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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Ukrainian monument is listed

A monument at a Bradford cemetery that pays tribute to Ukranians who have lost their lives in wars has been awarded listed status.

The Ukrainian Community Memorial at North Bierley Cemetery is one of a number of buildings or structures with links to Ukraine that have today been recognised by Historic England.

The announcements were made to coincide with the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest – last year’s event was won by Ukraine.

Two churches in the city have also had their existing listings updated to reflect their Ukrainian links.

The Grade II listing for the monument says: “The striking monument celebrates a thousand years of Christianity in Ukraine and pays tribute to those who have lost their lives in war.

“It stands watch over the graves of people of Ukrainian descent in the cemetery in North Bierley.

“Set on a plinth, the obelisk-shaped monument has a relief carving at the top which takes its form from the Tryzub Cross. ‘Tryzub’ is Ukrainian for ‘trident.’ Below, there is a gilded engraving of Ukraine’s coat of arms, surrounded by an olive wreath.

“There are two gilded inscriptions, in Ukrainian followed by English. They read: “988 – 1988 Millennium of Christianity in Ukraine,” followed by “In memory of those who gave their lives for God and their country.”

Bradford has had a significant Ukrainian population for decades. Following the Second World War, around 35,000 Ukrainians came to the UK as part of the European Volunteer Workers scheme. This was set up to address labour shortages by providing jobs in industry and agriculture to ‘displaced’ people.

Many found work in the woollen industry in West Yorkshire.

The two churches in Bradford having their listings revies are

St Mary Protectress, Ukrainian Autocephalic Orthodox Church, on Stony Lane

The Victorian church started life as a Methodist chapel in 1854 and was converted into the Ukrainian Autocephalic Orthodox Church by the local congregation in the mid-1960s. 

Wasyl Hutorny, now a church trustee, was 12-years-old in 1964 when the community donated money to buy the building and convert it into the first permanent Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church in Yorkshire.

He remembers this as an important moment for the community and people like his parents Michialo and Natalka who had come to Bradford after the conflict and upheaval of the Second World War.

Wasyl’s father had a particularly key role in the foundation and life of the church. He was the first priest, known as the Very Reverend Protopresbyter, and continued to serve the congregation until well into his 80s.

Wasyl said: “It’s fantastic that the official story of the church is being updated to include its role in the local Ukrainian community for nearly sixty years. My dad would love the church getting all this attention. Highlighting the history of the church now is really important, with what’s going on in Ukraine.”

He continued: “Outside, the church looks like a Methodist chapel but you open the doors and you’re in a different world. It was a labour of love for people to make it their own.”

Inside, a bright, colourful wall of icons – known as iconostasis – was paid for by donations. An important feature of Ukrainian churches, the iconostasis contrasts with more austere Methodist choir stalls and gallery.

Wasyl said: “The congregation helped with the work and my father found an artist to paint the murals. Families contributed to the cost of the different paintings, dedicating them to the memories of relatives who had died in the war or the famine in Ukraine.  Everyone had lost someone.”

At St Mary’s, a plaque is a poignant reminder of the Holodomor, the horrific man-made famine which killed over seven million people between 1932-33, including Wasyl’s grandfather.

Ukrainian Catholic Church of The Most Holy Trinity & Our Lady of Pochaiv, Manningham, Bradford

Built as a Wesleyan Chapel in 1879, it was adopted by the Ukrainian Catholic church in 1966.

Inside, a striking metal framed iconostasis – a colourful wall of icons – was installed, contrasting with more austere Methodist gallery, choir stalls and pews.

Other Ukrainian features introduced to the church include new altars, paintings and a baldacchino – metal canopy- over the alter.

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England, said: “Culture and customs are vital to national identity. They show the resilience and resourcefulness of Ukrainian communities and their dedication to protecting their language, beliefs, and way of life.”

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