Name

Joseph Stretch Crowther

Designation
architect
Born
1820
Place of Birth
Coventry
Location
Manchester
Died
1893

  • Born: 1820 at Coventry
  • Married: 1891 at Orsett, Essex, Richanda Barber
  • Died: 24 March 1893 at Southport

 A scholarly and talented church architect, Joseph Stretch Crowther was one of the first Manchester architects to adopt the principles of the Ecclesiological Society and retained a lifetime interest in the Gothic architecture of the Middle Ages. His best churches were high and beautifully proportioned and his detailing was usually of great finesse. A staunch churchman, he maintained a strong interest interested in the liturgy, music and organs. He was described as “a man of singularly retiring disposition, highly educated, of cultured taste, but difficult to move when he had made up his mind.”

Born at Coventry in 1820, he was a son of John Crowther, (described as an architect of that town) and his wife, Martha. Details of Joseph Crowther's early education are unclear, although the Manchester Lit & Phil obituary suggests that he had been well educated, partly at Cambridge, and that at one time he had considered taking holy orders. In September 1838 Crowther was articled to the Manchester architect Richard Tattersall. Tattersall had been responsible for a number of Unitarian Chapels and Commissioner churches, but by the late 1830s had begun to explore the more accurate reproduction of Gothic details. In 1840 Tattersall was commissioned by Lord Derby to restore the family chapel in Manchester Cathedral. Crowther measured and sketched the chapel for Tattersall, beginning his association with the cathedral, the restoration of which he called "the crowning act" of his life. Crowther remained a pupil of Tattersall until 1842 or 1843. In his Separate Statement for Fellowship of the RIBA dated 29 June 1888, Crowther stated that in the period 1843-6 he had travelled in the United Kingdom for twelve months. Next, according to his statement, he became Managing Clerk to Mr Whittaker, Architect, of Bolton, (presumably the unnamed mill architect of his obituary), to gain further experience of construction before he commenced working for Henry Bowman, again as Managing Clerk.

Bowman took Crowther into partnership in 1846, the year he published his first book, "Specimens of the Ecclesiastical Architecture of Great Britain."  In the preparation of this book he had been assisted by James Hadfield and J S Crowther. In addition, several of the drawings were prepared by Thomas Worthington who was articled to Bowman at the time and remained in Bowman’s office until 1847. With Crowther, Bowman was to produce his more important work, "Churches of the Middle Ages", originally published between 1849 and 1852 as part-works. These was eventually published in 1853 in the form of a large folio edition in two volumes containing a series of measured drawings but no text. By this time the partnership  between Bowman and Crowther had ended.  These volumes contained perspectives, plans, elevations and details of mediaeval churches, many examples being taken from the area around Sleaford in Lincolnshire. Again, a number of young architects helped in the preparation of the drawings and perspectives, including James Fowler of Louth, G.Hawkins, R. M. Smith, J. G. Elgood, Worthington’s assistant in 1855 and partner in 1880, Edward Salomons of Manchester and A.F. Tait. Both Salomons and Tait were also to work for the art dealer Thomas Agnew. A F Tait produced railway prints as an artist and lithographer; in 1850 he emigrated to America where he achieved fame as an animal and sporting artist.

Crowther's association with Bowman for a time placed him at the vanguard of church architecture, and any national reputation Crowther was to obtain was based on the book which they compiled together.  The publication of Churches of the Middle Ages between 1849-52 for the first time gave architects source details of Gothic parish churches in the archeologically correct styles advocated by Pugin.  His first major church, St. Mary's, Hulme, shows Crowther's use of medieval precedent and his liking for the picturesque in the careful massing of the domestic buildings and the placement of the tower and spire. However, the progress of the Gothic Revival was so rapid that even before the book and church were complete, Butterfield and Street had begun to develop new ideas, a progression from the strict copying of medieval examples. Crowther was never again to be at the forefront of the High Victorian Gothic Movement. Although highly talented and capable of great finesse, he was not a naturally inventive or innovative architect. Details that had once proved satisfactory were used repeatedly in later projects. Elements such as the gable cross and quatrefoil air vents became standard on all his churches, acting almost as a trademark. The details gathered for Churches of the Middle Ages were to provide the precedent for much of his later work. Researches associated with the book provided Crowther with “an endless collection of details and precedents from which he was able to draw at any time.”. However, the publication of this book results in Crowther's sources being more obvious than those of most Victorian church architects. His later work on the restoration of Manchester Cathedral was to provide a further rich source of medieval details. The restorations of Mobberley, Littleborough and Rochdale all contain elements derived from the timber carvings in the roof of the Cathedral.

