Holy Angels – Hale Barns

The magnum opus of the architect Arthur Farebrother, who was a parishioner. The church is executed in monumental style and has a powerful and little-altered interior which owes a debt to Dom Paul Bellott’s design for the Benedictine Abbey of Quarr, Isle of Wight.

The parish was formed in 1958 and fundraising for building a church started almost immediately. The church was designed by Arthur Farebrother, a parishioner, and the contractors were Browns of Wilmslow, a craft firm with a high reputation particularly for woodwork and carving. The building was finally opened in 1964.

Holy Angels is a building of great presence, of pale brick executed in free early Gothic style with Romanesque overtones. It has a powerful pylon-like west tower, transeptal chapel, attached southwest baptistery with a conical copper-clad roof, and a plain presbytery attached on the north side. The interior is dominated by the powerful brick arches which continue into the ceiling as vaulting. Narrow processional aisles and ambulatory. The north side confessionals are framed by a timber surround. Elevated forward altar with choir seating around in an arc. The simple modern furnishings are probably original.

Taking Stock

I was in search of All Saints just along the way in Hale Road, but came upon Holy Angles looming large on the corner.

A commanding essay in pale brick, though referencing architecture of the Middle Ages, it has a transitional modernity in its angular Arts and Crafts details.

All Saints Church – Hale Barns

Hale Rd Hale Barns Altrincham WA15 8SP

As Hale Barns grew in the 1950s and 1960s it was clear that the small daughter church was less than adequate in terms of size and facilities, and under the leadership of the Rev Fred Cox, the then Vicar, a new church was planned for the site. Designed by Brian Brunskill, All Saints Church was consecrated in 1967.

Outside it can seem a rather stark building, of brown brick, set back from the busy Hale Road but inside it is full of light and space.  The influence has clearly been that of the French architect Le Corbusier, and there is a wonderful interplay of curved and straight walling.  At first there was no stained glass, but in the early 1980s glass by the Japanese artist Sumiko was installed in the north windows.  This includes a stylised tree-of-life design. In the baptistry there is some Victorian glass brought from St Mary’s Church.

In 2009 a radical and daring re-ordering of the building was completed. The church was carpeted and new furniture of high quality, designed and made by Treske, woodcarvers  of Thirsk, North Yorkshire, was installed.  The tree-of-life design in the 1980s glass has been echoed in the glass inserts to the Lectern and High Altar and also in the metal uprights of the Altar Rail.  All the fittings are moveable, giving a flexible space.  This flexibility give opportunities to explore how the building itself can enrich worship at different seasons of the Church’s year. 

All Saints

My first time in Hale Barns – hence my first visit to All Saints.

Small in scale, but large in ambition – a wonderful exercise in the calm controlled use of brick, rich in small details, along with an expressive mix of warm curves within a rigid grid.

Of particular note is the sculptural concrete bell tower, the exterior use of pebbles in the porch which flow into the interior space, along with a discrete palette of grey tiling.

It demands to be circumnavigated – fresh surprises await around each turn, simple hard landscaping of flags, softer restrained planting and open areas of lawn, so very well tended.

Let’s take a look around.

Here are some images of the reworked interior taken from the All Saints gallery.

Homes of Distinction – Heald Green

We begin our journey through bricks and mortar, domestic fashions and fads, time and tide in Rainham.

Ward’s Construction, along with many others throughout the country, offer the aspirational suburbanite an opportunity to own the very latest in modern design.

Large open plan rooms lit by large open glazed windows, quality cladding – mixing traditional materials with go ahead get it now design. Double fronted, remote garage, modest manageable, grassed gardens.

For those on slightly more limited means the DH2 offers affordable modernity, along with everything you would expect from a Ward’s Home.

Homes of distinction.

Fast forward to April 2020 – St Ann’s Road Heald Green Cheshire

National Cycle Route 558 brings me here – sanctioned lockdown exercise for the mobile moocher.

In the sixty or so years that have passed something has happened to those suburban dream homes.

An ever expanding middle class fuelled by bigger pay packets, low, low, lower taxation and bumper inheritance payouts, wants more.

More house, more car, more style – conspicuous consumption of everything and more – extend yourself, express yourself!

Right here in one unexceptional road is the apotheosis of today’s Homes of Distinction.

Macclesfield Railway Station

Where the Victorians modelled their stations on cathedrals, temples and palaces.

Modern Man models his on shopping centre and office blocks.

Richards and MacKenzie – The Railway Station

Though it seems to me that Macclesfield Station, in its earlier and current states, refuses to dovetail neatly into either of these sloppy binary paradigms.

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The former – single storey buildings, fitting unostentatiously into the topographic and practical constraints of the site. A neat, tightly packed rhythm of brick arches with a compact and bijou porch welcoming the expectant traveller.

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The latter a functionalist block, fully utilitarian crossings with lift access columns, embodying a particularly industrial demeanour.

From the golden age of steam to the moribund years of diesel, Macclesfield sits comfortably somewhere, betwixt and between ugly duckling and fully fledged swan.

Nestled in the lea of the East Cheshire Highlands, offering practical everyday transport solutions to the beleaguered commuter.

No frills, no thrills.

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The London and North Western Railway opened the line between Manchester and Macclesfield on 19 June 1849 – Macclesfield Central was born. Later it would become a key station on the Stafford branch of the West Coast Main Line, remodelled in 1960 and rebranded as the much snappier Macclesfield Station.

Which it proudly announces topically and typographically to the world.

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Welcome to Macclesfield a town that is clearly going places, and so are you.

The station won the Best Kept Station in Cheshire Award for 2007, but was reported in summer 2011 to be distinctly shabby, with peeling paintwork.

And yet there is something in the constituent Platonic steel, glass and concrete forms that never ceases to amuse and amaze me, this is Brutalism on a human and provincial scale.

The raw concrete softened with three or four shades of grey, as a concession to the delicate suburban sensibilities of this once silk-fuelled town.

Take a trip with me – join the Cheshire train set.

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The Tudor Café – Stockport

On Lower Hillgate, almost next door to where it used to be, there stands The Tudor Café.

Almost where it has almost always stood.

Other businesses have come and gone, happily it prevails.

The cheapest tastiest grub in town.

An interior festooned with tea towels.

Tables polka dotted, teas hot.

Signs inside and out, some of them inside out.

Greetings from Gdansk.

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Congleton – Trinity Methodist Church

How incongruous, to find a little of the space age in a suburban provincial Cheshire street, keeping company with solid, stolid brick built homes and sensible Victorian stone structures.

Trinity is dominated by its diamond shaped stained glass, framed in unfinished concrete, emboldened like a wide ecstatic grin, extending beyond the bounds of the street, beaming towards heaven.

To the side are concrete columns pierced by irregular rectangular windows.

This tiny gem deserves your attention – take yourself off to Mill Street pronto.

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