Building » Atherton – St Richard of Chichester

Atherton – St Richard of Chichester

Mayfield Street, Atherton, M46

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 Fr 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 £2,000, was opened by the Bishop of Liverpool, Dr O’Reilly on 9 November 1890. A school was built to the north in 1891. Fr Thomas Allen arrived in 1908 and built the house; he became the first priest. The present church was developed by Fr 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 architect was Harold Greenhalgh of Bolton.

The church was reordered by Fr Joseph Howard in the early 1970s, when the sanctuary fittings were simplified. Fr 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 was refurbished in 1991 by  the Pozzoni Design Group


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 three-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. The1990s reordering 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.

Heritage Details

Architect: H. Greenhalgh

Original Date: 1927

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed