The Choir

The choir is an inclusive group which plays an integral part in the programme of worship. The standards of choral music are high and the choir is highly regarded by both the congregation and the wider diocese. The Choir meet at St Giles’ on Wednesday evenings at 6.00 pm.  If you are interested in finding out more about our Church choir then please get in touch.

The Organ at St Giles' Church Pontefract.

The Organ

We have one of the country’s finest organs, which has now been completely refurbished, under the watchful eye of our organ honorary organ curator and benefactor. It is played at all choral services, including the principal Sunday mass. A monthly series of organ recitals is an integral part of the musical life of Pontefract where soloists of national, and international repute perform. There is also a fine grand piano which is used for concerts and recitals.

The Belfry

St Giles’ bell ringers have a tradition of ringing that dates back to 1835. We have 10 bells in the tower all cast by the John Taylor Bell foundry in Loughborough in 1920 and are widely respected as being one of the finest rings of 10 bells in the country.

When we ring a bell, we balance the bell (which can weigh up to 915kg) upside down and pull on the rope at the right time with the correct amount of strength so that the bell will rotate on its bearings to make a sound in time with the other bells that are being rung. We must consider the time taken from pulling on the rope to the bell making a sound is different for every bell and so is the amount of effort we must use. The human ear can easily detect if the timing is out by 0.1 second so if this sounds like something you would enjoy, please come along and give it a try.

We practice on Monday evenings from 7:30pm-9pm and everyone is welcome, whether you are an expert ringer or have never been in a ringing chamber. Our aim is for the ringing to be enjoyable and for you to feel supported. If you would like to come to a practice night, please contact the tower captain, Adrian Garner, on 07790 956257 so that we meet you at the door. To keep up to date with our latest news please visit our Facebook page.

Our Director of Music

James MacDonald, our director of music, began playing the organ at the age of ten at Saint Mary’s Church, Masham, where he was also head chorister. He continued to learn piano, percussion and clarinet throughout his childhood.

James read Music at the University of Huddersfield. After graduation, James worked in the catering and hospitality, before – in 1996 – joining the residential staff of Ashville College, Harrogate, where he taught music. He continued his education as a postgraduate at the University of Leeds and moved to Crofton High School (now Crofton Academy) in 1998. He also became choirmaster of Saint Wilfrid’s, Harrogate, where he directed music for over fifteen years.

Following a period as Education and Training Officer for the Royal School of Church Music, James was appointed Chairman of the Area Committee in the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds. He currently teaches Music and French at Crofton Academy, where he is also Head of Year 10 and a senior examiner for GCSE Music. He lives in Castleford with his wife, Karen, and their two young children: Amelia, and Ewan.