History of Monton Unitarian Church

July 17, 2017

The present Unitarian Church is the fourth church on the site. It was opened in 1875 and is renowned for its stained glass windows.  The south Transept shows the Sermon on the Mount with four smaller windows beneath depicting

  • Jesus in the Synagogue

  • Jesus with the Lady at the Well

  • The Good Samaritan

  • The Publican and the Pharisee.

The north transept shows Jesus and Children-‘Suffer the Little Children’; and Jesus and Peter – ‘Feed my Sheep’. The clerestory windows on the north side show famous men from the Greek, Roman, Renaissance and Modern periods. On the south side, the clerestory windows show representatives from the Early Christian, Roman Catholic, Anglican and nonconformist traditions.

 

Monton Unitarian Church has a long history of Protestant dissent dating back to 1668.

After the Act of Uniformity 1662 Edmund Jones, Vicar of Eccles, was an ejected minister.  He and others continued to meet in the Eccles area including Monks Hall. He was imprisoned for his non-conformity and his congregation reported to the local magistrate. He died in 1674.

 

The First Chapel

When William and Mary acceded to the throne, the Act of Toleration was passed which allowed nonconformity to be practiced under licence.  The Eccles Presbyterians appointed a minister and met in a series of private buildings.

In 1698 the Lomax and Fildes families, long-term members of the congregation, bought a plot of land at Monton Green. A simple chapel was built and licensed in July 1698.

 

The Second Chapel (1715–1802)

In the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion a band of over 100 Jacobites, supporters of the Old Pretender, ransacked the church, having previously destroyed Cross Street Chapel in Manchester.  The congregation claimed compensation from the government and rebuilt a bigger and better church.  The Rev. Jeremiah Aldred was minister until his death in 1729. His tombstone can be seen in the churchyard.

The congregation's religious views changed from Calvinism through Arianism to the appointment of their first Unitarian minister Harry Toulmin in 1786.  In 1813 Unitarianism was legalized and the Nonconformists' Chapels Act 1844 secured the places of worship to Unitarians, allowing the congregation at Monton to officially call themselves Unitarians.

 

The Third Chapel

The second chapel was demolished around 1800. The third chapel was built in 1802 and survived until 1875 when the present church was built

 

 

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