Christ Church, Patricroft - Church of England
The ChurchChrist Church, Patricroft is an imposing building and is remarkably well preserved when we consider the dirt and grime that has played havoc with the stonework during the past one hundred and forty years. The design was intended to have a steeple but this was never erected and had not proved to be really necessary although the steeple was a feature of churches of the same style built at that period. Instead there is a small belfry from which the parishioners are called by the tolling of a single bell. There was seating for 750 worshippers in the nave and gallery until alterations were made in 1961 when some pews were removed on either side at the front of the nave. This allowed the pulpit to be moved forward and also the choir stalls to be extended. Further work removing the old stone pulpit and pews from both side aisles and the creation of a Lady Chapel was undertaken in the 1980's. At this time a new nave alter; font and pulpit were made by a choir member Gilbert Humphreys Jnr. who's skill and craftsmanship as a carpenter can still be seen today.
A visitor will look in vain for any indication on the outside of the fabric as to the date of the church and this, again, is an unusual feature in churches of this period. The only date was on the top of a rain pipe where the water was received from the roof but this was removed some sixty years ago. It was carefully kept by the then verger Mr. R Millard in the boiler house whence it has been recovered and now is a feature in church. It is of cast iron and the date 1868 can be plainly seen on it. The outside stonework is worthy of more than a casual look as there are many beautiful carvings including the consecration plaque at the end of the south porch. Perhaps the highlight of the façade was when it was illuminated after the 1914-18 war as .part of the victory celebrations. At one time masses of ivy covered the walls but this had to be removed because the roots were damaging the mortar.
On entering the church we see the stone font which has a rather unusual feature about its plumbing. It was considered so unusual that plumbers from quite some distance around would bring their apprentices to see the manner in which water was filled into the font and then let out again by the same hole. Unfortunately the water is no longer connected through the plumbing system. The arches which hold up the nave are supported on columns which appear at first sight to have identical capitals but a closer investigation will show that every one is of a different design and very beautifully carved. One of the corner patterns as damaged during a decoration scheme and had to be repaired by experts who managed to affix the broken portion back into place. It takes a very close scrutiny you can see line of repair.
Towering above are the massive roof beams, which support the painted roof. It is not generally known that one of these beams is false and merely a shell placed in position to balance the design. This is the first one over the balcony and no one can tell without climbing and sounding the hollowness of the wood as against the rest, which are solid and strong. Above the arches in the nave are painted designs in the shape of eight angels each bearing an heraldic shield with designs painted on such as the Lamb of God, the Star of David and the nails from the Cross. These are part of the original decoration and have been touched up by decorators on only two occasions since first being painted.
Many memorials in the form of glass, brass and furniture are to be seen by the visitor and the worshipper in the church, which is light and spacious. These memorials are a lasting testimony to Patricroft people and families who have loved This Parish Church.
At the west end is the "Tabitha" window which is a memorial to Alice Maud Dale, the wife of the first vicar. This window was erected after her death in 1875 by congregation and Sunday school scholars, and their regard is shown in the text at the bottom of the window... This woman was full of good deeds and alms which she did
The windows on the north side include two of the three `Adams' windows, while the third is on the south side near to the organ. These windows were erected to the memory of the late E.L. Adams and to his two wives. They are exquisite windows and a feature of the one to Mary Jane who died in 1876 is the incorporation of a rainbow in the design. This is unusual in a stained glass window and only requires the sun shining through to bring out the beauty and colour. Mr. Adams outlived his first wife by some 48 years while his second wife, Annie lived until 1935. She erected the window to his memory but he made the arrangements for hers.
Also on the north side are the war memorial windows and the church war memorial on which is inscribed the names of some 96 men of this parish who gave their lives in the 1914-18 war. There is no reference in the church to the 27 men killed in the 1939-45 war. Lieutenant Frank Douglas is remembered in a window erected by his family. The memory of the fallen is kept alive by the annual placing of a wreath under the plaque.
On the south side are the two Hayes memorial windows one to the son, George Dowzer Hayes, a student at Trinity College, Dublin who died in 1921. this was erected by his parents, Doctor W.J. Hayes and Mrs. Nina Hayes who are both remembered in the next window which is the latest of our stained glass. Doctor Hayes held many offices in the church and was a benefactor who is well remembered while his wife extended her work to the borough where she served on the council and became honoured by being made the mayor in 1948.
Behind the High Altar is the chancel window, which is considered to be a beautiful window and was erected "To the glory of God and in memory of Samuel Taylor" late warden who died in 1891. This depicts our Lord with the children and is noted for the expression on the faces, particularly that of the Christ. Above this window is a small one depicting the ascent of the dove.
Other memorials within the chancel include the Bishops chair, which was presented in 1899 by the Freemasons of Eccles in memory of their late Pro Grand Master, the 1st Earl of Lathom.
