ONE hundred years ago, the Duchy estate was set to receive what many people today regard as its finest building, writes MALCOLM NEESAM.
On the afternoon of Wednesday, April 22, 1906, the Honorable Mrs RJ Foster of Stockeld Park laid the official foundation stone of the church of St Wilfrid, and a service was given at which the Bishop of Ripon officiated. It was obvious from the 1880s’ start of David Simpson's development of lands leased from the Duchy of Lancaster that an estate of the size he was building would one day require a church. Moreover, the church would have to be one of unusual splendour which would harmonise with its surroundings.
After the Duchy of Lancaster agreed to give land for a site at a suitable location, a temporary church was built to which, in August 1902, the Bishop sent the Vicar of Crakehall.
An endowment fund was established, to which the Church Commissioners contributed 700.
In February, 1906 the new Vicar, Rev W. Fowell Swann, wrote an embarrassed letter to the Duchy Council, explaining that part of the foundations of St Wilfrid’s had been built outside the land given by the Duchy, and on land already leased to Alderman David Simpson, and that after discussing the matter with Alderman Simpson, all would be well if the Duchy would give a further 920 square yards, to which the Chancellor, rather surprisingly, agreed. Elsewhere, the paper noted that Harrogate's traditional support for the best of modern music was continuing with a performance at the Kursaal of Elgar’s "Sea Pictures" by Miss Santley.
Taking up the musical theme, the paper also provided an account of a special tribute to one of the town's leading musicians, Herr Max Blume, who had taught piano at Harrogate for 34 years after being invalided at the Battle of Sedan during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870. Finally, it was noted that Mr Frank Snow, of the Oxford Hotel, in what is now Oxford Street, had been forced to call in his creditors after a financial crisis. For some years the building had been called the Roker Hotel, and later was known as Oxford Buildings.