St John’s Church

Listing details:

Town Road
Heritage No.
57 A
Date Listed
02 October 1951
Building: Parish Church of St. John the Evangelist
Description:  1790 Gothic Style, red brick west tower.

Church, now disused. 1788-90. Additions of 1872 by W.Palmer. Brick with stone dressings and slate roof with ridge cresting. West tower, nave and aisles, chancel. 4-stage tower with blind lower openings and housing for clock above. Bell chamber lights and castellated parapet, the castellations made up of panels of cast iron, bolted together, and with the bottom flanges and side end flanges bolted to supporting masonry. Neo-classical North doorways in east and west of north wall. 4 lower windows, and 6 in clerestory above, some with contemporary cast iron windows with intersecting tracery. The frames incorporate horizontal bars of wrought iron to support the fixings for leaded light. Square ended chancel with shallow polygonal apse: with the vestries to east of aisles, a later addition. INTERIOR: Most fittings and fixtures now missing, but gallery with panelled fascia supported on slender cast iron columns with plain capitals. Exposed roof trusses, supported by massive tie beams, with later casings, and added struts, and diagonally boarded panels to undersides of roof slopes. East window with painted glass of c.1830 depicting `Our Lord Blessing’. The figure of Christ is clad in purple robes, and standing beneath a Gothic canopy. Flanking windows also c.1830. Bell chamber with peal of 10 bells, the original peal of 8 bells cast by E. Arnold of Leicester and installed in 1791, supplemented by 2 additions in 1891, and all re-cast and rehung from a contemporary bellframe in 1923. HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE: The building is of exceptional interest because of the presence of early cast-iron structural and decorative components, notably the gallery columns, the window frames and the castellations. It is thought that these components are some of the earliest to have been used in any type of building in Britain, only those in St James’, Liverpool having been identified as being earlier (1774-5).



“Early in 1737 that affluent and pious gentleman, Mr. John Bourne, of Newcastle, visited a friend at Hanley Upper Green. Realising how inconvenient it was to walk or ride along bad roads at least two miles to the nearest place of worship, he made an offer to donate £500 towards the erection of a chapel, provided the inhabitants raised the rest. This was cheerfully accepted, and, on a site given by John Adams, a chapel capable of accommodating 400 people, was immediately built and consecrated in September, 1737.

The chapel was later enlarged, at a cost of £140, but the rapidly-increasing population of the town made it necessary to consider building a much larger church. And so, under an Act of Parliament of 1787, the handsome brick and stone parish church of St. John the Evangelist was erected at a cost of £6,000 in 1788-90. The money was raised by voluntary contributions from the townsfolk, neighbouring landowners and gentry, and also from the sale of pews. The only structural addition appears to be the polygonal apse of 1872 by W. Palmer, but certain of the original embellishments, such as the stone pinnacles on the 100ft tower, have disappeared.

The first curate of Hanley, the Rev. John Middleton, must surely hold some kind of ecclesiastical record. He was appointed curate in 1737 and remained so until his death at the age of 88 in 1802. Besides the curacy of Hanley, which was his primary charge, he became Rector of Walkington, Yorkshire, and, subsequently, perpetual curate of Stone, because of a service he rendered to the residents of Trentham Hall. Although his income from his property and three livings was considerable, his only personal requirements were the bare necessities of life; he condemned those who indulged in the “fripperies and fooleries of fashion.”

Neville Malkin 26th March 1975