Building » Bury – St Joseph

Bury – St Joseph

Peter Street, Bury BL9

A typical example of a modest urban church of the 1870s with its simple red brick and stone Gothic styling and its elaborate timber roof structure. The 1950s fore-building detracts from this original character but the minor additions and alterations to the interior have been generally sympathetic.

In 1861 Fr James Boardman , the priest of St Marie’s Bury, purchased an old marine stores known as ‘the old rag shop’ in Walmersley Road which served as a church and school combined.  This was the foundation of St Joseph’s parish.  A new church in nearby Bolton Street was opened in 1871 (Bolton) with Fr John Fraser as priest and he was also responsible for the building of both the presbytery and a new school. In the 1950s a two-storey flat-roofed red brick forebuilding was added across the west front of the church (later extended with a side porch).  Since 2009 St Joseph’s parish has been combined with that of St Marie Bury.


The church is a modest building in the Gothic style, with walls of red brick laid in Flemish bond, gritstone dressings and windows and roof coverings of Welsh slate with fishtail bands. On plan the church comprises an unaisled nave and a short sanctuary flanked by side chapels, all under pitched roofs, and the rectangular forebuilding across the west end. The west front of the forebuilding to Peter Street is utilitarian, with two pointed doorways and pointed lancet windows across both storeys. Behind the forebuilding rises the original west front of the church, now rendered but topped with the original stone bellcote. The north side of the main church is of five bays, divided by plain buttresses and with paired lancet windows in each bay. The south side is similar, though a link to the presbytery occupies the easternmost bay. The side chapels are lower than the body of the church but have similar side windows and single lancets in the east walls.  The sanctuary has a single large window with three lancet lights.

The interior is dominated by an elaborate timber hammerbeam roof with long curved braces to the collars. The floor is covered with carpet, the walls are plain plastered and the side windows have coloured glass typical of the early twentieth century. At the west end is a first floor gallery in the 1950s forebuilding, with an entrance lobby beneath. At the east end a moulded pointed arch opening into the sanctuary is flanked by lower unmoulded pointed arches to the side chapels. Above the main arch is a painted inscription. All three eastern spaces have simple collar roofs. The chancel steps have mosaic decoration which, like the marble altar, altar rails and font are of mid-twentieth century character. The south altar war memorial was installed in 1954, which may give a clue to the date of the work. The stained glass in the east window commemorates (among others) Fr John Fraser, who died in the early 1890s.

Heritage Details

Architect: Not established

Original Date: 1871

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed