English Church Architecture.
MANNINGHAM, St. Paul (SE 151 346),
CITY OF BRADFORD.
(Bedrock: Carboniferous Westphalian Series, Elland Flags from the Lower Coal Measures.)
An impressive church by Mallinson & Healey in First Pointed style,
built in 1846 at the expense of a local landowner.
There were many significant differences between the approach the successful provincial Victorian architect needed to adopt as compared to his illustrious London counterpart but perhaps the most important concerned his relationship with potential clients. A renowned metropolitan man could direct his appeal to anyone across the country who admired his distinctive style and wanted something similar. He could develop a portfolio spread widely but thinly, and it was of very little consequence to him if as many or more people disliked his work as liked it if he had as many commissions in hand as he could manage. A provincial architect's position was entirely different. Logistically confined, perhaps, within a thirty mile radius of his office, the number of potential clients within reach was unlikely to be such as to enable him to alienate any with equanimity, and he was. moreover, well advised not to allow himself to become too closely identified with any particular faction but rather to hold himself in as ambiguous a position, both politically and denominationally, as it was reasonably feasible to do.
Cognisant of this necessity, Mallinson and Healey drew their clients from almost every rank and profession of men, and occasionally women, who were ever likely to want to build in the western half of the West Riding. Only a proportion of these were the respective patrons: others were chairmen of building committees or individuals holding respected positions, most frequently in the Church, who hoped to spend other people's money for them. Six broad and overlapping categories of clients can be distinguished among those who used Mallinson and Healey's professional services, namely Church of England clergymen, local industrialists, tradesmen, landowners, some of the leading local Nonconformists, and local politicians, whether Whigs, Peelites or Conservatives. Assigning clients to the most appropriate of these categories sometimes requires making a difficult judgement for it could depend on the particular rôle an individual was occupying when the commission was placed. The Nonconformists are particularly problematic in this regard since nearly all those concerned were also prominent in manufacturing or commerce.
The commission to build St. Paul's, Manningham, came to the partners - and more specifically to Thomas Healey - from a prominent local landowner. It was a familiar aphorism in the mid-nineteenth century that 'land had its duties as well as rights' and this was seen or heard regularly in the press and public discourse. The duties of landowners by various accounts were many and wide-ranging, and extended from 'erecting] comfortable dwelling houses for their tenantry and cottages for the labourers' (The Scotsman, 3rd July 1850, p. 3), or 'providing ... schools for their poor parishioners' (The Coventry Standard, 15th July 1858, p. 4), on the one hand, to taking an interest in their 'humble pleasures... by mingling with them, and giving them the advantage of their counsel and presence' on the other (Wetherby News and Central Yorkshire Journal, 9th September 1858, p. 1). Such men obviously stood for 'the stability of the social order' and were generally 'adherents of the traditional High Church, the High Church of the days before Ecclesiology and Oxford Romanizing' (Edward Kaufman, 'E.B. Lamb - a Case Study in Victorian Architectural Patronage' in The Art Bulletin, issue 70/2 for June 1988, p. 324).
John Hollings of Whetley Hall (1814-64) was a man of 'retiring disposition... [who, though] never taking an active part in public life, was a very zealous Churchman [who] probably did more than any other single person to advance the ten churches movement at Bradford' (The Leeds Mercury, 26th February 1884) and his altruism here seems to have been motivated by genuine Christian sentiment albeit that he was shortly to prove perhaps the chief beneficiary of his munificence. His father, Thomas, had been 'engaged in the worsted trade..., to which business [he] and his elder brothers... were brought up', but an uncle, Joseph Hollings, 'a man of considerable means, residing at Whetley Hall', bequeathed his estate to John and his elder brothers, who both died unmarried, leaving the property exclusively to John, who was now married to the eldest daughter of the Rev. Canon Welby Mitton (Sheldrake's Aldershot & Sandhurst Gazette and Farnham Chronicle, 15th March 1884, p. 8), incumbent of St. Paul’s, Manningham, whom he himself had presented to the living!
Hollings probably first met Healey soon after the latter moved to Bradford because Healey worshipped in Manningham week by week (even though he lived in Little Horton). Hollings receives many mentions in Healey's entries in the 1854-57 ay-books and his dealings are exclusively with Healey throughout. Usually the subject of their meetings concerned alterations already being carried out at St. Paul’s (chiefly the widening of the S. aisle), less than a decade after the church’s original construction, occasionally it was about the building of Manchester Road schools, with which Hollings’s connection is unclear, or the erection of St. Philip’s, Girlington, three-quarters of a mile to the west, where Hollings was one of the donors and possibly chairman of the building committee, and sometimes Healey makes no mention of the purpose of Hollings’s visit at all, leaving open the possibility that he turned up merely to see what Healey was doing. This gains some substance from the fact that he then occasionally accompanied Healey on inspection visits to sites in which he had no discernible financial interest. Conceivably, his relationship with Healey, built up through their mutual attendance at St. Paul’s, had given him the status of a leisured, inquisitive friend.
