Rev. M Baldock retired to Newark and Rev. R C Carew is welcomed to St Edward’s

With acknowledgement and grateful thanks to Dorothy Reed for all these articles, and her generosity in sharing her careful and detailed research of St Edward’s with this website.

If you have photos or articles which you would be willing to share, related to the history of the church, please contact [email protected]


1848-1867 Gilbert Henderson Philips

1867-1875 Thomas Falkner

1875-1901 John Nowill Bromehead

1901-1908 Edward Williams Evans

1909-1919 William Patrick Dott

1919-1937 Angelo Raine

1937-1945 Leslie Wilkinson

1945-1947 Basil Earle Shaw

1947-1974 John Henry Molyneux

1975-2000 Andrew Girling

2000-2017 Martin Baldock

2018 Richard Clayton Carew

  • Church of England.
  • Diocese of York.