Heritage Open Days in Stockport

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Last week end St George's Church, Stockport, opened for two Heritage Open Days. They welcomed over 500 visitors to explore the history of the building and its important ministry of remembrance and commemoration in the 100 years since the First World War.

The grade I listed church, described by a former Archbishop of Canterbury as 'the finest church built in England since the Reformation', featured two community art installations. In addition, the Parish Rooms (part of the St George's School buildings) was transformed into a living history display.

The church's chancel was dominated by a poppy fall, where 2828 handcrafted poppies were held suspended above the ground, caught as if fluttering down to earth. The poppies represent each individual who was killed while serving in the armed forces during the First World War and who was named on a Stockport war memorial.

Along the church's aisles, photographs of front doors were displayed. Taken by local photographer Naomi Jones, these showed the front doors of men named on the parish war memorial: familiar front doors from which they left for war, never to return. Beneath each door was a file showing the war grave in which the man had been buried, and giving some biographical information and the cause of his death.

During the First World War St George's School became a military hospital, and so the Parish Rooms were transformed into a model hospital ward, presided over by volunteers dressed as nurses. There was the opportunity for visitors to dress up as patients and nurses, and join in the games which convalescent soldiers played. While visitors looked on, a series of magic lantern slides of the hospital were displayed.

St George's was helped in their preparation for these Heritage Open Days by Captain Lesley Oldham, Mr David Clarke, National Trust’s Dunham Massey, the Pear Mill Vintage Tea Room, Funky Monkey Coffee Company; and by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s First World War: Then and Now programme.

The photo shows the visit to the Parish Rooms of the mayor, Linda Holt, Ken Holt, Tracey Bennet and Audrey Manzano.