Manchester: Something rich and strange
Stainedglass – Clare Hartwell
Like almost all medieval churches of any size, Manchester
Cathedral was once filled with stainedglass, but little is known of
it, apart from tantalising descriptions and a few fragments taken
elsewhere.4 What survived into the twentieth century, including Victorian as well as ancient glass, was finished off by the
Manchester Blitz. The cathedral went on to acquire the major
examples of twentieth-century glass which are considered here.
Stained and painted glass was and remains a major strand
mechanism, swept such ancient belief away.
When you strip everything except the aesthetic frontage away,
the history can be conveniently reconstructed too. The facades
mean that a mythical version of the city can be created, and we
can all conveniently sidestep living in the reality of Manchester.
60 Stained-glass windows of the Presentation Sisters convent in Collyhurst
Manchester: Something rich and strange challenges us to see the quintessential
post-industrial city in new ways. Bringing together twenty-three diverse writers
and a wide range of photographs of Greater Manchester, it argues that how we see
the city can have a powerful effect on its future – an urgent question given how
quickly the urban core is being transformed. The book uses sixty different words
to speak about the diversity of what we think of as Manchester – whether the
chimneys of its old mills, the cobbles mostly hidden under the tarmac, the
passages between terraces, or the everyday act of washing clothes in a
laundrette. Unashamedly down to earth in its focus, this book makes the case for
a renewed imaginative relationship that recognises and champions the fact that
we’re all active in the making and unmaking of urban spaces.
: Rutherford Press Limited, 2007).
2 Christina Riggs, Unwrapping Ancient Egypt: The Shroud, the Secret and the Sacred
(London: Bloomsbury, 2014).
3 Sven Beckert, Empire of Cotton: A Global History (New York: Vintage, 2015).
4 H. A. Hudson, ‘The ancient glass of the Cathedral Church of Manchester’,
Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society 25 (1907), pp.
5 Peter Cormack, Arts & Crafts StainedGlass (New Haven, CT: Yale University
Press, 2015), pp. 248–53.
are still contained within the boundary walls that they did not go
beyond after first entering.
If you were to walk down Oldham Road now, past the Chinese
supermarket, the Post Office depot and the funny little is-it-a-minigarden-centre-yard before turning left into Livesey Street, you
might wonder what microcosm lies beyond the walls. You might
imagine the lives wrought in iron, brick and stainedglass. You
might even wonder if it is indeed a convent.
The walls there are many. High ones surround the gardens;
internal ones connect the seen and