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Church Opening

The following is a report taken from the "Chorley Standard" dated 4th November 1865:


A new Catholic Church, dedicated to St Mary, was opened at Euxton on Sunday last. The foundation stone of the new building was laid on the 28th August last year by Dr Goss, Bishop of Liverpool, and consequently the present handsome superstructure has been raised in about 14 months.


The church is erected on a plot of ground to the west of the Preston and Wigan turnpike road, and is nearly in the centre of the village, of which it is the ornament. The style of architecture is the early decorated, and the plan of the church is cruciform, consisting of nave, (with side aisles), transepts and chancel. Mr. E. W. Pugin of Ramsgate is the architect, but his plans have been somewhat modified in certain respects by the incumbent of the mission, the Rev. J. Worthy, who has also prepared the plans for the presbytery, which is connected with the church by a covered roadway, and acted as superintendent clerk of works. On account of the position of the land, the church has been built in a somewhat unusual style, the chancel and transepts being to the west instead of the east. The total internal dimensions of nave, aisles and chancel is 96 ft by 36; chancel is 22 ft by 22; south transept, or Anderton chapel, 22 ft by 12; and the north transept, adjoining to which is the sacristy, 14 ft by 12. The side aisles are only 5 ft wide and have no seats in them, thus throwing the whole congregation into the nave and transepts, from which a full view of the altar may be obtained. About 400 persons may be accommodated. Access is obtained to the church by means of a neat porch at the south-east angle of the building. It has a doorway on each side, and is lighted on the south side by a trefoil window. Thence a pair of folding doors lead into the nave, to which light is communicated on the north and south by 8 two-light windows, which are surmounted by quatrefoil ornaments and externally have hood-mouldings terminating in knots of foliage. At the east end, under the gallery, are 6 lancet windows of small dimensions, and above these are 2 large three-light windows, each 20 ft by 6, the pediments of which are filled with trefoil tracery. The side aisles are lighted from this and also, each by a lancet window with a trefoil head. On the south side of the Anderton chapel is a large three-light window, similar to the one above-mentioned, surmounted by tracery; and on its west side is a two-light window, with a quatrefoil head. The north transept is lighted by three lancet windows, two on the north and one on the east side. Around the inside of the upper portion of the chancel, which is apsidal, runs an arcade, supported by delicate red-stone columns, with foliage capitals, and the windows in which are filled with tinted glass, supplied by Messrs. Pilkington and Co., of the St. Helens Crown Glass Co. These are of appropriate alternate designs, on those having blue grounds being represented vases from which rise white lilies, and in the centre is the monogram of the Virgin Mary; and on the red ground is represented the passion flower, with the holy monogram, I.H.S. At each end of the arcade is a two-light trefoil-leaded.window surmounted by a quatrefoil. The interior of the church has a remarkably light and symmetrical appearance. The nave is in five bays, and the arches are supported alternately by cylindrical and octagonal columns. Over each arch runs a hood-mounting, in plaster, terminating alternately with heads of angels and knots of foliage. The roof is partly of open work, the principal timbers only being visible, this system having been adopted at the suggestion of the Rev. J. Worthy. Supported by three arches, at the east end of the building, is the gallery for the choir. The benches, in the body of the church, are of pine, stained and varnished, and have been supplied by Mr. John Walker of Preston. The floors of the aisles are of red, blue and buff tiles, laid in diagonal patterns; and the rest of the floor is boarded. The chancel is separated from the rest of the church by an oak rail, supported by an iron screen of neat, gothic pattern. The chief ornament of the church is, of course, the altar, which is approached by three steps, and is an exquisite design by the Rev. J. Worthy. The front of the altar, or antependium, is divided into three panels, separated by columns of a green colour, with foliage capitals tinged with gold. The central panel is painted scarlet, green and gold and, enclosed by a quatrefoil, appears the holy monogram. The panels on either hand are painted blue, scarlet and gold, and the monogram is that of the blessed Virgin Mary. The tabernacle and reredos are the same as were used in the old chapel, and are only for temporary use. A painting of the Madonna and Child, also brought from the old chapel, is hung above the altar; and on either hand are statues of the Virgin and child and St. Joseph, placed in carved oaken niches on the wall. It is intended to separate the Anderton chapel from the rest of the building by an ornamental gothic screen. Viewed externally, the building has a striking appearance. Between the upper portion of the two large windows at the east end, already alluded to, is a corbel of beautiful ornamentation, which supports a pedestal, and this in turn supports a niche containing a large statue of the Virgin and child. It is made of Sturton stone (from Cheshire), after a design by Deger, and is the work of Mr. Edward Goflowski, of Liverpool. The end of the gable above is terminated by a floriated cross. Two massive buttresses rise on each side of the east windows. A porch at the south-west corner of the building, similar in style to the one already mentioned, leads into the Anderton chapel, the floor of which on Sunday, together with the chancel floor, was covered with Brussels carpeting.