Helped by a clerk, Crowther conducted his architectural practice from 22, Princess Street opposite the Athenaeum, the building probably demolished about 1870. He moved then to 28, Brazennose Street in the period 1870-1875. (letters dated 1870-2), and later to 20, St. John's Street (1875). On 17 December 1888 he was elected a Fellow of the RIBA, proposed by J. Holden, J. Murgatroyd, E. Salomons. About 1862 Crowther moved from Alderley Edge to 7, Hayward Street, Cheetham, some half a mile away from St. Albans Church where he sang in the choir and played the organ.  Here he remained until about 1880 when he returned to Alderley Edge but not to Redcliffe Grange. Although the house remained in his ownership until his death in 1893, it was let out. Instead, Crowther moved to Endsleigh, Wood Lane, Alderley Edge, a house that was to serve both as a home and an office.

Crowther remained single until 1891 when he married his housekeeper Richanda Barber at Orsett, Essex. He was 71 she was 22.

Crowther died in a nursing home at 168 Lord Street in Southport on 25th March 1893, leaving almost £20,000. Farrar & Co. of Brazennose Street Manchester acted as solicitors dealing with the estate, Richard Crowther, Herbert Oakes Crowther and David Bryce being named as executors. At the time of his death he had almost completed a monograph, An Architectural History of the Cathedral Church, subsequently finished and edited by Dr Frank Renaud, an antiquarian of Alderley Edge, and published by a Mr Cornish. Associated with the book were Frank Oakley, the son of the Dean of Manchester, James Thompson and John Battye who also worked for Waterhouse.

Address

  • 1847: Bowman and Crowther, 2 Essex Street Manchester
  • 1850-1853: Bowman and Crowther 68 George Street (advertisements etc)
  • 1861: 22 Princess Street (Slater)
  • 1863: J S Crowther, architect (Bowman and Crowther), 22 Princess Street (Slater)
  • 1870-1876: 28, Brazennose Street  (letters dated 1870-2),
  • 1877-1879: 20, St. John's Street, Manchester

Residence

  • 1850: Jos. S Crowther architect (Bowman & Crowther) Derby Cottage Cheetham
  • 1853: Jos. S Crowther architect (Bowman & Crowther) 175 Cheetwood
  • 1861: J S Crowther. Redclyffe Grange Alderley Edge (Census/Slater)
  • 1863: J. S Crowther architect (Bowman & Crowther), 7 Heywood Street, Cheetham Hill Road
  • 1876: J. S Crowther architect , 7 Heywood Street, Cheetham Hill Road
  • 1879-1881: J. S Crowther, architect , 7 Heywood Street, Cheetham Hill Road
  • 1881 Endsleigh Alderley Edge (Census)

 

 

