In medieval days the great wealth accruing to the country through wool resulted in the building of some of our most magnificent churches, known as "wool churches" because wool merchants provided the cost; at Moorside you might say we have a "cotton church". The building of the mills and weaving sheds in Moorside resulted in a great increase in the population that previously had been concerned in running a few small coal pits and farms. This development was a feature of the whole of Oldham in the middle 1800's, and brought many social problems that had their effect on our church.
Plans for a Church
The Standard newspaper of 16th November. 1861, reported "the great want of spiritual ministration that exists in many parts of Oldham in consequence of the great and rapid increase in the population." However, plans were being made to meet this need in which, the paper continued, it was necessary "to have a suitable clergyman appointed, to establish a place of worship preparatory to the building of a church. and whilst this is being done to make exertions to obtain money sufficient to build a church, schools and parsonage, and provide an endowment of the place, so that the salary of the minister shall be sure."
The same issue of the paper went on to describe how Thomas Mellodew had, at his own cost, erected a building which would serve as a temporary church for the district of Moorside, and afterwards as a school house.
During this early period, a number of clergy assisted in pastoral care, and details of their work are set out in the page dealing with the clergy. Meanwhile, eleven years were to pass before the present church could be opened for worship. The school had not been bullt in isolation; it occupied one corner of a plot of land large enough to hold a school, church, churchyard, parsonage and glebe field. Alderman James Mellodew had often heard his brother, Thomas Mellodew, wish that he might live until he had not only established a really useful school, but also built a church and seen it properly endowed. Though Thomas Mellodew was not well enough to be present at the church consecration he had the satisfaction of knowing his wish was fulfilled.
The New Church
The Standard newspaper of Saturday, 18th May, 1872, carried a description of the new church, designed by the
architect, H. Cockbain, of Middleton, while the edition the week following contained full details of the consecration
that took place on Monday in Whitsun Week, 20th May, by the Lord Bishop of the Diocese, the Right Reverend James Fraser,
in a morning service with Holy Communion.
Before a large congregation the Bishop preached on a text from Genesis 11, verse 6, "Behold the people is one", stating that this was the aim of the apostles: to make the Church one great visible organisation. Christian sects were constantly at war with one another, the press both local and national contained disputes, arguments and debates on the differences between the Churches. Despite this, the Bishop insisted that Christians were becoming aware of their basic unity.
This was a courageous and far sighted sermon when we consider the background in the press, and in private pamphlets,
of verbal battles between the Church of Rome and Protestantism; between the Establishment and the Free Churches.
Over lunch, which was served in the schoolroom by Miss Angus of High Street, Mrs. Mellodew told the Bishop how, thirty years ago, when her husband was asked to put a mill in Moorside he did not like to do so, hearing the "inhabitants were so rough", but now they had found that rough people might be softened by kindly influences". During the speeches that followed lunch, tribute was paid to the generosity of Thomas Mellodew who had met the cost of the church - £10,000 - and bequested £3,000 to the endowment, from his own, resources. There was nothing, the Bishop said, that gave him more satisfaction than when he saw wealth which had been honestly got, industriously earned, nobly and munificently spent.
An early parson visitor to Moorside recorded how he supposed he was the first clergyman to put on the surplice there on a Sunday night 21 years ago. During the speeches Mr. A. Leach, J.P., declared that he had never entered a church which pleased him more; and this is an appropriate note on which to consider afresh the building we have to-day.
The simple gothic exterior of the church with its staid proportions suits admirably the elevated position it occupies on the exposed hill side. The Standard newspaper of the day wrote of its "fine well balanced proportions" that at once "attract and please the eye". Neither in the interior nor exterior architecture has any attempt been made to introduce a profusion of detail. Artistic effects depend upon "a proper control an arrangement of masses and the clear un-ornamental lines of the masonry".
The tower, 20ft 6in. square, rises to 92ft. at the "leads" and to 116ft. at the top of the pinnacle over the stairway turret which, carried up at the north east corner angle, is covered with a spire. Around the top of the tower is a pierced parapet, eight foot high turrets at three corners, with the spire making an unusual outline at the fourth corner.
A pleasant porch allows access from the south-west corner inside, the church consists of nave and two aisles, a chancel with chapel on the north and organ and former vestry on the south. The nave and aisles form a square of 52ft; and are divided into four bays, having two light windows in the aisle walls. The clerestory is lighted by three light windows, and this high clear glass gives a good natural downwards illuminatrion of the interior. The roof is open timber, the main beams having bold mouldings; the "square" or line from which the roof rises is 32ft., and the ridge 45ft. above the floor line.
The west wall of the nave opens on to the lower stage of the tower through a high massive arch. Behind the oak screen is the west door, used for official occasions. and when an incumbent is inducted into the parish., above the door is. a large three light traceried window. The space in the tower square, now serving as a baptistery, was used as a choir vestry, when cassocks and surplices for Sunday services were purchased in November, 1905, until 1938 when the present vestries were brought into use after their dedication by the Bishop of Manchester (The Right Reverend F. S. Guy Warman) on Sunday, 23rd October, 1938. The pleasant colour scheme of the intericr was designed and executed in 1963.
