A Brief History of St. John's

                  

The Parish Church of St John the Evangelist, Wingates
 In the Diocese of Manchester

The Church of England first gained a presence in Wingates, then in the parish of
Deane, about 1850 when a Sunday School was started at a local farm, the classes
being transferred to a new day school in 1851. From April 1852 curates attached to
Deane church conducted Sunday services in the school.

Six years later on 29 May 1858 the foundation stone was laid for the new church. The
building was completed by early June of the following year in the Decorated style:
note the tracery of each window on the south side is to a different design. It had
seating for up to 550 people.

The church was consecrated by the first Lord Bishop of Manchester, the Rt. Rev'd. Dr.
James Prince Lee, on 30 June 1859 and dedicated to St John the Evangelist. Initially
an assistant curate from Deane continued to take the services, the formalities for the
creation of a separate parish not being completed until 26 March 1860. It was only
then that a vicar could be appointed.

The first vicar, the Rev'd William Kenneth Macrorie, later Bishop of Maritzburg, was
inducted to the living in August 1860. One of his first tasks was to arrange the
installation of an organ by Wm Hill & Son of London. The renowned hymn 'Angel
Voices ever Singing' was specially composed for the dedication of the organ, which
took place on Sunday 10 February 186l.

The graveyard was consecrated on 5 May 1866, the first burial being that of James
Holden, aged 17, on 9 June 1866. His grave can be located near the south-east comer
of the church: the edge of the headstone is inscribed 'The First Interred 1866'. The
section of the graveyard on the west side of the church, which is referred to as the new
part
, was consecrated in September 1909.

The stained glass windows are worthy of study, all donated by various benefactors
during the nineteenth century. The east window is of special note. It shows Jesus'
ascension into heaven surrounded by angels while the disciples, along with Mary his
mother,  look on in awe.

The Hill organ was superseded in July 1893 by the present instrument built by Jardine
of Manchester. To accommodate the new organ the pulpit was moved from the north
to the south side of the Nave. The position of the Hill organ is not known.

Outwardly, the most noticeable change to the building was the removal of the tall
wooden steeple in 1925, after being deemed unsafe. On entering the Nave, if you look
up to the rafters, the position of the former tower is evident, the old wooden supports
still showing through. The small bell turret was then added to the west gable.

In 1950 a new altar, altar rail and bishop's chair replaced the former furniture in the
Sanctuary. In 1966 two new clergy reading desks and two new choir stalls on each
side of the Chancel were installed. Previously there were three choir stalls each side
of the Chancel.

During the mid-1980s some extensive internal alterations were undertaken inside the
church. The balcony was extended forward to create sufficient space underneath for a
separate meeting area, including kitchen facilities and toilets. At the same time the
font was moved from the west end to its current position in front of the organ. The
foyer was dedicated on 1 November 1987.

In 2011 a new gas central heating system and new lighting were installed. The
following year the original pews were removed and replaced by individual chairs.
These alterations have made the building much more comfortable and flexible, both
as a worshipping area and for community use. It is now better able to serve the needs of the twenty-first century.

Tom Heavyside

2013

{This booklet is now available in church}