Church of St John the Baptist, Kings Road, Hurst near Ashton-under-Lyne
Hurst was largely the creation of two brothers, John Whittaker II and Oldham Whittaker who had set up two mills in the village in the mid nineteenth century. John Whittaker controlled Hurst Mills while his brother ran Whittaker Mills. They built houses for their workers and dominated the industrial, social and religious life of the village. John, a Methodist, contributed to Queens Road Methodist New Connexion Chapel (arch William Hayley) while Oldham Whitaker, who had joined the established church, was a major benefactor of St Johns. This village, which was in the parish of Ashton-under-Lyne, and about one mile from the town, contained a population of 4,424. The site fixed upon for the erection of the church was on land belonging to Lord Stamford, situated at Hurst Cross, at the junction of the four roads near to the extensive cotton mills of Messrs. John Whittaker and Sons.
CONSECRATION OF ST JOHN’S CHURCH, HURST - The style of the building is that which prevailed in England in the thirteenth century. Internally it is about 69 feet long by about 43 feet wide, and divided into a nave and side aisles; but it is without clerestory. The chancel is about 18 by 19 feet, with a vestry on the north side. In the west gable of the nave. there is a plain doorway, with double splayed jambs and arch; over which, set on a moulded string, are two lofty lancet windows, with a quatrefoil light; between and over them the gable is surmounted by a plain but beautifully proportioned bell-turret, rising upwards of fifty feet from the ground. The east gables of both nave and chancel are finished by beautiful floriated crosses; near the south-west corner, on the south side, is a beautiful porch, with high gabled roof and low wicket gate, with stone seats on either side. Close by the entrance, from the south porch is placed the font, which is on a cylindrical raised on two steps: it is circular in plan, divided into eight compartments by circular shafts, and each compartment is exquisitely carved. Round the base is engraved in mediaeval characters "Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God." The nave pillars are of polished stone, beautifully moulded. The roofs are all open timbered, stained and varnished, in imitation of old oak. The pews are low, with cut stall ends to the passage, and a great majority of the seats are free. The total number which the church is estimated to accommodate is 750. There is also a small gallery tor children at the west end, the front of which is arcaded, and also stained and varnished. The pulpit is placed on the north side of the nave, in front of the chancel arch; and from the book board hangs a rich crimson frontlet, with crimson and gold fringe and gold embroidered border of crosses and fleur-de-lis, and in the centre of the cloth is the sacred lamb bearing a cross; on the other side is placed the reading desk, hung with crimson drapery and gold fringe, having embroidered in gold, in mediaeval characters. Whatsoever ye ask in prayer, believing, ye receive." The cloth, as also that which adorns the pulpit, was manufactured at Bolton, and was presented to Mrs Greenwood by some friends in Yorkshire. The chancel arch is bold and lofty, springing from shafted corbels, and enriched with the toothed ornament; the ascent to the chancel is by two steps; on the front of the upper step is engraved in mediaeval characters, "I will wash my hands in Innocency; so will I compass thine altar, O Lord." The communion place is raised ono step above the rest of the chancel, enclosed by an elegant arcaded rail, and the floor is carpeted a blue cloth embroidered with gold coloured fleur-de-lis. The communion table has a rich crimson altar-cloth, embroidered in gold, with a cross fleury surrounded by rays, having the sacred monograms in the centre - this cloth was presented by the teachers connected with the schools. Above the communion table is a triple lancet window with shafted piers and moulded arches, which fills the east end of the chancel. We may remark that the prominent features of the church are simplicity, elegance and lightness, and the almost total absence of decoration; and while it has tested the powers of the architect (E. H. Shellard, of Manchester), he has, by his artistic skill, produced a simple solemnity of character which, to be appreciated, must be seen. Messrs Eaton and Hallas, stone- masons, were the contractors, and the wood work was executed by Messrs Garside and Williams; the slating by Mr Thomas Kenyon, of Hurst; and the plastering and painting by Messrs J. and J. Boothman, Ashton; and the whole of the work is executed in a highly-creditable manner. [Manchester Guardian 21 February 1849 page 7]
Reference Manchester Guardian 11 November 1846 Page 7 Column 1]
Reference Manchester Courier 11 November 1846 page 6
Reference Manchester Guardian Saturday 16 October 1847 Page 2 (Contracts)
Reference Manchester Guardian Saturday 23 October 1847 Page 11 (Contracts)
Reference Manchester Courier Saturday 23 October 1847 Page 1 (Contracts)
Reference Manchester Courier 21 February 1849 page 7 - consecration
Reference Manchester Guardian 21 February 1849 page 7 - consecration
Reference The Builder 3 March 1849: Page 104.
Reference Church in Cottonopolis Page 250