The History of St Clements Church

As transcribed from documents printed almost a hundred years ago

THE first church, of which there is any record, was erected about the year 1512, and dedicated to St Clement. It is thought that the Barlow family was probably the founders of this building, which served as a Chapel-of-ease to the Parish Church of Manchester.

It was as the illustration shows, a plain but picturesque structure, built in the half-timbered style so common amongst the domestic buildings of that period, though rarely adopted in ecclesiastical buildings.

In the year 1779 this ancient building, having become ruinous, was taken down, and in the following year, 1780, a plain brick building, consisting of a nave and short circular chancel, was erected in its stead. It was fitted throughout with oak pews, which still form an interesting feature of the church. In the year 1837 this building; was further enlarged, the north and south walls being taken down and built further out, so as to admit of a double row of seats on either side. Thin kon pillars support the old support the old roof and plaster ceiling introduced an alteration typical of that kind of architecture commonly known as "Churchwarden."
The re-opening took place on the 15th of October, when the Rev. John Morton, D.D., Incumbent, preached in the morning, and the Rev. Wm. Hutchinson, of Newton Heath, in the afternoon, the collections realising £40. Subsequent alterations have been made from time to time, such as the insertion of side windows of a
more ecclesiastical character, the gift of Sir William Cunliffe Brooks, of Barlow Hall, by whom the picturesque lych-gate was also erected, as a jubilee gift in 1888, and fitted with a peel of tubular bells.
In recent years upwards of £500 has been raised by subscriptions, and the fabric put into thorough repair, and adapted, as far as possible, to modern requirements. A portion of this expenditure has entailed a debt, which it is hoped this Bazaar will extinguish.
A bequest of £40 has been left this year towards the erection of a north porch, by the late Miss Wilton, the last member of a very old Chorlton family.
The oldest existing Register only dates from 1737, but the communion plate, consisting of a silver chalice, the gift of Lady Ann Mosley in 1685, a silver paten, the gift of Lady Bland, 1733; and a large silver tankard, the gift of Margaret Usherwood and Jane Gee, 1734, are still in use, and in good preservation.
Chorlton-cum-Hardy was constituted a separate Ecclesiastical Parish in 1850 under the Manchester Parish
Division Act, the Patrons being" the Dean and Canons of the Cathedral.
The names of the earlier ministers are unfortunately lost, but there is a record that in 1598 there was no
resident curate, but only a "Reader who keepeth a school."
The names of the ministers since 1754 are as follows:
1754 to 1766. Rev. Robert Oldfield,
1766 to 1771. Rev, Richard Assheton,
1771 to 1789. Rev. John Sailer,
1789 to 1791. Rev. Joshua Brooks,
1791 to 1805. Rev. N. Morley Cheek,
1805 to 1816. Rev. Geo. Hutchinson,
1816 to 1833. Rev. R H, Whitelock,
1833 to 1836. Rev. Peter Hordern,
1836 to 1842. Rev. Jno. Morton,
1842 to 1859. Rev. Wra Birley,
1859 to 1892. Rev. J.E. Booth,
1892 to Rev. F. E. Thomas.
The name in the above list best known to history is that of the Rev. Joshua Brooks, whose character has been so graphically described by Mrs. Bankes in the "Manchester Man" The church Registers contain specimens of his signature.
The endowment has never been of a princely nature. In 1650 it only amounted to £69, in 1704 this sank to 35/-, owing to the fact that £ 80 of the Church Fund had been lent to a tradesman and lost.
In 1717 the inhabitants contributed £ 10 towards the clergyman's maintenance. Subsequently private benefactions amounting to £600 were given towards the endowment, which sum was met by another £600 from Queen Anne's Bounty ; also two farms, one at Bramhall, Cheshire (rental £60), and another at Northern Etchells, Cheshire, (rental £34), were left to the living. The first of these was sold and the
money vested in Queen Anne's Bounty Fund, the whole constituting a present annual endowment of £209.

