Building » Manchester (Moston) – St Dunstan

Manchester (Moston) – St Dunstan

Moston Lane, Moston, Manchester M40 9PA

An ambitious interwar suburban church by Norris & Reynolds, of strong townscape presence. The interior is a large and dramatically-handled space, with good later furnishings, including mosaic work by the Ludwig Oppenheimer firm. 

Moston is a largely residential suburb north of Manchester city centre.  A temporary church of the ‘tin tabernacle’ type was acquired from English Martyrs, Urmston and re-erected here in 1912-13. This served until 1937, when it was dismantled and moved again, this time to St Stephen, Droylsden (qv).

The present church was built in 1936-7, from designs by Norris & Reynolds.  Drawings for an unexecuted scheme of more conventional design by W. Gunson (Diocesan Archives) are dated 1932. The contemporary presbytery, also by Norris & Reynolds, is of conventional neo-Georgian design. The builders were T. Campion & Son of Ardwick and Holst & Co. of London. The church was designed to seat 650, and was opened by Bishop Henshaw on 30 May, 1937.

The church was consecrated in 1950, and in 1957 a parish hall was built (on the corner of Kenyon Lane and Bluestone Road). In 1961 the sanctuary was remodelled, with a new baldacchino, marble lining, mosaics by the Ludwig Oppenheimer firm, floor, gates and tabernacle. Reordering in 1980 involved a new forward altar, removal of the high altar and making good of the marble lining of the sanctuary, a new lectern and relocation of the font. In 1996-7 the altar rails were removed and ambos on each side of the sanctuary replaced with one matching the altar.


For a description of the building, see the list entry, below. All orientations given are liturgical. St Dunstan is similar in many ways to St Willibrord, Clayton (qv), which was also designed by Reynolds, on that occasion with William Scott. Both churches are of brick adopting Byzantine style with complex domed interiors, and both have mosaic schemes by the Ludwig Oppenheimer firm of Manchester, which also carried out the mosaic work at St Patrick, Collyhurst (qv). Nikolaus Pevsner suggests that the churches may have been inspired by an Anglican church in nearby Gorton, Our Lady with St Thomas of Canterbury, which was built to the designs of Walter Tapper in 1927. That church is also domed and similar in plan, but was never completed.  St Dunstan exhibits powerful massing and impressive interior volumes. There is a narthex with former baptistery at one end with decorative ironwork railings.  Chapels have furnishings generally of traditional type, and there are a number of later twentieth century chapel windows of dalle-de-verre type. The altar is beneath a baldacchino of Romanesque design; this dates from the first sanctuary remodelling, in 1961. The mosaic work is similar to that at St Willibrord (qv).  There is a painting by Harold Riley in the south aisle. The Stations of the Cross were erected in 1937, and came from Antwerp.

List description:


SD80SE MOSTON LANE, Lightbowne 698-1/3/729 (North side) Roman Catholic Church of St Dunstan


Roman Catholic church. 1937, by E. B. Norris and F. M. Reynolds. Brown brick in Flemish bond, with red brick dressings and tiled roofs. Romanesque style. Nave on north-south axis with low flat-roofed aisles, south-east tower and south-west transept balancing this, short east and west transepts to low octagonal crossing tower, apsidal sanctuary flanked by side-chapels. The high gabled south front, with two pale bands at a low level, has a segmental-headed doorway in the centre with stone surround and hoodmould with keystone, flanked by two low round-headed windows each side. The inner pair of these are set in pilasters rising to flank a tall round-headed blank arch which has red brick infill (gauged in the head) containing a carved stone plaque depicting St Dunstan with various emblems, and above this a tall round-headed lancet with stone surround, and a keystone serving as the pedestal to a niche with a statue. The square tower to the right has a segmental-headed doorway in the right-hand side (like that at the front), pairs of very small loop-lights on 5 levels, then small coupled round-headed belfry windows with unusual corbelled and canted balconies beneath, an unusual band of pairs of loop-lights (in place of a Lombard frieze), and a pyramidal roof. The pilastered 3-bay nave and the transepts have round-headed lancets with stepped red brick surrounds; and the crossing tower has an oculus in each cardinal face.

Interior: 3-bay aisle arcades with low plain semi-circular arches; tall round-headed plain arches to the crossing; sanctuary with barrel-vaulted ceiling and apse with mosaic arcading and ceiling depicting the Holy Spirit as dove. Similar to Church of St Willibrord, North Road, Clayton (q.v.), also by Reynolds.

Listing NGR: SD8711801983

Heritage Details

Architect: Norris & Reynolds

Original Date: 1937

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Grade II