Tales of the Urban Explorer: St Mary’s in the Woods

in Urban Exploration2 months ago (edited)

I figured St Mary’s in the Woods was not going to be the finest or most exciting explore.

I did feel it was not going to be a fail and as this was the first of many in our Leeds expedition, it’s always good to get off to a positive start.


Scraping my car on a nearby lamp post while parking up was far from great, but you know…, shit happens.

“That will come out with t-cut", explained @dizzydiscovery to me, after inspecting the damage.

It does look pretty bad, but you are not here to look at my sorry looking car with its new damage marks, are you?

The present church was built in 1878 and is Grade II Listed. That means it can’t be demolished.

Graves in churchyard go back to 1699 and many of the graves are listed as well.

Due to a dwindling congregation and unable to fund the upkeep of the Church, it was closed around 2007 and in 2008 was sold to an entrepreneur a former Leeds Magistrate, Graham Butterworth who now lives in Gibraltar.

A planning application was made in February 2010 to turn the church into a restaurant & 9 luxury hotel suites as well as a block of 30 more suites nearby.

On the 12th June 2010 in the early hours there was a devastating fire that gutted the church. No conclusion has been made by the Fire Service as to how this started and no one has been arrested.

The Church tower housed the Pancake Bell which originally came from Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds.

The Bell had been rung on Shrove Tuesday since the 17th Century. It was thought this had been lost in the fire but was later recovered at the base of the tower having crashed down through all the floors.


Getting into St Mary’s in the Woods involved a little climbing as the gate was locked securely. This is no walk around the casual ruin affair.


Approaching the old ruinous church, the sun came out and gave me this scene of holy light emitting from the windowless arches.


Getting inside meant walking through one of the many holes, this door has long since become an inactive deterrent for unwanted intruders.


Anti-climbing fencing has its uses, it 'helps' you climb if rotated 90 degrees. Not that I had any intention of climbing up there.




St Mary's in the Woods is suffering from mass overgrowth both outside and where the pulpits, pews, and other religious artifacts once sat.



Some scaffolding has been erected but I had the feeling it’s been left, just as the building has.



Like most religious ruins, Satan always finds his way inside, in the form of graffiti.


We were told to look for the crypt by a previous explorer who did not find it. Was it down here?


More like a junk room down the steps. I didn’t want to move all this crap to see what lay underneath.


We walked around the edges taking some snaps and looking for this ‘crypt’. Several areas were so overgrown we did not want to look, the brambles were way too thick.


After climbing through what looked like a jungle we spotted a hole, was this it?


...‘The Mausoleum of the Scatcherd Family’...

This is not exactly a place underground, more a separate small area. Crypts to me are creepy places, with a small chance of the walking dead being present.


The ‘Scatcherd’ family must have had some money, to have their own burial chamber,


They died aged 34, 49, and 58. People didn't live too long in the 19th century, even rich ones.

If this was the crypt under all this junk then it would have to remain unexplored.


We didn’t feel like digging out way down there. The Mausoleum is mentioned within this link

I did a little more digging on the Scatcherd family and found that Alice Cliff Scatcherd was an early British suffragist who in 1889 founded the Women's Franchise League.

Along with Emmeline Pankhurst, these women are best remembered for organizing the UK suffragette movement and helping women win the right to vote.


I did remember all this stuff from school, they must have taught me something despite it being the very worst school in Lancashire.

Alice Cliff Scatcherd is buried in this very Mausoleum. It’s amazing what you can find with a little digging!


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exploration is good. until you explore, its unknown.

It looks older than it is and seems very run down considering how recently it was in use. I guess a fire really ages a building and it's a shame that happened. What's the betting it was some 'fire bug'? I expect it will remain a ruin as it will cost so much more to do up now.

I expect it will remain a ruin as it will cost so much more to do up now.

The owner is sunbathing in Gibraltar, handing peanuts to the local monkeys who live on those rocks while drinking San Miguel. I guess it was a great deal before it went up in smoke.

Nice for him if he can afford to write it off.

I'm not much of a crypt guy. If there is even a minuscule chance that one of them might be hanging about, you know.

Really impressive from the outside. I'm actually sort of glad in a way that there are 'mysterious' fires of unknown origin in the UK too. I'm sure the owner was safely in Gibraltar at the time...

Thanks for a wonderful start to your trip.

There's heaps of history over here, I suppose we are lucky to have it. Not every old shell has something that relates to significant times in history.

Yeah. Here in the west our history tends way more to places rather than buildings (unless you count the Pueblos). Like the ford here at Yuma. It's 275 river miles to the next place to cross so long as there have been humans around here there has been somebody that wanted that crossing. Long term semi permanent residency.

Yes, other than the native dwellings, our "historic" buildings just can't compare in age to those in the old world. I do like to visit old cemeteries as it can be interesting as to what you read on the gravestones.

We hear lots of songs about the places in the US, I'm humming 'Galveston' now :)

Ahahahahaha Nobody ever has hummed Yuma. Just sayin'

It's way before my time.. but in the deepest part of my brain I knew there was a Yuma song.

Well there you go. First a movie (with an early 2000s remake starring Russell Crowe) AND a song. What more could a guy ask for?

The prison that movie features sits right above the ford over the Colorado River. I don't think it's coincidence....

fine looking building, would be great if someone would restore it before its gone forever.cheers mike

I think that's a pretty decent explore, top marks for the architecture left standing at the very least!

We left feeling satisfied, even though my car took some damage. It need to get that t-cut.. and get it fixed.

Yes, don't let it rust!

It looks like the ghosts will come out of nowhere soon! :D

This place is probably haunted :)

Most old places are, the spirits seem to keep away from me, my bad luck.

From the outside this really looks like it was going to be a bust. Most of the rooms were not even intact and the roof was gone in a lot of the places. That is really cool about the crypt. You would think it might be a historic site or something that they actually take care of.

It was not expected to be an exciting one, that's why it was first. Like a starter you know!

Man, thats a good un, even though it's practically shell like. Good bell tower shot. Maybe a good job you didn't find the crypt... Just in case of walking deadsters!

I was hoping for zombies, anything for some excitement. Found the history this morning after digging for information. This along with the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834, has stuck in my head.

Fuck knows why that date is there, I would gladly remove it from my brain for something more useful!

The history is quite fascinating! It just goes to show, it's not all tatty VHS and rusted cars in gardens :OD

Rusty cars.. hmmm, now I'm thinking Rusty spoons, and something else is entering my thoughts.. urk..

Don't go down that dark and musty path!!! Hehe

Wow, this was a very big adventure and also an abandoned church building which with what you told us as a very big congregation settings. That is why the Hive community as a lot of Engagement just like this, I know personally it will take you a very pretty time to made the journey possible and as well as to bring out the best out of the pictures. To me it's a very big church although abandoned for years. I would like to take part in this Urban exploitation so as to bring what I have in store for the community and also to see how buildings are abandoned for decades.


See you soon. Greetings from Ilorin Nigeria 🇳🇬.

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Spooky looking place. I’m surprised you were allowed to go inside. I think the family must be delighted you stopped by 😆

We are definitely NOT allowed to go inside, but we do anyway. I wish I could say it was a spiritual encounter in the Mausoleum, but then I would be lying!

Yus! I got my slobberchops fix for the day. I've been craving it! Honestly this is one of your best urbex posts in my opinion. I appreciated the back story and history and for some reason the pictures of the crumbling ruins of a once magnificent church in the woods reminded me of fantasy novels and games.

I found my self immersed in the photos.

Also thanks for the links in the post. I clicked on them and learned more about the place. Im actually inspired by this post to do a fiction free write.

Anyways enough blabbering from me. Awesome post. Keep em coming

Thanks, I try and add some history if I can find it. If it's somewhere secret, and not to be found by others.. I can't do it.. as it may give away the location. In this case, it's already a ruin and not a big deal.

No it was totally appreciated! I really enjoyed this post. Plus the photos of ruins in the woods inspired my creativity.

No worries with the hidden places we get it and understand.

You got any other urbex posts in the wings youre working on. I cant go more than a day or two before i start getting withdraws. Its my latest fascination slash addiction.

I have 31 unwritten ones to date, and the backlog is getting larger. We generally make a day of it every 2 weeks and get in minimum 4 locations, and as many as 7 on a great day.

Then there are all the fails. Each one is a little adventure, you should try it.

Im thinking of it. Im new to the area i just moved to. But there are tons of abandoned barns and houses circa 1930s problem is this is south Carolina. So if i fuck up i run into a redneck with more firearms than an army division and the common sense and patience of a honey badger mixed with a moron.

Ah.., in the US you need to be careful. I rarely bump into anyone in these places, but I can't speak for your country. If I do, it's generally other explorers and then we have a chat!

Well im open to advice. I can be pretty ninja. However, ive also been shot at before. Not here but back in California. Its not fun but makes for great times at parties retelling the story.
One time a hillbilly in polka dot underoos squating on top of a wooden fence at midnight aimed a 12 gauge at me and my mates high on meth saying " you boys fixing to steal my car!" We looked over at his car which was already on cement blocks with no tires and covered in spider webs. We were in a suped up rice rocket. It was one of those moments when you could hear David Attenborough commenting on the stupidity if the sub species homo boganus trashus.

I can't advise you, it's a totally different arena over there. Check the trespass laws. Is it criminal or not?

i do enjoy a good mooch round graveyards, that crypt is very nice.

Finding that made it much better, we were not leaving until we searched the place.. it was there somewhere!

😂 good work

Wow mate, I didn't know that about her, what a shame its been left to ruin with a rich history like that.

Did T-Cut work? Haha

Great when you find something like this, I didn't notice Alice's plaque while in there, but we were not looking for it.

Amazing. I love these posts. These old locations allow those with imaginations to get lost in thought of days gone by, who used to visit there, and what they were like.

I prefer the older places, they have more history.. but I take whatever I can get. I need to travel further away now as the local places have now been visited.

Here lies the remains of Steem....ohhh. Crypt, not crypto? Anyway, that's brilliant that Alice Cliff Scatcherd is buried there! I knew of her and I know the site but I never knew the amazing connection!
Looking forward to more explorations in my back yard :-)

You knew about her?? I didn't.. until this morning.. when I started writing all this. I tend to write these in the order I do them, and St Mary's was the first one in a double trip to Leeds... there's several more to come!

I did, but only because I wrote a post about Emeline Pankhurst a long long time ago and her name came up when I was doing some reading. In the last 10 mins since I read your post, I've been telling loads of people lol!

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Great man .. nice place thank you


Amazing place to photography.


Another case where the oustside doesn't tell enough of the damage that has happened inside. I find this history quite fascinating though. They buried people inside churches? Very unusual in this part of the world.

Wow that one wont need to be torn down. Looks like nature has already got a good start on that already!