About Church Life

A Short History of St Mary’s

The present church was opened on 13th May 1887. Designed by Albert Vicars of London, the land had been purchased by John Sperling, father of the parish priest, Reverend Alfred Sperling, for £400 and building had commenced in 1885. The stained glass windows were made by Mayer of Munich and London and the particularly magnificent East Window was donated by Elizabeth Bermingham. One of the windows was dedicated to Reverend (by now Monsignor) Alfred Sperling after his death in 1923.

In 1921 a War Memorial was erected on the south side of the church to commemorate the 23 local men who had died in Word War I. In 1925 men of the parish erected a shrine to the Little Flower (the affectionate name given to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux) near the memorial. The existing presbytery was built by parish labour shortly afterwards. In 1926 a new pipe organ was installed by Jardines of Old Trafford, Manchester. Sadly this fell into disrepair and the cost of refurbishment was excessive. The current pipe organ came from Ball Haye Methodist Church when it closed in 2002.

A full parish report of 1932 tells of a vibrant parish and a building open from 7am to 8pm daily. There were societies of the Children of Mary, Guild of St Agnes, Apostleship of Prayer and Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. There were also Boy Scouts, Girl Guides and Rangers.

The Loreto Sisters & St Mary’s School

In 1860 an order of nuns was invited to work in the parish, particularly to teach the children of the parish. In 1863 they took over the building behind the church as the convent, using the old church in King Street as the school from 1887. A new school was built next door to the convent in King Street in 1925. The current St Mary’s Catholic Academy in Cruso Street, opened in 1957. It has since had further buildings added and now incorporates the nursery children as well. The King Street school became the parish hall, but eventually became unusable and was sold for development. In 1980 the nuns finally left the school, a lay head was appointed, and the convent in King Street was sold. The convent is now the Peak Weavers Rooms and Restaurant.

Into the Present & Onwards

In the 2013 major internal refurbishment of the church interior was carried out, including removal of large areas of unstable plaster and damp-affected wooden panelling. We now have a light and airy building, showing off the stained glass windows and the statuary to best effect, where we can come together to praise and worship God.

Want to know more? Feel free to contact us for more information.

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