Originally, the baptistery was in the north-west corner of the church by the present entrance to the
choir vestry, with a sponsors' vestry opening off the north aisle wall.
When the font was moved from its original position, the window behind it - the oldest in the church - was moved into its present
position in the chapel, to enable the construction of doors leading from the choir vestry into the church.
The chancel is divided into three bays, and lighted by three windows on each side; four of these are rose windows, the other two are long light windows with traceried heads and transomes in the middle. The floor is paved with tiles. The front low pews were erected in March, 1936, for the use of the newly introduced choirboys.
The steps in the sanctuary, supplied by J. & H. Patteson, are marble; the lowest one being grey, the middle red and the top white Sicilian, with marble mosaic filling in the space between step and altar. The top step had cracked beyond repair and was replaced by the present one in 1891.
The reredos, of Italian design. contains a representation of the earliest known symbol of the sacrament of the Holy Communion. the pelican with outstretched wings and beak pecking its own breast to feed its young. The statue on one side, with a spear in the left hand and an adze in the right, is the most common representation of Saint Thomas, (another is with a carpenter's square, or with the Saviour's wounds). On the right is a statue of Saint John the Evangelist holding a chalice out of which a snake is emerging. This represents the legend of the jealous disciple or rival of Saint John who placed poison in the chalice. John was warned of his danger when the poison was changed into a snake which then slipped harmlessly away.
The present "handsome cross of pure white Carrara marble" re-places the temporary floral cross and dull and dingy coloured alabaster background that once occupied the recess of the reredos. The dark red marble background was selected to "throw out the whiteness and beauty of the new cross". 1t was designed by the church's architect, Mr. Cockbain, and given by the Mellodew family in 1892. Behind the blue curtains the walls are covered with a rich majolica and encaustic tile pattern, designed by the architect and executed by Messrs. Minton, Hollins & Co. Recesses for credence and sedilia were originally left in the walls.
This is separated from the body of the church by open traceried screens and lighted by two two-light
square headed traceried windows and a three-light tracery headed east window. Designed with a special
view to week day services, early communions, and other occasions when the congregations would be very
small, the chapel has its own entrance door. It was originally filled with benches, aligned east to
west. for the school children. Seats replacing these benches. clearly indicated on the church plans
in the vestry safes, were moveable to allow their being adapted for use as a distinct chapel, or as part
of the main building when large congregations might require the extra places available there. Visitors
have remarked upon the charm of this little chapel.
The War Memorial
The War Memorial
In January, 1919, the Church Council resolved to bring before the congregation a suggestion that the chapel should be turned into a side chapel as a memorial to the men from this parish who had fallen in the war. The chapel was dedicated "to the glory of God, and in memory of our fallen" on 25th July, 1920, by the Archdeacon of Rochdale. The symbols of the sacrifice of our Lord, the instruments of the Passion - -crown of thorns, hammer and nails, sponge and spear - are carved on the panels of the plain reredos. The names of the fallen are carved on the row entrance doors by the northern aisle.
Below is a list of individual items with donors:
Communion table given by the Mothers' Sewing Class.
Prayer desk by Mr. and Mrs. Ogden and Miss M. J. Barlow, in memory of Albert Ogden.
Candlesticks by Mr. and Mrs. Hoyle, in memory of lsabella Jane Stott.
Cross and vases by W. Mellodew, in memory of his brother James who had enlisted in September, 1914, and was killed "somewhere in France" by a rifle grenade in January, 1916.
This is of oak, very long and was intended to be on the south side whence the preacher would have been in sight of almost every person in the church, even most of those who might be in the chapel. On the front of it are five representative figures in the niches formed by the arcading of the panels:
Moses for the law, Isaiah for the prophets, Saint John for the gospels.
Saint Paul for the epistles, with the central figure representing our Lord.
The brass lectern, given by "Ladies of the Social Party", was dedicated
at the twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Church service on Thursday, 20th May,
1897, by the Reverend W. H. Chambers, D.D.. a one time curate in charge of
the Moorside District. Various Bibles have been given for church use,
including a New English Lectern Bible given by the Brownie-Guides.
The clergy prayer desk of Austrian oak, marking fifty years of service
by a church officer. was dedicated in December. 1950, and re-placed the
former square desk that matched the pulpit.
At the western end of the centre aisle, and of similar material to the reredos, is the font, the gift of the Sunday School scholars and their friends. It has an octagonal head, supported on pillars having alabaster shafts in high relief. There are representations of Noah's Ark with dove, the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan by John (who has lost his head - note the enormous halo behind our Lord), Saint Philip baptising the Ethiopian Eunuch of Queen Candace (Acts 8, 27) and of the symbols of the four evangelists.
A new cover was provided for the font in January, 1901: the existing cover was set up when the baptistery was moved to its present position in 1938.
On a window ledge, in the north aisle, is the architect's cardboard
model which was sent to the then vicar by the American, Mr. Benjamin
Dicken Whitehead, along with a ten dollar note. This event is noted in
the parish magazine for January, 1952.
The Oldest Window
The Oldest Window
The oldest window is that on the north side of the chapel, by the entrance, and was originally in the west wall of the church, where the double vestry doors now are. At the luncheon held in the schoolroom at the dedication of the church, the Reverend W. Walker observed that he had been told that "the workmen had left their impression on the church not only in workmanship but in ornament, by the window over the font".
The left light is a representation of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, an event observed in the Church's calendar on the 2nd February, and narrated in Luke 2, 35-40. The right light is on the Baptism of our Lord in the River Jordan (Mark 1, 9-1 1 Matthew 3, 13-1 7-, Luke 3, 2 1-22).
The East Window
The most dominant in the church is naturally the east one, given by
Miss Jane Bridge of Lime Tree House, Castleton, who also gave a Bible,
on 23rd September, 1887, for the use of the wardens. Miss Bridge, who
died on Sunday, 14th June, 1886, a near relative of Thomas Mellodew, the
founder of the church, lived for many years In this parish, and always
showed great interest in Moorside Church and Sunday School.
To the end of her life she contributed to the needs of the parish; in 1897 she left a legacy of £500 for the repair and maintenance of Saint Thomas's Church.
The stained glass is by Hardman. The lowest sections of windows have the heads of the major prophets - Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel - with monograms of Jesus, IHS, in the first, third and fifth lights. The centre sections of the middle three lights display the disciples at the Last Supper, with groups of five disciples in the outer, and our Lord with Saints John and Peter in the centre. Above, and on each side of this last supper scene are representations of seven incidents from the life of Joseph, with the appropriate inscriptions under all the scenes. In the tracery above are eleven figures, and various symbols. A great deal of care and thought has gone into this window, and the result is a suitable teaching aid for a small parish church - the easily remembered stories of Joseph, the four major prophets, all grouped around the great sacrament of the Lord's Supper.
Windows from Abroad
There are, on the wall of the south aisle, two Belgian windows made by J. B. Capronnier in Brussels in 1891. The one by the porch is in memory of Mary, the wife of James Mellodew, and has the theme of "The Women at the Sepulchre". The left light contains the figure of an angel, right hand pointing downwards, left hand upwards. The right light has three women at
the cave tomb entrance, Mary Magdalene, Salome (or Joanne) and Mary mother of James, two have ornamental pitchers and veils, the other with head uncovered, both lights have ornamentation above. The other Belgian window, by the organ loft, is in memory of James Mellodew on the theme "Christ in the Temple as an infant and as a Boy". The left light illustrates Simeon holding the baby Jesus. with a young man on the left. Anna the prophetess on the right, Mary is on the front right, with blue dress and white veil while Joseph, front left, holds a cage containing two white turtle doves (Luke 2, 21-39). See also on this theme the left light of the church's oldest window by the chapel door. The right light displays Jesus in the Temple. mother and Joseph in the background, and five doctors of the law grouped around Jesus; in the background a representation of the temple runs through both lights (Luke 2, 41-52).
These two windows were presented to the church by "Messrs. Mellodew and their sister" and were erected May-June. 1891. A vestry meeting of 21st May approved the gift and a faculty was granted on Friday. 8th June. Several churches in the district at that time had windows designed and executed by J. B. Capronnier.
Between these two windows is an earlier one erected by James and Mary
Mellodew in memory of their daughter Ada Alexandra, who died on her
17th birthday. The left light shows our Lord raising the daughter of
Jairus (Mark 5, 22-43-, Luke 8, 41-56-, Matthew (ruler) 9, 18-26) and
depicts daughter, mother and father: on the right are Peter, James and
John, one of them with ornamental robes.
Another Window from Abroad
Another Window from Abroad
On the north aisle wall by the vestry door is a stained glass window made in Munich by Mayer & Co. in 1908, and erected in memory of John and Alice Hardy. The right light, dedicated to John, has the verse: "Well done, thou good and faithful servant", from the parable of the talents (Matthew 25. 1 9-32.. Luke 19, 1 5-27). The master is standing with his servant kneeling in front with a house and garden background. On the left, dedicated to Alice, is the verse: "I will give thee a crown of life". from Revelation 2, 10., and has a seated figure with raised hand and three figures in front.
John Hardy spent 70 years in Moorside helping to lay and run the Mellodew business. He retired in 1898 and died in 1908. the year after his wife's decease. The parish magazine, in its obituary, said of him: "his name will ever he remembered as one of the founders of Moorside… a man who loved his fellowmen because he loved his God." This window was dedicated at Matins on Sunday. 4th October, 1908. Among the poems John Hardy wrote Is one on the Moorside he remembered on his first arrival:
"When first I saw this Moorside,
Now thirty years ago,
It did not then boast of such pride,
As it does now you know.
It was a poor deserted place."
Thomas Mellodew J.P.
In the centre of the north aisle a window has been erected in memory of Thomas Mellodew, J.P., the nephew of the founder, above a pure white marble tablet on a black marble surround. Thomas Mellodew was the last surviving of three nephews to whom the founder entrusted the patronage of the living. He was the oldest son of James Mellodew of Parkfield House and, at the death of his father, became head of the firm. He was a keen admirer of horses and paid great attention to his own animals. He maintained a keen interest in the parish church being a churchwarden here. but did not trouble himself much with affairs outside his own district. He married the daughter of John Hardy
He was made a J.P. in Queen Victoria's 60th Jubilee Honours in July,
1897; he died in 1902. The window is based on 'the text "Suffer the little
children to come unto me, and forbid them not" (Mark 10.14. and elsewhere).
The left light has two disciples with one small child holding a basket of flowers in its right hand and a bunch of flowers in ifs left. On the right our Lord is seated with a baby on his knee, and two children by his side.
The window in memory of Emma Jane, widow of Thomas Mellodew, was erected next to the memorial chapel on the north aisle wall. There is an inscription "This woman was full of good works" Acts 9, 36, the incident where Tabitha or Dorcas was restored to life by Saint Peter at Joppa - the verse which concludes with "and alms deeds which she did". The left hand light has a woman holding a piece of cloth, with a child in front (making Clothes for needy children). On the right is a woman with a stick, a man with a crutch and a traveller's flask or bottle on his belt, and a child by the woman's knee. The background of the two lights is filled in with buildings, sky, trees and vegetation. The bottom right hand corner has the craftsman's sign "Jones and Willis". This window was dedicated at 10-30 a.m. on Sunday, 9th December, 1928.
The Porch Corner
The west window by the porch was erected in memory of Amos Mellodew who
died in 1935, two days before his eighty-first birthday. He was the sole
surviving son of James Mellodew, J.P. (see window in south aisle, organ end)
who was the brother of Thomas, the founder of the firm. He served as warden
of this parish for about ten years. The window depicts the Good Shepherd
(John 10. Ezekiel 34, 12). The centre light has our Lord with five sheep
and a background of village, hills, trees and vegetation. The left light
has a shepherdess with crook, three sheep, a stream and a setting or rising
sun. On the right is a shepherd with a crook, a handful of corn or wheat
and four sheep.
Some have compared this window with the oldest one in church, the one in
the chapel by the door, and have claimed that the natural and outdoor setting,
with a depth of sky allowing more light displays the progress made in
design over the years. The window was unveiled by Mrs. Amos Mellodew in
The Chapel East Window
The Chapel East Window
This window of three lights with tracery above, was given in memory of Robert and Sarah Jane Stansfield and also of their infant son Herbert, by their daughter Alice Mary Kershaw. The subject is Madonna and Child, the architect being Mr. T. F. Wilford. F.B.S.M.G.P., of Bridge, Cheshire, while the firm producing the glass was Humphries, Jackson and Ambler of Manchester. The centre light shows the Virgin holding a child, with the left and right lights depicting angels in prayer, the one with head slightly raised, the other with the other slightly lowered. A pleasant background of interwoven tracery permits more light through than in other windows. This window was dedicated the evening service on Easter Day, 1956.
The other window in the chapel - left - was erected in memory of Fanny Mellodew. The lights depict a background with camel, Joseph holding a lamp and the visit of the Magi with their gifts; the centre tracery has a star with a beam of light.
On the south side of the chancel, a white marble tablet set on grey marble was dedicated to the memory of Ellen and Thomas Mellodew "the generous founder of this church". 1t bears the inscription which is to be found over the interior of the North Door in Saint Paul's Cathedral, placed in memory of Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723) by his son: Si monumentum requiris, circumspice - if you would see his monument,, look around. Thomas Mellodew was born at Cabbage Hall, Castleton, on 9th October, 1801, and was the second son of John Mellodew of Castleton. He died on 9th May, 1871, and his wife some four years before her husband.
On the north Side of the sanctuary a brass plaque was erected in memory of Emily and John Mellodew of Haven House. He was the senior brother of the firm of Messrs. Mellodew & Co. He died at the age of 46 years on 2nd June, 1891; his wife survived him until 1931 (26th August).
In the chancel, on the south wall, a bronze plaque records the dedication of the altar rail in memory of James Arthur Mellodew. He married his wife, Alice Maud Holden, at Saint Peter's Church on Wed-nesday, 8th November, 1905, at the age of 25. He died on 1st December, 1954.
On the same wall a marble tablet records that the processional cross was provided for the church in memory of Martha Hoyle, 28 years mistress of the parish day schools. She died on Christmas Eve, 1931, at the age of 57.
On the west wall of the church, by the baptistery arch, a plaque records the provision of electric lighting in church in 1926 by Frances Dunkerley, in memory of her brothers and sister, William and James Henry Mellodew and Martha Ann Smith. On the removal of the old gas light fittings an extra heating pipe above the level of the nave arches had to be erected to counteract the down draught which had been held in check by the heat from the gas flames and mantles. The tablet was unveiled by the donor on the first Sunday in April, 1927.
Bells have been used for public attention and warning in many ways: some of these are the tocsin or fire, storm, tempest, the gate of a fortified town and the curfew. These many uses may surprise the churchgoer or villager who has come to equate the sound of the bells as the call to worship, or the attempt to ring a peal on the part of a band of enthusiasts. The tower staircase affords access to the ringers' room, the clock room and the belfry. The clock and peal of bells were given by James Mellodew in 1873.
The bells were cast by Mears and Stainbank at their Whitechapel Foundry, London, and mounted on oak beams, with each bell bearing a name of one of the donor's children. Their weight and notes were as follows:-
Tenor: 18-0-18 E - Martha Ann.
7th: 12-3-1 F sharp - Sarah.
6th: 10-1-13 G sharp-Amelia.
5th: 8-2-22 A - Frances.
4th: 7-1-2 B - Amos.
3rd: 6-3-13 C sharp-William.
2nd: 5-3-5 D sharp - James Henry.
Treble: 5-1-24 E - Ada Alexandra.
The other two youngest children, John and Thomas, "shared the clock".
Repairs and Charges
Repairs and Charges
In 1891 new seats and stands were provided for the convenience of the ringers. In 1896 there was a slight accident to one of the bells, which meant that the ringing of the bell and the striking of the Cambridge Chimes had to be discontinued for a short time. In 1899 the very bad condition of the bells meant that the tenor could not be rung. A description of the repairs necessary appears in the parish magazine for August, 1899, and these were carried out by Messrs. Shaw Sark & Co. of Bradford and were completed by December, 1899. In the September magazine a list of charges for the use of the bells for various occasions was published one of which read:
"That five guineas be the charge for ringing for a wedding the
whole day, the ringers to find their own refreshments; of four
guineas if dinner and tea are to be provided; of one pound and
ten shillings for ringing on the evening only of the wedding day."
In the parish magazine there are constant votes of thanks to Messrs. T. Mellodew & Co. Ltd. for "defraying the cost of belfry main-tenance". In 1911 every house in the parish received a circular with details of plans to mark Coronation Year with a great parish Coronation Gift to be directed to the restoration of the church bells and clock. "For many years it has been noticed that the present wooden framework of the bells was giving way under the strain and vibration caused by the moving mass of 75 cwt. of metal."
The wooden framework was replaced with a new iron and steel one,
thoroughly cemented into the walls of the tower, and erected on solid
steel girders. Various other repairs and improvements were also effected
though the question of restoring the carillons, that had been silent for
many years, was deferred at that time. The re-hanging was celebrated with
a peal of Kent Treble Bob Major of 5,376 changes in 3 hours, 21 minutes,
on the 30th May, 1911, and was formally marked by a ceremony an Saturday,
1st July, when Mears and Stainbank provided "an excellent tea" to the sixty
people present in the schoolroom after prayers and a short address by the
In 1932 the tenor was damaged after two hours of ringing during a peal
starting at 5-15 a.m. to mark the 60th anni-versary of the church. During
this year it was discovered that damage had occurred to the metal fittings
and to the fabric of the tower through the non-replacement of certain
leadwork. The floor of the belfry was lowered 3ft. to allow discharge of
rain and snow that had entered through the louvres. The flag pole was taken
down but later replaced.
The Second Re-hanging
The Second Re-hanging
In 1967-1968 the existing cast iron framework was rebuilt on new galvanised steel girders, the treble, 5th and 6th bells were re-cast, and a new treble re-cast from the old tenor. This work allowed more space in the tower structure around the bell frame and the advances in tuning metal to be employed.
The bells and names are now:
|Tenor||11-1-12||F sharp||Martha Ann||1873|
|2nd||4-3-1||E Sharp||James Henry||1968|
|Treble||4-2-20||F Sharp||Ada Alexandra||1968|
There are a set of hand bells in the possession of the Vicar and
Wardens, first mentioned in our parish magazine In 1897 when they had
already been in use for some years. This peal, 70 in number, were still
rung weekly in 1972 during the winter season in the schoolroom - then the
The clock, made in 1873 by Gillet and Bland (known later as Gillet and Johnson-Johnson being a 'bell-man'), is a double three legged gravity escapement, identical, though naturally on a smaller scale, to the Westminster Clock. The one clock mechanism moved fingers on six faces - the four 6ft. diameter faces of the tower, a fifth, which was mounted high in the nave west wall above the tower arch where the preacher was reminded of the time and, in the ringers' chamber, a sixth which subsequently lost its fingers, probably owing to the action of the bell ropes. The Cambridge Chimes formed the quarter notes when they were in service.