The New Church

In the year 1860 the growth of the village necessitated further church accommodation and a movement was sot on foot for building a new Church Plans prepared by Messrs. Pennington & Bridgen were adopted, and a site was assigned by Lord Egerton of Tatton, at the corner of Edge Lane, just opposite the Rectory House, which had been built during the Incumbency of the Rev. Wm. Birley, 1843-1859. Owing to lack of funds building operations had to be abandoned for two years, during which period the walls were standing without a roof but in 1865 the late rector, the Rev. 1, E. Booth, assisted by a strong committee of resident gentry obtained sufficient funds to continue the work, and the nave and chancel of the present building .were completed at a cost of £4,500, providing seating accommodation for 650.
This church was opened for Divine Service on June 23rd, 1866, as a licensed building, owing to the non-conveyance of the site to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. A debt of about £500 incurred by this effort was paid off by a successful bazaar held in Manchester, an organ, built by Messrs. Connacher, also being provided, and all liabilities finally cleared off by a sale of work held in a marquee erected close to the New Church.
As the population still increased a north transept was added to the church, and a choir vestry built in 1883, at a cost of nearly £700. This sum was raised by private subscriptions, and the work was ably superintended by the then warden, the late T. Craven, Esq. The seating-accommodation was raised by this addition to 750.
Although the population went on increasing by leaps and bounds, no further extension of the church was made until last year, 1896, and had it not been for the activity of the Wesleyan and Congregational bodies, it must be confessed that the spiritual needs of this parish would have been but ill supplied.
Under a deep sense of the Church's duty to meet this growing need the present extension was taken in hand, and subscriptions invited for the erection of a South Transept and the enlargement and freeing of the side chapel.
A liberal response was made to this appeal, about £l,ooo being- promised, including a donation of £200 from Earl Egerton of Tatton, who in addition- conveyed the site to the Ecclesiastical authorities, so that the church might tie duly consecrated on the completion of the building operations. Thus a parochial grievance of more than 30 years standing was healed. Unfortunately, before the church could be accepted by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, extensive repairs had to be undertaken, as the fabric was found to be in a most dilapidated condition. These repairs nearly doubled the original expense, and caused the large deficit of over £900; to clear off which is one of the chief objects of the present bazaar. The corner stone of the new transept was laid with full Masonic honours on Saturday, July 2oth, 1895, and under the supervision of the architects, Messrs. W. & G. Higginbottom, the work was successfully completed, and the church duly consecrated by the Bishop of Manchester, on April 22nd 1896.
The New Church was also dedicated to St.Qement, and will now accommodate 900 people, 250 of these sittings being made free and unappropriated. Many handsome gifts have been presented to the church from time to time, which have greatly added to its beauty and completeness. The stained east window, purchased at the first Paris Exhibition, was given by G. Hey wood, Esq., in memory of his parents, in 1866; and also the carved (out, in 1869, at the baptism of his son, F. W. Shepherd Hey wood. The pulpit was given by a few friends in memory of the Rev. Wm. Carpenter, D.D., of Christ's Church, Moss Side.
The Chancel Screen was the gift of the nephews and nieces of William and Elizabeth Mainwaring in 1881. The east window of the side chapel was given in memory of Samuel and Lucy Ramwell, 1874.
The Wardens' seats and Canopy at the west end of the church were erected by J. Lowe, Esq., MA., J.P., of Churchfield, Edge Lane,' during his wardenship ; and a handsome silver Communion Chalice and Paten were recently presented by the same donor.
The Reredos was put in by the late Rector in memory of his wife, and this has been re-decorated by private subscription, and a brass tablet affixed to commemorate the long pastorate of the Rev. J. E. Booth.
A handsomely carved oak Font Cover was the gift of the children of the kte William and Charlotte Butcher, of this Parish.
The restoration of the organ is now much needed, as also the decoration of the body of the Church, but these improvements have been postponed owing to the more pressing need of enlarging our Day School accommodation and so averting threatened tax of a Board School
The first National School and Master's House were erected in 1817, but these were taken down, and more commodious ones built in 1845.These again were demolished, and the present schools provided, at a cost of over £2,000.
The opening ceremony taking place on May 3rd 1879, under the presidency of Sir William G Brooks of Barlow Hall. The above sum was raised partly by subscriptions, and the rest by means of a Bazaar, held in the Free Trade Hall Assembly Room, Manchester, which realized £800. The present head-master, Mr. John Ireland, has held the post, with conspicuous success since October 1865, the school having always obtained excellent reports and secured good grants. These schools were, at that time, considerably in excess of the requirements of the Parish, and it was thought that they would suffice for many generations. However the abnormal growth of the parish within the last five years has rendered a further enlargement imperative. The architects of the original building, Messrs. W. & G. Higginbottom .have- prepared plans which have received the approval of Her Majesty's Inspector. It proposed to add another storey to the present building, which, as will be seen from the accompanying illustration, will form a great improvement in appearance, besides providing just double the present accommodation. It is estimated that this addition will cost upwards of £2,000, towards which sum, Earl Egerton of. Tatton has promised £4oo.

Copyright © 2008 Anthony F Walker
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