Thurloe Street, Rusholme, Manchester M14
A church designed by E. W. Pugin which is largely unaltered outside, though without the projected spire, which was never built. The interior was reordered in the 1960s, with much loss of original furnishings, although the original structure, internal volumes and roof timbers are largely intact. There is some original and early stained glass in the chancel by Edmundson & Son of Manchester. The building illustrates the development of Pugin’s style and is one of a group of churches in the diocese built to his designs.
Rusholme was largely open land in the early nineteenth century, with a main road, Oxford Road, leading from the south side of Manchester. The area immediately next to the site of the church was developed as an exclusive residential area called Victoria Park from 1837. The neighbourhood retained this exclusive character until it became built up in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century and Oxford Road in Rusholme became a local centre. Victoria Park is now home to a number of colleges, halls of residence and institutions.
A mission started in Rusholme in 1862 and Fr Thomas Fox took charge soon after it had commenced. The church was built from designs by E. W. Pugin, with financial support from Bernard and Peter O’Connor of Rusholme. The contractor was a Mr Eaton of Ashton-under-Lyne, Mr Rooker the Clerk of Works. The proposed spirewas never completed. The church established an association with the College of the Xaverian Brothers, which has premises on an adjacent plot of land. Buildings to the rear include a large presbytery, a hall and associated buildings. The presbytery was built later, reported as recently completed in The Tabletin 1887; it was altered in the twentieth century. The other buildings also appear to be of late nineteenth century date.
In 1963 a major phase of work was undertaken by Geoffrey Williams of Greenhalgh & Williams. New roof lights were inserted and the sanctuary was reordered, with a new predella, marble floor replacing the original encaustic tiles, marble lining to the wall, high altar and communion rails. The Lady Chapel was altered in a similar fashion. The gallery was strengthened and fitted with a new timber front and screen to form a narthex and new benches were provided. A new font was provided, and a wrought iron gate fitted to the baptistery in the northwest corner beneath the gallery. The church was extended on the northeast side to provide sacristies and confessionals. The work was completed in 1964. Since that time the baptistery has been converted to a piety stall, the altar moved forward and the communion rails removed.
All orientations given are liturgical. The church is constructed of rock-faced stone with aisles, a clerestory with foiled circular windows and a southwest tower, lacking the projected spire. The tower has an entrance in the south side with above it a statue of St Edward. There is also an entrance in the west front, with a large window above. The chancel is canted, with windows in each outer face. The style is the Middle Pointed, or Decorated style of English architecture, promoted as the most fitting for churches by the architect’s father A. W. N. Pugin.
Inside, there is a west gallery with narthex and gallery front of 1960s date. A former baptistery on the south side is now a piety stall, keeping the gates introduced in the 1960s. The arcades have polished marble shafts of Peterhead granite with Sicilian marble bases on stone plinths and octagonal caps. Secondary transverse arches spring from the bays across the aisles on each side, ‘producing a fine cloister-like effect, unique and beautiful’ (The Tablet, March 1862). The Civil Engineer and Architects’ Journal of July 1865 considered that there was ‘much about the building which is peculiar and original’ but goes on to describe ‘detestable’ iron tension rods across the aisles. It is not known if these were intended from the first, or if they had to be introduced to give stability to the aisle arches. An open timber roof is scissor braced to the nave and ribbed with panels to the chancel, where there is a scheme of stencilling of Victorian character. Stained glass in the sanctuary dates from 1860s and was by the Manchester firm of Edmundson & Son. Two of the windows are memorials to the Rooker family.
Architect: E. W. Pugin
Original Date: 1862
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed