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Parish of St Mark, Worsley

with St Mary, Ellenbrook & St Andrew, Boothstown
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A History of St Mark, Worsley
The Architect
The Architect was Sir George Gilbert Scott (1811-78), one of the most prolific architects of the Victorian era – 740 new or restored buildings, including 470 churches!
He was the first in the family line of architects who have given us buildings as diverse as St Pancras Station, Liverpool Anglican Cathedral and Battersea Power Station (now the Tate Modern)

In Scott’s own words, "I have become one of the leading actors in the greatest architectural movement which has occurred since the Renaissance". He was referring to the Gothic Revival of which St Mark, Worsley is an early and particularly fine example
Prior to the designing of St Mark, Worsley at the age of 33, Scott and his partner W.B. Moffat (with whom he parted company in 1845) had designed mainly workhouses and lunatic asylums, cashing in on the requirements of the new Poor Law Act, and a few rather dull churches which paid scant regard to liturgical principles (though his father was an Anglican clergyman).


It was his European travels in this period that changed his perspective of church building. The subject of church design was to become popular with both clergy and lay people and much-debated by the Victorians, who saw a moral purpose in returning to medieval forms of art and architecture which they believed to be the purest setting for Christian worship.The Decorated period of the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries came to provide the preferred style - this is the most ornate of Gothic forms


Of the many churches Scott designed, St Mark is perhaps the purest in form. Although he barely mentions it in his autobiography, his grandson Sir Giles (the architect of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral) is reported to have said he considered it to bethe best of his works of art.


Given that tenders for such an elaborate building were still under consideration in April 1844, to complete it in two years George Evans, Scott's Foreman of Works, must have had an army of workers and craftsmen at his disposal. (Some of these moved on to build St Paul’s Walkden, up the road, at a lower rate of pay – hence its Victorian nickname t’drop church).


Sir George Scott was a man of phenomenal energy, influence and success. He died in 1878 and was buried in Westminster Abbey, an honour given to no other architect before or since.


The Building


The exterior is modelled on an English parish church of circa 1300 and has fine carved stonework. Externally the spire has small flying butresses and its pinnacles, gabled openings and butresses are richly embellished with crockets and crosses. There are numerous carved gargoyles to the exterior of the building.


Visitors are sometimes surprised that what is outwardly such an imposing church (it cost £20,000 to build) has an intimate feel within.