The architecture of the Presbytery is in unison with that of the Church, and over the entrance is a spirelet, which adds a finished appearance to the whole building. It is intended to place a large bell in the belfry.


The church is built of the red sandstone from a quarry of Captain Anderton’s, in Euxton, with dressings of millstone grit, from Whittle.


The masonry, &c, has been executed by Messrs. Catterall and Isherwood of Chorley; carpenter’s and joiner’s work, Mr. William Jackman, Euxton, through his foreman, Mr John Ashcroft; plastering, painting, plumbing and glazing, Mr. John Heyes, Euxton; slating, Messrs. W. and T. Fairclough, Euxton; smith’s work, Mr. Richard Alker, Euxton; and Mr. T. Hudson, of Chorley, executed the bricklaying of the presbytery, which is faced with stone.


The site was given by George Garstang, Esq of Clayton-le-Woods. The cost of the entire structure will be over £3000, towards which Captain Anderton has kindly contributed £1000, besides giving other assistance in the building of the Anderton chapel, and purchasing the old presbytery. About £400 has been contributed from other sources.


There was pontifical high mass on Sunday morning, the Very Rev. Canon Fisher D.D. being the celebrant. The congregations were large considering the very wet and stormy state of the weather, added to the high price charged for admission. About eleven o’clock, a procession of the clergy and others, headed by a large brazen cross, emerged from the vestry in the following order: the Rev. G. O’Reilly, of Wigan, master of ceremonies; the Right Rev. Thomas Grant, D.D., Lord Bishop of Southwark, with his chaplain, the Rev. T. Walker, of Brownedge; the Very Rev. Canon O’Reilly, of Liverpool, subdeacon of the mass; the Very Rev. Canon Wallwork, deacon of the mass; the Very Rev. Canon Fisher, D.D. of St. Edwards College, Liverpool, celebrant; the Right Rev. Alexander Goss, D.D., Lord Bishop of Liverpool, with the two deacons of the throne, the Very Rev. Canon Greenhalgh, of Weldbank, and the Very Rev. Canon Toole, of Hulme, Manchester. The procession moved slowly along the north aisle, and back along the middle aisle to the altar, a thurifer meanwhile incensing the church. A full and effective choir was in attendance, with organ and band accompaniments. Eight members of Captain Anderton’s reed band were present, under the leadership of Mr. William Hull. There were also vocalists from Preston, Brownedge and Wigan. The programme of music comprised Haydn’s Mass, No. 1, with the exception of Sanctus and Benedictus, which were by Mazzinghi. Mr. Robinson of Preston, gave the solo Ecce Deus. The Music concluded with Haydn’s No. 1 Gloria. Mr. James Ball, of Chorley, presided ably at the organ, and Mr. John Walker, of Brownedge, was the general conductor. 


The Right Reverend Alexander Goss, D.D., Lord Bishop of the Catholic diocese of Liverpool, preached the sermon. He said the sacred scripture, speaking of our Lord, said Jesus of Nazareth went about doing good. The acts which he did, and the sacred maxims which he inculcated, would have earned for him the love and gratitude of all mankind, if in his person there had been recognised nothing more than a benefactor of the human race; but they knew that under the exterior resemblance to themselves – under that same body which he bore from his sacred mother, similar to which they themselves were clothed – they knew that there rested the Godhead, and that he was as truly and as really God as the Father in heaven, and the Holy Ghost who proceeded from the Father and the Son. Being, therefore, God, with the nature, and power, and wisdom, and knowledge of God, he was enabled to spread around him on all sides countless blessings, and at the same time being man like themselves, having the self-same nature, and a human soul like unto theirs, he was enabled to feel compassion for them all, and therefore went about doing good amongst man. They read that the blind invoked his aid, and in putting his hands upon their eyes they at once recovered sight. They read, also, that he raised to life one who had been dead, recalling him from that tomb from which the poet said that “no traveller returns”. They read also that so great was the faith of the people that they actually removed the roof from the house and let down from it all those who were bedridden and paralytic, and unable to walk, and that by his invariable kindness he healed them from their infirmities, forgave their sins, and bade them take up their bed and walk. So, also, they read that amongst other great works which he accomplished, that he healed ten men that were afflicted with leprosy, which was, as they knew, a most loathsome disease. Those infected by it were driven out of their cities, and compelled to dwell outside the gates. Their body was all covered with tumours, their skin peeled off in flakes, their eyes started almost from their sockets, and so loathsome were they that people fled even from their presence. They were the most abandoned outcasts that it was possible to conceive, and they might have the more sympathy with them because they were told that even in this country in past times this pestilential and loathsome disease for some time prevailed, in consequence, they were told, of man feeding too frequently on food that was injurious or prejudicial ; yea some articles of food that were now considered a luxury were said to have been given in such large quantities, as for instance salmon, that leprosy spread through the country. They had reason to thank God that they know this disease only by the description of Eastern writers, and those that had travelled in the East. Now they read that when our Lord was on his way to Jerusalem, as he was on his way through a certain city, there met him ten men who were struck with leprosy, and one of them was a Samaritan. Our Lord bid them go and show themselves to the priest, and on their way they were healed, and one returned to give thanks to God; and he said “were there not ten? where are the others? and this man who is come to return thanks is a stranger.” Now he had been led to make those remarks because he considered their first great duty on this occasion was to return thanks unto Almighty God for the great benefits he had vouchsafed unto them. Truly to them this was a day which the Lord had made, and they had reason to rejoice and be glad, because they felt themselves once more, more or less, re-instated into their former position. They had come from the land of bondage. They had come once more to take possession of a temple more suited to the worship of God than that for which for many years they had been compelled to worship. Now he was especially anxious, not merely for the sake of obtaining further blessings and favours from God, but because he felt it was their first duty that they all should show gratitude to him. They prayed to God, they gave him no rest, as long as they had any trials or troubles, any sorrows or misfortunes, but the very moment that God had stretched out his hand to deliver them, they rose up joyful but seldom thankful. They prayed to God for favours, but they seldom gave him thanks for those he daily showered upon them; and therefore he was especially anxious that that should be a day of thanksgiving, and that they should return him on that occasion their thanks for the many favours with which he had enriched them. And if they wished to judge of this let them go back to their own early history. He continued: It is not necessary to tell you – because it is proclaimed from numerous places still existing in your own neighbourhood and county – it is not necessary to tell you what your ancestors suffered, and how they lost the faith. They did not lose it by one sudden act, otherwise we should be inclined to blame those who so basely gave up their birthright, and so basely abandoned that faith which their ancestors had planted with so much cost, and which was to the honour of their nation. Like all changes, it was the work of time – it was gradually introduced. The people were, in reality, cheated out of their faith. Henry the Eighth laid the foundation-stone of what is called the English Reformation, yet Henry the Eighth was no more a Protestant than you are. He believed in all the tenets of the Catholic faith; but finding that the Pope would not separate him from his wife from whom he wished to be divorced, because he had no issue to succeed him, and because he would not recognise what Henry considered to be his rights, nor concede to his scruples, (though at the same time we must remember that they were married when they were mere children, ) – finding that he could not make sufficient interest with the Pope to accomplish this object, he determined to accomplish it himself, by renouncing the authority of the supreme pontiff. He therefore made the English Church independent of Rome, but in all other matters he believed exactly the same doctrines as we do. He believed our blessed Lord was present in the holy eucharist, - that baptism was a sacrament necessary for salvation, - that ere he died he must be anointed with the holy unction, - and indeed, the rites, sacraments and doctrines which we profess at this time, were professed by him, and with a strange inconsistency he consigned to the same state of punishment those who believed in Protestant doctrines – of which he laid the foundation – and those also who believed in the doctrines of the Catholic Church. He punished both alike because they did not yield to him that homage which he claimed of being the supreme head of the English Church. His son and successor was a mere boy, surrounded by those men into whom had been instilled the principles of the Geneva school. At the same time he was surrounded by a nobility who, having squandered the property they had inherited, coveted the rich lands of the monasteries. Under him the Reformation, as it was called, worked apace, and was finally established in this country. He was succeeded by his sister Mary, who reversed what he had done, and also re-instated the Catholic Church. At the same time we cannot deny that she also persecuted those who dissented from the religion which she wished to restore; but it is only fair to say that she has been unjustly branded with the epithet of cruel and bloody, because, when compared with those who succeeded her, her acts were mild indeed, and if we examine the records of the time we shall find that generally with the new faith there was mixed also a large amount of political turbulence. They claimed to be independent, not merely in matters of religion, but also in matters of state, and therefore most, if not all, of those who were condemned in her reign, were condemned on account of mixing up political matters with the heresy which they professed. To Mary succeeded her sister Elizabeth, who, during her reign had professed the Catholic faith, and who at no time showed any great disinclination unto it. But we must remember that she was peculiarly circumstanced. By the laws of the Catholic Church she was illegitimate, because the marriage between Henry and her mother was illegal, in consequence of Henry’s first wife being still alive. Knowing, therefore, that the Catholic Church would not recognise her legitimacy, she had no remedy, in a worldly point of view, except to carry out those principles which her father had commenced, and to profess that religion which her brother had established. Elizabeth, therefore, slowly but surely threw off the Catholic faith, and adopted the reformed doctrines. Now, under her reign, we indeed suffered a cruel persecution. At the same time it is only fair to her memory to say that she believed, and the facts go far to prove it, that there were at all times a party within her dominions who were anxious to place as her successor on the throne one who was at least hateful and distasteful to her, if on no other account, on account of her virtues, and that was Mary Queen of Scots. It was on this account that Elizabeth persecuted with more severity than she would otherwise have done, because she considered it necessary for the very stability of her throne. She prescribed for religion, but at the same time she saw, as Mary had seen before her, that with the profession of religion she mixed up a suspicion of political crime. Well for us it would have been if the persecution had been limited to that bloody code which Elizabeth had established, but, unfortunately, she was succeeded by James the Stuart, who was the son of that very Mary Queen of Scots, by whom the Catholics had always stood, and whose cause, often at the peril of their own fortunes and lives, they had always advocated. James had promised before his accession to the throne of England that he would protect the members of the old religion; he would at least save them from the fury of the laws under which they suffered. But James, although not naturally a tyrant, had at the same time great wants, and was surrounded by a capacious set of followers, who followed him from Scotland, anxious to share the plunder of his new kingdom. In order to gratify them he must have constant allowances from the English parliament, and the English people always accompanied their grants with some law or other against the provisions of the ancient faith, for we must remember that the new reformed doctrines were beginning to lay hold of the popular mind. At first the people remained attached to the ancient church; yea, in this country as you know, they rose in rebellion in its defence. But as time wore on, the old men who had been born and baptised in the Catholic Church died off, and those who succeeded them had not the opportunity of practising their religious rites, because their religion was prescribed, and thus there gradually grew up a class of men whose minds were open to the new doctrines, and thus was laid what was the foundation as it were of the English Reformation. To James succeeded Charles the 1st, by whom also stood the Catholics as well as by Charles the 2nd. They were never to be found in the ranks of the rebels, and though you may have heard that a few were not faithful, yet there is no record of such a fact, but, on the contrary, the writings of that period make a boast that of the Catholics not one was to be found in that alliance, and this is to their own credit, because they were loyal merely from a principal of religion – not from affection, because the king, to whom they were obedient, harassed and oppressed them by laws which were more cruel than those of Elizabeth. The popular mind, though it may give itself up for a time to sanguine deeds, is averse to the shedding of blood, and there is no doubt that the cruel laws of Elizabeth would soon have fallen into disnetude, because the people would have shrunk from the sight of blood, but at the same time they made laws which were devised with all the cunning ingenuity of the lawyers of that time, by which the Catholic people, and more especially the gentry and nobility, were deprived of their properties. During the whole of this time, Catholics were left without any to administer unto them the consolations of religion. The few priests that remained in the country were generally in the homes of the gentry. They lived there as servants, or as persons attached to them. They travelled with them – they went up to London or other cities with them. They had no fixed place of abode, except the houses of the gentry, and therefore we owe to the Catholic gentry of this land, and more especially to the Catholic nobility and gentry of this county, that remnant of Catholicity that remains amongst us. There were constructed in their houses places of hiding for the clergy, because they were constantly followed and were constantly hunted by their persecutors; and mind, that the gentry for sheltering these Catholics rendered themselves liable to the forfeiture of their estates and their lives. And therefore I say, that on this day we owe also a debt