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Our History


A Written History

Waterloo
Waterloo hardly existed in 1835 and for the next fifty years it grew but slowly and was almost entirely confined to the sea front. In 1857 the only building on South Road was the Liver Inn.

The population increased from 6,000 in 1871 to 9,000 in 1881, just over 17,000 in 1891 and up to 31,000 by 1931. Owing to the increasing population, more places of worship were needed and St. John's Church was built in 1865, the Congregational Church in 1866, St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in 1875 and St. Mary's in 1877. In the 1880's however, Waterloo Park consisted of only a few large houses standing in extensive grounds and there were no houses at all to the north of it.

Church Site
Our Church stand in a secluded position, remote from an main traffic route. In 1933, the land south of the Church, formerly Waterloo Park Cricket Club and Waterloo Park Tennis Club, was sold for development and the present Brook Vale estate was built. There were a few further small developments after the war in Ronald Road and Eshelby Close.  

With this climate of steady increase in population, the parish church of St. Mary's has been a key part of the community over the past 130 years .


The Buildings
Key dates for our buildings are:

Dedication of the iron church 30th December 1877
Consecration of permanent church 17th February 1886
Parish Hall opened 6th June 1901
Completion of the nave 25th September 1907
Ante-room added to the Parish Hall 1908
Annexe to the Parish Hall opened 22nd April 1934

The order of events is interesting. One of the first decisions which Canon Sykes had to make at the beginning of his ministry at St. Mary's was whether to concentrate on the completion of the church itself or whether to promote the building of a Parish Hall. He chose the latter on the grounds that the life of the church needed facilities to meet other than at public worship and he never regretted the decision.  

The "iron church" served part of the Parish of St. John's, Waterloo, the curate-in-charge being the Rev. Henry Burrowes M.A. This iron church must, from the outset, have been regarded as only a temporary expedient as, less than five years later, on 31st July 1882, the foundation stone of the permanent church was laid by the Lord Bishop of Liverpool, Dr. Ryle. Although the new building was completed and licensed for worship in November 1883, difficulties arose which delayed consecration until 17th February 1886.

One of the difficulties was a weakness in the foundations and the original concept of a church with a steeple had to be changed. We now have a squat crenellated tower which has its own appeal. A further alteration had to be made in the belfry where it was thought that a peal of "proper" bells could not be accommodated. Therefore, tubular bells which are much lighter were installed. 

At the time of consecration, St Mary's was still not a "parish" nor was its incumbent a "vicar" as according to the law, until the death or resignation of the Vicar of the Parish from which the area of work a new church is formed, it is only a "district" and its incumbent the "perpetual curate". This did not occur until 1901 when Canon Herbert Jones resigned the incumbency of St. John's.

In the meantime, the church suffered a grievous loss with the death of Mr. Burrowes. The choice of successor fell upon the Rev. S. J. Sykes, BA who at the time held a curacy in Worcestershire although he had previously been a resident of Waterloo and a worshipper at the church. Thus commenced a ministry of over forty years and the name of Canon Sykes will always be associated with St. Mary's.

1901 proved to be a memorable year for the church. In February, a vicarage and benefice house in Park Road were purchased at a cost of £2,017, 11s. and 9d. and the incumbent moved into the former from his residence in Birchdale Road. In APril, a bazaar held in the Town Hall in aid of the Building Fund raised £1,070, 1s 9d. and the new Parish Hall was opened in August. This, with furnishings, cost £1,750. The same month, St. Mary's became a self-contained parish and later that year, electric lighting was installed in the church, the first in Waterloo to adopt this form of illumination.

The Opening of the parish hall had an immediate effect on the general activities. Sunday School and Bible Classes thrived. Monthly "parish gatherings" were inaugurated in 1902, these took the form of concerts, recitals, dramatic readings etc., a feature of the parish which is still evident today.  

At this time, attendance was approximately 200-250 at Matins and Evensong which with the accommodation available then must have meant a very full church. Later, after the nave had been extended, numbers were estimated at 250-300.  

Continuing fund raising enabled the church to be further developed with a carriage drive being added and the floor re-tiled in 1904. The same year, the foundation stone for a new extension was laid on 25th September. In the meantime, the Parish Hall was not forgotten and a gift of £100 in 1907 enabled plans for an ante-room to be drawn up. The work was completed in 1908 and facilitated a new boiler installation which improved the heating to the enlarged church.  

The Great War brought some disruption but following victory in 1920, St John's Chapel within the church was dedicated as a War Memorial. The small blue carpet before the altar in the Chapel is a piece of the Coronation carpet of King Edward VII, the Peacemaker. 

The PCC in 1933 were able to acquire land to the south of the church, the old cricket ground and work commenced on an annexe to the hall. The new annexe, with its entrance facing the Brookvale Estate was opened in April 1934 and this completed the building as they are seen today although there have been many interior changes.

