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Church of St Paul, Stockport

Description: Church of St Paul

Grade: II
Date Listed: 10 March 1975
English Heritage Building ID: 210816

OS Grid Reference: SJ8773991744
OS Grid Coordinates: 387739, 391744
Latitude/Longitude: 53.4224, -2.1860

Location: St Paul's Road, Stockport SK4 4LN

Locality: Stockport
County: Stockport
Country: England
Postcode: SK4 4LN

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Listing Text

10-MAR-75 (Northwest side)

Main body of church, 1876-77 by Bird & Whittenbury; east end extended 1896 by Frank P. Oakley (b.1862); tower, also by Oakley, 1900.

Materials: Hammer-dressed buff-coloured sandstone, ashlar dressings, slate roof.

Plan: Long rectangular nave, short chancel, porch to south-west, south-east tower, north-east vestry.

Exterior: An exceptionally inventive and tall tower and east end conceals the earlier church from the main road. Nave of six bays with paired lancet windows above decorative carved ventilation stones and set between buttresses. 3-light plate tracery windows to the clerestory. The buttresses to the west, and east, ends are stepped extensions of the nave and chancel walls respectively. The windows to the west end are a pair of double lancets, to the east end a large 5-light geometric window. The stolid and repetitive Early English character of this phase is counter-balanced by the addition of two bays in late C13 style to the east end to create a new chancel, together with tower and vestry. The tower is of four stages supported by full height angle buttresses which terminate in large pinnacles and contain an octagonal lantern. The first stage contains a splayed late C13 style doorway to the east with a circular traceried window to the south. 2-light window to the second stage with two simple lancets to the bell ringing chamber above. The belfry has two large 2-light splayed louvered windows. The octagonal lantern, a reference to the famous so-called Boston Stump, is composed of eight short 2-light deeply splayed louvered windows beneath a crenellated pierced parapet. To the north side the vestry has an transverse mounted chimney stack and geometric east window.

Interior: The nave is of six bays, the chancel of two, reached by two steps. All the walls are plastered and painted. Choir stalls contemporary with new chancel. Geometric encaustic tiles laid to a geometric pattern. Timber barrel-vaulted roof to the nave and chancel with ribs springing from decorative stone corbels. Tall chancel arch. To the chancel a frieze of quatrefoil ornament enlivens the wallhead. The aisle roofs are single braced with exposed common rafters. Nave arcade of two-centred arches supported by alternating circular and octagonal columns with simple bell capitals. The pulpit and font are contemporary with the original church of 1877, stone, octagonal, and relieved by C13 style foliage ornament. The font has a wooden font-cover decorated with blind tracery, the bowls supported on a broad pedestal of blind arcading. The east and west windows are by Albert Moore of London, 1897 and 1901 respectively. Complete set of contemporary pews.

Principal Fixtures: The principal fixture is the east end reredos and piscina of marble designed in 1910 by R.B. Preston (d. 1934). Middle pointed in style with restrained Arts and Crafts inlaid marble ornament to the niches.

Subsidiary Features: Forms a group with the listed war memorial let into churchyard wall to Heaton Moor Road designed by James Sellars.

To the churchyard a Garden of Remembrance (1965) and three ornate gas lamps on stone bases. To the rear a contemporary church hall in pale brick.

History: The glory of this church is its tower which turns an otherwise sober and stolid piece of Early English revivalism into a complex, asymmetrical and imaginative edifice of Middle Pointed ambition. The designer of the tower and new chancel, Frank Oakley, and of the principal fixtures, R.B. Preston, had both worked in the Manchester office of the successful Gothic Revival architect J.S. Crowther. This included a period for Oakley working on the restoration and partial re-building of Manchester Cathedral with Crowther. Oakley's father was Dean of Manchester Cathedral. A great advocate of Middle Pointed, or Decorated Gothic, Crowther's two pupils would have been aware of his preference for the churches of Lincolnshire, as heavily illustrated in the two volume work he wrote with Henry Bowman, 'Churches of the Middles Ages' (1845 and 1853) which is regarded as 'one of the great source books of the favoured style' (Hartwell and Hyde). Although St. Paul's imaginative tower has a nod towards the medieval precedent of St. Mary and All Saints, Fotheringhay, and the other few examples it is more likely drawn from the church of St. Botolph's, the so-called `Boston Stump'. Other elements of the expressive east end demonstrate the inventiveness of Oakley's churches of this period such as St. Andrew's, Littleborough (1893-95), All Soul's, Heywood (1898-99), St. John's Heywood (1903-05) and St. Hilda's, Prestwich (1904) of which St. Paul's is the finest.

Felstead, A., et al, Directory of British Architects 1834-1900 (1993), 670

Hartwell, C. and Hyde, M., The Buildings of England: Lancashire: Manchester and the south-east (2004), 231.

Reasons for Designation:
St. Paul's, Heaton Moor, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* The church demonstrates the development of the Gothic Revival towards the end of the nineteenth century
* The inventive re-working of the tower, following the precedent set by St. Botolph's, Boston, Lincolnshire.
* The completeness of the interior decorative scheme

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.