of gratitude to the Catholic gentry of this county for having for so many years, at their utmost peril, preserved the Catholic faith from utter ruin. And if there are more Catholics in this county, we owe it to the fact that a greater number of the gentry remained faithful to the old church. - if you take a map, you will find that wherever there was a landlord not Catholic there is at the present moment hardly a Catholic chapel for miles; whereas, where the gentry remained faithful, you will find Catholic chapels, distant only two or three miles, have sprung up. He then went on to notice the influx of the Irish into the county, and said that they extended to them a brotherly hand because they were brothers in affliction and misfortune. This rendered it necessary to separate the chapels from the houses of the gentry, and thus they had sprung up all round the country. Now, he had recounted these facts, not for the sake of harrowing up their feelings by recording their past sufferings; but, in order to make them grateful unto God for his past mercies, and for this comparative freedom. Only within a few years yet had they been free, and yet God had blessed them in their freedom, so that now churches and chapels were rising up in almost every part of their own country. And whilst he had mentioned the faithful gentry, let him not pass over those who differed from them in religion, but at the same time were good and kind neighbours. When Catholic estates were forfeited they purchased them with money that was advanced for the purpose, and thus many Catholics were indebted to their Protestant neighbours amongst whom they lived for the estates they now held. He did not wish to raise up contention, but rather cement more closely that union which existed in this county between members of every religion, and who, whilst they remained unshakeably attached to their faith, yet at the same time, in all the social relations of life, know how to conduct themselves habitably to each other. And whilst he was endeavouring to work their minds into a state to give thanks unto God for what they had received, let him endeavour in a few words to unfold to them some of those blessings which would attend the establishment of the church amongst them. No doubt many of them would be sorry to leave the old place. They had been baptised within its walls, they had learnt their catechism in it, at its altar range they received peace when their mind was distracted by the feeling of sin, there they had knelt down at that holy table when they had been weary and faint, and had received strength, and also other blessings which he enumerated. Therefore to them the old place was dear, yet at the same time they had a feeling of joy, as he had on that occasion, when they saw that they had come forth from that house of bondage, for they could not look upon it but as a house of bondage. When it was constructed, it was obliged to be made and formed into a part of the house, in order that it might be concealed. And therefore, though they were indebted a thousand times to the kindness and generosity of that family, as also to the others who had now passed away, for the protection they in past times afforded, yet at the same time they rejoiced that they had been enabled to raise a structure more suitable to the worship of God. When they looked around on this world they saw that it was steeped and dyed in crime: he did not mean to say that it was any worse now than it was in past times, but coming as he did from a great city, he could not but feel that they were living as it were in a poisonous swamp of iniquity. Let them go into one of these great cities, and see how men passed their time. That very day, which was holy and sanctified to the Lord, there would be hundreds and thousands who would never bow the head or the knee in the worship of God. They would spend the day in dissipation and sin. Their conversation was full of oaths; the name of God was on every side taken in vain. Let them see the disobedient conduct of children, who, at the age of 13, would abandon their father’s house, and would live together in promiscuous intercourse. No sooner had darkness covered the earth than men gave themselves up to every species of crime. Let them look at the crime which stained the earth with blood. They knew that when the first murder was committed that the blood which had been spilled cried to heaven for vengeance, and thought they that it cried not now? Because Sodom and Gomorrah gave themselves up to a lewd and wicked course of life, God rained down fire and brimstone upon them, and blotted out the very traces of their cities. They knew the various sins which men committed, and let him ask them what it was that saved them from the anger and the wrath of God? It was because they had a Mediator, Jesus Christ, the Just. He who shed his blood on the tree of the cross still bled for them, and though their crimes still rose up before him, yet our Lord stretched out his hand and implored mercy for a wicked generation. After alluding to the fact that the sacrifice of the mass would daily be offered in the new church, and also passing a remark upon absolution, he asked them to call to mind the persecution of their forefathers, how they were driven and hunted from place to place, and then when they felt their own hearts faint, when they felt themselves troubled by the temptations of the world in which they lived, let them lift up their hearts to God in thankfulness for his mercy, and return to duty nerved by the recollection of those great deeds of the men of old. It was a glory for them to be descended from such men – to know that their blood flowed through their veins. After some further remarks, he concluded by asking for a good collection.


In the afternoon the Right Rev. Thomas Grant, D.D., Bishop of Southwark, preached the sermon. In addition to the clergy present in the morning were the Revs. Mr. Smith, Brindle; Dowding, Clayton; Molloy and O’Meara, Chorley; and Doherty, South Hill. The following music was used in the afternoon:- Lauda Jerusalem, Dr. Crookhall; O Salutaris, Dr. Newsham; Litany, Dr. Newsham; Tantum Ergo, Rev. T. White; Dona nobis, Haydn’s No.1.


During the day Captain Anderton entertained a distinguished company at Euxton Hall. Amongst them, in addition to the two bishops and the clergy, there were T.T. Parker, Esq, J.P.; J. Blundell, Esq., J.P.; F. Gerrard and lady, Aspull Moor; T. Dicconson, Esq., Wrightington Hall; and J. C. Crook, Esq., Chorley.


The collection, &c., amounted to £100.

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