WELCOME TO THE PARISH OF ST PETER AND ST RAPHAEL, STALYBRIDGE
Diocese of Shrewsbury
Registered Charity No. 234025
Parish and Church History
St Peter's Church in Stalybridge is a stone-built design of 1838-39, in many ways typical of Catholic church architecture of the period, in a thin pre-Puginian Early English Gothic. It was designed by the noted architect Matthew Hadfield, who went on to undertake many important commissions for the Catholic Church. Although the building has been altered it retains a good altar and reredos designed by the well-known architect Edmund Kirby.
A ‘night school’ was established in Stalybridge in 1834 by a Catholic priest. Building work on the church started in 1838, the foundation stone being laid by Matthew Ellison, agent to the Duke of Norfolk’s northern estates. The building was an early work of the noted architect Matthew Hadfield, nephew of Matthew Ellison, who with his various partnerships (see appendix 4) undertook many important Catholic Commissions. The church cost £5000 and opened in 1839.
In 1869 a new high altar and reredos were added from designs by Edmund Kirby, with carving by T.R.E. Williams and metalwork by Hardman. The relief arches framing the chancel were later adorned with elaborate stencilled decoration (illustrated in Plumb, p.50) but this has now been painted over.
The church was refurbished in 1929 when various works took place and confessionals were rebuilt.
The altar was brought forward as part of a reordering in the mid-1980s. At the same time a pulpit of 1891 was dismantled and used as parts of an ambo and a font.
Inside, the chancel is framed internally by three relief arches, continued with one arch on each of the north and south sides. This may be original but it may be an alteration associated the blocking of the east windows. This was probably done to accommodate Kirby’s altar and reredos of 1869. These survive, though the altar was brought forward as part of a reordering of the 1980s. Various other alterations have taken place, including reglazing of most windows, alteration of the gallery and repairs after a fire, and creation of an external ramp.
A stone-built church in Early English style, with an attached presbytery on the south side of the building. The west front is symmetrical, with a triplet of lancets above the entrance flanked by single lancets and framed by pinnacles. There are tall, slim lancets on each side, and an east end with a blocked triplet of lancets and pinnacles at the centre and on each side.
St Raphael's Church in Millbrook
is a notable example of experimental 1960s church design, retaining its original character to a high degree. The stained glass screen by Pierre Fourmaintraux, original corona and ceramic Stations and holy water stoups by Alan Boyson are all striking features of the interior.
A parish was formed in 1958 from the neighbouring parish of Stalybridge and the church was built to serve the Millbrook community, which was still dominated by industry at that time. The church was designed by Edward Massey and Alan Burton of Massey & Massey (Plumb, 50). The foundation stone was laid on 14 October 1961 by Bishop Murphy, and the building was solemnly opened by Bishop Grasar on 25 April 1963.
In 2011 an estimated repair bill of £250,000 led to a decision to close the church. A final Mass was held on 14 July 2011, and the future of the church is now uncertain. [It was listed grade II in December 2011].
On the 31st March, 2012, the parishes of St Peter's and St Raphael's amalgamated to created the current parish.
Photographs by Rachel Swanick, Stephen Giblin and Deacon Antony Zidan©2019