© The parish of St Mary and St Paul
The Catholic Parish of St Mary and St Paul
A brief history of St Mary’s parish
St Mary’s parish can be traced to a private oratory dating back to the Middle Ages. At it's foundation in 1825 it became the Mother Church of the area.
In the early nineteenth Century-
In November 1825 the new Chapel in Astley street, dedicated to the patronage of the Blessed Virgin, was solemnly dedicated and opened. A contemporary of the time described it as "a neat Chapel of the Grecian style" The first Church was later to be known as the Mother Church since from it many daughter parishes sprang. St Peter's Stalybridge (1839) St Paul's Hyde(1848) St Anne's Ashton (1859) St Mary's Ashton (1870) all sprang from St Mary's Dukinfield.
At this time in our history, living conditions for the average person were very difficult, in fact living itself was a very precarious business. Incredible as it may seem to us now, 75% of the population died before reaching the age of 12. Typhus fever struck regularly and relentlessly and in 1836, Father Fisher, the first Parish Priest of Dukinfield, died of the fever which he had contracted whilst attending parishioners who were dying from the same disease. The staple diet of the average person at this time consisted of oatmeal porridge, potatoes, boiled rice and skimmed milk. The repeated failure of the potato crops in Ireland resulted in many Irish immigrants coming to England, where they thought they would be able to eke out a better existence.
By the middle of the 1830's, the Catholic population in the area had reached 13,000 and there were 300 children attending the Sunday School. In 1847, disaster struck the flourishing parish when it was discovered that the Church had been built over a coal mine and it was in danger of collapsing. This was a great blow to the Catholics in the area and for the next ten years the Mass and the Sacraments were celebrated in a most unlikely place -
Important developments for the Catholic Church in England were taking place around this time. The Catholic Hierarchy was restored in 1850, permission was given to re-
In 1854 the foundations for a new church, school and presbytery were laid. Great care was taken in the selection of the site to avoid the possibility of problems at a later date and a plot of land in Zetland Street was chosen. The present Church and Presbytery were completed in 1856 and Bishop Brown visited the parish in that year.
The introduction of the Education Act of 1870 entitled all children to a free education and St Mary's Parish immediately set to work to offer this right to its own children. In 1872 St May's School was opened with an initial roll of 55 pupils. One year later, the number had increased to 120 and the school was then formally recognised by the Education Authorities.
The Church and School continued to flourish and in 1897 when Bishop Carroll, the third Bishop of Shrewsbury died, he had requested that he be buried in Dukinfield Cemetery.
Fifty years after its opening St Mary's Church was decorated at a cost of nearly £200 and at the same time a beautiful set of Stations of the Cross was erected, having been presented to the parish by a local Catholic family. In 1913 the school was enlarged at a cost of £1,200 and in 1917 ten of the Church windows were blown out by and explosion of T.N.T. and were replaced the following year at a cost of £90. In 1924-
St Mary's School ceased to be an all age-
The interior of the Church was greatly altered in 1975 when the pulpit and the altar rails were removed and the sanctuary floor level raised to enable every person in the Church to have a better view of the altar. Parts of the altar rails were skillfully reconstructed into two lecterns, one on each side of the altar.
In 2002 the Church was completely renovated, modernised and redecorated, the entrance to the Church was improved to allow easier access for disabled people and a loop system to help people with hearing aids, was installed. The heating system in the Church was completely replaced and a new meeting room was constructed. The effects of the beautiful redecoration which has taken place in the Church can be seen in the Picture gallery.
A brief history of St Paul’s parish
Because of the growing numbers of Catholics in Hyde, it became a matter of urgency that an alternative chapel to the ones in Dukinfield and Stalybridge, should be provided, and in June 1848, a Mass Centre was established in Hyde by Father John Quealy, in a room above Solomon Wagstaffe’s Ironworks in Hamnett St. (Fr Quealy was the assistant priest to Fr George Fisher of St Mary’s Dukinfield); and he concelebrated the first Mass in Hyde with Father Prendergast, the curate of St Peter’s in Stalybridge, before 200 people. The first full-
The above is a short extract from "The History of the Parish of St Paul's Catholic Church Hyde" by B. Marshall MA: BA (theol);MIEE. The full account can be found here
Further notes of architectural interest can be found here.