|Wigan Rectory Landmark
G.T.O. Bridgeman 1875
Wigan Rectory has served as the home of the Rector’s of Wigan for many centuries, and more famously associated with the Bridgeman family, who were Rectors of the town at different times between 1600 and 1900.
The manorial rights were sold to the Wigan Corporation in 1861. These presumably include all mines and minerals under the land, amongst other rights now belonging to the authority.
The current building dates from 1875, but a Hall at this location can be traced all the way back to at least the time the first Bridgeman came to live here in the 1600’s. Not much is known of early buildings on this site.
By 1873, the house had become incredibly undermined and inhabitable, so it had to be pulled down by the then Rector G.T.O Bridgeman and rebuilt in 1875. A book of great interest to the reader comes highly recommended titled ‘The History of the Church and Manor of Wigan in the County of Lancaster’ by Bridgeman himself. Several older pieces were rescued from the old house and made to fit with the new, these in particular being two wings of a German altar piece of late medieval date. Dating from 1540-1550, there is a panel of Swiss coloured glass.
Sifting through the Wigan Corporation’s old minute books from 1940-1960, the authority were seemingly desperate to purchase the building and continued to ask the government for a loan to complete the transaction, which had been refused. A rather striking request for money came during the War! The Rectory had almost been sold in the early 1950’s but the church decided to keep hold of its valuable possession. In 1956 the Rector completely restored the house.
I took great delight in wandering the outskirts of the building a couple of years ago and have tried my luck getting back to take more photograph’s. It really does put you in a different place altogether, set back from the main roads and the privacy of the huge trees which surround the perimeter, I wonder why no local businessman and the like haven’t taken an interest in purchasing the property for the measly sum of £850,000. If the lottery number came up, I’d certainly be interested in the finest property Wigan has to offer. A true Lord of the Manor.
Perhaps its future lies in the hands of the local authority, should they take an interest in purchasing the house and surrounding land. At least then it would be put to use and allow more people to see it. An ideal location for functions, wedding receptions etc, I can see the potential should they rescue the building and complete remedial actions to the rotting wood internally. Perhaps an ideal location to display some of the 25,000 museum exhibits we have in store also?
The Rectory has been vacant since former Rector Malcolm Forrest resided here, owing to the upkeep of such a grand building. The current Rector is based at Wrightington St. There is at the moment an occupant who I’m told is completing minor works to the house.