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Date: 28 Nov 2008, 14 Jan 2009, 16 Nov 2010, 20 Jan 2014, 3 Feb 2016, 4 Feb 2017


St. Mary's
Panorama of St. Mary's, Stockport, 4 Feb 2017

St. Mary's church in Stockport is not easy to photograph as one cannot move back far enough to frame the whole building with most cameras. This is a panorma made up of several shots in portrait mode combined in the computer. There was a church on the site of St. Mary's as early as 1190 but very little of this survives. The church was replaced by a larger building about 1310 of which the chancel remains. Raymond Richards mentions that beyond the altar rail is a triple sedilia and a double piscina in the Decorated style. There is an effigy in a recess in the sanctuary of Richard de Vernon, who was rector from 1306-1334. He was the second son of Sir Ralph de Vernon of Shipbrooke. Richards states that the crowning glory of the chancel is the timber roof built during the time of Richard de Vernon. The only other example of this type of roofing in the county is at Tarvin. There was major rebuilding om 1812-14 in which limestone was employed whereas the chancel was built in sandstone. Richards notes that some fine roofing in the rest of the church was lost in the 1812 restoration and that the church was so solid that gunpowder was needed to remove some of the foundations. In a further restoration of 1848, the Vernon Chapel was destroyed.

The first section of pictures is from a walk on 28 Nov 2008 from Railway Road via Wellington Road South to St. Thomas's church, then down Hillgate to the Market Square.

Mill   St. Thomas
St. Thomas clock tower, buit 1825   Interior of St. Thomas' from the balcony
Town Hall   Salvation
Town Hall   Former Salvation Army Building
Entertainment Complex   Pub
Entertainment Complex   The Sun and Castle on Hill Gate
Oldknow   View over the brewery
House of Samuel Oldknow   View from the top of the steepest descent
East Window   Ceiling
East Window of St. Mary's   Part of the vaulted ceiling of St. Mary's
Victorian Tudor   Market
Victorian Tudor revival style of 1888   Market Hall, newly refurbished and reopened in Nov 2009
Church tower   Food Hall
Church tower from inside the Market Hall   The Food Hall faces the Market Hall
Town Crier   shop
The Town Crier with shop owner "Oh Yey"   Merchant House next to the Food Hall
Bank   Robinson's Brewery
Savings Bank of 1824   Robinson's Brewery

The Town Hall was built between 1904 and 1908 by Sir Alfred Bramwell Thomas. Pevsner describes it as in a William & Mary style with a Wren middle tower too high and too heavy for the body of the building.

St. Thomas' is a Waterloo church; these were built with government money after the Napoleonic Wars in areas where the population was rising rapdily.  It is a splendid classical edifice and is a listed building but sadly lead was stolen from the roof while scaffolding was in place for repairs.  This church costs more than £800 a week to maintain.

On the route down Hill Gate into town you pass the house of Samuel Oldknow, an early cotton pioneer who had a mill at Mellor. When I visited, the former Salvation Army buildings were being redeveloped as apartments. The Market Hall dates from 1862 while the Food or Produce Hall was built in 1852. It was originally a single storey building but was adapted in 1875 to produce an upper storey for use as a library. By the market I met the Town Crier with the with the proprietress of the Court House Coffee Shop, Market Street. The shop is the last remaining bow-fronted shop remaining in Stockport. It dates from the 17th century and was the original Court House on Stockport Market Place. Returning up Hill Gate is a good view of Robinson's Brewery and the savings bank of 1824 available to let in 2008.

The following selection of photographs were taken at various dates from 2009 to 2016

Underbank Hall  
Underbank Hall   Boar's Head on Market Place
Town Hall   Via duct
The Town Hall in bright sunlight   Dramatic view of the railway viaduct
St. Paul's   Viaduct
St. Paul's   Underneath the Arches
Cobden   Library
Richard Cobden   The Central Library, Wellington Road South

Underbank Hall is Elizabethan, dating from the late 16th century. It was the town house of the Arderne family of Harden Hall at Brinnington. The original house must have been larger as an inventory of 1619 lists more rooms than surive today. In the 1820s the Arderne family fell on hard times as a result of the gambling of William Arderne, 2nd Baron Alvanley and family property had to be sold. The hall was sold for 3,000 guineas (for younger readers a guinea was £1 1 shilling or £1 and 5 pence in modern reckoning) in September 1823 to four partners who founded the Stockport and East Cheshire Bank in the following year. At that time the Elizabethan residence had Georgian additions. In 1829, the Stockport and Cheshire Bank became part of the Manchester and Liverpool District Banking Company. By 1880 this bank had 54 branches, in Lancashire, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Shropshire. The bank changed its name to the District Bank in 1924 and in 1962 was acqured by the National Provincial Bank. Then in 1970 this bank merged with the Westminster Bank to form the modern National Westminster Bank. Visitors may see the interior but photography is not allowed for security reasons. However, the bank was happy to make pamphlets available describing the building and its history when I called in January 2009.

The Central Library in Wellington Road South was built between 1912 and 1913 by Bradford, Gass and Hope in a style reminiscent of the Queen Anne period. The Railway viaduct across the Mersey has 27 arches. It was built between 1839 and 1840 just ten years after the first scheduled passenger service opened from Manchester to Liverpool. The architect was G. W. Buck. Nearer the Mersey at St. Peter's Gate, is the church of St. Peter built in 1768 at the expense of William Wright. Pevsner describes it as modest, built of brick with arched windows with an octagonal top to the tower. The chancel dates from 1888 and there is a west gallery. Near the church is the Cobden Monument by George G. Adams dating from 1862. In 1838, Richard Cobden and John Bright founded the Anti-Corn Law League, aimed at abolishing the unpopular Corn Laws, which protected landowners’ interests by levying taxes on imported wheat, thus raising the price of bread. As a Member of Parliament for Stockport from 1841, he fought against opposition from the Peel ministry, and abolition was achieved in 1846. In 1847 he became MP for the West Riding of Yorkshire. There is also a statue of him in St. Anne's Square, Manchester.


Old Cheshire Churches, with a supplementary survey of the lesser old chapels of Cheshire, completely revised and enlarged by Raymond Richards, first published in 1947 and reprinted by E. J. Morten, Didsbury, 1973.
The Buildings of England: Cheshire, by Nikolaus Pevsner and Edward Hubbard, first edition 1971, Yale University Press edition in 2003.
The Story of Underbank Hall, Stockport, pamphlet available from NatWest in the banking hall.


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