The ecclesiastical district of St. Thomas’ was founded by an Order in Council dated August 27th , 1846 ’165 years ago’ .
The first vicar, the Rev. A. Read was appointed by the crown on October 9th of the same year.
Since the parishioners were almost all working class people with low incomes, it was not until 1868 that St. Thomas’ church was built and
the church was consecrated on Wednesday, September 23rd 1868 ’143 years ago’.
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Until the later part of the 18th century, Hyde was a remote hamlet, part of the sprawling parish of Stockport. The few inhabitants had to go there for baptisms, weddings, funerals etc. While it was so small a place, this did not really matter, but with the coming of industry to this region, where coal and water power were plentiful, things began to alter.
According to the census of 1811, Hyde at that date consisted of 290 houses containing 317 families. Of these families, 11 were employed in agriculture and 302 in trade, the total population being 1,806. Approximately 6 people per house in a two up two down. This refers to the township of Hyde only, not to such places as Godley, Newton and Hattersley, which were, at that time, part of the parish of Mottram.
In 1817, Omerod’s History of Cheshire stated that “of late years the increase of collieries and manufactories in the immediate neighbourhood of Hyde has added more to the value of the land than to either the picturesque appearance or the actual comfort of the surrounding district”.
The Rev. Charles Prescot gave the population of Hyde as being 10,151 at the 1841 census.
In 1844, the Rev. Charles Prescot, M.A., Rector of Stockport, filled in a form of enquiry for the Ecclesiastical Commissioners with a view to founding a new ecclesiastical district of St. Thomas’, Hyde.
Of these inhabitants, 4,863 were to be in the new district, the remainder to stay in the recently formed parish of St George’s. He described the inhabitants as being “cotton spinners, shopkeepers, innkeepers, the wealthy within the parish are cotton manufacturers, and with one or two exceptions these are deadly enemies to the church”. In response to the query about a suitable building being available he wrote – “there is a building originally intended for a Mechanic’s Institute, in which Chartists, Socialists and other Seditious, irreligious and unprincipled men were in the habit of meeting”.
The building in question is the old St. Thomas’ school, one of the few buildings in Hyde of any historical interest, which is now derelict. (Quoted from a 1968 document) The Chartists had used it for drilling and storing arms. The rector’s attitude to the aspirations of the working men was typical of the clergy of his day. It partly explains why the industrial working classes were never great church-goers.
The ecclesiastical district of St. Thomas’ was founded by an Order in Council dated August 27 th , 1846. The first vicar, the Rev. A. Read was appointed by the crown on October 9 th of the same year. The patronage was vested in the Crown and the Bishop alternately.
Since the parishioners were almost all working class people with low incomes, it was not until 1868 that St. Thomas’ church was built at a cost of £3,000. Owing to lack of money, the original plan providing for north and south transepts had to be dropped. This was certainly a blessing in disguise. The foundation stone was laid by the Rt. Hon. the Lord de Tabley. Possibly
The freemasons of Hyde attended and assisted at the ceremony. The church was consecrated on Wednesday, September 23 rd 1868.
St. Andrew’s Mission Church was built on John Street in 1875. It was originally intended to form a separate parish in that part of the town, but this scheme fell through. Again, this has turned out to be fortunate, since that area has a very small population left in it now (now referring to 1968) . St. Andrew’s itself was closed a few years ago and is now leased to the Post Office.
When Hyde Town Hall was opened in1885, St. Thomas’ and St. Andrew’s Sunday school formed a body of 738 in the procession.
The exterior of St. Thomas’ Church has a very ordinary appearance, but when the inside door is opened it can be seen that the interior of the church is exceptionally attractive. It is in my opinion one of the finest in the neighbourhood. It has been much improved by the removal of the choir stalls and by the reduction of space taken up by the pews. The church was built to serve the spiritual needs of the Anglicans of the parish. For a long time it served this purpose very well, but now the situation has changed. Religion is no longer, for most people, a part of the normal pattern of daily life. All types of Christianity have suffered a numerical decline during the last 25 years. Also, the population of St. Thomas’ parish has fallen by about 20% since the War. Old houses have been pulled down and parts of the parish look as if they have suffered a not-too-recent air raid.
Yesterday as part of the Heritage Open Days I was able to go inside, take photos, have a cup of tea and chat to some folk.
Posted by Gerald (Hyde DP Top
The figure of St.Thomas was designed for a window of 1874 in Calcutta Cathedral and appears in 6 places in the UK. In the window at Calcutta, St. Thomas is shown facing the viewers left, but in Hyde it has been reversed mirror-wise so as to face right and in two other places (Brighton College Chapel and St. Mary Dundee) the figure faces right and has been given a beard. The figure of St. Hilda in the Hyde window was a versatile one. It was used originally in 1876 in Paisley Abbey, to represent Salome; but it was also used to represent Eunice, St. Anne, Devotion, Phoebe and St. Hilda in Hyde and Shrewsbury; but only in Hyde was it modified by the addition of a pastoral staff. The staff does not appear anywhere else.
In the War Memorial Window both figures were designed by Henry Dearle for St. Lawrence Church, Bradfield, Essex, to which William Morris and Co supplied a window in 1919. The figure of St. George was used in 6 places between 1919 and 1922, and always in War Memorials. The figure of Salvador Mundi was used in at least 15 places and not always in War Memorial windows. Its final appearance was in a window of 1930 in a Methodist Church at Sutton-on-Sea. We hope, if you have the time to visit, that you enjoy the architecture of the building. The Priest in Charge and Wardens are available to explain the work and witness of the Church in Hyde.
St Thomas the Apostle, Hyde – Church of England Lumn Road, Hyde, Cheshire.Cemeteries: We do not yet know whether or not this Church has a graveyard. (Yes it has)
Church History: This Church was founded in 1846 and it is still open.
Some notes about the history of the Church will appear here in due course.
Manchester Central Library:
ALSO Hyde, St. Thomas (C of E). Lumn Road. Founded 1846 as the parish church for part of Hyde.Registers of Baptisms 1847–1924, Marriages 1869–1919 and Burials 1869–1900 have been deposited at the Cheshire Record Office.