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.