St Petersgate, Stockport, SK1
A little-altered mid-nineteenth century urban church by M. E. Hadfield, striking and plain, with a lofty interior designed to provide unobstructed views of the sanctuary, in reaction to Puginian principles. There are contemporary adjoining schools which with the church make a positive contribution to the Stockport Conservation Area.
Catholics in Stockport were served from Manchester during the late eighteenth century; Fr James Blundell first said Mass in 1798 in a room on Windmill Street before building a church dedicated to St James and St Philip on Chapel Street in Edgeley in 1803. The Catholic community in the town grew due to the influx of workers for Stockport’s mills. It was from the Edgeley church that the forerunner of St Joseph’s was established; Mass was first said in 1845 in a temporary school in Parson’s Yard. The schools on Tatton Street were built in 1858, designed by Hadfield & Goldie, shortly before the church was built. The foundation stone for the church was laid in 1861 by Bishop Turner. The interior is depicted on a framed watercolour by M. E. Hadfield dated 1862, hanging at the west end of the nave. An industrial school, part-funded by the Duke of Norfolk, was built south of the schools in 1888.
The list description (below) provides a general overview of the building. In addition, the former baptistery is in situ, although no longer used at the west end of the south aisle. This retains a polygonal marble floor and an octagonal marble font, now used as a plinth for a statue of St Joseph. The nave floors are laid with terrazzo tiles, with concrete beneath the pine pews.
The church is connected internally to the presbytery via the northeast sacristies; the clergy sacristy is fitted with a good set of pitch pine cupboards.
Roman Catholic church. 1861-2 by Matthew Ellison Hadfield of Sheffield, architect, Messrs J Robinson of Hyde, Cheshire, builders. Hammer dressed Yorkshire gritstone, Hollington stone dressings, slate roofs. Basilican plan: nave and clerestory, 3 sided apse, aisles and south side base of lower, 2 storey sacristy. Nave and apse under one roof pitch. Simplified High Victorian gothic, early decorated details “of an English type” (Builder). Liturgical west front has 2 lancets flanking ogee headed door under pitched gable with crockets. Two 3-light geometric tracery windows above, cinquefoil roundel in gable. 3-light tracery clerestory and apse windows, segmental tracery aisle liturgical east windows. Interior: 5 bay nave arcades, Derbyshire marble bases, Yorkshire stone shafts and capitals, simplified chamfered arches. Arched braced panelled nave roof. Chancel arch reduced to doubled arched braces with quatrefoil panelling, set on stone corbel. Exposed raftered aisle roofs. Original built-in confessionals extended through aisle walls under traceried windows. West gallery. High altar and chancel furniture as memorial to 1914-1918 war dead. East window, stained, 1882. Design heavily influenced by Hadfield’s former partner George Goldie and by the mid-century reaction against A W N Pugin’s planning and liturgical principles: “arrange(d).. so that the greatest possible space shall be given up for the use of the congregation with the facility for seeing and hearing and abundance of light”: Builder, March 30, 1862, p 216. Centenary Record, Diocese of Shrewsbury, 1851-1951, (1951, pp 91-92. Listing NGR: SJ8960990315
Architect: M. E. Hadfield
Original Date: 1862
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Grade II