Abandoned church’s beauty revealed

AN ABANDONED church in Stalybridge has been uncovered by an explorer of unused buildings.

And St Raphael’s in Millbrook left Jake Parr awestruck, especially its stained glass window.

The former Catholic church, which is Grade II listed, has not been used since July 2011 and has been up for sale for a price of £450,000.

However, actor Jake ventured inside and found things are not in a shameful state.

The cross that once hung over the altar is now resting on it and even a banner that was used at Whit Walks is still intact.

And Jake has answered one burning question, ‘How did he get in?’

He told the Correspondent: “I was very shocked when I went in there as it is a beautiful church and it is very sad that nobody has bought it.

“I love old buildings like that with a lot of history behind it as I am a history seeker.

“The door was open at the back and I was expecting for everything to be smashed up and vandals broke most of the things but in this case it wasn’t that bad.”

Opened in 1963, St Raphael the Archangel was built on Huddersfield Road after Millbrook was made its own parish. It served an area that was formerly part of the parish of St Peter’s, Stalybridge.

Following a succession of well-attended masses celebrated in the canteen of Staley Mill, Millbrook, from 1946, Bishop John Murphy of Shrewsbury took the decision in 1958 to constitute Millbrook as a new parish.

He dedicated it to the St Raphael, one of the three Archangels named in the Bible.

That same year, Father James Fraser arrived in Millbrook and began to celebrate masses, hear confessions and perform baptisms from a rented house and later from a wooden parish hall.

On October 14, 1961 Bishop Murphy laid the foundation stone and on April 25, 1963 his successor, Bishop Eric Grasar, solemnly blessed and opened the church building.

St Raphael’s was listed by Historic England for several reasons, notably its design and the large stained glass window by Pierre Fourmaintraux.

“I absolutely adore that window,” added Jake, who also explored the nearby abandoned power plant on Grove Road. “It’s unreal. It’s absolutely gorgeous.”

• If you want to follow Jake on his adventures, find him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Abandonend/ or on Instagram by looking up Jake Parr Actor.

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