Cheetham Hill Road, Manchester M8 8GG
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The successor church to a chapel of 1776, the oldest post-Reformation Catholic mission in Manchester. The present church is an interesting example of church architecture of the 1840s by Weightman & Hadfield, illustrating the development of ecclesiastical architecture generally during this period and the work of these architects in particular. The church has a good interior with interesting fixtures, fittings and stained glass, including a window of 1847 by Barnett of York. The church and presbytery form a good group in the local townscape.
A chapel dedicated to St Chad was built on Rook Street in central Manchester in 1776, the first post-Reformation purpose-built Catholic public place of Catholic worship in the city, built to a discreet design (the building of public Catholic chapels was still illegal). The precise appearance of this chapel is not recorded. It originally served a wide area, including Bolton, Rochdale, Trafford, Glossop, Stockport and Macclesfield.
The Rook Street chapel was sold in 1846 and was later destroyed by fire. Land for a new church in Cheetham Hill was obtained by Fr Robert Croskell and a new church and presbytery built from designs by Weightman & Hadfield of Sheffield. The church opened in 1847.
The church was restored by Frank Reynolds in 1949-51 and reordered by Greenhalgh & Williams in 1965. During the latter, the rood screen was removed, the sanctuary reordered, a narthex created and new confessionals provided. Various works of restoration and repair have taken place since that time including external stone restoration (1995), and work to the roofs and replacement of stolen lead flashings (2009, 2010). Since 2012 the church has been the Manchester home of the Congregation of the Oratory of St Philip Neri (Oratorians).
St Chad’s was the first church in the North West to host the Ukrainian Catholic congregation, who worshipped here for over thirty years, from 1921 to 1954. In May 2023 the list description for the church was amended to reflect this historical association.
All orientations given are liturgical. The church is of special interest as an illustration of the development of ecclesiastical architecture, and Roman Catholic architecture in particular, of the period. Weightman & Hadfield were notable architects specialising in Roman Catholic churches, whose patrons were initially the Dukes of Rutland. Their adoption of and experimentation with Puginian precepts from the 1840s can be traced through this and other churches of similar date, including Salford Cathedral (qv). The church employs generally Perpendicular motifs and window tracery, and has an open hammerbeam-type timber roof. It has a number of impressive fittings, some of which may be original; others are probably later, perhaps of the 1870s or 1880s. The altars and reredoses in the chancel and the north and south chapels all appear to have been altered and rearranged, probably during reordering in 1965. The church has an interesting collection of stained glass of various different periods, including a fine east window attributed to J. Barnett & Son of York, of circa 1847. A good late nineteenth century window in the south chapel is based on van Eyck’s Adoration of the Lamb. A monument of 1906 in the narthex to Mgr Sheehan, the mission priest, takes the form of a seated statue of St Peter. There is a large Pietà in the north aisle, erected as a First World War memorial, a finely carved First and Second World War memorial stands at the east end of the south aisle, and another takes the form of a large stone cross outside. The 1965 reordering introduced marble steps and floors to the sanctuary which lack affinity with the character of the church and its fittings. The same is true of a baptistery with late twentieth century marble font in the northwest aisle and the late twentieth century Lourdes chapel in the southwest aisle. Confessionals of rather basic design of 1965 stand in the north aisle. The narthex screen, of the same period, is awkwardly related to a small pre-existing gallery, aligned east/west, with organ.
List description (church, attached presbytery and boundary walls):
Entry amended by AHP 05.06.2023
Architect: Weightman & Hadfield
Original Date: 1847
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Grade II