Thursday, 18 August 2016

St Michael's in the Hamlet, Liverpool

St Michael in the Hamlet was the second church built by John Cragg and Thomas Rickman; after completing St George’s in Everton, they proceeded with the construction of this second ‘cast iron’ church, which was completed in 1816. Cragg apparently shipped the cast iron fittings up the Mersey from his foundry in Tithebarn Street to the shore at the bottom of the ‘Hamlet’, providing the name the Cast Iron Shore or the ‘Cazzy’ as it is sometimes known as – at least that’s one of the theories.

Cragg and Rickman used the same ‘flat-pack’ technique on this church as they did on St George’s; with cast iron pillars, arches, window fittings and even the cast iron fire-surrounds. One notable difference is that with St Michael’s they used brick as opposed to the sandstone of St George’s, though both churches are Gothic in design. Cragg also designed a number of houses in the ‘Hamlet’, creating a model-like village; the houses having Gothic windows and cast iron porches, the whitewashed houses and stables providing an eccentric look to the area. His own house was Hollybank which backs onto the churchyard, and other houses included The Cloisters, The Friars and The Nunnery, all names that remind us of Cragg’s fascination with Gothic religious architecture.

The churchyard also includes some interesting graves; a monument to Robert Gladstone can be found as well as a gravestone for the Herculaneum Potter, indicating that the Church was attracting the affluent industrialists and merchant classes of Liverpool.
The cast iron 'skeleton' inside the Church, retaining the Gothic quality of Cragg's vision.

The Monument to Robert Gladstone in the churchyard.

The 'round house' at the back of Cragg's house Hollybank.
The stables for Hollybank - now a house. The outline of the old arched entrance can still be seen, now bricked up. The stables was used by the congregation of the new St Michael's.

A symbol of a white bird on a Cragg style house.

All photos by Dr David Harrison

© Dr David Harrison 2016

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