Lady Ann Bland, the founder of St. Anns Church, Manchester was related to the Moseley family They resided at Hough End Hall, Withington and also had a residence in Ancoats, known as Ancoats Hall, situated near the River Medlock.
The Moseley family had lived in the Wolverhampton area from the thirteenth century before coming to Manchester. They had their own church in Didsbury - the Didsbury Tower, now St. James - where one will find monuments dedicated to that family. The founder was Edward Moseley Knight.
Lady Ann married Sir John Bland and took up residence with him in Hulme Hall, beside the River Irwell. He was reputed to be a great gambler but actually he only dissipated his own money, because Lady Ann was a strong woman of great character and managed to hang on to her own fortune. There were two sons from the marriage and Lady Ann was always considered to be a good, virtuous woman with a pleasing and happy disposition - she was also devoutly religious. On the personal side, she collected small marble statues as a hobby.
Lady Ann Bland considered the Collegiate Church of St. Marys - now Manchester Cathedral - to be too high and wanted an alternative for the people of Manchester. Accordingly, she decided to endow and pay for a church to be built in Acres Field in the centre of Manchester on land which had previously belonged to the wealthy Baguley family, who owned the Irk Corn Mills
On completion, the building was consecrated by William Dawes, the Bishop of Chester, as St. Anns Church Although the consecration of the church did, in fact, honour Queen Anne. it was considered by many to be rather fortunate that Lady Ann Bland, who had been the benefactress and principal of the movement to establish such a church, had the same Christian name as the sovereign.
Lady Bland, who loved to dance, attended a Dancing Academy once a week at which the ladies had to be chaperoned. The Curates were not allowed to attend the dances, they could only take part in meetings on mathematics - which must have been rather dull for them!
Traditionally a Fair had been held in Acres Field, an annual event established from the time of Henry III and known as St. Michaels Day Fair. Lady Ann, in her time, danced in the street wearing orange blossoms in her hair to show her allegiance to William IV.
Lady Ann's greatest rival was Lady Drake, who lived in a house called Squires Gate. This became much later a public house Known as the Crown and Shuttle Inn in Long Millgate.
Lady Drake was a very vivacious character who was considered to be slightly eccentric - mainly, apparently because she refused to drink tea and wore silk stockings attended the Collegiate Church to worship and to influence the parishioners to Support the Jacobites and Charles, the young Pretender to the throne.
In 1745 Charles Stuart, the young Pretender, rode down Acres field to the cheers of Lady Drake's friends who had railied round her. She made a tine figure wearing tartan and silk stockings, presenting a far more flamboyant figure than the dainty Lady Ann Bland wearing her orange blossems.
St. Ann's Church was very popular with Manchester residents after it was consercrated by the Bishop of Chester. John Wesley preached here and wrote the hymn Christians Awake for the correregation.
Sir John Blands estate in Hulme was eventually sold to the Duke of Bridgewater and he used the land to construct a canal for the transportation ot coal to Liverpool docks.
His wife's collection of marble statues was housed afler this for a time in Worsley Hall home of the Lancashire branch of the Worsleys
The one time Acres Field is now St. Ann's Square
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