Saturday, May 9

1937: The Opening of St Thomas More's

It's 72 years to the day since the church of St Thomas More on the Marsh estate was opened. The picture here records the event: Bishop Pearson, wearing cope and mitre, is seen in the centre sprinkling holy water. The rite involved walking around the new church while saying prayers of exorcism and singing the litany of the saints. The notice book from 1937 gives us a few more details: "Special buses will run to Marsh from the market entrance from 10am to 10:30am today; return buses leave Marsh about 12noon. This is for the solemn opening of the new church of St Thomas More at 10:30am by His Lordship the Bishop of Lancaster; Benediction in the evening at 6:30pm. Special sermons both morning and evening by Right Rev Mgr Lorne(?), St Bede’s Manchester." Today the church is still vibrant, thanks to the efforts of a small community of Ursuline Sisters who have cared for it over the past 15 years or so. Clergy from the Cathedral also serve the church, which is now the only Christian presence on the Marsh. On Low Sunday (19th April) 2009 it was formally re-merged with the Cathedral parish, after several decades as a parish in its own right.

We can't be absolutely sure, but our best sources tell us that the man on the left of the picture is none other than Dr Reginald Dixon, the Cathedral's Director of Music. It is almost certain that he would have been present at the opening, and here is very likely seen leading the singing as the procession walks around the new church.