St Ann's Square is one of Manchester's main shopping areas, offering some high class shopping in one the city's oldest and most distinguished squares. Specialist markets (including The Annual Manchester German Christmas Market), festivals and other events are often held in the square.
The square is named after St Ann's Church, which stands at its Southern end.
St Ann's became a pedestrianised zone in 1983, and vehicles are only allowed in during certain limited periods for delivery, cleaning and servicing.
It is also a conservation area, lined with many buildings of architectural merit, new stores have to fit in with the surroundings.
( McDonald’s fast food restaurant had to tone down its golden arches before it was allowed to open.)
Much of the southern side of the square is dominated by the Royal Exchange building, the historic cotton exchange, which now houses the celebrated Royal Exchange Theatre.
This was part of the area re-built after the 1996 IRA bomb.
(The Royal Exchange Shopping Centre was badly damaged)
In former days, this square boasted famous names like the Kardomah Cafe, Austin Reed, Moss Brothers and Sherratt & Hughes Bookshop (For many years, they published all of the local Joint Matriculation Board's 'O' and 'A' Level GCE examination papers)
St Ann's Arcade still houses some expensive and traditional high class shops.
Today, shops in the Square include Habitat, FCUK, and the Disney Store. The Easy Internet Café is a popular place for visitors wanting to check their email.
In 2009, Molton Browns had opened their new shop the weekend that we visited, so we were invited to have a glass of champagne in there.- We didn't refuse!
This shop has a blue plaque on its wall. This commemorates Robert Owen (1771 - 1858). Owen was a Welsh entrepeneur and social reformer. His ideas formed the basis of the Co-Operative movement. He lived in Manchester for 12 years. His first business in Manchester was on this site around 1786.
See my next tip for info about another Blue Plaque to be found in this square.
This present church was consecrated on 17th July 1712, by The Bishop of Chester.
Queen Anne was on the throne, Lady Anne Bland had petitioned Parliament for permission to build this Church, and it's Dedicated to St Ann (Who was the mother of The Virgin Mary). (I'm sure there will be more Annes/Anns connections). It was designed by John Barker, who was a student of Christopher Wren.
Located in the City centre, St Ann's offers a place for visiters/worshippers 7 days a week. Saturday morning, there is a cafe here with home-made sandwiches and cakes as well as drinks. It is run by volunteers, and sells /serves FairTrade goods. There are sometimes crafts/gifts and 2nd hand goods for sale.
During the Christmas markets, I usually pop in here for a look around (and a warm). There are some interesting stained glass windows. Some of these were reclaimed, from other churches around the city that were being demolished. There are 3 figures by the acclaimed enamel glass painter, William Peckitt, created in 1769.
The church tower is the actual centre of the city of Manchester, and was used as the marker for measuring distances. Look by the tower door for the benchmark.
St Ann's Church is situated in Manchester City Centre. St Ann's Church opened at a time when Manchester was becoming the world's industrial city in the early 19th Century and had drawn people to come and worship there. The church remained intact during the time when people moved out the suburbs which result in other city centre churches being pulled down.
St Ann's will be celebrating 300 years in 2012 and planning to undergo an extensive renewal and development project (St Ann's 300 Appeal) in order to be ready.
The church has a community programme including fund raising events for St Ann's 300 Appeal.
Adjacent the to church is the square where high street shops are and also holds a number events throughout the year including the annual Christmas markets.
This Theatre is quite impressive, and is worth at least a peep inside. It is housed in the former Royal Exchange. The building is a Grade 11 Victorian listed building.
The first exchange was constructed nearby in 1729, and then re built and expanded between 1806-09. This was further enlarged between 1847-1849, only to be replaced between 1867 -1874. Another expansion and renovation by Bradshaw, Gass and Hope completed in 1921 made this the largest trading room in England. Although it is known as The Cotton or Textiles Exchange, other commodities were traded during the buildings history.
During WW2, the Exchange suffered a direct hit from a German bomber. After rebuilding the interior, creating a smaller trading floor, and modifying the clock tower it was back to business, with cotton trading continuing until 1968, when the building was due for demolition.
However, it avoided demolition, laying empty until 1973, when it was used as a temporary theatre. In 1976, the Royal Exchange Theatre was opened as an innovative and permanant stage for major productions, performed 'in the round'
Twenty years later, on the 12th June, 50 metres from the theatre, in Corporation Street, a bomb was detonated by the IRA, causing the Exchanges dome to move. Surprisingly there was little internal damage, but it had to close for repair work.
Performances continued in an indoor market building in Castlefield, while repairs took place. Assisted by a grant of 32 million pounds, the work was completed in 2 years. The Theatre was brought upto date, with a second stage area- The Studio, bars, a restaurant, bookshop, craft shop and hospitality suites.
On 30th November 1998, Prince Edward officially reopened the Royal Exchange Theatre, a year later it was awarded 'The Barclays Theatre of The Year'
I was quite impressed with the interior, it managed to look both traditional and also very modern at the same time. The dome with its blue glass was quite stunning. I didn't get to see the stage area, but would like to visit to see a performance one day.
The Theatre area is glass walled, with 7 sides, and is suspended from huge marble pillars. It can seat upto 760 people, and no seat is more than 9 metres from the circular stage!
I particularly liked the old trading board (pic 3+4)
St Ann's Square contains two impressive bronze statues.
One is of Richard Cobden, who was a free trade advocate. He helped establish the Anti-Corn Law League in the 19th Century
The statue is by Marshall Wood and is dated 1867. (pics 2 and 4)
The other is The Boer War Memorial, comprising a group of soldiers. (pics 1 and 3)
The Blue Plaque (pic 5) commemorates William Henry M.D FRCS (1774- 1836) who was born at 19, St Ann's Square.
He was a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and was noted for many achievements including-
-Henrys Law of solubility in water (1802) (Henry's Law states that at constant temperature, the mass of gas dissolved in a liquid at equilibrium is proportional to the partial pressure of the gas!)
-In collaboration with Dalton (1803), he helped establish Daltons Law of partial pressures
-In 1808 he was presented with the Copley Medal by the Royal Society.
Click Here for more info on William Henry ( and his father Thomas Henry, who was also an eminent chemist )
The Henrys were also responsible for the first production of mineral waters in 1802, in Cupids Alley, which is now Atkinson Street
St Ann's Square is one of the most attractive, elegant and popular locations in Manchester city centre. Restorations have been goin on over the years by Manchester City Council and the square is now fully pedestrianisted so you won't have to worry about car getting in your way while you doing your lovely weekend shopping. The historical facades and buildings including St Ann's Cathedral adds to its charm. And there's obviously our favourite internet cafe EasyEverything!
It has some good shops, it has St Ann's church which is lovely inside and the square is a nice place to sit and have your lunch(if it's not raining). They also occasionally have a cultural fair which is fab.
A beautiful interior to this church, situated on St Ann's Square in the city centre. A peacful place and very much still a working church.