The Sunday School

In 1887 the congregation at Upper Brook Street, aware of the difficulties besetting many of the families in the area, resolved to mark the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria by providing a Sunday School.

Architecture

This was built of similar stone to the main chapel (although probably from a different source) and was more Ruskinian and fluent in its Early English Gothic. Whilst complimenting the main building it is, appropriately, less monumental and more domestic. The main school room has two storeys, with three similar gables on the north side, lit by stepped lancets set high within blind Gothic arches and between half-height buttresses, between which runs a string course, below which are rectangular three light mullioned windows. The steep roof in surmounted by a louvered lantern topped by a conical cap. A further, smaller, gable terminates this range to the west with double rather than triple lancets and the lean-to entrance to its right is positioned in front of a tall canted apse also lit by lancets. A similar range lies between that and the chapel with a stepped lancet west window and connected by a short cross range. It, in its turn, is connected to the chapel by a short single storey link.

The Architect

The architect for this coherent and scholarly adjunct to the main chapel was James William Beaumont, FRIBA (1848-1931). He was a very important Manchester architect (although latterly living at Wimslow) and had designed the town halls both at Hyde and Colne as well as the Stockport Liberal Club. His best known work is the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester. He was the son of John Beaumont of Manchester, and was articled to Sir James Allanson Picton in Liverpool before moving on to become assistant to Corson and Aitken in Manchester, setting up on his own account in 1873. He had various partners, latterly with two of his sons.

The building of the Sunday School removed part of the Chapel’s original graveyard, upon restrictions were placed in 1856, burials being prohibited altogether from 1882, thus making the building of the school possible. Note that it is possible that the modest E extension was added by Beaumont when he was building the School.

Architectural Importance

The Sunday school is important not only as a remarkably sympathetic and harmonious addition to the chapel, but because it is one of a diminishing number of surviving church/chapel purpose-built Sunday schools and also through its having been designed by one of Manchester’s very best Victorian architects.