St. Michaels and All Angels at Mottram-in-Longdendale is at the top of a windy eminence known as War Hill, with excellent view across Tameside and the Longdendale and Etherow Valleys. On a clear day one might glimpse to the East both Glossop and the lofty towers of fabled Tintwistle. On my second visit, in 2015, using a wider angle lens, I was able to picture the church in its entirety but on this occasion the church was locked.
|St. Michael & All Angels, 2015|
|Church Entrance||St. Michael and All Angels, 2006|
|Sundial in front of church||The Nave|
|Carving in Staveleigh Chapel||Screen|
|Norman font||Chapel ceiling|
|Effigy of Sir Ralph de Staveleigh||Pulpit of Italian alabaster|
Mottram was the centre of an Anglo Saxon estate and after the Conquest became part of the Earldom of Chester. At the time of the Domesday survey in 1086 there was no church. The date of foundation of the church is not known but there is documentary evidence for clergy attached to the church in the first quarter of the 13th century. The hill was the site of a battle between invading Normans and the local Saxons and it is believed that those killed were buried on the hill and a place of worship was established. The church is mentioned in 1291 in papal taxation records. The first church was probably of wood; the building today dates mainly from the 15th century. There was restoration and alteration in 1855 when the clerestory and south porch were added and the vestry enlarged.
The barrel shaped font is Norman and is the oldest item in the church. In the south aisle is the Staveleigh Chapel, built as a chantry chapel by the local landlord. It contains two effigies, thought to be Sir Ralph and Lady Elizabeth de Staveleigh of the early 15th century. The neaby town of Stalybridge takes its name from this family. Sir Ralph died in 1419. Not visible in my picture is the collar with the S motifs given to those who served the house of Lancaster and Sir Ralph was a retainer of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. The church brochure suggests that the S may come from the Lancaster motto "Souvent me souvient" but it is also possible that it is SS for Spiritus Sanctus. This family died out when Sir Ralph's nephew died in 1456. Note the fine carving on the tops of the pews. The chapel was privately owned until 1932 when the last of the squire of Mottram, Mr. Harold Chapman, left it to the church; it is now the Lady Chapel. Until the Restoration the advowson was owned by the Lord of the Manor but from 1547 this passed to the newly created bishopric of Chester.
Above the chancel arch there are painted panels with the Ten Commandments, Lord's Prayer and Creed together with pictures of Moses and Aaron. The brass candelabra in the nave, shown in the photograph below, dates from 1755. The rood screen and the canopied seats were provided by John Chapman in 1858
In the North Aisle is the Hollingworth Chapel, which in 19th century was altered to accommodate the organ, which had formerly been in the west gallery. The alabaster pulpit is a memorial to Edwin Shellard of Old Hall, Mottram, who died in 1885.
The tower dates from the end of the 15th century and was built with the money bequeathed by Sir Edmond Shaa, who died about 1488. He was a local man, who became Lord Mayor of London in the reign of Henry VII and was Court Jeweller. His will also provided for the foundation of Stockport Grammar School. The tower has eight bells. The gallery now used to ring the bells was formerly a minstrels' gallery. Close to the north door, and not shown in my pictures, there are bread racks dated 1619 and 1737, both gifts of the Booth family. There is much else to see in this church and I recommend a visit in good weather when it is not windy.
The list of incumbents at Mottram is known back to Jordan de Macclesfield, appointed in 1300. The parish registers have baptisms from 1562 and marriages and burials from 1559.
A Brief Guide to the Parish Church of Saint Michael and All Angels, Mottram-in-Longdendale, by the Reverend J. R Price, MA, Vicar and Rural Dean of Mottram, a pamphlet available in the church.
Mottram Parish Church: a coloured guide available in the church. It is based on earlier guides by Canon R S. Roche (1971) and Canon J R Price (1985) revised with new material added by Rev. AJ Rees, Joyce Powell, Tony Kershaw, Chris Kershaw, Peter Elwood and Tony Walker, with photographs by Philip Verrrall and and published 2001. ISBN 0 9541433 0 2
The King's England - Cheshire by Arthur Mee, published by Hodder and Stoughton in 1938, fully revised and edited by E. T. Long in 1968, SBN 340 00075 9