A History of St Mark, Worsley
The Patron of St Mark's Church, Worsley, was Francis Leveson-Gower who later took the title Lord Francis Egerton, heir of the Duke of Bridgewater (The Canal Duke). He was born on the first day of the century, 1st January 1800, and became the 1st Earl of Ellesmere and Viscount Brackley in 1846, the week the church was consecrated.
In 1833, when he succeeded his father (George Granville Leveson-Gower,1st Duke Of Sutherland) as beneficiary of the Bridgewater Trust and moved to Worsley, he described the place as "A God-forgotten place, its inhabitants much addicted to drink and rude sports, their morals deplorably low"
The whole district was in a state of religious and educational destitution, there was no one to see to the spiritual wants of the people and teaching was all but nullity itself.
As well as the church, he provided the village with many other facilities, including a reading room.
The Foundation Stone was laid on 15 June 1844 by Lord Egerton's eldest son George Granville Francis on the occasion of his 21st birthday. In the cavity of the stone specimen coins of each denomination were placed
The Church building was completed and consecrated on 2 July 1846 by The Rt Rev John Bird Sumner, Bishop of Chester – the year before the new diocese of Manchester was created. In fact at the consecration, the tower and steeple were not quite finished, and the stained glass windows had not yet been acquired
A commanding site of 10,403 acres was chosen, known as Cross Field, taking its name from the Travellers’ or Our Lady’s Cross which formerly stood at the junction of Leigh and Walkden Roads. It appears on 18th century maps and was probably a travellers’ cross
Later that century, the Duke of Bridgewater and his agent/engineer John Gilbert built a lead pencil manufactory on the site - the vaulting in the cellar of what is now the Rectory, which was built in 1850 and originally known as Crossfield House, may be a relic of this (John Gilbert has received belated recognition with the naming of a new pub opposite the church - at which the Rector pulled the first pint.)
The church dominated the rural landscape then as it does the motorway network now