The Holy Trinity Church in Upper Brook Street, Manchester was the first Armenian Church built and consecrated in Western Europe. It opened its Victorian doors to the Manchester Armenians on Easter Sunday, 1870.
The Armenians are an ancient people whose country included Mount Ararat, the present Republic of Armenia and much of eastern Turkey. It is a mountainous region surrounded by powerful often-warring neighbours. In the year 301 Armenia was the first country to establish Christianity as its state religion and this became a bone of contention with its non-Christian neighbours.
It appears that some Armenians have settled in Britain since Roman times. A later link with Britain was forged in India, where many Armenians had prospered since the sixteen hundreds. Again, their knowledge of languages and trade was valued by the British entrepreneurs, who paved the way until 1858, when India became “the jewel in the Crown of Britain England“.
Armenians have lived in western Turkey, such as Constantinople (Istanbul) and Smyrna (Izmir) since the Byzantine days. As many of them were in the cotton trade, they had established connections with Manchester.
“Cottonopolis“, as Manchester was nicknamed, became the obvious destination for some Armenians in the textile trade. The Armenian pioneers had set up agencies here in the 1830s and 1840s and by 1862 about thirty Armenian firms were operating in Manchester. As they prospered their thoughts turned to building their own church. They bought the plot of land on the corner of Upper Brook Street and Swinton Grove, raised the funds and built the present Holy Trinity Armenian Church.
A resident priest occupied the Vicarage at Holy Trinity Church. The incumbent, as well as looking after the spiritual needs of the community also often produced journals etc. The community used the Church as a focal point not only for worship but also as a social centre. The community of Manchester, because of its prosperity, held a distinctive position in the European Armenian Diaspora.
In recent years, the Manchester community has declined: the older generations have died and their children have moved away or intermarried. The number of Armenians in and around London however has increased. They have come from trouble spots around the world, namely: Cyprus, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine.