Church of Saint Benedict & Presbytery
109 Market Street, Hindley
Part of Group:
At Risk: No
s The Buildings of England says, ‘of no great…architectural interest outside, it is surprising and original inside’. An interesting small church designed Joseph Hansom, one of the more original Catholic architects of the nineteenth century, with additions and refurbishment by F. X. Velarde, another original designer of national status.
Hindley was a colliery and cotton town in the nineteenth century when the community saw a massive expansion. The mission was founded by the Benedictines and served by them until 1954. The Lady Chapel was built in that year to commemorate their association with Hindley.
On plan the church comprises a wide nave with narrow aisles, an apsidal sanctuary, and a small southeast chapel. The church and its attached presbytery are faced with squared coursed blocks of quarry-faced yellow sandstone, with banding and window dressings of red sandstone. The steeply-pitched roof is covered in Welsh slate. Tall western gable with a small projecting central porch flanked by two blind pointed windows each side; above the porch are two two-light windows and above them again a single quatrefoil rose window. All these are set under a blind pointed relieving arch. Raked toothings on either side of the arch and the blocked openings at ground floor level suggest that the original design for the west end may have been different from the present layout. The side walls of the nave and aisle are six bays long, divided at clerestorey by thin pilaster strips which die into the sloping aisle roofs. The aisles have pairs of trefoiled windows, and the clerestorey has pairs of traceried spherical triangle windows. The same form of window is used at high level in the apsidal sanctuary. Attached to the southeast corner of the nave is a brick-built Lady Chapel with a cylindrical east end under a conical slate roof.
The interior makes a powerful first impression, chiefly because of the closely-spaced brick arcades with pointed arches; two internal arches corresponding to one external bay. Thin single columns rise on the nave side of the arcade piers to support the principals of the timber boat roof. At the west end of the nave is a timber organ gallery. At the east end the wall-shafting is continued round the apse. The Lady Chapel added by Velarde in 1954 is a small circular room connected to the nave by a rectangular vestibule. The Lady altar and some of Velarde’s other chapel fitting survive. Velarde was presumably also responsible for the hanging rood and altar canopy in the sanctuary, the re-glazing of the windows with opaque and blue glass and perhaps for the patterned floor.
Source: Taking Stock