History of St Mary's

 A History of St.Mary’s Church Hollingworth.


St.Mary's Church was built in 1864. Before that time the people of Hollingworth had to travel to Christ Church, Tintwistle, for services. During the incumbency of the Rev J. A. Page it was decided to build a church in Hollingworth, where there were already two Methodist churches. Due largely to the work of his wife Mrs Catherine Mary Page, the necessary money was collected from villagers at a rate of a shilling a week. This earned the church the nickname of ‘the shilling church’. Mrs. Page raised £1,500 of the necessary £1,750. The first sod was cut by Miss Matilda Langwith in 1863 on a site given by J. Taylor, Esq., of Booth Hall Manchester. The foundation stone was laid by W. Sidebottom, Esq., J.P. and the building was completed within a year. It opened for divine service on May 26th 1864. Apparently, for the first five years, only Evening Prayer was held, for there was a petition in 1869 to the vicar for regular Morning services.


At first, Hollingworth was looked after entirely by the clergy of Tintwistle, but eventually a curate-in-charge was appointed, who lived in the village. The Misses Langwith willed to the parish their house in Green Lane, which they had run as a school for the young ladies of Longdendale, to be used as a Parsonage, and eventually as Hollingworth Vicarage.


In 1865 an organ for the church was bought from Wadsworth & Son for the sum of £205. It is understood that this was located in the area of the building originally used as a Vestry, on the south side of the chancel, where the organ is now. A new Vestry was constructed on the north side of the chancel. In 1915 either the original organ was rebuilt or it was extended by the original builders. This was gifted to St Mary’s by George Rhodes, Esq. in memory of his wife Margaret at a cost of £515. It would appear from a plaque on the organ that further work was undertaken to the organ and completed by 1926 with the addition of a fan blower.


By 1893 definite steps were being taken to form an Endowment Fund envisaging Hollingworth as a separate parish. In that year the first great Bazaar was held which raised more than £1,000 - a prodigious amount of money for those days. In spite of this flying start it was not until 1922 that Hollingworth became a separate parish, as there was unforeseen difficulty about the patronage. It was in January, 1920 that the great appeal for the necessary £1,000 was made by Rev. H. H. Anton Stephens. The people responded generously and the way was now clear.


St. Mary's was consecrated as the Parish Church of Hollingworth on January 13th, 1922 by the Rt. Rev. H. L. Paget, Bishop of Chester.


A Sunday School in a separate building was added in 1885 by the generosity of Miss Lucy H. Sidebottom. This building played an important part in the village life of Hollingworth since it was used as a school before the present council school was built in the village in 1909.


In more recent times, like so many other churches, St Mary’s experienced financial difficulties. In the mid -eighties, the PCC took the decision to sell off the Sunday School building as the upkeep of this together with the church building had become an impossible burden. (The former Sunday School building was demolished by its owners in 2005 to make way for a future development.) The funds raised by the sale, were used to reorder the church building so that it could be used for other purposes than the weekly Services. A kitchen and toilet were constructed at the back of the building and, as the floor of the church was rotting, the pews were replaced with upholstered chairs and the rot was dealt with. The inspiration of Catherine Page resulted in a savings scheme of £1 per week being used to raise funds. By this scheme the members of the congregation and friends of the church 'saved up’ to buy the chairs. The church Nave was divided into two halves by moveable wooden screens, so that a meeting room at the back of church (west end) was created whilst a worship area at the front (east end) was maintained.


In 1996, after the death of the Rev Eric Pratt who was the incumbent of St. Mary's, moves were begun to unite the parish of Hollingworth with the parish of Tintwistle. This new benefice was formally created in 2000 with the Rev Rob Watts as the Vicar.


In 2001 St Mary’s received a bequest from a previous Vicar of Hollingworth, the Rev J. F. Mair. This was used to erect a wood and glass partition as a permanent fixture replacing the moveable screens that divided the Nave into two. The worship area was now completely separated from the community room at the back although the partition has the facility to be opened when there are large congregations. Significant work has also been undertaken to make the building comply with the recent disability legislation. Disabled toilet facilities have been provided, a hearing loop has been incorporated the lighting has been improved and measures taken to improve the access for people with disabilities.


In 2006/2007 the organ in the church was rebuilt and extended with substantial financial support from Mr Gordon Hardman. The rebuilt and extended organ was dedicated by The Archdeacon of Macclesfield the Venerable Richard Gillings on Saturday 13th October 2007 at a Service which included an organ recital by Mr Gordon Stewart.

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