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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 CathedralManchester 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 ManchesterSt Ann's Church  ManchesterSt 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
in 1891. Free recitals and musical performances are
on offer here at lunchtime.

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

St Mary's Brazennose StreetSt Mary's - The Hidden Gem, MUlberry Street, ManchesterThe 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
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.
free. Opening times 8.00am – 4.00pm every day. No sight-seeing during
religious services please.

Friends’ Meeting

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