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Photos by John Moss
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Manchester City Centre Churches - 1


Manchester Cathedral

Victoria Street, Manchester M3. Tel: 0161 833 2220.
Somewhat detached now from the main City Centre, by virtue of its riverside location, the cathedral marked the epicentre of medieval Manchester. Today's Manchester Cathedral has taken 600 years in the making. It was dedicated by Henry Vth to St Mary, St Denys and St George, and is built in the Perpendicular Gothic style, typified by its tall windows and flat fan-vaulted ceilings.

Manchester Cathedral Manchester Cathedral Manchester Cathedral

Manchester Cathedral

It was in 1421-2 that the parish church of the little known village that was to become Manchester was raised to the status of a Collegiate Church, and served the surrounding 60 square mile parish.
While much of the exterior of the building is a 19th century reconstruction carried out by Joseph Crowther, he was scrupulously faithful to the original building, and none of the original styling has been lost. The possible exception is the west front, which was rather ornately over-reconstructed in celebration of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897 by Sir Basil Champneys.
Other alterations and restorations have been carried out by J.P.Holden in 1815 and 1868, Sir Percy Worthington in 1934 and Sir Hubert Worthington after the Lufwaffe bombing of 1940.
The interior has numerous examples of period woodwork in the form of the finest late medieval woodcarving, carried out between 1485 and 1506 by the so-called 'Ripon Carvers'. The old Collegiate Church was elevated to Cathedral status in 1847.
In 1940, the building sustained a direct hit during the Manchester blitz in December of that year, and much collateral damage was sustained, many fine windows being lost forever. Fortunately, much of the woodcarving survived the bombing, and the particularly fine choir stalls and misericords (choir seats) are worth seeing.
Saxon stone fragments survive from the 8th century. Now, the Fire Window by Margaret Traherne, occupies a place near to the site of the impact. On the west side of the cathedral are five modern windows made by Tony Holloway and representing "St George", "St Mary", "St Denys", "Genesis" and "Revelations".
The oldest part of the building are the piers which support the tower, which date from 1380 There is also a sculpture by Eric Gill. Evensong, sung on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 5.30pm and Saturdays from 5.00pm. See also: Plan of Manchester Cathedral

St Ann's Church

St Ann's Square, Manchester.
Built in local pink sandstone, St Ann's church is an elegant, neo-classical building dating from 1712, and often ascribed to Sir Christopher Wren or one of his pupils. It is a Grade 1 listed building of historic and architectural merit. Its distinguished round arched windows with two-storey Corinthian pilasters is typical of the classical revival style, as is the large rounded apse at the high altar end of the church.

St Ann's Church Manchester St Ann's Church  Manchester St Ann's Square, Manchester

Originally the tower was topped by a wooden spire - long since disappeared. Inside are galleries supported by rather stocky Tuscan columns, and windows are glazed with 19th century stained glass by Frederick Shields. It is still debatable whether the church was named after St Ann, or after Lady Ann Bland, who seems to have financed most of its construction.
The church tower is said to mark the exact centre of the city of Manchester, and was at one time used as a platform from which surveyors could make distance measurements - the cut arrow benchmark can still be found to the left of the tower doorway. The church was initially frequented by the cream of Manchester society and its pews could be rented; the best seats cost around �100, a small fortune in those days!
St Ann's is the only one of the 19 city centre churches built in the 18th century to survive. It was restored by Alfred Waterhouse in 1891. Free recitals and musical performances are on offer here at lunchtime.

St Mary's RC Church - The Hidden Gem

Mulberry Street, off Brazennose Street, Manchester M2. Tel: 0161 834 3547.
St Mary's Church marks the site of the first purpose-built Roman Catholic church in England since the Reformation and was erected in 1794. The present building dates from 1848 and was designed by Weightman and Hadfield. It is locally better known as "The Hidden Gem", after being described thus by a visiting dignitary, and it is widely signposted as such around the city, though it lies tucked away just off Brazennose Street off Albert Square and is missed by many passers-by.

St Mary's Brazennose Street St Mary's - The Hidden Gem, MUlberry Street, Manchester The Hidden Gem, Manchester

The influential Victorian architect and critic, Augustus Welby Pugin expressed his personal dislike for the building, but this was almost certainly a biased view and sour grapes on his part, as his own design for the church had been rejected. The building was nevertheless well received by its contemporaries and its popularity has persisted over the subsequent two centuries so that it is deservedly regarded as a Manchester treasure - well worth a look on your way to Manchester Town Hall or the Central Reference Library nearby. Later additions to the church include Norman Adams' paintings of the Stations of the Cross - lively images which contrast markedly with the 19th century interior of the church. Admission free. Opening times 8.00am - 4.00pm every day. No sight-seeing during religious services please.

Friends' Meeting House

Quakers Religious Society of Friends, 6 Mount Street, Manchester M2. Tel: 0161-834 5797
A Grade 2 listed building of architectural merit, built by Richard Lane in 1828 at the height of the Classical Revival style of architecture in England. Its imposing approach steps reaching the full width of the building and, the Greek facade with its four supporting Ionic pilasters bears witness to the growing importance and influence on Nonconformism in the City of Manchester at that time. The sides and rear of the building are, however, in a plainer, more modest brickwork.

Friends Meeting House, Manchester Quaker Church in Manchester

Despite many attempts at redevelopment, the building still boasts continuous use and is still used by Quakers today, and it stands up well to the plethora of civic buildings which surround it.

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Copyright © John Moss, Papillon Graphics AD 2013 Manchester, United Kingdom - all rights reserved.
This page last updated 1 Dec 11.