Five paintings on the wall of the chancel represent our Lord and Mary, his mother, St Peter, St Paul and St Luke but these are not what they appear as they are actually painted on canvas, which is fastened to the wall. The only time they bean renovated was soma forty-five years after being painted, and the original artist came from Liverpool to do this. Ha was by now old and feeble and had to be assisted up the ladder but would not let anyone else do the work. Since than the decoration around the figures have been touched up and the paintings cleaned, but are still otherwise as originally painted.
There are many memorials in the church including the lectern, which was a gift from his parishioners and friends to the memory of the late Rev. H.W. Dick. A brass reminds us that Walter Pogson was accidentally drowned in 1901 and another was placed by " cubs and scouts past and present" to the memory of Harry Lewis Batas and in appreciation of his over twenty-one year's service with the 12th Eccles Scout Group.
A brass font ewer was dedicated to the memory of Mr. G. Humphreys Snr on anniversary day, 1967 to show appreciation of the work done by him in the many offices he held over the years at Christ Church. These and so many other memorials give record of the people of Patricroft, but the greatest memorial to them all must be the strength of the church today and the work, which is being continued in this parish. Christ Church has many alterations within and without but it remains the spiritual Centre of the Parish of Patricroft.
In 2008 the Church celebrated it's 140th anniversary which culminated with visit of the Archbishop of York, Doctor John Sentamu.
THE ORGANThe organ was built in 1897 by James Jepson Binns of Leeds, one of the leading organ Builders of that period, who had a fine reputation for reliable work and excellent finish. It was planned as a three manual instrument but only the Pedal, Swell and great divisions were actually completed- the Choir Organ was to be added at a later date. The design of the Organ was a little ahead of its time as the compass of the manuals was a full five octaves and this has since become standard practice. As is customary the upper and middle keyboards controlled the Swell and Great Organs, but for nearly seventy years the lowest keyboard was little more than an ornamental adjunct except that the use of the of the Swell to Choir coupler made the Swell Organ playable on the lowest keyboard as well as the top there was little advantage of this however.
In the 1920's an electric blower was installed and some cleaning and tonal work was carried out but the extent of this and by whom it was done is not recorded. By 1951 it was reported that the effects of wear and tear and dirt had left the Organ in a very bad state. The regulation of almost half of the pipes had become so poor that they could not be used with the others and for some 15 years only half of the organ was in regular use.
By 1964 various other faults and troubles were occurring and after much consideration The PCC decided to accept the estimate of Mr. Cyril Wood of Ashton-Under-Lyre to Completely restore the organ by reconditioning the pneumatic action and thorough Overhaul of all mechanisms, recovering the manual keys, a new pedal board and a new Electric blowing plant. All pipe work was to be cleaned, repaired and properly regulated and two stops were to be extended and given new action to provide three registers on the Choir Organ and two additional stops on the Pedal Organ.
The whole of this work was completed by the end of 1965 at a cost of £1,735 and of this amount £250 was given by the Rev. C.R. England, B.A. Vicar of Christ Church 1942-1965. This generous donation enabled the extension of the Trumpet to give a Pedal Trombone of great dignity and character. The organ was then considered at that time by those with expert knowledge to be an outstanding example of the organ Builders art and craftsmanship, and compared well with some of the best instruments of similar size in the country.
Further work and repairs were carried out in the 1980's and 1990's by the organ builder George Sixsmith restoring some deterioration in the leatherwork of the action.
In 2009 there was a further £2100 spent on the repair to the bellows of the organ which at that time had deteriorated to such an extent that there was no pressure when full organ was engaged this work being undertaken by the organ builder George Sixsmith,
Vicars of PatricroftAs Patricroft was part of the larger parish of Eccles, the cure of the souls of its people rested with Vicar of Eccles, staring with Helia and William who were listed as being "Clerico de Eccles" in 1180 ad. This list continues until Christ Church became a parish in 1868. From that date the Vicars have been....
Rev. Vale (Curate in Charge) Rev. Samuel Dale (First Vicar) 1868 - 1884 Rev. W. Crass. M.A. 1884 - 1893 Rev. W.W.I. Firth, M.A. 1893 - 1909 Rev. R. Pratt 1909 - 1921 Rev. H.W.Dick 1921 - 1924 Rev. Race Godfrey 1924 - 1928 Rev.C.B. Martyn Johns 1928 - 1942 Rev. C.R. England, B.A. 1942 - 1965 Rev. A. Atherton 1966 - 1972 Rev. A.E. Buries 1972 - 1982 Rev. A.E. Walker 1982 - 1990 Rev. D.E Butler 1990 - 1995 Rev. N.Jones (Team Rector & Priest in charge) 1995 - 2001 Rev. C. Painter (Team vicar for Christ Church Patricroft & St Andrews Eccles) 2003 - 2007 Rev A.L. Critchlow (Team vicar for Christ Church Patricroft & St Andrews Eccles) 2008 -
This history was first compiled by Mr. J. B. Bleackley A.C.P. F.RS.A. F.S.A. one time Headmaster at Christ Church School and Lay Reader at Christ Church.
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