Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Pendleton Church, Salford

1. Salford City Reporter 1976

Considering the local authority's improvident record of demolishing our patrimony, especially when it comes to churches, it is amazing that St. Thomas' Church in Pendleton has managed to survive, even though it has been relegated to a traffic island.  It is almost the sole surviving feature of old Pendleton.  The church was dedicated to St. Thomas the Apostle. [4]  However, the township of Pendleton is associated with another St. Thomas, Thomas Becket.  After his murder by the agents of Henry II Plantagenet in Canterbury Cathedral, Becket became popularly known as St. Thomas the Martyr.    In 1260, the  Norman nobleman, Robert de Ferrers6th Earl of Derby, inherited his father's

2. Photo credit: Mike Berrell 2008
vast estates, which include most of Lancashire between the Rivers Mersey and Ribble. [1]  The following year, he bestowed the estate of Pendleton upon the Augustinian Priory of St. Thomas the Martyr in Stafford, and Pendleton remained in the hands of the priory until the Dissolution.

St. Thomas' Church was not always the noble Gothic-style structure we see above, nor was it always located on its present site. It began as a modest brick-built chapel of ease as shown below, and was built in

3. Drawing of the original St. Thomas' Chapel of Ease

Brindle Heath on a piece of ground known locally as the "Patch" by Samuel Brierley of Pendleton, a chapman, and Thomas Fletcher of Manchester, a yeoman. [2]  The foundation stone was laid in 1767, at a cost of £25 5s, but the building was not completed until 1772/3, which cost Brierley £395 and Fletcher £302. It was consecrated on 26 July 1776.

[Manchester] City News and Queries 1886:316-7
John Wesley of the Methodist movement preached in the chapel before its consecration brought it into the Anglican fold.

4. Excerpt from City News Notes and Queries 1886 [3]

https://archive.org/stream/cu31924052531781#page/n151/mode/2up/search/pendleton [cholera, gull merton]
Services were held in the chapel until 1829, but by this time the population of the area had quadrupled to around 8,000. [5] Unlike today's churches, it was generally filled to capacity, and some worshippers were turned away. Consequently, it was decided that a larger building was required.  It was decided to dedicate the proposed new church to St. Matthew, but the plan ran into financial difficulties and was suspended. Fortunately, the Church Building Act of 1818 and 1824, established as a 'national thank-offering' following the defeat of Napoleon, provided a generous grant to supplement the monies raised locally, and the work on St. Thomas' Church began in 1829.

"The chapel, rebuilt at the joint expense of the inhabitants and the Parliamentary Commissioners, was consecrated in October, 1831. It is a conspicuous and ornamented structure in the pointed style, and contains 1520 pew-sittings, of which 700 are free, exclusively of several hundred free seats on forms: in front of the altar is a splendid picture by Paul Veronese, representing the Taking Down of Christ from the Cross, liberally presented by John Greaves, Esq., of Pendleton. The cost of the re-erection of the chapel was £7505."  Topographical Dictionary of England  1845.

St. Thomas' Church was designed by the architects Francis Goodwin and Richard Lane, the man responsible for fashioning Salford Town Hall.  The church is an example of the Gothic Revival, and is faced with ashlar stone.  St. Thomas' church was consecrated by the Bishop of Chester on 7 October 1831.  Further work was done on the chancel in 1861 at a cost of £916, and church restoration work was carried out in 1887. St. Thomas' Church has a crypt.  It is a Grade II listed building.

Doorway of St. Thomas' Church
Photo credit: Alexander P Kapp

"Mr. Jacob Chatterton. of the Wool Pack public-house, Pendleton died November 25, [1831]. 
He was the first individual interred in the new burial ground attached to St. Thomas's Church"


Rev. James Pedley

Source: The Admission Register of the Manchester School (1866)
The school referred to above is Manchester Grammar

W.G. Edwards Rees

Rev. William Goodman Edwards Rees
Vicar of St. Thomas (ca. 1907)

Rev. Samuel Proudfoot
"Rev Samuel Proudfoot came to St Thomas's in 1921. He was born in Carlisle and baptised a Congregationalist. He became one of the new breed of churchmen who veered away from the Church of England's "Conservative Party at prayer" image. He began active church life as a lay worker at St Andrew's Droylsden and then trained for the priesthood at Scholae Episcopli, which trained men of limited means. He became Curate to Hewlett Johnson, (the "Red Dean"), in Dunham Massey.

On becoming Vicar of St. Thomas's in 1921, he formed the Pendleton Men's Fellowship and a number of other social groups for discussion and teaching. In 1931 he was prompted to write "the vast question of housing wherein the casting condition make it nearly impossible for anyone to live a life which is truly Christian, the slums – slaying its thousands whilst the most earnest priests hardly keep the units. Church people (as many others), finding that large houses do not "pay", let them to as many as forty people and thereby procure sometimes as much as £30 a week for £2 of £3 rent. I oppose the law which allows it; I oppose the sweated wages, the brutalising conditions so many are subjected to and other kindred evils in the name and by the power of Christ". He died as Vicar of St Thomas's in 1933."  Source: Weaste Cemetery Heritage Trail
The Rev. Proudfoot is credited with encouraging Walter Greenwood to write Love on the Dole.  Proudfoot has been described as a socialist Tractarian. He was editor of the The Optimist, which was continued as the Church Socialist Quarterly.  Proudfoot wrote All too human: an essay in Christian apologetic.

Church Bells

St. Thomas' has a bell tower with eight bells (18-0-10 tenor). The original peal, paid for by subscription, was hung in 1844, and were cast by Charles and George Mears of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London; and replaced on 14 December 1906.  They were cast by John Taylor & Co. Bell Foundry of Leicestershire. [7

Source: The Bellringer v.1 no. 1 (5 January 1907) p. 10

See the Felstead Database for the peal history of St. Thomas'.


The  church's two-manual pipe organ was built by Samuel Renn of Stockport in 1839, and repaired by Jardine & Co. around 1920. It is on the National Pipe Organ Register.  

Source: [Manchester] City News, Notes and Queries
27 Sept 1879:229 [6]

Source: Salford City Reporter
click on image to enlarge
then right click on the enlarged image 
and select Open image in new tab

Detail Ordnance Survey 1850
The position of Pendleton's maypole in top right-hand corner

St. Thomas Church, Pendleton

Salford City Reporter
drawing by local artist, Ben Travis

Of Interest

Salford Online Video and article.

War Memorial  War Graves  World War I Memorial
Baptisms, Marriages, Burials
Policeman's Ghost: a Haunting
Family Search entry


[1] See: Honour of Lancaster ; C. Fleury Time-Honoured Lancaster p.88-89.
[2] [Manchester] City news, notes and queries (4 Dec 1886, v.5) p. 311
[3]  Wesley's Journal ; Samuel Brierley hoped that his son, James, would become the first minister of the chapel, but he died on 28 December 1777 of consumption at the age of 17.  
[4] Studies in Church Dedications
[5] St. Anne's replaced the chapel of ease in Brindle Heath.
[6] See also Reminiscenses of Manchester.  David Ward Banks. For 'Wren and Boston' read Renn and Boston. Jeremiah Royle
[7] John Taylor Bell Foundary History

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