Derbyshire Places of Worship

St Thomas's Church, Mellor (36k) Above Photograph(s)
Copyright of Andrew McCann
St Thomas's Church, Mellor
St Thomas's Church (link to Church's website)
Church Road, SK6 5LX,
Mellor, Derbyshire.

Cemeteries

This Church has (or had) a graveyard.

Note: any church within an urban environment may have had its graveyard closed after the Burial Act of 1853. Any new church built after that is unlikely to have had a graveyard at all.

Church History

This Place of Worship was founded after 1135, and we understand it is still open.

Kelly's Directory of 1932 describes Mellor as "a township, chapelry and parish, divided from Cheshire by the river Goyt, 2 miles east from Marple station on the Ambergate and Manchester section of the London, Midland and Scottish railway, 8 south-south-west from Glossop, 7 north-east from Stockport, and 9 west from Chapel-en-le-Frith". It was said to include places named Greenhill and The Banks, the township of Ludworth - a parish in the rural district of Glossop, and forming part of the ecclesiastical parish of Mellor, Comstall Road - a place in this township, consisting of one long street, and Marple Bridge - a place in this township, built on the east bank of the river Goyt".

St Thomas's Church is described as a building of stone in the Perpendicular style, consisting of chancel, nave, south porch and a western embattled tower with pinnacles containing a clock and two bells. The living was described as a vicarage in the gift of the Bishop of Derby, held since 1923 by the Rev. Cecil John Snowden B.A. of Caius College, Cambridge.

Thus, in 1932, Mellor was a separate parish. There are conflicting statements as to when it achieved this status. It was originally a chapelry of Glossop, which Derbyshire Record Office's catalogue of Church of England Registers says became a separate parish in 1859. Other sources say it became separate in 1737, but this cannot be so, because at the time of the Religious Census of 1851 (HO 129/457/2/6/10), "St Thomas Established Church" was described as a perpetual curacy [in the] parish of Glossop, Derbyshire. The average attendance to Sunday morning services was 40 to 60, and in the evenings, 2 to 400 (200-400?), with 216 Sunday Scholars. The return was completed by Mathw. Freeman, Perpetual Curate, of "Mellor, Stockport". He remarked that "Church on a hill distant from the general Congregation and Sunday School. The roads in Winter almost impassable. Many of the Congregation 2 miles from the Church". Incidentally, none of the 658 sittings ("Children's Gallery excluded") were "free".

We are also told the date of consecration - in the Reign of King Stephen". So Samuel Lewis, in his Topographical Dictionary of 1831, is correct when he makes reference to a chapel that is very ancient. The pulpit, he says, is carved out of an old oak-tree, and the font also rudely carved. Kelly adds to this information saying the pulpit is inscribed with the letters A.X. 1,320, and the font is Late Saxon or Early Norman. It also mentions the altar, which is also of oak, and "richly decorated".

The British Listed Buildings website is less equivocal, stating the "drum-shaped font with crude carvings of a man on horseback" is Anglo-Saxon, and the pulpit "carved out of a single piece of oak [with] traceried panels" is early 14thC, but restored in the 19thC. [An article on Wikipedia suggests it is "the oldest known wooden pulpit in Britain, possibly the world"]

Mellor is to be found under Stockport on the Listed Building website, as befitting its present-day status. It lost its [civil] parochial status in 1936, when, together with Ludworth, it was annexed to Marple, and transferred to the county of Cheshire. Marple was then a chapelry of Stockport, which in 1974 became part of Greater Manchester.

This might suggest that ecclesiastically Mellor followed suit, but it appears that it was not transferred to the Diocese of Chester until 2006.

Did it therefore remain in the Diocese of Derby until then? Certainly, the only separate parish registers appear to be those held at the Derbyshire Record Office, covering baptisms 1628-1890; marriages 1627-1775; and burials 1624-1909, and to try Glossop for marriages after 1775. This latter anomaly is explained in the register by "M. Olerenshaw, Minister", in 1811. He states that his immediate predecessor [a Mr. Hadfield] "continued to celebrate Marriages here long after Ye Marriage Act was in force, ye greatest part of which Marriages were never entered in the Register". He addresses his predecessor's omission by listing the contents of "Certificates of Banns and on Licences" from "ye Minister's Chest in ye Vestry". The first of these is dated 19 Sep 1752, the last - the Marriage of the Revd. Jos. Waterhouse & Mary Fern - 10 Jan 1775.

Phillimore's introduction to their transcription of Marriages, 1678-1775 (from which the above is quoted) adds a little twist to this tale. They suggest that as Mellor, not having full parochial status, failed to qualify under Hardwicke's Marriage Act as a place Marriages were permitted to take place, "it follows that.. the Weddings here from 1754 to 1775 or thereabouts are invalid"!

Denomination

Now or formerly Church of England.

If more than one congregation has worshipped here, or its congregation has united with others, in most cases this will record its original dedication.

Maps

This Church is located at OS grid reference SJ9818688901. You can see this on various mapping systems. Note all links open in a new window:

Reference

  • Places recorded by the Registrar General under the provisions of the Places of Worship Registration Act 1855 (2010) is available as a "Freedom of Information" document from the website What Do They Know.
Last updated on 28 Jul 2016 at 09:21.

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This Report was created 23 May 2017 - 21:43:40 BST from information held in the Derbyshire section of the Places of Worship Database. This was last updated on 27 Aug 2016 at 10:57.

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