THIS week, we capture a charming Edwardian view of St Mary’s Parish Church which was built using the red sandstone of Lancashire.

Standing in a commanding position overlooking Prestwich Clough and the Irwell Valley, the church is a noble building dating from the 15th century.

Evidence of the existence of an earlier church was found when the present one was being restored and Norman fragments were discovered.

Built about 1500, the tower measures 19sq ft and rises to a height of about 86ft.

A reference in the churchwarden’s accounts tells us that there existed a clock in the tower in 1656.

The churchyard has been extended during the last two centuries.

The ‘mounting block’ or ‘horse stone’ near the main gates was set up in 1678 for the benefit of those who came to church on horseback.

St Mary’s is unusual in that well into the 18th centur, it stood alone on its cliff-like eminence and had no town or village clustering around it.

The only semblance of a village was on that portion of Bury Old Road that was known as Rooden Lane.

The entrance gates to the church, which date from 1827, were removed as part of the war effort in 1942.

In the churchyard lies the oldest decipherable memorial on church grounds. It reads: “Here lyeth the bodies of the children of Thomas Collier — Richard, Mary, John and Martha who were buried Be Twixt the first and twelfth of December AD 1641.”

* Information and photography courtesy of local historian Ian Pratt.