Atherton - St Richard of Chichester

Mayfield Street, Atherton, M46

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Interwar brick and terracotta church with perpendicular Gothic detailing. The exterior is plain apart from the gable facing the road. Attractive interior with some good original fittings.

The first chapel in Atherton (also known as Chowbent) was a two storey school and chapel, a mission of Sacred Heart Hindsford, developed by Father Richard O’Neill who had been given 90 sovereigns by the parishioners to mark his Silver Jubilee. This chapel was built on land obtained from Lord Lilford on 24 September 1889. The chapel, costing £2000, was opened by the Bishop of Liverpool, Dr O’Reilly on 9 November 1890. A school was built to the north in 1891. Father Thomas Allen arrived in 1908 and built the house; he became the first priest. The present church was developed  by  Father  Thomas  Almond  who  was  at  St  Richard’s  for  46  years. Archbishop Keating laid the foundation stone on 1 October 1927 and Bishop Dobson opened the church on 13 May 1928.   The church was re-ordered by Father Joseph Howard in the early 1970s, when the sanctuary fittings were simplified. Father Phillip Orrell  raised  local  funds  for  church  modernisation,  a  new  parish  centre  and  the Jubilee Hall refurbishment. Around this time the school was demolished to make way for the parish centre; the school relocated to Flapperfold Lane.

The church is faced in drag-wire brown brick with buff terracotta details. The nave and sanctuary are under one slated roof, with 1990s west narthex and entrance facing the road (1927 foundation stone re-set in south wall of narthex). Northeast vestry now used as a flower room, confessional to northeast, the sacristy connects the house and church. The architectural style and form is very similar to Holy Family, Boothstown (qv), of similar date and by the same architect; plain perpendicular Gothic.   Nave windows are 3-light arched openings with simple timber tracery and clear glass, recently installed in place of the original obscure glazing.

The simple interior has a low pointed arched vaulted ceiling, plastered and with ribs. The  west  gallery  has  a  canted  front,  all  in  painted  pine.  The  1990s  re-ordering installed a timber platform in the sanctuary with forward nave altar. New liturgical furnishings are of pale sandstone. 1920s oak benches have been retained, on a new fitted carpet.

Diocese: Liverpool

Architect: H. Greenhalgh; refurbished 1991 by Pozzoni Design Group

Original Date: 1927

Conservation Area: No

Modifications: 1991

Listed Grade: Not listed