The text of the Centenary Booklet (1956)It is not easy for us to visualise Sale as a small village with a few country lanes and no parish church, but such was the picture in the mid nineteenth century. Sale and Ashton were one parish, and St Martin’s the Parish Church. It was soon found, however, that St Martin's was not large enough for the population of Ashton and Sale, and nothing would satisfy but that Sale should have a Parish Church. A portion of ground, about half an acre in size, just off Northenden Road in the estate of Samuel Brooks, Esq. of Manchester was chosen, and the building of a Church was commenced. So the foundations of what later generations were to love as St Anne's, Sale were laid.
The original building was designed by William Hayley and the builder was Robert Neill. The Church was cruciform in shape with a sanctuary, chancel, nave, gallery (at the west end), tower over the main door and porch (in the north west corner) and an octagonal spire. There was also a north porch with a door leading into the north transept. The Church was Gothic and Early English in style and contained many figure heads carved in the stonework around the tower and windows.
The original building was completed in the year 1854 at the cost of £2,540. In addition, £1,920 was spent on the furnishings and £154 in architect’s fees, etc. bringing the total to £4,614. This sum was contributed voluntarily by four hundred subscribers.
The Church was open for Divine Service on 17 July, 1854 but as the preliminaries for Consecration were not complete it was licensed for worship for twelve months only. This license was renewed on 30 June, 1855 and again on 4 July, 1856. A Deed of Endowment was drawn up and signed on 31 December, 1855 by which the Incumbent should receive as stipend money from Chief Rents to the annual value of £40-1-0d. and about £300 from Pew Rents. A Chief Rent was also set aside bringing in an annual amount of £8-6-0d. for the repair of the fabric of the Church. The Declaration of Patronage was drawn up and signed on 30 September, 1856. The Consecration took place on 7 November, 1856 by the Right Revd. John Graham, Lord Bishop of Chester. The Revd. Jonathan Johnson Cort, who had been licensed as the Stipendary Curate since the opening of the Church for Divine Worship was Instituted and Inducted as the new Vicar. The new Church was to have 233 free sittings with a free pew for the Minister and family and £345-2-0d. was to be raised from the letting of the remainder of the pews, out of which sum no more than £50 per annum could be taken for the payment of the Parish Clerk or other expenses. The new district was assigned and Sale was at last a Parish of its own and St Anne’s the proud Parish Church.
The original parish extended along what we know as Cross Street/Washway Road to the west, the River Mersey to the north, Timperley to the south and Northenden to the east. Although this area was much larger than the present Parish the population was only in the region of 2,000, in contrast to today’s population of 19,600 (1991 Census). Northenden Road was but a country lane, St Anne's surrounded by cornfields and the Revd. J.J. Cort a familiar figure on his little black pony.
In those days many of the wealthy parishioners came to Church on Sundays in their horse drawn carriages with their elegant footmen in attendance - a truly Victorian scene and possibly one of the reasons for the roadway encircling the Church.
The first baptism took place on 11 February, 1857 and was that of the son of the Revd. J.J. and Sarah Cort, who was destined to become St Anne's second Vicar. The first marriage ceremony was solemnised between Ernest Bates, bachelor, of Old Trafford and Ellen Eccles Shorrocks, spinster, of Ashton-on-Mersey.
It was soon found that the new Church was not large enough to seat the people who came to worship on Sundays, so a Faculty was granted in 1861 for the enlargement of the Chancel to its present state. Five years later in 1863 the south aisle was added, and the gallery extended over it, the Font was removed from the centre at the west end across to the new aisle and a door made in the west wall of that aisle.
The Vicar and congregation were not only conscious of the need for providing facilities for Worship, but also of the necessity of providing facilities for the education of children. So, in 1862, land was purchased near the Church for the building of a School, and later in 1893 more land was bought and another building erected.
The neighbourhood of Sale and district increased in population and in 1868 a portion of St Anne’s and Timperley was made into a Particular District, which later became the Parish of St John the Divine, Baguley. Further parochial alterations were brought about when, in 1881, Cambridge School was licensed for services, to be known as St Paul’s Mission. In 1884 a district was assigned to St Paul’s when it became a separate parish. These territorial alterations to the Parish left it as the area we know today, with the canal being the boundary between St Paul’s and St Anne’s.
