As you probably know from my previous posts, I like visiting Bolton. In fact, I have been visiting it regularly since my first visit to Manchester in 2002. Back then I didn’t go farther than Bolton Market Hall which dates back to 1855 (left
, courtesy of Bolton Revisited
). The inside of the building may remind you of a train station. Back in 1855 it was said to be ‘the largest covered market in the kingdom’. Thanks to the townsfolk petition in the recent years, the Market Hall has been spared closure and is currently being renovated. I loved visiting Morelli’s Cappuccino on the terrace, where they brew one of the best cappuccinos I’ve ever drunk, complete with a chocolate heart on top of the foam. Morelli’s are still running, but these days they’ve moved to the ground floor, which admittedly has taken away some of the beauty of the pastime there.
Last time I went to Bolton was this Saturday, and, upon leaving the bus, I crossed the road and walked down the street, and then I turned right, into a quaint cobbled street. I knew exactly where I was going, but the route I took was not the usual one. I had some free time before my appointment, thus I wasn’t afraid of getting lost in the unknown quarter of the town.
As I was walking down this cobbled street (which name I don’t even know), I was looking here and there, and suddenly there was this little quite street on my left, and there I saw this building. I couldn’t stop by, but I gave myself a word to return to this street on my way back.
The building houses St Andrews Court, adjacent to Crompton Shopping Centre. If you mentally project the view in this picture to the right, there will be Crompton car park, and the old building faces the entrance to the parking place. But it is so easy to never look into the street where St Andrews Court is located and so to pass it by that we can certainly call it Bolton’s Hidden Gem, as a parallel to Manchester’s St Mary The Hidden Gem.
The building boasts a very unusual tower, which was what attracted my attention to it in the first place. Although from the first glance St Andrews Court looks to be located in an old church’s building, on second thoughts it is unlikely. The tower looks nothing like a bell tower, not only because it doesn’t actually have a bell, but also because it is very small. And secondly, the back of the building has got this peculiar stained glass window. If you look at the picture, in the third from the bottom row of symbols you will see a horseshoe on the left, and the initial ‘A’ on the right. I’m struggling for the meaning of the middle image, but perhaps it is a fishing net? At any rate, my second guessing is that the building may be a guildhall.
What is most interesting is that I am also struggling to find information about St Andrews Court on the web. I know that if I bury my head into books on local history at Bolton Library or even Manchester City Library, I will find some information. But despite the fact that several local history portals are currently present online, hardly any of them mentions the original purpose of the building where St Andrews Court is now located.
Nevertheless, the place has got this magical aura, and I don’t think it has to do anything with the fact that I have only just discovered it, that I know little about it, and that for these reasons it appears to be mysterious and unique. On the left you can see the picture of a walk between the court’s building and the edifice next to it (it’s made of red brick and these days has got a blue-and-white visor above the shop window). The walk is apparently called Bowker’s Row (the image is a courtesy of Bolton.org.uk), and to me it looks like an entrance to a rabbit hole.
Needless to say, if you have any more information on St Andrews Court, feel free to share it with us via the comments.
My Trips to Bolton-1
My Trips to Bolton-2 (Ye Olde Man and Scythe)
Our Treasures – ‘a gateway to the hidden treasures of Bolton and Bury Art Galleries and Museums’
St Mary’s The Hidden Gem – a website dedicated to Manchester’s St Mary’s Church, affectionately nicknamed The Hiddem Gem. ‘St. Mary’s (The Hidden Gem) was founded in 1794 in the centre of what was then, the poorest quarter of Manchester . It is now thought to be the oldest post- Reformation Catholic church founded as a church in any major centre of population in England. The Relief act allowing Catholic churches to be built again as churches was passed in 1791. The building of St. Mary’s was begun in 1792. This makes St Mary’s the Catholic mother-church of the whole of Greater Manchester‘