St Mark’s Church is an active Anglican parish church in Worsley, Greater Manchester. The parish, taken out of the ancient parish of Eccles in 1863, is smaller than the Worsley township. It included Worsley village and its old and new hallsWorsley's third manor house, New Hall was built in 1846 to designs by Edward Blore for Francis Egerton, 1st Earl of Ellesmere. , Roe Green and Wardley Hall, Ellenbrook and its chapel and Boothstown. The church is part of a team ministry with St Mary’s in Ellenbrook and St Andrew in Boothstown. The church is in the Eccles deanery, the archdeaconry of Salford and the diocese of Manchester. The church was granted Grade I Listed status in 1966.
The church was designed by George Gilbert Scott for the Earl of Ellesmere who paid for it to be built and whose memorial is inside the Ellesmere Chapel. Its tall spire is a local landmark and its clock strikes thirteen at 1 o’clock after a device from the Bridgewater estate yard in Worsley village was moved to the church in 1946.
The church’s founding is bound up with the emergence of Worsley as a cradle of the Industrial Revolution at the hands of the Egerton family. The Earl of Ellesmere, heir of the Duke of Bridgewater who built the Bridgewater Canal, commissioned George Gilbert Scott to design the church which was built between 1844 and 1846 and cost £20,000. Lord Egerton’s eldest son, George, laid the foundation stone on 15 June 1844, his 21st birthday. Specimen coins were placed in a cavity in the stone. The church was consecrated on 2 July 1846 by the Bishop of Chester.
The site chosen for the church was the prominent 10-acre site once known as Cross Field on Worsley Brow. The field was named from a traveller’s cross at the junction of the Leigh and Walkden roads.The extensive churchyard is bounded by stone walls with lych gates on the west and south sides, the M60 motorway passes to the east, and woodland on the north. The church spire is a landmark for many drivers who pass it on the motorway that bisects the parish.
The church is constructed from hard snecked sandstone with roofs in slate from the Delabole quarries in Cornwall. Much of the hidden leadwork has been replaced with stainless steel. The church plan is of a five-bay naveCentral part of a church, used by the laiety., a chancel, north and south aisles and a west tower. The base of the west tower forms the west porch. The tower has richly carved corner pinnacles with flying buttresses to the spire and numerous carved gargoyles. The spire rises to 185 feet.
Inside, the nave has an oak hammer-beam roofA timber roof truss is a structural framework of timbers designed to bridge the space above a room and to provide support for a roof. and the chancel is flanked by the vestry and organ chamber on the north side and the Ellesmere Chapel on the south. The north aisle was added in 1852 and shortly after that the Ellesmere Chapel was altered by the addition of a family vault below and extended to the east. The chapel was re-ordered in the 1920s.
Fittings and furniture
The ring of bells was increased to 10 in 1934. The church clock strikes thirteen at 1 o’clock by means of a device invented by the Duke of Bridgewater to prevent his workforce returning late from their lunch hour. The device was transferred from the estate yard to the church in 1946.
When built, the church had sittings for 800 people of which 200 were free. The fittings are of the highest quality and include the original oak pews, a pulpit fashioned by Scott from carved panels acquired on his travels, a richly decorated limestone font and the tomb of Francis Egerton and brasses and memorials to later members of the family in the Ellesmere Chapel. Twelve windows depicting saints were acquired by Scott from France, Belgium or Italy, two others were made by the studios of Edward Burne-Jones and the aisle windows are Powell’s cast glass.
Additions were made in the 1880s including an ornate Italian marble and mosaic reredosA large ornamented wall, screen, or other structure placed behind the altar in a Christian church., paving in the choir and sanctuary, carved choir stalls by R. Knill Freeman. A vestry was added when choral services were introduced. In 1894 a lectern designed by John Douglas was installed.
The church was one of the earliest of 470 churches designed by George Gilbert Scott who, according to his grandson, Giles Gilbert Scott, regarded it as one of his most successful and purest essays in the geometrical Decorated Gothic style of the late-13th and early-14th century. It was granted Grade I Listed status in 1966.