Church of St Mary Upper Moss Lane Hulme Manchester
Designed to accommodate 1000 people with 308 appropriated places and 692 free places, the church was consecrated on 13th November 1858 by James Prince Lee, the first Bishop of Manchester. The Egertons of Tatton Park were major landowners in the area and it was Wilbraham Egerton of Tatton who had instigated the building of a church to serve the neighbouring part of the parish of St. George's Hulme. Not only did he donate one and a half acres of land but established endowment funds of £100 and £50 through chief rents from property in Hulme and paid the entire building costs of approximately £16,000. However, Wilbraham Egerton died in 1856 and it was his son William Tatton Egerton who completed what his father had begun. He became the patron of the church and paid for the building of the rectory and girls and infants school which were designed at the same time. Construction started in 1853-4 but building work was affected by serious problems with the foundations. Quicksand was found at a depth of 10-12 feet, seriously delaying completion of the structure.
The church, 140 feet long by 69 feet wide, was designed in the style of the late thirteenth century, early geometrical pointed or early decorated style and comprised nave and chancel with side aisles. The tower and spire were placed at the north end of the west aisle, dictated in part by the nature of the site and the pattern of the adjoining streets. Crowther created a deliberately picturesque composition, especially the approach from the city centre along Upper Moss Lane. The group of buildings represented the High Anglican ideal of a parish complex. The nave was 82 feet 9 inches long by 25 feet 9 inches in width and 69 feet clear to the ridge, with an elaborate hammer-beam roof and the side aisles 15 feet 3 inches wide. The nave is divided from the aisles by arcades of octagonal columns 20 feet high with acutely pointed arches and from the chancel by an arch 52 feet by 24 feet. The clerestory has coupled two light windows and the aisles three light windows with varied patterns of tracery. At the west end of the nave is a window of five lights 40 feet high by 15 feet wide, based on Tintern Abbey. The stained glass to the s.w. south aisle window was taken from St. John's Church, St. John's Sq. and is signed W. Pickitt, 1769. The chancel is exceptionally large, 48 feet long by 25 feet 9 inches wide and approximately 67 feet to the ridge and was the first to be provided with choir aisles. At the east end is a six light window 18 feet wide by 45 feet high, one of the largest in the north of England, with elaborate wheel tracery at the head based on Temple Balsall, Warwickshire.
The tower of four stages is 24 feet square at its base and was intended to receive a peal of ten bells. The tower and spire rise to a height of 224 feet 4 inches above which the vane adds a further 18 feet. The spire was completed on 26 July 1856 and was originally taller. For reasons that are unclear, the spire was apparently reduced in height at some time during the nineteenth century but still remains one of the tallest in the north of England. In order to lower the centre of gravity and stabilise the spire, Crowther devised a "ball and chain" device, a huge block of masonry suspended on a chain.
There was no formal laying of the corner stone. The clerk of the works was Robert Donaldson; the contractors being Messrs Ellis and Hinchliffe of Manchester for the stone and brickwork, and Mr Foggett of Cheetham for joiners’ work, etc.
NEW CHURCH AND SCHOOLS IN HULME. The township of Hulme contains a population of 53,399, whilst there is only church accommodation for 4,200; and including the places set apart for divine service by all denominations, there still remains about 40,000 souls at this present time without any opportunity for the public worship of their Goad. To provide in part for this spiritual destitution, it is proposed immediately to BUILD a CHURCH and SCHOOLS in Boston Street, Moss Lane Hulme, at a cost of £6,000, towards which several donations have already been received – Wilbraham Egerton Esq of Tatton Park having kindly given an endowment and site for the church. We would suggest that this case differs from others for which public aid may be solicited, in that the population of Hulme is rapidly increasing; indeed, so far is this true, that we fear more for the future than the present; and we feel that unless assistance is granted towards the present undertaking, the inhabitants of Manchester, hereafter may have to be invited to the work of building churches specially for this poor and populous neighbourhood. We rest our claim upon Christian sympathy upon the above alarming statement, and pray that it may receive thoughtful consideration. We would suggest that the Manchester Diocesan Church Building Society will be a convenient channel for donations towards the present object. Reference may be made to the Lord Bishop of Manchester, the Very Rev, the Dean, and the Venerable the Archdeacon.