In 1882 John Patchett Cort, BA, was appointed Assistant Curate and served with his father until the death of the latter in 1884. The death of the Vicar was felt very keenly by his parishioners. He had seen the House of God in Sale grow stone upon stone to completion and then enlarged to cope with the need of an ever increasing number of worshippers. His mantle, fortunately for Sale, fell upon John Patchett, who was Instituted and Inducted Vicar the same year. He also proved to be a very popular man throughout the district. This was manifest by further enlargements to the Church, for which a faculty was granted in 1886. This included a new north aisle, organ chamber, choir vestry, west porch and new font. The doorway was bricked upon the south aisle, the seats in the chancel rearranged, a new pulpit and prayer desks added, together with other alterations to the seating for the congregation. The appreciation of the new Vicar can be seen from a report which appeared in St Paul's magazine, from which we quote:
“Re-opening of St. Anne's Church, Sale This event took place on Wednesday, June 29th. The church had recently been undergoing alterations, repairs and extensions to meet the spiritual needs of the growing population. The present popular Vicar has surrounded himself with an earnest band of church workers such as is seldom found in any parish, and with a congregation ready and willing to respond to his calls for support in his parochial work. In these times of depression it is no easy matter to raise funds for even ordinary church institutions, not to speak of building or extending church fabrics. To the worshippers of St. Anne’s, therefore, all the more credit is due, and is of itself a testimony to the high esteem the church is held in the parish.”
The arrangement of the seating in the Chancel and body of the Church was very much different from that which it is today. There was a box pew in the corner where is now the choir vestry door, and box pews in the transept, with several benches as seats in the chancel. The organ was originally at the west end of the Church with the choir in a gallery, now dismantled. Messrs Gray and Davison of London built the organ, which cost £262 with a further £147 for erection. It was later removed to the new organ chamber on the south side of the Chancel - now the Clergy Vestry- with the choir sitting in the newly arranged seats on either side. The second instrument, costing approximately £1,000 was built by Harrison and Harrison of Durham and was considered the finest instrument in the district, having three manuals and forty stops.
The Church could now seat 820 people and was filled to capacity with pews, even in the Chancel. Some of the pews near the back of the Church were rather too narrow for kneeling and sitting in comfort. This remains the case today! The Church, however, was filled with worshippers and there was always a long waiting list for seat-holders. The Vicarate of Revd JP Cort continued until 1917, when on 29th April he was found dead in his chair one Sunday after lunch. Thus came to an end a great era in the life of St Anne’s – ‘the age of the Corts’, father and son, over a period of 63 years. They were both spoken of with respect and admiration, and gave a true foundation on which to build for the future.
Strange as it may seem to us today, there was no parsonage house for the parish priest and he lived in his own private house in Clarendon Road. The former Vicarage (on the site of what is now St Anne’s Court) was purchased in 1905 at a cost of £1,500 and immediately became the residence of the Vicar and his family.
The Revd NV Scorer MA, the next Vicar, had no easy task in following the Corts. He was by nature very different from the Revd "John Patchett", as the last Vicar was popularly called; being more of the "Puritan" type, deeply concerned for the salvation of souls, very quiet in manner, but definite in his views on churchmanship (having formerly served in Persia as a Missionary). It was during his Vicarate in 1920 that the granite cross in the churchyard was unveiled by Bishop Paget to the memory of the men who gave their lives in the 1914-1918 Great War. The cost of the memorial was £300 and the money raised by public subscription. In 1934 the British Legion asked that a further memorial should be erected in the nature of a “wooden cross taken from the grave of an unknown British soldier in Flanders”. This was duly placed over the doorway on the east wall of the Chancel (the Wardens' Vestry) and this started a long association with the British Legion; who for many years held an annual service of re-commemoration on Palm Sunday afternoon, when the words “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old ... at the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them” were said by all.
Towards the end of 1924 the Revd Scorer resigned to take up the living of St Stephen's, Clapham, London. The Revd Hugh Archibald James was instituted and inducted on 11 April, 1925. He had formerly served as Chaplain to HMS Conway. Here was another change of personality; a great sportsman, active and quick in movement, much wider in his views on churchmanship and more tolerant. No Vicar can please everyone, especially those who have a high regard for a former Vicar, and it was early in his Vicarate that a few people left St Anne's to form the Evangelical Church of Sale. Mr James resigned the living in 1931 to go to Hartfield in Sussex, where later he died.
In 1931, the Revd Henry Alexander Wahltuch LTh, was appointed Vicar. He was a very kind and sensitive man, greatly loved. His early death in 1946 brought a very sincere ministry to an end. His ashes were interred near the font in the Church (near the current “Children’s Corner”) and the Processional Cross was given by the Parishioners to his memory. It was during his term of office, in 1934, that the Revd Sidney Burroughs Warburton became an Assistant Curate. Later, in 1937 he was to be instituted and inducted to the living.