In 1911 during the major bell and tower work, Messrs. Joice & Co. of
Whitchurch carried out repairs to the clock, the cost of which was met by
Tom Mellodew whose name had been associated with this clock when it was
The clock once had "a selection of tunes, which it can be made to play
at stated hours". In 1911 the question of restoring the carillons for the
sum of £30 was deferred. After being silent for many years the "machinery
and all accompanying paraphernalia" were taken down "with real regret" in
1932. The racks which held the barrels, and the links with the bells can
still be seen in the clock room, but not the actual mechanism.
The Clock Winder
The Clock Winder
In September, 1921, the parish magazine paid tribute to the forty years' service of Mr. Kay, the blind clock winder. He was presented with a silver mounted inscribed ebony walking stick, which he treasured until his death in January, 1939.
This church had a long tradition of appealing for furnishings, rather
than the meeting of their cost out of the Vicar and Warden's Fund. As a
result there are many fitments in the church which are the gifts of those
who were eager to present additional or necessary items for use in the
In 1893, in March, an altar frontal and ante-pendium for the pulpit was
presented to the church. The motif was a white cross on a violet ground
with the crown of thorns worked in gold. The whole seasonal set was
completed in June the following year when a Trinity frontal and
ante-pendium were presented. Through the years there have been gifts of
stoles (a new set in 1907), veils and altar linen. As the original gifts
have been worn through use, replacements have come in readily from friends
of the church.
In 1892 a credence table was a gift from Messrs. Charles Schofield & Sons, Oldham.
Litany Desk Candlesticks and Flowers
In 1911 a litany desk and book were given by Mrs. Benjamin Wild.
Candlesticks and Flowers
In 1914 candlesticks and a candle extinguisher were donated and candles were lighted at 8 a.m. and 6-30 p.m. services, but not at the 10-30 a.m. service. It was stated that their provision was on grounds of history, beauty and symbolism.
In August, 1914, an appeal for flowers for the altar was made, and for twelve parishioners willing to provide one month's supply per year.
The Wardens' Staves
In October, 1930, new wardens' staves were dedicated, a present from
the "late Hannah Duxbury" - their polished blackwood was sur-mounted by
silver Maltese crosses (A silver terminal from the staves was stolen in
The book table, in oak, was provided in 1960 by Mrs. Alice M. Kershaw,
of Carleton, Blackpool, and the altar rail cushions by the Cub-Scouts in
The organ was built by William Hill & Co. and Norman Beard Ltd. in 1873.
For many years Mr. W. Mellodew served as voluntary organist; he resigned from this work in March, 1896. In 1899 the hydraulic engine was repaired and it was claimed that "We shall now be able to dispense with the services of a human blower which, of course, will lessen to some extent the annual expenses of the wardens".
In 1894 a new stop, called the tremulant, had been ordered for the organ which would "add power and effectiveness". This addition was the "very generous gift of W. Mellodew, Esq., of Parkfield House". In 1927 Mr. Amos Mellodew kindly undertook to put in the electric blowing plant for the organ; by December that year it had been installed and was giving eminent satisfaction. In July, 1923, the organ was overhauled, the previous overhaul having been thirty years earlier when the tremulant stop had been added. The re-opening was delayed through dry rot in the flooring; this repair to the organ was carried out by William Hill and Norman Beard Ltd.
In 1948 the organ was rebuilt and dedicated to those of the parish who served in World War II. The dedication was taken by the Bishop of Hulme, The Right Reverend E. W. Moore, on Sunday, 13th February, 1949, when Mr. W. H. Shaw played the first movements of Guilmant's Sonata No. 4; in the evening there was a musical service. A white marble plaque recording this work of restoration is placed by the chancel arch on the of the south aisle. In the 1960's further repair work was undertaken - overheating and lack of humidity had affected the timbers and glue. Later the original stopped diapason pipes were replaced by a similar rank of Forster and Andrews pipes taken from the organ in Saint Mark's Church, Glodwick; this work was carried out by Mr. Cyril Wood of Ashton-under-Lyne.
The first record of a hymn board dates from 1896.
When the church was built, 246 of the seats were "free" and 23 were "appropriated" - of these there were first, second and third class seatings. One of our church plans sets out in detail just how these various classes were distributed and this scheme was approved by the Church Commissioners on 4th July, 1870 (The Diocesan Directory of 1860 carried a notice on a "General Committee on the Pew System" that was designed to abolish rented pews in churches). Pew rents were collected quarterly by the Verger who was paid one shilling(10p) in the £ for his work. In 1942 the churchwardens wrote in the magazine that the 210 seats (24 had been lost when the baptistery was moved) should produce £80 annual rent, but in fact gave little more than half take amount. In September that year rents were increased by 6d(2½p). per quarter and an observation made that there were "a number of good seats vacant".
