Richard Knill Freeman

Bolton architect

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Buildings Buildings by type Churches - alterations St Mary, Deane, Bolton

St Mary Deane, Bolton

Listed Grade II*; in use as church

Freeman made a number of internal alterations in the 1880s to this church which dates from the thirteenth century.

His report about the roof in 1883 was scathing: “The whole of woodwork is more or less rotten…The east end seems to be kept together by bolts and straps. In almost every case the wall hold at the end of the principals has rotted away, in some entirely so, and the principals are kept in position by the support of the upright wall pieces. These also in many cases are very much decayed, and have left the walls, being carried altogether on the corbels.” He noted that the principal and intermediate beams were in poor condition and that the clerestory walls had been forced out of perpendicular in some parts. He advised first to make it safe “which in its present condition it is certainly not” noting “a heavy snowfall might produce serious results. My examination compels me to recommend an entirely new roof as being the best and only satisfactory way of dealing with the case”.

The new roof was built in 1884 and was an exact replica of the previous one. Austin and Paley reported in January 1915: “The nave and Chancel roof (renewed we understand some thirty years ago) are of oak and apparently in excellent condition as is also the leadwork covering same.”

In 1887 Freeman completed further work. He removed the galleries, rebuilt the east window, lengthened the chancel by 10 feet (1884), built an organ chamber (1887) and a ringing chamber. He designed the reredos as a memorial to Bishop Fraser in 1886. This remains, and has been criticised for obscuring the feet of the figures in the stained glass window. The church has a number of memorials to the Hulton family. Freeman did some work in the 1880s for the Hulton estate. There is also a stained glass window dedicated to John Kynaston Cross, MP, who once lived at Crooke Hall.

He may also have designed the lych gate of 1903 and a stone cross in the churchyard path in 1893.

Left: Roof plans

Below: design for reredos


Handwritten letter from Freeman to the vicar of Deane church, 28 September, 1883 (Manchester archives)

Letter from Austin and Paley, 24 January, 1915 (Manchester archives)

The Architect, 25 September 1885

The stained glass windows of St Mary’s Church, Deane (April 1985)

Saynte Mariden (no date)