St George's Church, Great George St., Leeds LS1 3BR
St George's Church/Heaton's tomb(John Clark, 1836-8)
Heaton's tomb

Although his father was a Congregationalist, Heaton himself was an Anglican, who was active in the local church extension (i.e. church-building) movement.  However, he retained close connections with the dissenting community (non-Anglican protestants), which may have helped him to play such a great unifying role in the town.

St George’s was Heaton’s church.  He and Fanny were active in the life of the community here, and you can still see their tomb in the churchyard: the only such monument to remain. The recent planting of a community garden with a grant from the Royal Horticultural Society has given the Heatons a more beautiful resting place, even though the planting means that the monument is now more difficult to see from the street!

As a trustee of the Church, Heaton had to work closely with the various vicars over the years, and his views of some of them are recorded in the journals.  The reverend Blomefield (vicar 1857-73) was often rude and obstructive, in 1860 telling Heaton that ‘he had rather beg the money himself’ than allow Fanny to raise funds for St George’s School through a charity bazaar.  When the vicar finally moved to a church in Knightsbridge, London, in 1873, Heaton noted that it ‘would suit him & Mrs Blomefield much better than Leeds where they always confessed themselves out of their element among mercantile people and tradesmen’ (Journal, iv. 96). It seems too that Blomefield's ultra-Evangelical views were too strong for many members of his flock, even at a 'low' church like St George's.

Blomefield’s successor, Rev. Adams, was by no means perfect: ‘He preaches always extempore, & speaks with much freedom & fluency, but . . . he is apt to become noisy & ranting sometimes, which offends some of his congregation much.  However his pleasant sociable manner with his people is a great contrast to the coldness and reserve of his predecessor.’ (Journal, iv. 108-10).

Since 1930 the church has been home to the St George’s Crypt charity.  Given the Heatons’ involvement with good causes of all kinds (in the early 1860s Fanny was a driving force behind the Leeds Invalid Soup Kitchen, helping many Leeds families through the winter who might otherwise have been forced into the dreaded workhouse), they would no doubt have approved.

 For an image of the church click here.