We were extremely saddened to learn about the Boxing Day Floods back in 2015 and how this affected the communities in and around Bury, not to mention the rest of the UK. We can’t imagine how devastated we would be if anything happened to the precious documents in our care and so our hearts went out to the parishioners of St Mary’s church in Radcliffe when they learned that priceless historic artefacts were in danger of being destroyed by the flood water.
While work to repair damage to the church is still ongoing, our visit to the Grade 1 listed building on Monday 23rd January was warm and welcoming: Volunteer and archaeologist, Carol, gave Helen and I a tour of the church and church member, Barbara, supplied us with coffee and cake and plenty of fascinating snippets about the church and its history. It was hard to imagine that just over 12 months ago the flood waters had reached over the top of the pews! The porch, aisles and chancel were decked with wonderful arrangements of flowers (organised by Barbara) in place to commemorate the licensing service of Revd. Carol Hayden and Revd Elizabeth Binns which had taken place the day before.
The aim of our visit was to photograph the church: a record both for the Parish community and one which we will preserve in our own image archive.
And so armed with my trusty tripod and camera I made my way around the building to capture what I could. Carol suggested I take some images from the gallery – she wanted an elevated scene of the nave and beautifully-lit chancel for the new church leaflet; the way up looked narrow and precarious – through a tiny hobbit-like door and upwards into the darkness. How I missed the door to the gallery I’ll never know but up to the belfry I went! My ears were soon smarting as the bells of St Mary’s rang out to announce a new hour!
We take every opportunity we can to collect and preserve documents and images which record the religious history of the Borough and are pleased to announce that Close Methodist Church (again in Radcliffe) will be donating material to our archive next week. We love working with the community and if you are part of a religious organisation (or indeed any organisation) who is interested in the preservation of its history please do get in touch.