The History Of St Anne’s Church
St Anne’s Church was built in 1876 as a school on weekdays and for worship on a Sunday. It was called Fulshaw Memorial Church & School. As the school grew it became increasingly difficult to continue dual use and after 14 years the school opposite was built. It was opened on 8th December 1890 and then the re-ordering of the original building to sole use as the Church it is today. Kelly’s Directory of 1902 states the Memorial Mission Church was erected by George Fox at a cost of £2,200. It also says it is an edifice of brick in the Gothic style consisting of chancel, nave, transept, vestry and organ chamber.
Before this the only school in Wilmslow was on Chancel Lane on the site of the current Parish Hall at the Carrs. The village had grown towards the south and west and it was felt the school location at Chancel Lane was a disadvantage to the attendance of younger children and so the Rector Rev Emery Bates solicited Mr George Fox of Harefield to build the Fulshaw Memorial School and Church.This he did in memory of his wife Annie who had died 3 years earlier. She was the great granddaughter of William Cobbett who wrote “Rural Riches” describing his work as a magistrate and Member of Parliament. As numbers rose to 192 children by 1883, it was obvious that the Church building was not big enough. George Fox agreed to extend the original scheme in the building of the school across from the Church on Nursery Lane. Fundraising then saw the building restored and converted to the Church it is today. A pulpit, organ, pews and litany stool were installed, new hymn books and cassocks for the Choir and extensive redecoration. A retable was made of dark oak from some of the old timber taken from St Bartholomew’s Church belfry when the bells were rehung two years earlier. The carved oak screen was installed in 1894 with more fundraising by the congregation.
These stained glass windows at the back, behind the altar, are from the original build of 1876
At this time the population of Fulshaw was 887 and covered 451 acres from the 1871 census. Wilmslow as a whole was 5 miles across and had a population of 5222. The school and church covered a wide area and in 1887 (the year of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee) a path was cut through from Altrincham Road to Chapel Lane to enable children to reach the school more easily. It was called “Jubilee Walk”. It is now Bourne Street and the trees that lined the walk can still be seen.
The site for the Church was part of the garden to a house belonging to George Fox. Part of the garden had already been sold to create Nursery Lane. In 1876 there were only four houses, one of them was Nursery Villa. Mr Isaac Birtles lived here. He was a gardener, seedsman and had a Nursery, giving the Lane its name.
The Memorial Church was dedicated to St Anne in 1950 and is celebrated annually on or around 26th July each year.The school received the name of St Anne in July 2001. St Anne was the mother of the Virgin Mary. Anne and Joachim (her husband) were of the royal house of David and their lives were occupied in worship and good works. They were childless for many years and this was a bitter misfortune in the Jewish culture. Anne’s prayers were answered when, later in years, Mary was born. Joachim and Anne lived to see the birth of their grandson. The name Anne was very appropriate because the original church and school had been built in memory of another Anne, the late wife of George Fox, in whose memory the building was donated back in 1876.
St Anne’s Church is part of the Fulshaw community of Wilmslow and is sister church to St Bartholomew’s. It has continued over the years to have strong links with the school and to this day the school children continue to attend a service every Thursday in the church.
Education and community continue to be important to St Anne’s and embody our small community church.