Pew rents have never been popular in principle as it has seemed odd, to
say the least, to rent a seat in a church. These rents, after considerable
debate and correspondence, were abolished in early 1962.
Kneelers and Books
Kneelers and Books
Kneelers for the free sittings of the church were dedicated at the Easter Vestry, 1910, at 8 p.m. (5th April) and also the book shelves with prayer and hymn books for visitors' use. Parishioners and regular congregation were expected to bring their own books for church, and out of this requirement emerged the widespread custom of prayer and hymn books as confirmation gifts. From time to time a note would appear in the parish magazine reminding the members of the congregation that these books on the shelves were specially for the use of visitors. Now it is accepted that the church provides books for congregational and choir use, and friends have helped considerably by holding special efforts to raise funds for replacements.
At the Easter Vestry in 1896, in the course of a friendly discussion
that followed the formal business, a ratepayer remarked that some complaints
had been made in the parish concerning the number of collections and
offertories taken in the church. The Vicar promised to reply and stated,
after some checking, that "during the year from the first Sunday after
Easter, 1895, to Easter Sunday, 1896 (both Sundays inclusive) there had
been 116 services held in the church at every one of which, in the vast
majority of churches in the kingdom, a collection would have been made.
In our church during that period only 34 collections for all and every
object brought before the congregation for their help were taken, leaving
the very large majority of 82 services at which no collection was made.
This majority does not include week-day services, with the exception of
Good Friday and Christmas Day. Surely then. if cannot be justly pleaded
that the congregation of Moorside Church are over-taxed or burdened with
collections." Parish magazine, May, 1898.
Alms DishThe alms dish was presented to the Vicar by the members of the Girls' Sewing Society who had raised money through the sale of garments made from material supplied by the late (1892) John Mellodew, Esq., of Haven House. In 1926 four collecting bags were provided for choir use on the big occasions to use in place of the boxes. In December that year the Parochial Church Council resolved that the collections at 8 a.m. were to be devoted to the relief of the sick and the poor.
In 1914, in the March issue of the parish magazine, it was announced that the Free-Will Offering Scheme (F.W.O.) was started and would grow. In time it was hoped to have 200 members. The scheme was commended again in April when it was stated that the first charge on the fund was the Levy (money for the Diocese) though it was thought that if should do far more than that, and "should indeed become the treasury of the parish". In 1913 we read that the whole Diocese was assessed at £20,000, with Moorside parish at £29-6-10od. While the parish hoped to give more to outside objects, Moorside was at the bottom of the churches in Oldham giving to the Diocese. The Levy was designed and controlled by laymen with the object of putting the church finances of the Diocese on a more business-like footing (this scheme was partly evolved out of the Pan Anglican Congress of 1908).
Other Money Sources
On Saturday, 8th July, 1922, an attempt was made to lay a mile of
pennies from Moorside to Grains Bar. Alderman Dr. J. Low started from
Moorside Stores and F. H. M. Dunkerley from Grains Bar. Despite the
rain that affected the attendance, the sum of £72 was raised.
More attempts to run the F.W.O.
More attempts to run the F.W.O.
In 1922, in commemoration of the Jubilee of the Church, the Church
Council adopted a scheme which they designated "A Free-Will Offering in
Commemoration of the Jubilee of the Church" and, in 1928, the parish
magazine recorded "We have still a very happy memory of the magnanimous
response made to that appeal", for it was in this latter year that thoughts
on reviving the scheme were considered. The Gift Week-End
In 1951, in February, it was decided to give the F.W.O. "a try-out" and a scheme was adopted in July to begin in the following January. By April, 1952, there were 178 members.
The Gift Week-End
This scheme, held in the late autumn every year, was initiated on Saturday, 27th October, 1940, when the Vicar was in church in the afternoon to receive gifts from parishioners and friends.
The earliest of our Church Registers is the baptismal one; the first entry was made on the tenth of November, 1861, when Frances, daughter of William and Ann Mitton, of Park Terrace, was baptised at the age of four years six months by W. H. Chambers, Curate. The last entry in this first register, entry number 3093, is Louise Clare Barrass, and the first in the new baptismal register is Anthony Charles Dillon.
In the first full year of the register the number of baptisms totalled 50, and the annual average ranged between 20 and 30 until 1967 when there was a marked increase; in 1970 there were 88, in 1971, 108 baptisms.
The first entry in the earliest of the marriage registers was made on 7th August, 1872, by Thomas Holme, Vicar, when Asa Hardy of Alexandra Terrace married Amelia Mellodew of Parkfield House, with John Mellodew. William H. Crabtree and Frances Mellodew as witnesses.
The earliest banns book dates only from 1901, with a first entry of Evan Mayhew Jones. bachelor. of the Vicarage, Moorside, and Catherine Mary Griffiths, spinster, of Llanbelling, Carnarvonshire.
