Throughout history the lives of the people of East Leeds have been intermittently disrupted by warfare. From William the Conquerer’s “Harrying of the North” in 1069-70, which massacred the population and left the land here waste; through the Civil War in which a major battle was fought near Seacroft; to the 20th Century, the bloodiest century in human history, with two world wars stealing two generations and irreparably changing the lives of those left behind.
The church of St Mary at Whitkirk has stood at the heart of this community for 1,000 years, leading the community in prayer and worship, and providing fellowship and support for those who have needed it.
We have a number of war memorials listing those who died in both the First and Second World Wars. Unusually, our memorials also include several women from the parish who were killed just down the hill at the Barnbow Munitions Factory, which suffered a massive explosion in 1916.
Our Lychgate is a scheduled war memorial and lists the names of those who died in both World Wars. The wooden timbers come from decommissioned Royal Navy ships, and some of the stones come from six war-damaged buildings. You can find more information about it, including a full list of the names, here.
Inside the church, on the south wall, there is a painted triptych from the 1930s depicting the Crucifixion, with the names of those who died in World War 1 on the two sides. This was restored in 2015. You can find more information about it, including a full list of the names, here.
Outside, in the churchyard and cemetery, there are five Commonwealth war graves.