St Mark's Church, Worsley

Coordinates: 53°30′8.35″N 2°23′5.47″W / 53.5023194°N 2.3848528°W / 53.5023194; -2.3848528

St Mark’s Church, Worsley, is an Anglican parish church in Salford, Greater Manchester, England. It is built on a prominent 10-acre (40,000 m2) site formerly known as Cross Field and is a significant local landmark; it is now also a point of reference to the many who pass it on the M60 motorway, which bisects the parish. Its history is bound up with the emergence of Worsley as a cradle of the Industrial Revolution, at the hands of the Egerton family. Lord Francis Egerton, heir of the Duke of Bridgewater who built the canal that bears his name, commissioned the church, and he and the three following Earls of Ellesmere exercised strong influence until they left the area in the 1920s, having providing many other local facilities. It stands on Worsley Brow, in what is now a conservation area; the extensive churchyard is bounded by stone walls on the west and south (each with lych gates), the M60 on the east, and woodland on the north.

Description

The church was built in 1844–46, at a cost of £20,000. It was one of the earliest of 470 churches designed by George Gilbert Scott (1811–78); according to his son he regarded it as one of his most successful and purest essays in the geometrical Decorated Gothic style of the late 13th and early 14th century, with careful attention to detail. There are numerous carved gargoyles, and the west end tower and spire (its base forming the west porch) have richly carved corner flying buttresses. The ring of bells was augmented to 10 in the 1934. The clock is famous for striking thirteen at 1 pm, and was transferred from the estate yard to the church in 1946. The church is constructed of hard silica sandstone, with roofs in slate (from the Delabole quarries in Cornwall). Much of the hidden leadwork has been replaced with stainless steel.

Although outwardly imposing, internally it has the intimate feel of an estate church on the grand style. The design is traditional: nave (of five bays, with oak hammer-beam roof), aisles and chancel, flanked by vestry/organ chamber on the north and Ellesmere chapel on the south. The north aisle was added in 1852. The Ellesmere chapel was extended slightly eastward soon after, when a family vault below was constructed. (This was re-ordered as a weekday chapel in the 1920s.) Various additions were made in the 1880s – an ornate Italian marble and mosaic reredos, paving of the choir and sanctuary, carved choir stalls (by R. Knill Freeman) and a new vestry – as choral services were introduced.

The fittings throughout are of the highest quality, with original oak pews, a pulpit fashioned by Scott from carved panels acquired on his travels, a richly-decorated limestone font and the noteworthy tomb of Francis Egerton (plus good brasses and memorials to later members of the family in the Ellesmere chapel). There are twelve windows of the saints, also acquired by Scott, and variously alleged to be French, Belgian or Italian, plus two from the studios of Burne-Jones. The aisle windows are Powell’s cast glass. In 1894 a lectern designed by John Douglas was installed. There is a memorial to St. Vincent Beechey, founder of Rossall School, in the churchyard.

Bibliography
  • Hartwell, Clare; Hyde, Matthew (2004). The Buildings of England - Lancashire: Manchester & the South-East. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0300105834 
  • Milliken, Harold Turner (1976). Changing Scene. Worsley: Worsley Parochial Church Council. ISBN 9780950511306 
  • "Church of St Mark". Images of England. http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/details/default.aspx?id=400055. Retrieved 2008-11-30. 
  • Fuller architectural and historical details, including photographs and correspondence between Lord Francis Egerton and George Gilbert Scott, can be found on the parish website –