Christ Church on the Stray
Harrogate Yorkshire



Who we are

Christ Church is home to a thriving Christian community of 300+ people of all ages.

Worship is at the heart of everything we do. We are in the mainstream Anglican (Church of England) tradition, but work hard to welcome people of all backgrounds and traditions across the threshold. Although our worship is shaped by formal structures, it is designed to be inclusive and open. We use a wide range of musical resources, from a youth music group to a robed choir, and put a very high value on good preaching and teaching.

We are very privileged to have a remarkable Junior Church of 120 children and young people. They particpate in parts of the 10 am celebration and also meet for worship, fellowship and learning separately. We also exercise an active ministry in two secondary schools, four primary schools and the local college.

A small, but for us very significant ministry is our daily prayer. Every morning at 7.30 am and every evening at 5.30 pm a small group meets to offer prayer and praise, framing each day in worship. Often we will be joined by someone wandering in off the street seeking sanctuary and counsel, and it is important for us that we keep the church building open 7.30 am - 6 pm each weekday.

Our buildings are used seven days a week, with a range of spaces and high quality facilities. The Church and Centre are a key springboard for our mission in the wider community, with traditional patterns such as play groups and lunch clubs alongside work with Alzheimers sufferers and Alcoholics Annonymous, as well as supporting students unable to access mainstream education and even a local special needs drumming group.

Our website is an imoprtant resource to our own worshipping community, but is also being used increasingly by others and is a growing piece of ministry. Through the web we make available worship booklets, prayer resources, and patterns for reading the Bible in daily prayer, as well as audio of recent sermons. We currently have users on line from four continents.

We are aware that we have been very blessed as individuals and as a community, and are committed to expressing our thanks for this in active ways. So as well as supporting out own clergy, lay staff, volunteers and plant financially, we make a significant contribution to supporting the ministry of less well resourced churches both in the city of Leeds and the rural areas of North Yorkshire. We have a particular link with the Junior Church in a vast overspill estate in north Leeds, and support two link missionaries in Tanzania.

We know that a successful church is not necessarily one that is full every Sunday, but one that in its closeness to Christ knows about vulnerability and need. In a variety of stumbling ways, we seek to express this in our life together, and treasure theses words of Fr John Medcalf:

I dream of a church where love and people
are more important than stone and steeple.

I dream of a church with an open door,
where no one is privileged except the poor.

I dream of a church where milk and honey
will flow more freely than power and money.

I dream of a church where young and old
will be inspired to change their world.

Church Address

Christ Church on the Stray
The Parish Centre
The Stray
Harrogate, Yorkshire HG1 4SW
United Kingdom
Phone: 01423 530750
Download vCard with Service Times   Edit

Church Pastor

The Revd Matthew Scott Evans
The Revd Matthew Scott Evans
Christ Church Vicarage
11 St Hilda's Road
Harrogate, Yorkshire HG2 8JX
United Kingdom
Phone: 01423 883390
Download Vicar The Revd Matthew Scott Evans vCard with Bio   Edit

Quote of the Day
John 15:16

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.




Church Website

Social media

Christ Church on the Stray Facebook Video


Leader Name:
The Revd Matthew Scott Evans   Edit
Leader Position:
Vicar   Edit
Formal Title:
The Revd   Edit
Leader Address:
Christ Church Vicarage
11 St Hilda's Road
HG2 8JX   Edit
Leader Email:
Leader Bio:
On Thursday 29th January 2015 at 7.30pm Matthew was collated and inducted into the post of Vicar of Christ Church High Harrogate. This was a great occasion and celebration which brought together his former churches, family and friends and of course Matthew’s new congregation at Christ Church. Matthew and his family were warmly welcomed by everyone.   Edit
Other Church Leaders:
The Revd Helen Bailey
The Revd Clive Sedgewick
Elizabeth Mottershead   Edit

