Rochdale Parish Church of Saint Chad

Rochdale Parish Church of Saint Chad

Rochdale Parish Church of Saint Chad

“Top o’ th’ Steps”

This beautiful Church now stands at the top of the steps, some 124 steps to be precise from Town Hall Square up to St. Chad’s on its elevated position overlooking the River Roch and Rochdale’s grand town centre.

I say now due to the legend that has been told around these parts for centuries.  The story goes that Gamel the Great a landowner of this area by order of the King no less, had ordered a Church built in what is now Rochdale’s town centre, on the south side of the River Roch. The stone from local quarries was gathered and placed near the proposed site ready for the construction. During the night prior to the construction commencing all the stones miraculously appeared at the top of the hill where the church now stands. According to legend, the stones were moved back to the south side of the river by order of Gamel but each night the stones moved back to the “top o’ th’ hill” and so if the story could possibly be true, it gives us the reason for the churches elevated position today.

st chads rochdale

There is no mention of a church in Rochdale in the Domesday Book (1086) but is regarded as inconclusive due to the difficult terrain and sparse population at the time. However it is recorded that Gamel the Thane held two hides of land (240 acres) in Rochdale from the King. Gamel was of the highest order of Thanes by virtue of him holding lands by direct order of the King. Therefore it may be safe to assume he had a church at the time, making the site of St Chads one of the oldest in Lancashire.

Rochdale Parish Church of Saint Chad

4 Comments
  1. Jeanne Scholes Pentecost

    When I come back to rochdale. St. Chads and the walk up the steps is the first thing that I do. What a treasure to still have in the town were people can attend. My children have always enjoyed reading the old gravestones and finding the history.

  2. Ian Winterbottom

    I used to live close to St Chad’s and climbed the Steps going home

    • Jeanne Scholes Pentecost

      How everyone loved going up and down those steps. Why even in my Grandmothers and mothers time. it was the thing on a Sunday night to walk with you girl friends just up and down the steps across to Drake St. and then around again. Young men and ladies got to meet that way. I do believe my mum met my father there because he was from Castleton and she Rochdale. Boys use to come for the surrounding towns. In the days she was younger the Canal was then there. I can’t wait to see if that gets open again before I come back to visit Rochdale.

  3. Ian Winterbottom

    Aye, I got used to the Steps, but they’re not funny after spending the afternoon running up and down the stairs of a double decker. And I had walked it in from Mellor St to get there! Eee by gum, I wasted some swear words on the Steps! Then I could nip down Milkstone Road to dear old Kent Street. It’s a car park now, I think!

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