Highlights of the historical development of St Bartholomew’s Church
St Bartholomew’s Church is a great landmark of Wilmslow.
It is arguably the most iconic building in the town. As a grade one listed medieval building, it is a precious and important part of our heritage. There has been a church on the present site since the 13th century but much of what we see now has its background in the rebuilding work undertaken by Henry Trafford during the reign of Henry VIII. Subsequently, the church underwent a major reordering by the architect Brakspear in the mid 1800s. One hundred and fifty years on, we saw the third major stage in St Bartholomew’s historical development. ‘Medieval met modern’ with an extensive restoration and reordering project under St Bartholomew’s rector, Revd Dr Paul Smith.
THE EARLY CHURCH
The first record of St Bartholomew’s existence is in 1264, when it is believed to have been built by Sir Richard Fitton, who held the Manor of Bollin. The site chosen for the original church was a mound with steep sides going down towards the river. It may well be that all that remains of the original building is the crypt chapel beneath the chancel. The size and structure of the church at this time is unknown, but it is unlikely that it extended beyond where the current chancel is situated.
THE MEDIEVAL CHURCH
Remodelling of the church –
Major rebuilding work took place under the direction of Henry Trafford, who was rector between 1516 and 1537, and paid for the building of the chancel and its ‘rood’ screen (stemming from a Saxon word for cross) separating the clergy and choir from the congregation; while two private chapels were added either side also with screens. The work, completed around 1522, also included the building of the south transept chapel and the nave clerestory (clear storey bringing upper light and breeze into the building) and its roof.
THE VICTORIAN CHURCH
Clearly, as records in 1835 indicate that a box was purchased ‘for the minister to stand on in wet weather’, the church was in need of urgent repair at this time. But nearly another 30 years were to pass before the sweeping restoration of 1862-
1897 to 1898 saw further work by Manchester architects Bodley and Garner when Revd Emery Bates, to whose memory the lych-
ST BARTHOLOMEW’S TODAY
During Canon Tony Sparham’s ministry (1999-
2013 then saw significant, urgent work under the watchful eye of Revd Dr Paul Smith, as the floor of St Bart’s was sinking. The third major reordering works was undertaken at the site, enabled by the careful planning of a Manchester firm of architects, Buttress Fuller Alsop Williams. The wooden floor was replaced with stone to incorporate under floor heating. A whole team of additional experts were involved, as St Bart’s was in need of a major clean of the interior sandstone walls and pillars, rewiring, relighting and the introduction of new audio-
St Bart’s was brought into the 21st century without sacrificing –
Evidence of medieval earth-
ST BARTHOLOMEW’S TOMORROW
There are currently three projects underway which we hope will be completed in 2017. The first and most substantial of these is the second stage of the 2013 reordering and restoration, the refurbishment and development of the pipe organ which is coming towards the end of its working life. Because of this, and in order to have a better instrument for concerts and recitals, a new three manual organ with a detached and movable console has been commissioned. This will allow much greater flexibility for performance and teaching purposes. Second is the development and marking of the burial ground of cremated remains; the grassed area cornered by the 17th century sundial at the front of church. Plans are for a wedge-