Yeadon is listed in the Domesday Book of 1086, along with Rawdon and Horsforth, as "Terra Firma". The Norman period brought the foundation of Abbeys, Monasteries and other religious houses - the nearest to Yeadon being the Cistercian Abbey at Kirkstall, started in 1152. Here we find a definite connection with Yeadon as it is recorded that among the benefactors of the new Abbey were "Adam, son of Stephen of Yeadon, who gave lands" and Nicholas Adamson of Yedon (later chaplain to the Nuns at Esholt Priory) who gave "1 messuage and 33 acres of lands".
When Esholt Priory was established, more connections between Yeadon and the Church were
made. Between 1150 and 1200, a church was built at Guiseley - Yeadon was included in its
parish - and this Church, for centuries, was the focal point of Yeadon's religious life. Here,
generations of Yeadon folk were baptised, married and finally laid to rest. Guiseley Church,
dedicated to St. Oswald*, was the most conspicuous building in the district.
*St. Oswald (604-642), early Anglo-Saxon ruler and saint, King of Northumbria (634-642). St. Oswald
supported the Irish missionary Aidan in his widespread evangelism from a base on Holy Island, where
the Lindisfarne Gospels similar to the photo above (right) were written.
From the end of the 17th Century, the role of the established church became passive and in the 18th Century, working class people thought the English parish Church had little to offer, though tithes and other payments were rigidly extracted from them. Guiseley (St. Oswald's pictured below), which included Rawdon and Horsforth as well as Yeadon, was one of the better livings.... the incumbent was not obliged to live in the parish or to do any of the work entailed in marriages, funerals or administration of Holy Communion - he was rich enough to pay a curate to do this work for him.
Consequently, the Rector of Guiseley can hardly have been a popular figure in "Yidden", described
by a traveller in 1747, as a "wild and uncouth village".
To the poor working at their looms in the upper storeys of the stone houses, and to those toiling on the glebe land, he must have represented an unnecessary burden on their slender resources. Tithes were based on the church's traditional claim of one tenth of the produce of the land. Great tithes were of corn, hay or wool - all others being labelled small.
The Rector required from Yeadon, all tithes great or small. Also the expenses of cheese, bread and ale would be incurred in collecting and auditing the tithes account.
Yeadoners, somewhat reluctantly, continued to pay these tithes until, at a meeting in the Woolpack Inn, Henshaw, on 20th May 1837, it was decided that the tithes payable should be commuted to a direct annual payment of £111 in all.
Then in 1844, the people of Yeadon got their own Parish Church of St. John the Evangelist, Henshaw, which was built as a Chapel of Ease to Guiseley, and no longer did the locals have to trudge across the fields and becks to worship at St.Oswald's. The foundation stone was laid in 1843 and the churchwas consecrated and opened for public worship on July 18th 1844. It consisted of a nave with gallery and small apsidal chancel and vestry. In the 1890's the nave was refurbished and the East end enlarged to include alongside the enlarged chancel, the organ chamber on the north side and enlarged vestries on the southside. The church remained like this until the 1970's.