Today marks the 300th birthday of St Ann’s Church in Manchester, which was consecrated on July 17th 1712 by the Bishop of Chester.
Here at the Library we are privileged to hold probably the only eye-witness account of the consecration service, from the diary of Edmund Harrold, a Manchester wig-maker. Typically, he relates how he nearly missed church due to the enjoyment of a swift half or two with his friends Mr Allen and Mr Coleburn. However, this might have turned out to be more fun than the service, which with the consecration, sermons, communion and readings in both Latin and English, apparently went on for about four hours.
We also have an early print of the church with its original spire, which was demolished within about a hundred years of its construction due to it being unsafe. Published in 1732, this is probably the earliest surviving image of the church.
From the Diary of Edmund Harrold, 17 July 1712:
Remarkable for St Anne’s church conse[c]reation, and a great concourse of people, good business and I sober [at] 8 a clock at night. But was merry before I went to bed. Spent 3d with Mr Allen and [Mr H.] Coleburn etc. I was out about 3 hours, and 1/2 mist pub[lic] pra:[yer] 2 times, for wch I beg God pardon. I’m sorey. B[isho]p Dawes perform’d ye consecration. Mr Bagaly indow’d it, ye clergy responded at entrance. Mr Ainscough read prayers, [George] Beatman sponced, ye b[isho]p read ye gift both in Latin and English. Mr Bann preach’d on: Holiness becometh thine house, o Lord, for ever. Then ye b[isho]p and clergy and who would, stay’d sacrament. Thus ye was about 4 hours in this great work.
You can read more about Harrold and his diary here.