In 1936 , a new "Thompson" (the Mouseman) altar and reredos were presented to the church (the mice incorporated into the design can be seen if you look hard!). New oak choir stalls were installed as a memorial to Canon Sykes, whilst the east window, a victim of the blitz, was replaced. In 1946, the font was moved from the west end of the church to a new baptistry in the north transept. A glass screen now separates the narthex from the main portion of the nave, whilst the south porch has been converted into a memorial chapel.  


History Booklet

SAINT MARY'S STAINED GLASS WINDOWS
(Article kindly submitted by Francisco Rubia)

I will never forget the first time I "discovered" Saint Mary´s church. It felt as if I had found a treasure because, although I have been living in Waterloo for twenty one years, I had never even heard of the church. It was all thanks to Heritage Open Days in September 2015 that I came across such a beautiful gem. As I walked down Park Road, I confess I was full of excitement, and when I got to St. Mary´s Road and saw the church for the first time, I loved the building, but little did I know that the church that reminded me of St. Asaph´s Cathedral in Wales, contained one of the most glorious collection of stained glass windows I had seen in my life. I am no expert, but my love for stained glass has taken me to many corners of Britain, simply to admire and take pictures of such impressive pieces of art, particularly those produced by the great artists William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones. Although St. Mary's does not own any glass produced by those superb artists, the stained glass windows we can admire today should be considered among the best in our region. 

Why do so many churches and cathedrals display such astonishing collections of stained glass windows? Apart from the fact that they add more beauty to any religious building, in the Middle Ages, when most people were illiterate and, thus, unable to read, those going to mass were able to identify scenes from the Bible or learn about different saints. Victorian architects and artists in general loved the Middle Ages and found their inspiration in medieval legends and ancient cathedrals, so it is not surprising that so many Victorian buildings, like our beloved St. Mary's church, were built in Neo-Gothic style. When we think of the great cathedrals of England, say Canterbury, Lincoln or York, not only are we overwhelmed by the scale of such impressive buildings, but also by the glory of their stained glass windows, among the very best in Europe.

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1. The Good Shepherd. This gem is hidden on the North wall to the left of the East window.

The North Wall Windows

It is my humble opinion that St. Mary's stained glass windows are among the best in the North West, both in terms of quality and variety. One just has to look at those bright colours and feel moved by their beauty. Some of the original Victorian glass was removed and replaced by more modern creations. The large East window, above the altar, is a good example. The first time I saw it, I knew it wasn't the original Victorian window that, one day, would have welcomed local parishioners. Not only are the colours more "transparent" than those displayed in the remaining original Victorian windows, but also the figures are more angular, less human in one way, more influenced by Art Deco and modern art than by the Middle Ages. If we take the central figure of Christ in Majesty and compare it to that displayed in the central lancet within the window in the South transept, we can notice the difference straight away, since in the South transept we are admiring a far more gentle and more human Christ than the one that welcomes us from above the main altar.
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2. The impressive East window.

Nevertheless, I am totally convinced that when St. Mary's church was finished, the three great windows displayed above the main altar and in both the North and the South transepts came from the same workshop and were probably produced by the same artist, or perhaps by two different artists who were brothers, but definitely they did work together. The reason why I am so convinced is because the composition is very similar in both transept windows, although the artist who produced the human figures depicted in the North transept was more gifted, given the fact that facial features and expressions are far more perfect and more beautiful than those depicted in the South transept. But at the same time, we could say that perhaps the artist (his brother?, his fellow glazier?) who designed or produced the South transept window was far more talented when it came to robes or attention to detail. Have you ever seen a more glorious halo than the one behind Christ's head in the South transept? A more beautiful robe than the one Moses is wearing? My goodness, those two artists were real masters! That is why, although I find the current great East window so impressive, I cannot help but feel sorry when I think that one day, in the past, there was an even more beautiful window that was damaged or destroyed. We probably will never know! 
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3. Detail of Christ in Majesty

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4. Detail of the Transfiguration window in the South transept.

Nevertheless, I am totally convinced that when St. Mary's church was finished, the three great windows displayed above the main altar and in both the North and the South transepts came from the same workshop and were probably produced by the same artist, or perhaps by two different artists who were brothers, but definitely they did work together. The reason why I am so convinced is because the composition is very similar in both transept windows, although the artist who produced the human figures depicted in the North transept was more gifted, given the fact that facial features and expressions are far more perfect and more beautiful than those depicted in the South transept. But at the same time, we could say that perhaps the artist (his brother?, his fellow glazier?) who designed or produced the South transept window was far more talented when it came to robes or attention to detail. Have you ever seen a more glorious halo than the one behind Christ's head in the South transept? A more beautiful robe than the one Moses is wearing? My goodness, those two artists were real masters! That is why, although I find the current great East window so impressive, I cannot help but feel sorry when I think that one day, in the past, there was an even more beautiful window that was damaged or destroyed. We probably will never know! 
The transept windows present a very similar composition. First of all, as in the East window, Christ in Majesty appears as the central figure, but in this case He is framed by the type of gothic canopy that was so common in the Middle Ages and also in Victorian times.
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5. The Transfiguration window.

