Building Name

Church of St Margaret Dunham Road Dunham Massey Bowdon

1853 - 1855
Dunham Road
Dunham Masey, Altrincham
GMCA, England
New Build
Grade II*
Bowden, Edwards, and Forster

A Church which puzzled Pevsner: "A number of motifs look decidedly late nineteenth century. The style is Perpendicular, not Early English to Decorated. Then there is the mighty crossing tower, until 1927 with a spire. Then there are the piers in so free a Perpendicular that the fronts to the nave have become fluted pilasters. Finally the crossing arches differ N and S from E and W, and chancel and north walls differ from South - both Paley & Austen motifs. The chancel altogether is dramatically high and has a huge east window and gorgeous Gothic panelling of the ceiling raised up by a clerestory. It looks as if it can't be earlier than the last quarter of the nineteenth century, yet 1853-5 seems after all to be its date".

CONSECRATION OF ST MARGARET’S CHURCH, DUNHAM – The beautiful new church of St Margaret at Dunham Massey, Bowdon, which has been erected, fitted, and endowed at the sole cost of the Earl of Stamford and Warrington was consecrated on Wednesday morning last by the Right Rev the Lord Bishop of Chester. The church has been built from the designs of Mr William Hayley, architect, of Cross Street in this city. More than four years ago, the Earl of Stamford and Warrington was desirous of having a church erected at Dunham; and accordingly the foundations were commenced on a site near the Dunham Road, about half a mile from the Bowdon station, and the same distance from the old parish church. It was then intended that the church should be built of white brick, with ashlar dressings; but before half the length of the foundations had been put in, the design was abandoned. In September 1851 Mr Leigh L Richmond, on behalf of the Earl, invited three London and three Manchester architects to furnish designs for a church to be built of stone, the existing foundations being adopted as far as might be possible. The six architects complied,; and Mr Hayley was the successful competitor. The erection was proceeded with soon after the decision had been arrived at as to the design; and the work has occupied about two years and a half. The following is an architectural description of the church:

The style of architecture is what is generally known as the Perpendicular. Ecclesiastical buildings of this character prevailed in the 15th and early part of the 16th century. The extreme length of St Margaret’s is 130 feet and the width 60 feet, exclusive of transepts. The church will accommodate about 700 persons, one third of the sittings being free. The plan is cruciform, and comprises a lofty nave, lighted from clerestory windows; north and south aisles, lighted by three-light windows, the tracery of which is of different designs; transepts lighted by three-light windows; and a chancel, lighted by nine windows, varying in size and design. On the south side is the Stamford Chapel, lighted by two two-light windows, and entered by a private door. A lofty tower and spire rises at the intersection of nave, transepts and chancel, from four moulded stone piers, to an altitude of 210 feet. The spire has enriched flying buttresses, and is surmounted by a cross. At the east end there is a large seven-light window, with embattled transoms and bold mullions, the tracery of which is very rich. The west end window is divided into five compartments, filled in with tracery. Under this window is a large doorway, with square head over a moulded arch; the spandrels are filled in with tracery and finished with crockets and finial. The other entrance is through a porch on the south side. The exterior of the church is of wall-stone from the neighbourhood of Sheffield, with ashlar stone dressings from Hollington. The stone used for the interior is also from Hollington, with the exception of the pulpit, reading desk, font and reredos, which are of Caen stone, the tracery and carving being finished in an exquisite manner. The reredos is divided into seven parts, answering the seven-light window above. Each part has an enriched canopy, and three of the centre compartments project from and rise above the others and are supported by richly traceried buttresses, with crockets and finials, the whole being surmounted by an enriched cornice and Tudor flower battlement. At each end of the reredos is a niche, with very rich canopy, crocketed finials and pinnacles. In these niches are exquisitely carved figures on pedestals. The altar panels are filled in with diapered carving in relied, consisting of crosses, Tudor rose, fleur-de-lis etc. The roof of the nave is of oak, open framed, with curved ribs and hammer beams, at the ends of which are richly carved figures. The spandrels are filled in with tracery. The Stamford chapel is enclosed on two sides by oak screens, with rich open tracery, and there is also a glazed oak screen, with tracery at the west entrance. The whole of the internal fittings are of oak and the pews throughout have open ends. The north transept is occupied by the organ, a powerful and fine-toned instrument, built by Messrs Hall and Company of London, the case being of carved oak in unison with the architecture of the church. The aisles and chancel floor are laid with polished stone and black marble diamond dots. The altar floor is paved with encaustic tiles, of a chaste design. The ceilings of the chancel and the Stamford chapel are divided into panels, with moulded ribs; and the tracery of the chancel is elaborately characteristic of the style, having a large boss in the centre compartment, and paterae at the intersection of the ribs. The ceiling to the Stamford Chapel has a richly worked pendant attached to the roof. The whole of the string and label moulds throughout are enriched with the Tudor flower, paterae, and bosses characteristic of the style. ….

The contractors for the building were Messrs Bowden, Edwards and Forster, of this city; the clerk of works being Mr James Garbett, under whose inspection everything has been executed in the most substantial manner. The heating and ventilation (by means of a combined hot air and hot water apparatus) were confided to Messrs Haden, of Tonbridge, Wiltshire. The beautiful carving of the pulpit reading desk, font and reredos was executed by Mr T R Williams of this city. The gas standards and metal work were designed and manufacture by Messrs Skidmore and Son, Coventry; as were also the sacramental vessels. Mr T Willemont of London produced the east and west windows; the other windows, with their adornments of stained glass being made and fitted by Mr William Sinclair, of Cheetham Hill. The organ is by Hill of London; and the bells by Messrs Taylor and Son, of Loughborough. [Manchester Guardian 20 June 1855 page 7]

The report also includes detailed descriptions of the gas lighting, metalwork, stained glass and bells and proceedings at the consecration

Leigh L Richmond, Guilsborough Park, Northamptonshire, auditor and principal manager to the Earl of Stamford and Warrington

ST MARGARET’S CHURCH - Built at a cost of £20,000 paid for by the then Earl of Stamford & Warrington. Exterior is of Yorkshire stone with ashlar dressings. Roof of the nave is of oak, open framed with carved ribs and hammer beams with carved figures of angels. The spire, supported by flying buttresses rose to a height of 210 feet and the tower contained a peal of ten bells. The pulpit, reading desk, font and reredos are of Caen stone. Internal fittings of oak with open-ended pews. [Manchester Faces & Places Volume 11 Page 130]

Reference    Manchester Guardian 8 May 1852 page 5 - contracts
Reference    Manchester Guardian 22 May 1852 page 11 - contracts
Reference    Manchester Guardian 20 June 1855 page 7 – consecration
Reference    The Illustrated London New 20 September 1856
Reference    Manchester Faces & Places Volume 11 Page 130