St Georges Hyde

Excerpt from Newletter article from June 1999 written by Norman Harrison

 The damage that had been caused to the Church by the war was assessed by the War Damage Commission as over £2000 and this enabled member of the church and this enabled the

PCC to go ahead to restore the East Window, an almost exact replica was constructed from photographs provided by members of the congregation, and was dedicated by the Bishop of Stockport, the Right Reverend D H Saunders Davies on October 24th 1954. About this time we had received a Trust for maintaining the churchyard, a gift from Samuel Skinner Holford in memory of his parents! Part of this was to provide a memorial window. Five windows replacing those damaged during the war on the North Side were installed, four representing the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke; and John, and the centre one. Our Lord Sat in Glory Receiving the Nations.

 Commissioning of a New Window

 Following the rebuilding of the Church in  the 1980’s we are again looking to restore the East Window. An artist, Sarah Galloway, has been commissioned to design the window and we now have a final draft to review which follows ideas and feedback from Church family, the school and the wider community. The design encompasses symbols of faith, a dove and cross, along with local features, a river, and is in many vibrant colours. Once agreement has been given for the design and the work to go ahead from the diocese the installing will commence – this should be completed by summer 2014.

Buzzing with Life                    

St George's is a Church which now appears to be reverting back to its original 1832, Georgian state when it was described as merely 'a white-washed structure of the plainest description', both inside and out.

Looking at changes made over the years has led me to call it The Phoenix of Churches as it keeps rising again and again from alterations. In 1868, when a mere baby of 36 years of age, changes were made at a great expense when a team of decorators moved in and when also the three tier central pulpit was removed [going to the altar and back must have involved traffic lights] and also a staircase which restricted the view of the chancel was moved to the back.

In 1868 even more changes occurred when most of the church fittings were removed as the fashion being followed at the time, which was known as Traffordian, was plainness: and St George's spent a fortune getting plain. The plaster, put there just 36 years ago, was stripped from the pillars which were then rounded,from their original hexagonal shape. They appear to have missed a bit at the front of Church, to the right of the altar steps, possibly by moving the organ from the back balcony, to the front, after stripping back to stone but prior to rounding the pillars. A good thing was that they got without the rented pews, whereby the wealthy could get the best seats. The common people had the back, the poorest for free, where many of our congregation like to sit today. Charles Dickens remarks in a book on the Life of a Parish that the appearance of a new good-looking vicar sped people, rich or poor, to pay for a front seat! After this, with more additions, modern to those days of course, continually growing by way of memorial windows etc., the Church became as many remember it until 1985.

After quite a deal of rebuilding St George's has, to some extent returned to 180 years ago. The side walls are lower and the pews and some other fittings gone, new facilities installed but it still gives a hint of the original.

The story seems to follow that of many more recent buildings, especially houses. Following on from a fashion of brilliant white gloss and magnolia emulsion -- non-drip of course another modern delight -- colour came on the scene again, appearing to be back at present with larger patterned wallpapers. But now fashion seems to be reverting to as much open space, with open staircases as possible and plain paint tones. When the Church opened, still in the age of water power its earliest painting shows the exterior as white. Then the industrial revolution turned everything and everyone black, as many present day members recall the town from childhood. Now we are white again.

Volunteering has always been a big part of the picture, especially for fundraising activities, which have always been successful at St George's, where enormous sums have been raised in the past: to build and repair vicarages and schools, for example. One thing I've noticed is, that even by just reading about the bazaars and competitions, a great deal of happiness for the community and a great deal of optimism and enthusiasm felt by the Church members is revealed. . It now feels the same, re-lived, as we raise funds for the roof, and as we now provide opportunities and room for other charities to do the same.