Visit Leeds and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Leeds, West Yorkshire. When Dickens visited Leeds he decided “you must like it very much or not at all”. If you like it very much you will be attracted by a town that is big, bold in replacing old buildings with new ones, and brisk. Leeds works at an enormous variety of manufacturing activities and is the ready-to-wear capital of the country. Iron forging began with the monks of Kirkstall Abbey in 1200. The cloth trade was firmly established by the 17th century, and the first wholesale clothier began in 1856.
Leeds spreads over a large and hilly area with a town centre on Victoria Square. Here the Town Hall, a famous and architecturally successful example of Classic revival, was built in a great burst of civic confidence in the 1850s and opened by Queen Victoria. On that occasion, the streets were lined with palm trees and triumphal arches. Eighteen thousand Sunday-school children sang the national anthem as she passed. The immense building, brown stone then and now recently cleaned, was designed by a young Hull architect, Cuthbert Brodrick. Giant columns line the fašade and the 225-ft clock tower is the symbol of Leeds. The building is guarded by white lions, cut out of Portland stone which is more resistant to grime. Its ornate Victoria Hall is the scene of the famed triennial music festival.
Brodrick planned some other major buildings which give Leeds a strong Victorian flavour: the public baths and Civic Theatre in Cookridge Street and the oval Corn Exchange in Duncan Street, for example. One of the newer streets, Headrow, opened the centre considerably. A principal shopping street is Briggate, off which are examples of the typically Leeds arcades, delightful glass-roofed passages lined with shops. The City Market was enclosed in 1904 giving the city a dashing new roofline of towers and spires.
Eighteenth-century gentlemen designed their country houses after the Classical themes they admired on the Grand Tour; 19th-century industrialists put these ideas into their mills. One Leeds chimney was a brick version of Giotto's campanile in Florence, and an Egyptian temple was the model for a mill.
City offices now occupy the Civic Hall opened in 1933 in Calverley Street, a noteworthy building with columned portico, pediment and slender towers. New buildings have gone up for the Central Colleges and the University, which covers a hill-top overlooking the centre. The university began in 1904, growing out of the Yorkshire College of Science. Its old buildings are red-brick, its more recent ones stone. The blocky tower of the Parkinson administration building, opened in 1950, is a landmark.
There are no medieval churches in central Leeds. One that is architecturally important is St John the Evangelist in New Briggate, completed in 1634 and a rare example of early-l7th-century ecclesiastical work. It has twin naves, a plaster-work ceiling and an excellent Jacobean screen across the whole width. Another is Holy Trinity, Boar Lane, completed in 1727, whose charming spire ornaments the commonplace shopping area.
The Yorkshire County Cricket Club grounds at Headingley need no introduction. The largest park is Roundhay, an open space of lake and woodland bought in 1872. The City Art Gallery near the Town Hall has a good permanent collection of painting and sculpture and a print room and library for scholars. The gallery was a first patron of Castleford-born Henry Moore, who, like Barbara Hepworth, born at Wakefield, trained at Leeds School of Art.
When the Quarry Hill estate flats were built in 1935, they were the largest public housing project in England.
The corporation owns two remarkable places of special historical interest: Temple Newsam, a great country house, and Kirkstall Abbey, both in easy reach of the centre. Temple Newsam was started by Thomas Lord Darcy before 1521. It was modernized and enlarged in the early 17th and late 18th centuries. A splendid mansion, it contains a superb collection of furniture, paintings, ceramics and porcelain. The original park has suffered from opencast mining, but the grounds contain two golf courses.
Kirkstall Abbey was founded in 1152 as a daughter house of Fountains and much of the building was completed by 1175. The chapter house, cloisters and abbot's lodging are outstanding.
The Abbey House Museum in the 12th-century gatehouse has re-created three streets of Victorian shops.
Nearby cities: Bradford, Wakefield, York
Suburbs of Leeds: Adel, Beeston, Beeston Hill, Belle Isle, Birstall, Bramley, Churwell, Colton, Cross Gates, Drighlington, Farnley, Gildersome, Holbeck, Horsforth, Hunslet, Killingbeck, Kirkstall, Knowsthorpe, Meanwood, Moortown, Oulton, Pudsey, Robin Hood, Rodley, Seacroft, Stanningley, Thorner, Whitkirk, Woodlesford
Nearby towns: Batley, Castleford, Garforth, Guiseley, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Ilkley, Otley, Pontefract, Tadcaster, Wetherby
Have you decided to visit Leeds or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Leeds bed and breakfast (a Leeds B&B or Leeds b and b)
- a Leeds guesthouse
- a Leeds hotel (or motel)
- a Leeds self-catering establishment, or
- other Leeds accommodation