COMMITTEE – Mr Thomas Hornby Birley, Mr William Cunliffe Brooks, Rev Thomas Todd SOME OF THE SUBSCRIBERS – Wilbraham Egerton Esq, site and endowment; Miss Atherton, £500; Mr Thomas Hornby Birley, £50; Mr John Todd, £50; Rev T Crowder, £20; Lord Kenyon, £10; Mr William Tate, £5; Mr Edward Bellhouse (first instalment) £5; Rev Thomas Todd, £50. Several other subscriptions have been promised. Mr W C Brooks, secretary pro tempore, will receive donations of any amount, at the Bank, King Street. Hulme January 1852. [Manchester Guardian 4 February 1852 page 1]
CONSECRATION OF ST MARY’S CHURCH, HULME – The spacious and beautiful Church of St Mary, at the junction of Upper Moss Lane and Boston Street, Hulme, was consecrated on Saturday afternoon, by the Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of Manchester. … St Mary’s Church has not only been built, endowed and fitted at the sole cost of the late Mr Wilbraham Egerton, but that gentleman gave the site, as well as ground upon which a rectory house is now in the course of erection, and a further piece upon which schools will shortly be commenced at the sole cost of Mr W T Egerton, who will thus worthily complete what his father so nobly began. The rectory will stand near the south-east end of the church; the schools near the north-east angle. We have heard that the land given altogether amounts to an acre and a half. The church is in every respect a noble specimen of ecclesiastical architecture; and does great credit to the architect, Mr Crowther, of the firm Bowman and Crowther, of this city. It is in the style that prevailed in England during the latter half of the 13th century, and which is known to archaeologists as the early geometrical pointed or early decorated style – so termed because the enriched tracery and other leading features were invariably set out upon certain geometrical principles, of which the equilateral triangle forms the most important element. St Mary’s is, on plan, a parallelogram, 140 feet long by 69 feet wide. It is divided into nave and chancel, with side aisles; there is a lofty tower and spire, engaged, at the west end of the north aisle and there are also bold north and south porches. The position of the tower was influenced by the nature of the site and the arrangement of the adjoining streets; and as settled, the chief features are excellently seen, especially as the edifice is approached by Moss Lane from the city. The nave is 82 feet 9 inches long, by 25 feet 9 inches wide and 69 feet to the clear of the ridge of the roof; the chancel is 48 feet long, by the same width of the nave, and about 67 feet high and the aisles are 15 feet 3½ inches wide. The nave is divided from the aisles by arcades, having octagonal columns, 20 feet high, surmounted by acutely pointed arches; and from these rises a clerestory, having coupled two-light windows. The chancel arches are somewhat richer. At the east end of the chancel is the great altar window, of six lights. It is 45 feet high and 18 feet wide; and is, we believe, with the exception of some of the great windows of our minsters, the largest window in the north of England. The head of the window consists of very elaborate wheel tracery; and whenever it is filled with stained glass, the effect must be most beautiful. At the west end of the nave, there is another great window of five lights, 40 feet high by 15 feet wide. The aisles have three-light windows, the tracery being of very varied design. The nave and chancel, and their aisles are separated by three lofty arches; the great arch being 52 feet by 24 feet in the clear, thus forming probably the largest opening of its class in any modern parish church in this country. The great arch is spanned by an oak screen, containing very beautiful carved ornamentation; and there is some similarly good carving in the screens by which the vestry is marked off from the chancel south aisle. A corresponding portion of the north aisle is devoted to the organ chamber, which contains a beautiful instrument, by Hill of London. The tower is 24 feet square at its base, and with the spire it rises to a height of 241 feet, exclusive of the copper work for the vane, which adds about 21 feet to its height. The tower is in four stages; and although there is apt present only one bell (weighing about a ton) the belfry is constructed to receive a peal of ten. The pews are all open; all those in the side aisles, with the chancel seats and part of those in the nave being free. The lighting is very effective. There are ten elaborate brass standard gasaliers, having coronals of burners in three tiers; and there is a row of star-lights across the chancel screen, springing from foliated ornamentation in brass.There was no formal laying of the corner stone of this beautiful church; and so far as we can learn, it is between four years and a half and five years since the work was commenced. The clerk of the works has been Mr Robert Donaldson; the contractors being Messrs Ellis and Hinchliffe of Manchester for the stone and brickwork, and Mr Foggett of Cheetham for joiners’ work, etc. [Manchester Guardian 15 November 1858 Page 3]