Leadership Photos


Admin Name:
Jill Walters   Edit
Admin Position:
Parish Clerk   Edit
Admin Address:
The Parish Centre
Christ Church
HG1 4SW   Edit
Admin Email:

Mailing Address


Driving Directions

A From:
B To:
The Parish Centre The Stray, Harrogate, Yorkshire
Mode of Travel:

Travel/Directions Tips

Harrogate train station & local buses   Edit


On street   Edit

Christ Church on the Stray Service Times

Morning Prayer

In church at 8.30am, with doors open approx. 8.20am, on Wednesday - Thursday - Friday
SEATING in the Lady Chapel for up to 4 people.
Use of hand-sanitiser required. Face-masks welcome.

Evening Prayer

There will be ZOOM-ed and in church provision of
Evening Prayer this week at 5.30pm (doors open approx. 5.20) on Tuesday - Wednesday - Saturday
ZOOM ACCESS DETAILS on the website or [email protected]
SEATING in the South Transept for up to 7 people.
Use of hand-sanitiser required. Face-masks welcome.

Wednesday 10am Holy Communion

Initially this service is without singing, and without teas and coffees. The use of hand-sanitiser is required. Face-masks are welcome, especially when receiving Holy Communion.

Maintaining Social Distance is encouraged, for which the chairs will be well spaced within the Hall. Communion will be received in one kind (bread) only, as on Sunday services.

Christ Church on the Stray service times last updated on the 7th of September, 2021
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Worship Languages

English   Edit

Dress Code

Come as you are!   Edit

Sunday School / Children and Youth Activities

Under 12s:
Creche (0-4)
Junior Church (3-12)   Edit
Under 18s:
On the Edge (12+)   Edit

Local outreach & community activities

See Church description above.   Edit

Other activities & ministries

Jouney in Faith (Emmaus)
Reflections Group (lectio divina based on Sunday Scripture readings)   Edit

Special Needs/Accessibility

Full disabled access   Edit

Prayers and Hymns

Main Bible:
NRSV   Edit
Hymns and Songs:
All sources   Edit

Other information

Average Adult Congregation:
210   Edit
Average Youth Congregation:
120   Edit
Additional Info:

Church Photos

History of Christ Church on the Stray, Harrogate Yorkshire

St John's ... to ... Christ Church on the Stray

A brief history of Christ Church from 1439 onwards

Early Days

Harrogate is not on early maps of Yorkshire, because it is essentially a town with its roots in the 18th century. Before the discovery of the underground springs and their healing potential, it was a sleepy hamlet known as Harrowgate, part of the ancient parish of St John's, Knaresborough. The history of the Christian community here is bound up with Harrogate's development as a spa town.

There is evidence of a medieval chantry chapel a short distance from the present church, near what is known as St John's Well on the Stray. We know this because in his will in 1439 Thomas Linley leaves £12 to the chantry priest to say masses for the repose of his soul over three years. Presumably, like other chantries, this building was demolished at the Reformation and no traces of it remain today.

The real story of the worshipping Christian community in Harrogate begins in 1749. The vicar of St John's, Knaresborough realised that the little village at the top of the hill was growing, and needed a church. So - on the site of what today is the Parish Centre - he built St John's Chapel. Both locals and the growing number of visitors had a place to say their prayers. It only seated 100, but was the first home of the Christian community here. It is also worth noting how well this illustrates an often forgotten feature of the Church of England in the 18th century: it is a century often described as a time of little zeal in church life, but the Rector of Knaresborough, like many of his contemporaries, shows genuine missionary instincts in planting a new church in this growing part of his parish.

