We are delighted to begin a new series of articles by our friend Zandra, about the history of St Margaret’s church:
In the past few months, I have been asked about various aspects of St Margaret’s Church. St Margaret’s was built in the mid-1800s as an extra Church in Prestwich to help ease the rapid growth of the population in the east of Prestwich. The land was given by the Earl of Wilton, who lived in Heaton Hall, and he contributed £500 towards the cost of £2000 needed. The rest was given by the Church of England and many generous public donations.
The Church was finally built in 1849 when the foundation stone was laid and opened for worship on Sunday, October 26th, 1851. The church was consecrated on March 18th, 1852, by the Bishop of Manchester. It was dedicated to St Margaret of Antioch. Margret was the name of the Countess of Witton, and it was named in her honour by her husband.
The Church was originally built to seat 450 people, 400 free places and fifty subscription places. The final cost of the building was £2482. Between 1851 and 1857, all services were conducted by a curate from St Marys Prestwich, the first being Edward Billings.
From 1857 to 1885 Our church was led by a curate in charge first Edward Billings 1857-1870 then Francis Atwood 1870-71 then Stanley Swinbourne 1871 – 1885.
A curates house was built by the Earl of WILTON in 1867 and in 1885 it was made into a separate parish. On May 22nd Stanley Swinbourne became its first vicar.
Church wardens were appointed from 1885 the first Vicar’s warden being Benjamin Carver and Richard Denham Walker was Peoples Warden. Its first meeting was on June 27th 1885 when a proposal vestry meeting was to be held four times a year and six sidemen were also appointed. The church was still connected closely with St Mary’s Prestwich and the Rector of Prestwich is still one of our patrons today.
An organist was appointed in 1870 to play at services 11am and 6pm each Sunday and one Sunday a month at 8am and Christmas Day Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and Ascension Day his stipend was £45 per annum, paid quarterly. Choir practices Boys Tuesday evening, full choir Friday evening. Up to sixteen boys and twelve men sang in the choir.
A person would be provided as organ blower at all services. Any extra service the organist to provide his own blower.
The organist had to live in the parish and submit to any directions of the Vicar but could choose anthems chants and volunteers except on special services.
A full-time verger was appointed from 1851 and he was to be in charge of all cleaning and maintenance of the church, his wife to clean wash church linen and vestments. Stoking of fires and providing candles etc. His pay was 6 shillings a week a small house was provided, and he was given coal and tools necessary for his work. He could also act as a grave digger and sexton if needed.
From 1885 St Margaret’s was running as a separate Church from St Mary’s and had a thriving parish and stretched from Guest Road to Poppythorne Lane to Newton Street then up Bury Old Road. Heaton Park Northern section and Heaton Hall to Smithy Lodge on Middleton Road to Wilton Arms in Rhodes then up Heywood Road to Sinister and Bowlee. Bordered by St Mary’s Prestwich Prestwich West & South. Rhodes in the East and North West by Stand All Saints.