Little Crosby - St Mary

Back Lane, Little Crosby, Liverpool 23

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Early (1845-7), thorough-going example of Puginian Gothic by Weightman & Hadfield. It is a monument to Catholic feudalism resurgent, built by the Blundells of Crosby Hall, a notable recusant family. It replaced an early 18th century chapel and priest’s house, buildings which survive to the east. The church occupies a prominent position in a central village location; in its churchyard setting it is, in the words of The Buildings of England, ‘just like an Anglican parish church  –  a  sign  of  the  strength  of  Catholicism  in  this  part  of  the country’.

The church was built in 1845-7 at the expense of William Blundell (d.1854) of Crosby Hall.     It  replaced  an  earlier  chapel  of  apparent  early  18th    century  date  (an exceptionally early date for a free-standing public Catholic chapel). This building, and its attached presbytery - also early 18th  century in date (1719 datestone) - survive to the east of the present church (see photo). Both buildings were much altered in the 1850s when, after the building of the present church, they became a convent and school house. The former convent is now a private house.

The Blundells of Crosby Hall (not to be confused with the Blundells of nearby Ince Blundell) were a notable recusant family, who built a Catholic chapel (the Harkirk) with its own burial ground within the grounds of the Hall. The first burial took place in 1611 and the last in 1753. In 1889 Colonel Nicholas Blundell built a chapel on the site of the Harkirk.

LIST DESCRIPTION:

Roman Catholic church. 1845-7, by Weightman & Hadfield. Coursed sandstone rubble, slate roofs. 

STYLE: simple Decorated.

PLAN: nave with west steeple, north and south aisles, chancel with transeptal chapel on south side and attached offices on north side.

EXTERIOR: the steeple, a square 3-stage tower with a broach spire, has angle- buttresses terminating at the 3rd stage, a traceried 3-light west window to the 2nd stage and small traceried 2-light windows to the 3rd stage (all these windows with hoodmoulds), and the spire has gableted 2-light lucarnes between the broaches, with stone louvres. The full-height 4-bay aisles with buttresses have traceried 2-light windows, and in the 1st bay of the north aisle is a gabled porch which has a 2-centred arched doorway with a double-chamfered head and a hoodmould, a niche with a statue, and gable coping with an apex cross. Attached to the south side of the chancel are 2 unequal gabled side offices, both with small 1- and 2-light windows and the larger to the right with a gable chimney.

INTERIOR: 4-bay aisle arcades of octagonal columns with moulded caps carrying 2- centred arches with 2 orders of moulding; 2-centred tower arch containing gallery; wagon roof painted with the litany of Our Lady; double-chamfered chancel arch with semi-circular responds; chancel with sedilia and piscina, recumbent effigy of William Blundell (d.1854), and 2-bay south arcade of double-chamfered arches on cylindrical column with foliated cap, opening into Blundell memorial chapel painted with scenes from family history. Forms group with associated presbytery and convent (qv).

Diocese: Liverpool

Architect: Weightman & Hadfield

Original Date: 1845

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Grade II