The new church building was known as St John's Chapel because of its links with its mother church at Knaresborough, but it was dedicated on 17 June 1749 as Christ Church. The links with Knaresborough remained until 1852 when Christ Church became a parish in its own right, and the right of appointing the vicar passed from the Rector of Knaresborough to the Bishop of Ripon. As Harrogate grew and prospered over the next 150 years four further parishes were formed from Christ Church, High Harrogate: St John's Bilton in 1858, St Peter's in the town centre in 1870, St Luke's in 1898, and St Andrew's Starbeck in 1911.
Spas were big business from the 18th century onwards and the increasing fame of Harrogate's healing waters brought many distinguished, aristocratic and royal visitors to the new town. The little chapel was soon too small for the needs of the growing congregation of both parishioners and visitors. So in December 1829 a special meeting was held at which, by a large majority, it was decided that a new church must be built.

The Duchy of Lancaster provided a site for the new building next to the old chapel. Legal difficulties delayed the building of the new church, but by the end of September 1831 it was ready for use. The architect was John Oates of Huddersfield, and his new church was described by the York Herald and Leeds Intelligencer as ‘a prominent and beautiful object of admiration from all the surrounding parts of this celebrated watering place'. The old chapel of St John was dismantled and rebuilt in the centre of the town at the end of James Street as a Congregational Chapel. It has since been demolished.

The new church, in an austere Early English style predating the exuberance of Victorian Gothic Revival, is very much the core of the building you see today - without the additions at the east and west end of the church, and of course without the Parish Centre.

The west tower leads into the nave with long lancet windows on either side. Internally there is a gallery on three sides. The 1831 building originally had a central pulpit at the east end of the nave. Behind it was a small apse with the Holy Communion table. This reflects the worshipping patterns of the time, when the daily and Sunday services were usually Morning and Evening Prayer, and Holy Communion was celebrated much less regularly than it is today.

The organ was in the west gallery and a plastered ceiling concealed the roof timbers. The church was lit by oil lamps. Narrow pews with vertical backs (not the pews in the church today!) provided seating for 1,250 worshippers. Underneath the church, extending for the whole length of the nave, is a vaulted crypt. Originally the crypt was designed as a burial ground, and some burials did take place there. Today there are fledgling plans to re-think the use of this exciting space.

The total cost of the new church was £4,500. Most of this was raised through donations, including £300 from the Duchy of Lancaster, and £50 each from the Archbishop of York and the bishops of Durham and Chester. The church was dedicated at 2 pm on Saturday 1 October 1831 by the Bishop of Chester, Dr John Bird Sumner (who was later to be Archbishop of Canterbury from 1848-62). Harrogate at that time was in the diocese of Chester, which had been formed at the Reformation from parts of the dioceses of York and Lincoln. It was not until 1836 that the present diocese of Ripon (recently re-named ‘Ripon & Leeds') was created. The Feast of Dedication is still celebrated today on the first Sunday of October, and the Patronal Festival is celebrated on the Feast of Christ the King.

Over time there have been many additions and alterations: on 23 November 1860 the Vestry Meeting approved a proposal to enlarge the church ‘to meet the requirements of a greatly augmented residential population'. The plans, by the eminent Bradford architects Lockwood and Mawson, were to provide chancel, sanctuary and transepts at the east end of the existing church.

As well as the need for extra accommodation there had been a shift in architectural fashions and in styles of worship in the 30 years since the new church had been built. In the wider culture, the Romantic Movement had brought about a new interest in the past. In architecture this led to the Gothic Revival, with a new emphasis on medieval building styles and techniques (and not just in church building - St Pancras' station is one of the great neo-Gothic buildings of Britian). The same cultural and philosophical changes had a huge impact on the worship of the Church of England - above all a re-discovery of movement and symbolism, and the placing of Holy Communion at the centre of the church's life.

These changes were reflected in the design of the substantial additions to Christ Church, with a large chancel and a spacious sanctuary at the east end, with the focus on the altar rather than the pulpit. The style of the new work was muted Decorated Gothic, a touch more ornate than the nave, with flowery capitals and carved heads on the corbels, which, it has to be said, look more like Victorian burgesses than medieval monarchs!

