Joshua Brookes and the Missing Grooms at Manchester Cathedral

03rd September 2014

Review: Joshua Brookes and the Missing Grooms at Manchester Cathedral, Saturday 30 August 2014 If you had wandered into Manchester Cathedral last Saturday and suddenly found yourself ‘married’ to a complete stranger- then there is just one man to blame- The Reverend Joshua Brookes. Last Saturday’s dramatic monologue, ‘Joshua Brookes and the Missing Grooms’, held as part of the ‘Voices from the Past’ series of plays, received a fantastic reception from the audience seated within the magnificent 15th century quire at the cathedral. Joshua Brookes was chaplain of the church from 1790 until his death in 1821. The years of his chaplaincy saw the workforce of Manchester grow from 17,000 to 180,000. As one of the few churches for miles around, this meant that many of his services – particularly baptisms, marriages and funerals – were conducted in mass ceremonies, and he baptised, married and buried more persons than any other clergyman in England. He was infamous for his eccentricity and bluntness – if he did not like the name of a baby presented to him for baptism he frequently changed it to one of his choosing. If husbands-to-be dallied too long in the alehouse he would not delay the wedding service; an unsuspecting male would be pulled from the congregation to stand next to the bride and the missing groom would be married by proxy. The play was directed by Daisy Black with the main character played by John Hickey. The sell-out crowd reacted brilliantly as he hectored, lectured and married them before departing the stage in search of his favourite humbugs. Manchester Cathedral was delighted to welcome Mr Alan Maude from Stockport to the performance; he had brought along a copy of the marriage certificate of one of his relatives married by Joshua Brookes in 1791. The play is one of a series of dramatic monologues adapted from scripts written by Dave Coggins, running throughout the year and bringing Manchester Cathedral’s fascinating 600 year history to life.  For more information and details of the events programme contact Manchester Cathedral on 0161 833 2220,