Interior of the Roman Catholic Chapel, at Edgeley

The Roman Catholic Chapel of Sts. Philip and James, Edgeley. Source: The Illustrated London News (1852) [Click on image to enlarge it.]

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This Chapel is situate in Chapel-street, a wide road in Edgeley, a suburb of Stockport, beyond the railway, end near the Stockport end of the viaduct. The Chapel is a building calculated to accommodate about 1200 or 1300 people, and stands on an eminence above the railway, from which it can be seen. It is of brick, with a stone front, of a classic order in architecture, above which rises a round brick tower, containing a bell. It was built at the commencement of the present century, and was opened on the 1st of May, 1803. Close to it, on the north side, is tbe priest's house, communicating with it internally by means of vestries which open close upon tbe altar; on tbe south are the schools, and from the chapel on the one hand, and the schools on the other, there extends a brick well which encloses a burial-ground and a few square yards of land. The front of the chapel end schools is even with the street, but the house stands back several yards. The present incumbent is the Rev. Randolph Frith, who has been a resident of Stockport for eight years.

From a person connected with the chapel end residents in the neighbourhood, has been gathered the following account of the attack upon it and the adjoining house. About a quarter before nine o’clock the crowd came up, chiefly boys and young men, armed with pick-axes, hatchets, hammers, crowbars, &c., and they began by throwing stones at the two parlour windows of the priest’s house. They then broke the chapel windows with hatchets, pickaxes, and sledge-hammers, and forced the front door, then rushing np to the iron altar rails, broke them with axes and sledge-hammers, and destroyed the altar and tabernacle; females, it is said, being as eager and active in the work of destruction as males. Fortunately, on the very commencement of the attack, Mr. Frith had removed the silver plate used in the services of ths chapel to a place of safety. The rioters destroyed every cross and crucifix, picture, image, statue, candlestick, &c. with which the chapel was adorned. They tore away the altar-screen, and broke into small fragments two plaster figures flanking the altar. The rioters armed, some with butchers' cleavers, and others the legs and backs of chairs which had been broken up in the priest's house, smashed npthe benches or seats on the floor of the chapel, and in the gallery. The large organ, valued at £430, was speedily demolished; as were all the chapel windows, and even the frames. Some of the mob then produced lucifer matches and various attempts were made to set fire to both the chspel and the house. In the chapel the strong draughts of air though the window apertures extinguished the flames as soon an kindled; and at length all sorts of fnrniture, wood, books, papers. &c. were carried out into the road, in Chapel-street, in front of the chapel and bouse, and there destroyed.

Interior of the Roman Catholic Chapel, at Edgeley. Source: The Illustrated London News (1852) [Click on image to enlarge it.]

Into the priest’s house two bodies of rioters entered—one by the front door after besting Its panels in with axes, &c. and the other through the doors communicating from the chapel and the vestries. Here they destroyed or burnt all the books, clothes, furniture, &c., or otherwise destroys them; and were thus occupied an hour and a quarter, until the alarm from the outside that the soldiers were coming.

A door from the end gallery leads up to the bell-turret or belfry, which is over the organ; and when tbe attack on tbe priest’s house became fierce, tbe Rev. R. Frith, and four young men, entered the chapel from the vestries, and concealed themselves in the bell-turret, the door of which was locked after them by one of tbe attendants. Here they remained during the wrecking of both the house and chapel; till attempts being made to set both on fire, the priest and his friends got upon the chapel roof, traversing it on the aide next the bouse, descending upon the house roof, and through a window into the house, and then through the yard end over a wall Into tbe next garden.

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References

The Riot at Stockport” The Illustrated London News 21 (10 July 1852): 2922-30. Hathi Trust Digital Library version of a copy in the University of Michigan Library. Web. 17 December 2015. The text above to which paragraph has been added for ease of reading was created from the web version with ABBYY FineReader. — George P. Landow


Last modified 9 December 2015