ST. MARY'S CHURCH, HULME (Manchester), situated at the junction of Upper Moss-lane and Boston-street, has been consecrated. The style of architecture is the Early Decorated. On plan, St. Mary's forms a parallelogram, 140 feet long by G9 feet wide, divided into a nave and chancel with north and south aisles. There is a tower and spire, engaged, at the west end of the north aisle, and porches to the north and south aisles. The nave is 82 feet 9 inches long by 25 feet 9 inches wide, and is 69 feet high inside measurement. The chancel is 48 feet long by the same width as the nave, and the aisles are 15 feet 3J inches wide. The nave is divided from the aisles by arcades having octagonal piers 20 feet high, surmounted by acutely-pointed arches, and from these rise the clerestory having coupled two-light windows. In the chancel arcades the columns consist of a central main shaft surrounded by smaller ones connected therewith by moulded bands placed at regular intervals. The clerestory of the chancel has single two-light windows, combining with an arcade externally, whilst internally it is furnished with jambs, shafts, and hooded arches. At the east end of the chancel is the great altar window of six lights. It is 19 feet wide and 45 feet high. At the west end of the nave is a five-light window, 15 feet wide and 40 feet high. Both these windows have traceried heads of geometrical design, moulded. At present the east and west windows are of plain glass. The aisles have three-light windows, the tracery being of varied design. The nave and chancel and their aisles are separated by three arches, the great arch being 52 feet by 24 feet in the clear. The chancel is separated from the nave by a rood screen, of geometric design, of a light open character. The roofs are open timber ones, with bay principals, &c. The tower is 24 feet square at the base, and rises with the spire surmounting it to the height of 211 feet above the level of the ground. The tower is in four stages. The tapering spire has four ranges of lucarnes or spire windows. The nave is filled with low open seats; 300 appropriated, but the remainder, both in nave and aisles (about 700), arc free. On the ground for the foundations being excavated to the depth thought requisite, a quicksand from ten to twelve feet in thickness was met with. This difficulty at first appeared insurmountable; but it occurred to the architect, that by putting a thick bed of concrete on the surface of the ground where all the walls and piers were to come, they might build safely on the sand. This plan was adopted with regard to the whole of the church, with the exception of the tower, and the result is said to have been successful. Owing to the great height to which the tower was to be carried, it was thought advisable to excavate to the solid clay, a depth of fourteen feet below the surface of the ground. In order to do this a coffer-dam had to be constructed, from which the water had to be pumped whilst the foundations were being put in. After the foundations had been put in, they were allowed to remain for twelve months, in order to consolidate previous to proceeding with the superstructure. It was supposed that the settlement of the tower and spire would be about three inches; but the actual settlement has only been seven- eighths of an inch. From the great height of the spire it was thought desirable to adopt some means to prevent any excessive motion during high gales of wind, or from the action of bells, and therefore a long chain, of great strength, has been attached to the top stone of the spire, and been brought to the point from which the spire springs, where there is attached to it a ball of stone four feet in diameter, the object of which is to bring the centre of gravity as low down as possible. The organ, which was built by Hill, of London, cost about £500 and is placed at the eastern end of the north aisle. The architect for the church was Mr. Crowther, of Manchester. Messrs. Ellis and Hinchcliffe, of Manchester, were the builders. The joiner's work has been executed by Mr. Foggett, of Chcetham. Mr. T. R. Williams was the sculptor employed. Mr. Robert Donaldson acted as clerk of the works. [Builder 27 November 1858 page 796]
Reference Manchester Guardian 4 February 1852 page 1 – classified ad
Reference Builder 23 August 1856 page 461
Reference Manchester Guardian 15 November 1858 Page 3 – consecration
Reference Builder 27 November 1858 page 796
Reference Manchester Faces & Places