This year’s Summer Event took the form of a visit to the Fulneck Moravian Settlement
at Pudsey, Leeds. The Moravians came to Yorkshire from Germany in 1743 and founded
a settlement which they called Fulneck after one of their original sites in Moravia,
now part of the Czech Republic.
The site was consecrated in 1746 and the brothers began building. Their building
consisted of a massive terrace in the Georgian style, more than 200 yards long and
4 or 5 storeys high. This terrace contained the church, which was completed in 1748,
a boys’ school, a girls’ school, houses for the parson, the headmaster, the headmistress,
and accommodation for the single brethren, the single sisters, and the widows. There
were also workshops and rooms for other communal uses. A more modest terrace provided
cottages for the married members of the congregation.
The large terrace commands views over a beautiful wooded valley, now with a golf
course, tennis courts and gardens. The two separate schools were merged in 1994 and
now provide boarding and day school education for children from age 3 to 18.
The church, which is a Grade 1 Listed Building, is light and airy and the position
of the pulpit in the centre of one long side means that everyone can see and hear
The traditions of the founding brethren are largely maintained although the strictly
austere regime of the original community is no longer observed.
Our guide, who was dressed in the costume of the 18th century pioneers, was a fount
of knowledge, not only about Fulneck but also about the Moravian Church worldwide.
We came away with an understanding of, and respect for, a charming and peaceful
oasis in a busy world.
The Church now known as the Moravians, was founded as the Unitas Fratrum, (Unity
of Brethren) by followers of the martyr John Hus who was burnt at the stake in 1415.
In 1467 they became the first Protestant church by separating from Rome and creating
their own ministry and episcopal order.
A long period of persecution drove the brothers underground but the church was revived
when a group, now called Moravians after their homeland, settled on the estate of
Count Zinzendorf at Herrnhut in Saxony.
The Moravians were actively involved in missionary work, particularly in the United
States and the West Indies, but also in more remote places such as Alaska, Labrador
The Fulneck settlement was part of this missionary drive and the Moravians strongly
influenced John and Charles Wesley, who attended many Moravian services in the period
before they founded the Methodist Church.
There are 35 Moravian congregations in the UK but the church has a strong presence
in many other parts of the world.