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Photos by John Moss
unless otherwise credited

& Suburban Churches – 3

Church of St Lawrence,

Saint Lawrence,
a Grade II Listed Building, was once a so-called “chapel of ease”,
and only became a parish church in 1854. The building was originally
constructed around 1531 and was dedicated to St James until the discovery
of a stained glass window to St. Lawrence in the mid-nineteenth century.
A commemorative plaque lies in the church grounds.

St Lawrence Church, DentonSaint Lawrence, Denton
Photo courtesy of Ian Rhodes. See more of
his church photographs on the family website at

An unusual and
visually striking building, very little of the original structure
actually survives, probably only the timber posts of the nave and
some of the roof timbers are original – the rest is Victorian. The
distinctive black and white external striping is actually painted
on. Much of the stained glass dates from the 15th or early 16th century.
Long known affectionately to locals as Th’ Owd Peg because
its wooden framework construction which is held together by joints
fastened with wooden pegs – a common constructional practice in the
16th century.
The churchyard also has the grave with a stone memorial commemorating
Colonel Duckenfield of Dukinfield Hall, the Civil War hero from the
Tameside district. There is also a blue plaque in his honour on the
front of Dukinfield Town Hall. Robert Duckenfield was a Puritan who
in 1651 commanded the forces that secured the Isle of Man and in 1653
was appointed to Cromwell’s Little Parliament.
Extensive restoration of the church is in progress as part of a major
conservation project including repairs to the north wall of the nave
and to the north transept roofs, in collaboration with English Heritage.

See also: Denton
and Dukinfield

Brookfield Unitarian
Church, Hyde Road, Gorton

Brookfield in
another fine Grade II Listed Victorian Gothic Church, opened in 1871,
built by Thomas Worthington,
and commissioned by Richard Peacock of the powerful local Peacock
and Beyer engineering and locomotive building firm. Known in its time
as the “Unitarian Cathedral”, it has a peel of eight bells
in its tall steeple – all named for members of Peacock family.
Before its construction, in times of religious dissension and persecution,
worshippers met secretly in an upstairs room of a house nearby at
the junction of Abbey Hey Lane and Cross Lane.

Brookfield Unitarian Church, Hyde Road, Gorton
Photo courtesy
of Ian Rhodes.

Thereafter, in
more tolerant times, a chapel was built in Gorton Vale which served
worshippers from the surrounding districts of Denton, Reddish, Gorton,
Openshaw and Levenshulme. Several memorial plaques from this now long
gone chapel were transferred into the new church at Brookfield.
The massive eight bells, originally suspended on oak beams, were too
much for the steeple, which was in danger of serious damage, and in
the early 20th century they were re-hung on steel beams. The largest
of the bells weighs just under three-quarters of a ton and the smallest
one weighs about 4 hundredweight. A notable London fresco and mural
painter was commissioned to do the murals.
It took some time before a final name was was chosen for the church
– at one point it was thought that Brook Meadow Church would be appropriate,
but it was later changed to Brookfield, the name by which it is known
today. See also: Gorton

Stand Church,

Located on Church
Lane, in Whitefield (Bury), perhaps, with the local Stand Golf Course,
the last vestige of the old district of Stand (since the Grammar School
opposite was demolished in 2000 to make way for new housing).

Stand Church, WhitefieldSir Charles Barry - Stand Church, Whitefield.

Stand is a Commissioner’s
Church of 1822, the first known building to be designed by celebrated
architect, Sir Charles Barry – it cost £13,729 to build. In
all likelihood, it was on the strength of this building achievement
that he secured the commision to design the Manchester
Art Gallery
in Mosley Street in Manchester city centre. Barry’s
accuracy in reproducing an almost perfect perpendicular gothic architecture
marks Stand Church out as probably one of his best buildings. Its
splendid tower dominates the hill and is a local landmark to be seen
from miles around in every direction. Distinctive decorated pinnacles
seem to have been placed wherever there was space to fit them. The
windows are long tall lancets, and the tower has polyagonal buttresses.

Inside, it’s four bay nave has slender perpendicular piers which carry
the star-shaped plaster vaults – one for each two bays. Brightly coloured
stained glass windows were installed around 1840. There are several
monuments to local bigwigs of the period, including James Ramsbotham,
and James Clegg, as well as another bust with relief figures on the
base depicting Faith, Hope & Charity.

Author’s Footnote:

It was a nostalgic visit back to see this church, as I had worked
for several years opposite at Stand Grammar School for Boys. I was
employed there as a young teacher and fondly remember Founder’s Day
and Christmas Carol Services in this fine church – days shared with
the nearby Stand Grammar School for Girls – a rare treat indeed!!
These, and numerous art lessons drawing in the adjacent graveyard,
proved a welcome distraction from the many humdrum hours (and years)
of teaching art to the more-or-less unwilling youth of the district.

The Holy Name of Jesus RC Church, Chorlton on Medlock

Designed by Joseph
Aloysius Hansom and built between 1869-1871, the late Professor Nikolaus
Pevsner, one of Britain’s leading experts on art and architecture,
counts this as the finest work by Hansom. His original massive design
called for a spire atop the tower, but this was never built. The present
octagonal top was actually by Adrian Gilbert Scott and was only completed
in 1928.

The Holy Name, Oxford Road, Manchester

The fortress-like
facade of the building is deliberately asymmetrical and the sides
have flying buttresses, outer chapels with small windows. The interior
is spacious and airy with slender piers supporting the rib-vaulted
roof and high chancel. The vaulting was achieved, unusually, by using
polygonal terra cotta blocks, rather than stone, which considerably
reduced the weight (and the cost) of the building. The nave has four
bays. Terra cotta is also used for interior cladding as is much of
the ornate detailing. The apse and chancel piers have been compared
in style to those at Chartres in France.
There had been plans to demolish the Holy Name to make way for the
proposed School of Medicine as part of University expansion in the
mid-1960s. This was then thought to be perfectly logical since most
of the surrounding houses had been removed in Manchester’s major slum
clearances of that era, and congregations had in any case dwindled
to such an extent as to make the church economically unviable. However,
protests from locals and a militant campaign headed by Pevsner, (a
leading and influential critic of what he described as “Manchester
Corporation’s scandalous treatment of its architectural heritage” …),
succeeded in saving it as a Grade II Listed Building. In the event,
the Medical School was constructed a few yards south, further down
Oxford Road.

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This page last updated 1 Dec 11.