Buildings and Designs

Building Name District Town/City County Country
Heptonstall Parish Church. Competition entry 2nd place       England
Restoration of Chancel Kendal Parish Church   Kendal  Cumbria  England
St Lawrence Crosby Ravensworth. Restoration and remodelling   Crosby Ravensworth  Cumbria  England
Church of St. Philip Alderley Edge.   Alderley Edge  Cheshire  England
Enlargement: Church of St. Philip Alderley Edge.   Alderley Edge  Cheshire  England
Tower and spiret :Church of St. Philip Alderley Edge.   Alderley Edge  Cheshire  England
Parsonage: Church of St. Philip Alderley Edge.   Alderley Edge  Cheshire  England
Alderley Edge (County Primary) Schools   Alderley Edge  Cheshire  England
Church of St Mary Upper Moss Lane Hulme Manchester Hulme  Manchester  GMCA  England
Wall Decorations: Church of St Mary Hulme Manchester Hulme  Manchester  GMCA  England
St Mary's Rectory Parsonage Street Hulme Hulme  Manchester  GMCA  England
Schools in connection with St Marys Church St Mary’s Street Hulme Hulme  Manchester  GMCA  England
St Mary’s Boys School Upper Moss Lane Hulme Hulme  Manchester  GMCA  England
St Mary's Cliffe (or St Mary’s Clyffe) Alderley Edge   Alderley Edge  Cheshire  England
Woodland Cottage Mottram Road Alderley Edge   Alderley Edge  Cheshire  England
The Larches Woodbrook Road Alderley Edge   Alderley Edge  Cheshire  England
Redclyffe Grange 1 Woodbrook Road Alderley Edge   Alderley Edge  Cheshire  England
The Terrace' Windermere.   Windermere  GMCA  England
Cleve Howe' Windermere. For Robert Braithwaite.   Windermere  Cumbria  England
House on Elleray Estate Windermere   Windermere  Cumbria  England
House at Birthwaite Windermere   Windermere  Cumbria  England
Wynlass Beck Wynlass Park Windermere   Windermere  Cumbria  England
Oakland' Windermere. For John Gandy   Windermere  Cumbria  England
St Mary's Cottage' Windermere.   Windermere  Cumbria  England
Birthwaite Lodge' Windermere   Windermere  Cumbria  England
“Holehird” Patterdale Road Troutbeck Cumbria   Troutbeck  Cumbria  England
Additions: “Holehird” Patterdale Road Troutbeck Cumbria   Troutbeck  Cumbria  England
Proposed Chancel St Colomba's Church Warcop Cumbria   Warcop  Cumbria  England
Church of St Mary Applethwaite Windermere   Windermere  Cumbria  England
St Mary's Vicarage Windermere   Windermere  Cumbria  England
West Extension to Nave: Church of St Mary Applethwaite Windermere   Windermere  Cumbria  England
North Transept and Vestry:Church of St Mary Applethwaite Windermere   Windermere  Cumbria  England
Church Gee Gross Gee Cross  Hyde  GMCA  England
Church of St Alban. Waterloo Road Cheetwood Manchester Cheetwood  Manchester  GMCA  England
St Alban's Church Schools (no date) Cheetwood  Manchester  GMCA  England
St. Matthew Grenville Street Edgeley Stockport. Edgeley  Stockport  GMCA  England
Restoration of Pinnacles Battlements etc. Gawsworth   Gawsworth  Cheshire  England
Church of St. George London Road Poynton with Worth   Poynton  Cheshire  England
National Schools Lower Broughton Lower Broughton  Salford  GMCA  England
St Luke’s National Schools Heywood   Heywood  GMCA  England
Croston Cottage and Gardens Alderley Edge   Alderley Edge  Cheshire  England
Church of St John the Evangelist Manley Road Alvanley Cheshire   Alvanley  Cheshire  England
Schools in connection with St John’s Manley Road Alvanley Cheshire   Alvanley  Cheshire  England
Arderne Hall near Tarporley Cheshire   Tarporley  GMCA  England
Oak Farm Styal Alterations and extensions.   Styal  GMCA  England
Restoration: Church of St. Helen Tarporley   Tareporley  Cheshire  England
Church of St James Staveley   Staveley  Cumbria  England
Restoration of Kendal Parish Church   Kendal  Cumbria  England
“Parkside” Kendal Cumbria   Kendal  Cumbria  England
St Mary's Church Astbury Cheshire (Reredos)   Astbury  Cheshire  England
St. Mathews National Schools. Edgeley Stockport Edgeley  Stockport  GMCA  England
Rebuilding Nave and Aisles Church of St Mary the Virgin Bury   Bury  GMCA  England
Rebuilding: St. Wilfred’s Parish Church Ford Lane Northenden. Northenden  Manchester  GMCA  England
Partial Restoration. Church of St James Hope Pendleton Hope  Salford  GMCA  England
Re-building: St Mary St Mary’s Hall Road Higher Crumpsall. Highe Crimpsall  Manchester  GMCA  England
St Nicholas Beverley.   Beverley  Yorkshire  England
St. Bartholomew Wilmslow   Wilmslow  Cheshire  England
Restoration : Church of St Peter Pickering   Pickering  Yorkshire  England
Restoration St Gregory’s Minster Kirkdale near Kirby Moorside North Yorkshire   Kirby Moorside  Yorkshire  England
Church of St Benedict Bennett Street Ardwick Manchester Ardwick  Manchester  GMCA  England
Dining Room Wing: Eccle Riggs Broughton-in-Furness   Broughton-in-Furness  Cumbria  England
Alterations: Church of St Mary Stockport.   Stockport  GMCA  England
Alterations Church of St Chad Poulton-le-Fylde Lancashire   Poulton-le-Fylde  Lancashire  England
:Manchester Cathedral: Restoration   Manchester  GMCA  England
Manchester Cathedral: Cross.   Manchester  GMCA  England
Manchester Cathedral: Proposed removal of South Gallery   Manchester  GMCA  England
Manchester Cathedral: Fraser Chapel   Manchester  GMCA  England
Memorial Window Outer North Aisle Manchester Cathedral   Manchester  GMCA  England
Hugh Birley Memorial: Manchester Cathedral   Manchester  GMCA  England
Reredos: St Mary’s Church Hulme Hulme  Manchester  GMCA  England
Restoration of Tower: Church of St Michael Ashton-under-Lyne.   Ashton-under Lyne  GMCA  England
Minor restoration:Church of St Bartholomew Appleby North Lincolnshire   Manchester  GMCA  England
Chancel: Parish Church of St Chad Rochdale   Manchester  GMCA  England
Alterations: Parish Church of St John Preston   Preston  Lancashire  England
Restorations:St George's Church Hulme Hulme  Manchester  GMCA  England
Enlargement: St Saviour’s Mission Church Park Street Cheetham Cheetham  Manchester  GMCA  England
Tower: Church of St. Andrew Eccles.   Eccles  GMCA  England
Restoration: St Mary’s Church Parsonage Manchester   Manchester  GMCA  England
Restoration: Church of St. Wilfred Mobberley   Manchester  GMCA  England
New Chancel: Church of the Holy Trinity Littleborough Littleborough  Rochdale  GMCA  England
Rebuilding of West Tower Church of St Mary Lymm Cheshire.   Lymm  Cheshire  England
Church of St John the Evangelist Scunthorpe   Scunthorpe  North Lincolnshire  England
St Andrew’s Church Eccles   Eccles  GMCA  England

Partnerships

Name Designation Formed Dissolved Location
Bowman and Crowther Architectural practice 1846 1853 Manchester