Bestwood Village St Mark

The Architect of the Church

James Medland Taylor

James Medland Taylor (1834-1909) usually called just Medland, was the elder brother of Henry Medland Taylor. He was born in 1834 at Stanford Rivers, Ongar, Essex. He began his training in Leatherland and then was a pupil in the architect’s firm of his uncle, James Medland (after whom he was named) county surveyor in Gloucester. He was later associated with S S Teulon (the architect of Bestwood Lodge and Emmanuel Church, Bestwood).

Medland and Henry Taylor set up their architecture firm at 2, St Ann’s Churchyard, Manchester. The two brothers were very busy during the second half of the 19th Century, and Medland was active into the 20th. Their main activity, either individually or together as a team, was building Anglican churches for many growing communities in what is now known as Greater Manchester, and also in the neighbouring counties of Lancashire, Derbyshire and Cheshire.

If the neighbourhood did not have a wealthy benefactor, cost was an important factor, and this is probably why many of the churches are made of brick rather than stone. Even with these basic materials, several of the churches have been considered high enough quality to be given Listed Building status. Their best-known work, according to the Historic Churches Advisor to the Victorian Society:

... is probably the extraordinary free-form brick church of St Anne at Denton (grade II*, 1881); this forms the nucleus of the most important cluster of their buildings still surviving, comprising St Anne with its adjoining lych-gate (grade II) and rectory (grade II*), the chancel and transepts added in 1872 to the 16th century timber-framed church of St Laurence, Denton (grade II).

They also built Astley Cheetham Public Library in Stalybridge, and the Blair Hospital and a convalescent home in Egerton. More than fifty new churches were built from James Medland Taylor designs. He was also responsible for the restoration of some ninety more churches and the erection of between fifty and sixty schools.

James Medland Taylor was president for three successive years of the Manchester Architectural Association and two years president of the Manchester Society of Architects.