Building Name

Church of St Mary Upper Moss Lane Hulme Manchester

1852 - 1858
Upper Moss Lane
Hulme, Manchester
GMCA, England
New Build

  • Reference: Builder 23 August 1856 page 461
  • Reference: Manchester Guardian 15 November 1858 Page 3 - consecration
  • Reference: Manchester Faces & Places

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.