Heritage Open Days – Leeds

The free National Heritage Open Days events take place annually over a four day period usually in September, a variety of institutions open their doors to the public, it’s impossible to get to them all during this short time so last Sunday I settled for just a couple.

St.Bartholomew’s church in Armley, a well known landmark on the Leeds skyline, the exterior of which has always struck me as  dark and imposing, but stepping into it  I saw a surprisingly beautiful interior, sunlight through the stained glass windows beamed across the vaulted ceiling and the Schultse organ which is of a  particularly impressive design and proportion.


A service had just commenced therefore it wasn’t appropriate to take my own  photographs, I sat a while enjoying the mixture of smells; polished wood pews, that slightly churchy dampness, melting candle wax, the myrrh incense with its mist hanging heavily in the chancel. Listening to the singing I contemplated if the sermon or bible  readings had any relevance to my spiritual needs.

My next destination was the Makkah Masjid Mosque in Burley/Hyde Park area, set among rows of red brick back to back houses, this exotic edifice with its bright multi coloured brickwork, domed roof and minarets gives a hint of  what may be inside,


sure enough the interior is flooded with light from the roof , crystal chandelier reflections and the numerous windows of the large circular, furniture free room, its sumptuous bright blue and gold carpets, highlight its main use for sujud prayers, they were not in session, just a few visitors were listening to a talk about Islam, a view from a rear window, with the spire of Wrangthorne, St Augustine of Hippo, Church on the horizon seemed to link the importance of the two buildings to the community.

Religious tradition is often relevant to mental well being and many people find comfort  congregating with others in ritual and prayer in their places of worship, I guess that’s why the buildings intrigue me, however I choose to find my spiritual renewal outside religious confines.

Wandering towards Woodhouse Moor I noted that other citadel of community gatherings, Hyde Park Cinema, it’s doors were open for tours of the building, pausing to preview it’s up coming programme, I considered the powerful role of  film and media in maintaining or challenging our cultural, religious  viewpoints and traditions, thankfully this cinema offers alternatives to Hollywood film representations.


‘Life is not a bowl of cheer….ies’ (Keen) ..sometimes it’s bananas

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Relentless cheerfulness can be a barrier to authentic communication, especially for those affected, by mood ‘disorder’. I doubt the diagnosis of bipolar truly represents the changes of mood I sometimes experience. At times low mood makes it hard for me to plug in to the pursuits I usually find uplifting, reading, listening to music or the radio, all lose their appeal. Only the act of sitting quietly ’eases my troubled mind’.

During these times I need to filter and limit external distractions. I leave the phone on silent, but welcome email, it doesn’t need immediate attention, and its scope for more reflective content. I like mobiles phones for that quickie text, ….’free to chat’…. ‘how ya doin?   wanna meet 4 cuppa?’

By the second or third day the necessity for food shopping forces me out of the house. There are adequate shops within walking distance of my home in Bramley, and the  local café facilities allow me, shakily, to venture out. This enables me to return to a more at ease frame of mind.The combination of the exercise involved, the stimulation of choosing meal ingredients, help to restore my equilibrium. I’ve been a permanent resident in Bramley since 1988, but my family moved here in the late sixties. and I a visitor for all that time. A shopping trip therefore is also a time to pass the time of day with the ‘locals’.

This last week found me experiencing ‘that long black cloud comin’ down’, but Terry’s reminder for blog contributions , gave me some impetus to think creatively, although I felt practically housebound. I had to rely on subject matter within easy reach of home, some cherries and bananas just bought, and a trip to my local library!

The library was built in 1927 and still retains most of its original architectural features; oak panelling, shelving, parquet flooring and a glass domed roof.  Visits to Bramley library always evoke memories of the similarly decorated, art deco library in Wakefield’s Drury Lane, which had been a ‘hiding place’ or sanctuary in my youth.

Bramley library in Hough Lane has really useful extended opening hours:

10.00 to 19.00 Mon and Wed

10.00 to 18.00 Tues, Thurs and Fri

10.00 to 15.00 Saturday        12.00 to 15.00 Sunday

together with helpful staff.

This week’s trip gave me information about an art exhibition, ‘Story of the Dance’ currently displayed at the Art Library, 1st floor, Central Library Leeds, continuing until 30th August.

A friend knowing my spirits were low suggested we meet for a cuppa at the gallery, we took a look at this display and the Fiona Rae paintings. Karolina Syzmkiewicz, the artist of the images of dancers, was in the gallery and she took time to explain how she manages to depict so expressively, in her sketches, the movement of the dancers.

Other events I noted were Heritage Open Days, 6th to 9th September, this is when the public will be given the opportunity to have free access to buildings not normally open to them, contact: http://www.heritageopendays.org.uk or phone 0113 243 9594 for full list of updates, alongside listings of walks and talks throughout the city,  check out scheduled colourful display of ‘Yoruba Textiles: cloth and tradition in West Africa’ at Leeds University from 5th September through to March.

An art noveau style poster, created by one of the Bramley librarians, attracted my attention to their Steampunk book display, as I’d not heard of this genre I asked the staff what it is…….. ‘futuristic sci-fi’…..A collection of short stories with one entitled ‘The Mechanical Aviary of Emperor Jala-ud-din Mohammad Akbar’ by Shweta Narayan looked intriguing, so there’s yet another book to peruse on my to read pile………when my mojo rises.

Sue Margaret