St. Paul’s, Manningham, is a proud church surmounted by an octagonal broach spire, 'confessedly erected against the twin evils of Chartism and Dissent' in Malcolm Hardman's insightful phrase (Ruskin and Bradford, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1986, p. 54), standing on a slight rise at the top of Church Street. (See the photographs of the church above left, viewed from the east, and above right, viewed from southeast.) It was described by the reporter at the ceremony for laying the foundation stone (who therefore had to base his description solely on the plans and elevations) (The Bradford Observer, 5th November 1846 p. 8) as:
the means of supplying a large and destitute population with the means of spiritual life... The edifice... will be in the style of architecture prevalent during the reign of King Henry the Third, generally known as ‘first pointed’ or early English style [sic]. It will be a cruciform structure, consisting of a nave with north and south aisles, clerestory and south porch, north and south transepts, a spacious chancel with sacristy on the north side, and a central tower and spire 140 feet high... The timbers of the roof will be exposed to view [they are no longer]; the seats, low and of unobtrusive character, will afford accommodation to upwards of 600 worshippers; there will be no galleries, and the whole of the interior moulded work will be of stone.
This is the building which, in most of its essentials, survives to the present day. The tall spire rising above the crossing, intended as a pendant for the Church of England in an area predominantly given over to Dissent, might still be regarded as performing a similar function today where the local population is approximately eighty per cent Muslim. The ceremony for the laying of the foundation stone for St. Paul's took place on Tuesday, 3rd November, 1846, and was described thus in The Bradford Observer two days later (p. 8): This church... will... be the means of supplying a large and destitute population with the means of spiritual life... The edifice... will be in the style of architecture prevalent during the reign of King Henry the Third, generally known as the 'first pointed' or early English style. It will be a cruciform structure, consisting of a nave with north and south aisles, clerestory and south porch, north and south transepts, a spacious chancel with sacristy on the N. side, and a central tower and spire 140 feet high. In addition to the S. porch, there will be entrances at the west end of the nave, the west side of the north transept, and a priest's door in the chancel. The timbers of the roof will be exposed to view [they are no longer]; the seats, low and of unobtrusive character, will afford accommodation to upwards of 600 worshippers; there will be no galleries, and the whole of the interior moulded work will be of stone. The cost will be about £3,000 exclusive of the site [which was another £300]. The price per sitting, therefore, which was the way the cost of building new churches in this period was generally considered, was approximate £5, or £5.10s.0d (£5.50) if the purchase of the site is taken into account (M. H. Port, Six Hundred New Churches: the Church Building Commission, 1818-56, 2nd edition, Reading, Spire Books Ltd., 2006, p. 343). This compares extremely well with a cost of £13 a sitting, which was the figure put forward in 1818 by Robert Smirke, one of the three Crown Architects, when asked by the Treasury what he regarded as a realistic estimate for building new churches (ibid., pp. 61), yet it seems very generous when set against Mallinson and Healey's subsequent efforts at St. John the Baptist's, Clayton (consecrated in 1850), which they managed to erect for £2.14s.3d a sitting!
Healey, however, spent the bulk of the funds available for St. Paul's, ensuring it would have a commanding external appearance, and it is scarcely a surprise there was relatively little money left to spend on the interior, which is modest by comparison. The church is tall in all parts, and seemingly the more so by virtue of being situated on slightly rising ground. All the roofs are steeply pitched, with the nave slightly higher than the transepts and the chancel, and the bell-stage of the tower begins level with the nave ridge line and rises with the support of square clasping buttresses which diminish slightly in five steps. A corbel table of trefoil-cusped arches runs round the top of the bell-stage, just below the proud octagonal broach spire, and this is lit further up by two tiers of lucarnes, the lower, two-light, set in the cardinal faces, and the upper, one-light, set in the ordinal sides. The 'Early English' style of the building, referred to by the Bradford Observer, is the usual one for Mallinson and Healey at this stage. Windows everywhere are cusped lancets, usually placed in pairs, but there is also a wheel window in the nave W. gable and a little oval window in the chancel gable to the east. Side shafts to both doors and windows appear to run through integral shaft rings, which can actually be seen to be carved from the same stone. The porch joins the aisle at its furthest western end, flush with the nave W. wall. (See the photograph, left.) The outer doorway has four orders of side shafts with busy leaf capitals, and a series of keeled and filleted rolls and a line of dog-tooth around the two-centred arch.
The church interior, unfortunately, is today very poorly lit, for the aisles are now closed off by solid partitions from the nave, and the clerestory, formed of small lancet pairs, was never designed to illuminate the nave, unaided, in such circumstances. The five-bay arcades are formed of double-flat-chamfered arches springing from quatrefoil piers with nailhead decoration round the capitals. The tall crossing arches have a complex profile arranged in three orders above an inharmonious group of shafts (first keeled, then round, then filleted), but the asymmetry of the aisles is probably due to the subsequent widening of the S. aisle, when it may have lost the shafts with attractive capitals that still divide the lancet pairs lighting the N. aisle, featuring carved heads on one and pecking birds on another (illustrated below left). Decorative carving otherwise is confined largely to the font standing at the W. end of the S. aisle (as shown below right) and, in particular, the reredos (shown at the foot of the page), formed of seven blank trefoil-cusped arches beneath gables, with elaborate flower and leaf carving in bas relief in the spandrels. In fact, the central gable, being wider and taller than the other six, provides room below for a pair of cusped lancets and a roundel above and between displaying a representation of what is probably the Supper at Emmaus (i.e. as opposed to The Last Supper) since Christ and only two disciples can be seen.
Finally, it remains to mention that immediately outside the S. door, a solitary grave or memorial stone (shown below) commemorating Thomas Healey, has an inscription running round the top that can still just be made out and which reads on its eastern side, 'Thomas Healey, the architect of this church'.