The first entry in the register of burials was in 1873 when James Brooks, of Sholver Lane, was buried on 4fh July at the age of 35 years. It is possible that there are burials pre-dating this time in the churchyard.
The registers of church services date from January, 1888, when a J. W. Brooker's signature appears (with a G. F. Holme on 5th February and 23rd September, 1838) until 1889 when it is replaced by Harry Higson. In November, 1890, the signature is E. Mayhew Jones, who was introduced in a service on the fourth and who read the articles on the ninth of that month.
Our churchyard has had a varying history of attention and neglect. In 1894 it was surveyed and mapped out, while trees were planted in it during the following year. We read in the parish magazine that the west end of the churchyard was drained, and a "most substantial wall has been built". This work was prompted when the west wall of the churchyard fell down the previous year; the whole repair work was completed by November, 1899. Six years earlier a wall between church and school yards had been erected.
In 1909 a mark of identification was required to be placed on graves. In 1912 we read that the churchyard is in a state of "utter neglect" and also of an appeal against the use of jam jars on graves. Jam jars are mentioned again in 1921, when it was requested that they be buried to the rim, the labels first being removed.
By 1914 it was reported that the churchyard showed a "wonderful improvement" and two years later there were flower beds and grass plots. It was during this year that an appeal was made for "lawn mower, tools and plants for the churchyard to make and keep it beautiful". A lawn mower was purchased for £2-5-6d., a pair of clippers for 7/6, and much necessary work carried out
Long grass and weeds have made difficult lasting care of the churchyard. In some years a neat effect has been achieved by dint of much hard work; in others the task has proved too great for the tools and energy at our disposal. It was hoped, during the centenary year, to re-arrange grave curb stones to allow the free passage of more efficient grass mowers. Once this work, which it was acknowledged would be lengthy and expensive, has been carried out, the churchyard should deserve the Anglo-Saxon title of God's Acre. To be seen at its best by parishioners and friends a church needs a pleasant harmonious surround; an attractive well kept churchyard will supply this requirement.
I have to thank Susan Mckenna, a regular churchgoer and governor at The Blue Coat School, Oldham who researched details of the members of the Moorside community, who fell in service during the First and Second World Wars and prepared the table below.
|John James Aldred||04/10/1918||32||Beaurevoir British Cemetery|
|Henry Seymour Allen||11/04/1918||25||Wimereux Communal Cemetery|
|Benjamin Seymour Allen||21/03/1918||20||Arras Memorial Cemetery|
|Albert Bannister||03/05/1917||32||Brown's Copse Cemetery|
|Ben Bracewell||10/08/1918||19||Chauny Communal Cemetery|
|Alfred Buckley||31/12/1914||35||St. Thomas' Moorside|
|John Buckley||09/11/1917||25||Tyne Cot Memorial Cemetery, Zonnebeke|
|John Frederick Carswell||22/04/1918||22||Philosophe British Cemetery|
|Frank Nelson Collier||10/08/1895||21||Helles Memorial|
|William Henry Fisher||?02/10/1917||20||Birr Cross Roads Cemetery, Leper|
|Joe Garret||02/09/1918||25||Bancourt British Cemetery|
|John Davies Garrett|
|John Willie Hall||21/03/1918||29||Pozieres Memorial Cemetery|
|John Hallas||10/04/1917||35||Arras Memorial Cemetery|
|Harry Hampson||17/06/1919||31||St Thomas' Moorside|
|Joseph B Hampson||24/10/1917||22||Perth Cemetery(China Wall)|
|Benton Holroyd||?29/09/1918||Unknown||Tyne Cot Memorial Cemetery, Zonnebeke|
|Thomas Kershaw||?24/06/1917||23||Chadderton Cemetery|
|Thomas Edmonson Kershaw||24/10/1918||21||Terlincthun British Cemetery|
|Harry Lees||?23/02/1917||32||Thiepval Memorial Cemetery|
|James Mellodew||27/01/1916||28||Cambrin Churchyard Extension|
|Albert Ogden||30/04/1918||36||Bagneux British Cemetery|
|Herbert Roebuck||?28/03/1918||Unknown||Arras Memorial Cemetery|
|Harry Rostron||09/04/1917||23||Bailleul Road East Cemetery|
|Norris Schofield||22/03/1918||19||Arras Memorial Cemetery|
|George Scott||?29/10/1914||31||Le Touret Cemetery|
|Fred Shaw||04/11/1918||32||Engelfontaine British Cemetery|
|Albert Sucksmith||19/08/1917||22||Favreuil British Cemetery|
|Alfred Walton||25/03/1918||37||Arras Memorial Cemetery|
|Harry Hooley Bick|
|Arnold Chadwick||05/03/1943||25||Enfidaville War Cemetery|
|Ernest Finney||?04/10/1944||24||Padua War Cemetery|
|Harold Kenyon||27/03/1943||36||Medjez-El-Bab Memorial(Tunisia)|
|Asa Watson||30/11/1942||23||St Thomas' Moorside|