St Thomas, Werneth

Heritage

Stained Glass

Significance (by Diana Terry)

The stained glass in St. Thomas’s Church is remarkable and its significance is underestimated. The church itself has a full page listing in the recent Buildings of England, Pevsner Guides, series compared to other suburban churches which usually warrant two sentences. It is part of a planned development on the crown of a hill and many of its costs were defrayed by local industrialists, Platts and Radclyffes. The former were responsible for manufacturing and exporting cotton spinning machinery to the world.

There are stained glass windows that are examples of the large studios of Capronnier, from Brussels and Mayer & Co. from Munich. These firms are represented in many churches in Lancashire and Yorkshire as it seems the commissioning agents liked the display of technical skill shown in the painting and manufacturing of the window. There is in St. Thomas’s a Heaton Butler and Bayne window of 1910 who were very successful commercially especially in USA.

More significantly for St. Thomas’s is the work by smaller companies shown in south and west walls. As part of my research for an MPhil from the University of Manchester I was able to discover some of the artists making windows in the North West of England. They were heavily influenced by Walter Crane who was Director of the newly formed School of Art in Manchester. He was a very important figure in the Arts and Crafts movement nationally. The style of glass and painting they advocated was less formal and rigidly medieval than the previous generation who were more influenced by Pugin and the anglo catholic movement. They also preferred to use hand made glass rather than machine made which was available from c1880 onwards.

In St Thomas’s church there are four windows by Henry Gustav Hillier who was born in Moss Side, Manchester. He worked with Reuben Bennett and studied under Walter Crane before setting up his own very successful studio in Seel Street, Liverpool where he stayed working on his own for thirty six years. His great interest in natural history producing many watercolours now in Liverpool Museum. Unfortunately I have little information on the manufacturers used; G.E.R. Smith, Nicolson who worked together in the same studio. A.G.Moore has proven very elusive. Given time I hope to rectify this situation.

In The Buildings of England series Lancashire: Manchester and the South East it also notes how some of the windows are badly faded. However the examples mentioned here are rare and remarkable windows demonstrating the wealth of Oldham and the inhabitants of Werneth in the hundred years from its inauguration to the date of the last stained glass window being installed,1855-1958.

References:

Hartwell, Hyde and Pevsner. The Buildings of England; Lancashire South, Penguin Books Ltd. Y.U.P. 2004

Armstrong, Barrie and Wendy. The Arts and Crafts Movement in the North West of England. Oblong 2006

Cormack, Peter. Arts and Crafts Stained Glass Y.U.P. 2015

Excerpt from British Listed Buildings entry

STAINED GLASS in Renaissance style in north and south chapel windows, possibly by the same artist, 1880-1895. Both are memorials to Radcliffe family of Werneth Park. Stained glass in main west window, c1874. East window by Capronnier, 1883. Medieval style, but faded colours and inscription now illegible. North aisle windows by AG Moore of Liverpool, c1930 and 1958, and G.E.R. Smith of London. Stained glass in south aisle by Gustave Hiller of Liverpool, a series dated between 1907 and 1930, and by Heaton Butler and Bayne, 1910. Armorial glass in chancel north and south windows.

(Information retrieved from the church entry at British Listed Buildings) and re-ordered.

War Memorials

St. Thomas' has two War Memorials within the church itself. Manchester and Lancashire FLS has some photographs and a list of names at their entry for the War Memorial.

First World War Memorial

This consists for oak boards with a list of names, encasing a painting.

You can find details of this memorial at the Imperial War Museum Register of War Memorials.

Oldham Historical Research Group has an entry for this memorial, with names and biographical information about those whose names are recorded on the memorial.

Second World War Memorial

This consists of a dedicated chapel in the North Transept, with names on a wooden panel.

You can find details of this memorial at the Imperial War Museum Register of War Memorials.

Diary
The Angels at St. Thomas'