It’s official: Draycott in the Moors is home to the very newest building in the country to be ‘listed’.
The Historic England organisation has now declared that St Mary Catholic Church in Cresswell plus its cemetery cross have enough historic significance to be worthy of a ‘Grade Two Listing’. And we must thank one man for the work in ensuring this award was made – the parish priest at St Mary’s, Father David Hartley.
Father Hartley took it on himself to undertake all the necessary research and paperwork, in order to persuade Historic England (which used to be called English Heritage) that this recognition really was something they should apply.
Sure enough, just a month ago, the listing was awarded.
Of course, even its best friends would not describe St Mary’s as impressive or beautiful. It is more a simple and homely church.
However its history, and its association with one of the great names of architecture, is enough to warrant it a place.
Though it was only completed in 1816, it was the first custom-built Roman Catholic church in North Staffordshire for almost three hundred years. Previous to this time, Catholics had had to worship in semi-secrecy, having been marginalised by harsh laws and some persecution.
However, it is the church’s connection with the great nineteenth-century architect Augustus Pugin that also persuaded Historic England to make the award.
# The church’s famous ‘Annunciation’ stained glass window of 1848 was designed by Pugin (manufactured by the Birmingham glass firm of Hardman).
# The tall standing cross out in the graveyard opposite is also thought to be by Pugin, though absolute final proof is still being researched.
# Disappointingly though, the baptism font in the church has now been definitively declared as NOT by Pugin. Historic England says: The font’s “rather crude carvings are not typical of his work”!
We all knew of course that the church had a special place in the history of North Staffordshire, but, give credit to Father Hartley – he thought it had significance nationally too…
This achievement may also come as quite a surprise to historians in the county, who perhaps were not aware what we have here in little Cresswell. Even the Pugin Centre at Cheadle seemed unaware of their man’s connection with St Mary’s; and we now expect the UK Pugin Foundation to sit up and take notice too.
However, ironically, this exploit may be said to be Father Hartley’s goodbye-gift to the area – as he will be leaving for another parish in two months’ time.
Good to say though that his enthusiasm has led to a rebirth of interest in the history of Cresswell; and the parishioners at the church are continuing the research, and are planning a St Mary’s history exhibition in July – which will be the second they have held this year!
These two listings (one for the church, one for the graveyard cross) bring the number of historic listed structures in Draycott in the Moors as a whole to thirteen.
If you want to see the complete list and to find details about each listing, click here
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