The Ascension window, in the North transept, shows Jesus taken up into Heaven after having blessed His disciples in the vicinity of Bethany. In the lower part of this most spectacular window we can read "I ascend into my Father and your Father".
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6. The Ascension window

The Narthex

As we enter our beloved church, we cannot miss the little treasure that will greet us and give us a clue of the beauties that await us once we have passed the narthex. This is a memorial window created "To the Glory of God in memory of those who fell and in gratitude to all who served in the Great War 1914-1919". We are welcomed by seven figures, five adults and two children. I was puzzled by the fact that, while I could recognise Christ in the central lancet surrounded by St. Philip, St. John the Baptist and St. Peter, I had never heard of Naaman, who appears in the last lancet. Thanks to my good friend Ray I learned that Naaman was a highly regarded commander of the army of the king or Aram, and since this window is supposed to be a homage to those who served in the Great War, having chosen a brave commander seemed the perfect thing to do. Apart from the figures themselves, one cannot help but admire the beauty of the plinths upon which they stand.
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7. The Narthex window

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8. Detail of a plinth in the Narthex window.

Next to the narthex we can admire a charming little chapel with a double lancet window depicting the three Marys and an angel. This is the only window signed by its author, I. M. Cox, something not uncommon when it comes to modern glass, and as in the great East window, the influence of modern art is very obvious. The angel window was created in loving memory of Alfred E. Wright, died in 1937, while the Three Marys window is in loving memory of Mary, his wife, who died in 1939.
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9. The angel in the little chapel.

The South Wall Windows

The four double lancet windows we can admire on the South wall were created to commemorate the deaths of four local men, two of whom were killed in action, and for that reason it is not surprising to find saints depicted as soldiers. Apart from the window whose main theme is Jesus walking on water, this is a group of very "masculine" depictions.  
The first window shows St. Alban and St. George and reads: "In loving memory of Lawrence Frank Milner, aged 22, killed in action in 1915". St. George is depicted wearing armour and a helmet.
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14. Detail of the St. Alban and St. George window depicting the dragon slashed by St. George.

The second window is a more delicate and far more peaceful composition depicting Jesus walking on water in the left lancet, while St. Peter is on a boat in the right lancet. Given the nature of the theme and the fact that it would look more in place surrounded by the windows on the North wall, one could think that perhaps all the windows on this wall were originally meant to represent saints or different episodes of Christ's life, and at a later stage it was decided that they would commemorate the lives of those who died in both wars. Or maybe some older windows were destroyed and then replaced by the ones we can admire today, but one thing is obvious: this window seems out of place on this wall! 
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15. Detail of the window depicting Christ walking on water

The third window shows St. George and St. Cuthbert and reads at the bottom: "In loving memory of John Dorning of Woodlea, Waterloo Park, who died in 1886. Window dedicated in 1888". Once again we can see a warrior-like Saint George and a ferocious looking dragon at his feet.
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16. Detail of the St. Cuthbert and St. George window

The last window continues the war theme, depicting Loyalty and Courage in loving memory of Captain David Vickery Leighton, killed in action in 1944.
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17. Loyalty continues the war theme.

The North Wall Windows

The windows displayed along the North wall are more delicate, more feminine than those on the South wall. We simply have to look at St Michael, depicted in the left lancet of the first window we come across. Even though this angel is slashing a dragon, his facial expression transmits calm and peace, theme we can admire in the right lancet. It is not surprising that this window was created to commemorate "the safety of our sons who weren´t killed at war, 1914-1918".
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8. Detail of St Michael.

The second window, in loving memory of Mary Edwards, died in 1923, also depicts a very peaceful scene. One's attention is drawn to Eli's open hands welcoming a child that makes us think of a very young Jesus, but it's Samuel the prophet. The colours and attention to detail of the robes are extraordinary, and so is the background, depicting the traditional gothic canopies we are so used to, even though this is a post-Victorian window.
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9. Eli welcoming Samuel in the temple.

Then we come across the stained glass window that, in my opinion, is the best among the jewels treasured in our Saint Mary's church. The quality of its colour and design makes me think that it could have been produced by the prestigious firm Clayton & Bell. The window, created in loving memory of Francisca de Sampaio, wife of F.Golthurst, who died in 1887, depicts "this woman who was full of good works and alms deeds which she did". Once again, we are in front of a most delicate and very feminine composition whose characters transmit kindness, gratitude and hope. A truly beautiful window indeed!
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 10. This kind and generous lady is giving food to a pauper.

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11. The pauper is a young girl.

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12. And two monks witness the kind lady's gesture and perhaps they hope they will be fed too.

Finally we come across our last window, in memory of Donald LEGGET and his wife, interesting because it was created in the manner of a Victorian window, but a closer examination reveals that this is the most recent of all the windows in the church, as Donald LEGGET's wife died in 1971.
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13. A modern window in the style of an old one.

(The stained glass webpages have been produced from an article by Mr. Francisco Rubia, and we are indebted to him for his camera work and written text used in these webpages.)

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