The new chancel, sanctuary and transepts were dedicated on Sunday 29 June 1862 . The work had also included removing the nave ceiling to expose the roof timbers, and rebuilding the organ in a special chamber alongside the sanctuary that is now the Lady Chapel.

Behind the new altar at the east end is a remarkable carved and painted reredos. This was only installed in 1939, the work of Ninian Comper. It draws the worshippers attention from every part of the building The lengthening of the church, and the opening up of a vista which culminated in the high altar, necessitated the removal of the pulpit, previously at the centre of eastern nave, to the north side of the nave. No longer did Christ Church serve as a preaching tabernacle, but was now fitted for the changing fashions of Anglican liturgy.

Overall the new chancel and transepts gave added length and dignity to the church interior, but externally it produced the odd perspective of a tower too narrow for the length of the building it protects. At either side of the tower was added a porch and stairs, giving easy access to the both nave and galleries.

In 1886 a faculty was granted for the replacement of the old pews with more comfortable seating, which caused some degree of controversy resulting in a Consistory Court being held, which found in favour of the scheme, which also included considerable alteration to the galleries.

There were still some changes to come. In 1906 Canon D.S. Guy, who had grandiose plans for the building of a completely new church, was complaining to the Vestry Meeting that in the meanwhile they must tolerate very insufficient vestry accommodation, an organ buried away where half its strength could not be utilised, a choir sadly muffled, and the evils of galleries, which lay not only in their unsightliness, but in the extreme difficulty of preserving order and reverence in them'.

Although his vision of a new church was never realised they were at least able to deal with two of the problems he complained of.

On the 1 August 1908 a brand new organ by Messrs Norman & Beard was dedicated, having been built in the north transept. By October 1908, in the space left by the old organ, a Lady Chapel had been created, but due to lack of funds for the furnishings, it was not completed until the following year. The cramped vestry facilities were solved by the building of a substantial vestry suite for the clergy and choir against the south chancel wall. It was regarded as a memorial to those who served and fell in the First World Ward together with the churchyard cross, designed by Austin and Paley, and was dedicated by the Bishop of Ripon on 13 May 1921 . On this great occasion the choir wore their new dark red cassocks for the first time, which had replaced their previous sombre black attire.

Christ Church today

In 1973 the font was moved from its position under the west tower and re-sited in the south transept, being moved again under the balcony in 2007. Some seating was removed at the west end of the nave in order to provide space for a handsome oak screen, filled with hand-made amber glass, across the entire width of the nave, thereby creating a Narthex at the entrance to the church, which serves as a welcome area for worshippers.

In 1988 the sale of the old school building in Church Square enabled a beautiful Parish Centre to be built adjoining the north-west corner of the church, consisting of a hall, meeting rooms, kitchen, and offices. The old school became part of what is now St Aidan's Church of England High School, in the parish just across The Stray in Oatlands Drive. The Parish Centre is a place of welcome and hospitality, and is used by church groups and organisations across the town for a wide range of activities and events. The brass cross above the door to the main hall was dedicated after the Eucharist on Millennium night - it is a reminder for us and for everyone who uses the centre the abiding presence of Christ in all that we seek to do and to be here at Christ Church.

Christ Church today is home to a vibrant and growing Christian community. We seek both to exercise high standards of stewardship for the buildings we have inherited and to develop their use for the development of our worship and mission.

Towards the end of 2008 some small changes were made to the Lady Chapel to create appropriate space both for daily Morning and Evening Paryer and for personal prayer. And in 2011 the south transept was cleared of its unused furniture to create a space which today is used for regular weekday services and as a space for silence.

The church is normally open every day from 8.30 am to 6 pm. You are very welcome to come in, light a candle and say a prayer.   Edit

Historical Photos

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The power of Christian prayer "God does nothing except in response to believing prayer."
John Wesley
Christ Church on the Stray listing was last updated on the 7th of September, 2021
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