Continuing the History of St Margaret’s Church

By 1875 the church had grown in numbers and had pressed repeatedly for the church to be licensed for marriages and finally after a petition to the Bishop a license was granted on 27th July 1875.


There were 28 weddings during 1875-1880 and grew each year until 201 in 1911-1920. (An interesting fact of 1,326 people married, ten women and three men were unable to sign their names.) Those who were married at Prestwich Parish in 1850, there were only 427 signatures out of the 409 couples married – the remainder made their mark.


Baptisms grew from 5 in 1850 to 88 in 1892. Triplets were baptised on 5th April in 1908 and no triplets since then. The Register of Baptism’s shows that there were 2,404 baptisms between 1850 and 1897 with 1,860 given biblical names.


The next step in the church’s history was the acquisition of additional burial space, by 1900 the population of Prestwich had grown to 12,839 and the parish of St. Margaret’s had increased proportionally in the 50 years between 1850 – 1900.  Burials in the church yard were 1,792and it was found necessary to extend. There was only one outlet, Hodge field across the road from the church. A plot of land was purchased from the Rector of Prestwich for £300, prepared at a cost of £575 and consecrated by the Bishop of Manchester. Fourteen years later a further 2.75 acres was purchased by the P.C.C. and consecrated in 1932 This is known as the ‘New Church Yard’

After the First World War there were few changes to the church, but in 1932 a portion of the south aisle was set aside as a ‘Children’s Corner. Several pews were removed and ‘the Corner’ was furnished by gifts from the parishioners’

The church still had daily services and it was decided to establish a Lady Chapel in the North Aisle. It was created to cater for smaller congregations. On Advent Sunday in 1936, it was dedicated to Our Lady by the Rev. Cooper, Rector of Prestwich.


In 1867, the Earl of Wilton built a parsonage house for the Curate in Charge, in 1871, it was enlarged and stables with a coach house added. Until 1913 the Earl of Wilton had paid for all exterior upkeep, painting and insurance in return for a nominal rent. In 1913 the buildings were transferred to the Church Commissioners, who had the building enlarged in 1926.

The first tenant was the Rev. E.T. Billings, followed by the Rev. F.J. Atwood who started the St. Margaret’s Church monthly magazine.

At the end of 1870 the Rev. Stanley Swinbourne arrived and stayed for twenty years, he was St. Margaret’s first Vicar. He was followed by the Rev. Joseph H. Kidson, already well known in the parish since he had been a curate at St. Mary’s Prestwich for a number of years. He was to be Vicar for the next thirty four years, until he retired to Shropshire in 1926.

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