The next eighteen years were to hold much in store in the matter of building repairs and demands on the parishioners. The previous seventy years had passed for little demand for repairs or replacements, but this was certainly to be made up in full measure in the years that were to follow.
Between 1937 and 1956 there were nineteen major repairs to the fabric due to dry rot and building defects. The balustrade around the tower had become unsafe and, therefore, had to be rebuilt with a different design. In 1940 the archway over the pipe organ was attacked on both sides by dry rot and it was largely due to these fabric repairs that the organ sustained great damage, which resulted in the purchase of a new electronic organ in the centenary year (1956). The Vicar, throughout these years, tackled these matters in a very practical manner, effectively acting as clerk-of-works and sometimes even drawing up the designs for the alterations, thus saving the Parish a great deal of money.
During the 1939-1945 War, black-out curtains were fitted to the windows so that the services could be continued at the normal hours. For those who did not care to go out at night an afternoon service was arranged. It was during an air raid around Christmas 1944 that the Church was hit by an incendiary bomb, which came through the slates over the transept and lodged on the rafters. It quickly burnt itself out before anyone, including the Vicar, who was fire watching at the time, knew that the Church had been hit. It was not until two days afterwards, when he was examining the slates on the roof of the Church, that he found the hole made by the bomb and later retrieved what was left, namely the winged tail.
Mention should be made of the courage and faith of the congregation who, throughout the War, kept up their attendance at the Services, and on one evening continued their Worship whilst bombs were falling a few miles away. It was thought by some that the shrapnel of the anti-aircraft batteries had damaged the leadwork on the roof of the Church, thus causing dampness and the consequent attacks of dry rot.
During these years attention was also given to the interior of the Church. A new Brass Cross was given for the Altar and in 1940 one of the Parishioners presented the Church with a set of Candlesticks and, although many of the older members of the congregation thought this was a great innovation at St Anne's, they considered that the candles might help in greater reverence and worship at the Church. A faculty was obtained in 1951 for the removal of the reredos and the introduction of a red dorsal curtain along the east wall of the Sanctuary, behi9nd the Altar. The side aisles were continued through to the transept aisle and permission was given to widen the aisle immediately in front of the Chancel step, to bring the front pews in the transept in line with the Clergy Stalls.
In 1944 a change took place to the Patronage of the Living of the Parish. In the original Trust Deed the choice of a new Incumbent was in the hands of five Trustees. However, in 1944, due to the death of three the remaining two asked that a new trustee be appointed. It was then decided, at a parish Meeting, that the patronage should be transferred to the Diocesan Board of Patronage, where it remains to this day.
In 1955, during a building repair, a fire started the roof of the gallery near the tower. The roof had started to smoulder after the workmen had left and had it not been for choir practice that night, when the quick eyes of two choir boys detected the fire, much damage may have resulted. A small section of the roof was damaged, but in putting out the fire the gallery was saturated with water. It was feared that another major attack of dry rot would develop in the gallery as a result of all the dampness, so the Insurers agreed to pay for the removal of the gallery, to which the members of the Church heartily agreed. This resulted in a great improvement both in the appearance and atmosphere, most notably when entering the Church from the Porch. The many stained glass windows made the interior rather dark, so that artificial lighting was necessary or all services. The west window now gave unrestricted light to the Church, which was a great improvement.
It was decided at the Annual Church meeting in the Centenary Year, 1956, to discontinue the practice of Pew Rents, thus making all seats in the Church free. This was made possible by the increase of the Endowment Fund. In 1937 the income from investments had brought in an annual sum of £95, plus £40-1-0d from the chief rents. In 1956 this income stood at £305-9-8d per annum.
Any record of the first one hundred years would be incomplete without the mention of the Warrington family. James Warrington Snr was appointed Parish Clerk about the year 1885 and died after almost forty year’s service. He was followed by his son John Mark Warrington who died in 1953 after twenty eight year’s service. Mrs Snape, his sister, was the Church Cleaner for thirty seven years, and had to give up because of failing health in 1953. They loved the Church of St Anne’s and were a vital part of its life and ministry, as a typical remark of “Old James” reveals “Me a Mester Cort married ... so and so” or “Baptised, or buried”. The Corts and the Warringtons apparently were the Church at St Anne’s.
So with a new organ and free seating the Church of St Anne’s completed the first century of its life renovated and brightened, after a difficult chapter of building repairs, still ready and willing to serve the people of Sale in offering of their worship to Almighty God.