Bentham - St Boniface

Robin Lane, High Bentham, Lancashire

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A modest and simple building which serves its purpose but is not of any architectural distinction.

Founded in 1867, when the mission at Lawkland was split into the parishes of Settle and Bentham. A brewery and beer shop were purchased in 1870 and adapted for church use until the present church was built in 1959-60 at a cost of £10, 863. The contractors were Harold Slinger and sons and the designer one J. M. Hall of Low Bentham. The church was re-ordered in 1999 and not consecrated until this time. The attached presbytery occupies a pre-existing double-fronted Victorian house.

Stations  of  the  Cross  possibly  supplied  by  Vanpulles  Ltd.,  following  a recommendation from the Bishop of Leeds: ‘Your church is so nice it would be a shame to spoil it by putting in inferior statues or cheap Stations of the Cross’.

The church has the altar facing west but in this report all references will be to conventional orientation, i.e. as if the church faced east. A small building of nave and sanctuary in one, with former baptistery and confessionals either side of the entrance porch. Built of sandstone, rock-faced with ashlar dressings, under a slate roof. The windows have Crittall metal frames. Later garage and additions linking the church to the presbytery. Lower entrance range under a stepped hipped roof with steps up to the central entrance with double doors. Single narrow windows to either side light the former baptistery and a store. The main building behind is gabled, with three tiny stepped windows high up and a cross on the gable. Much larger stepped windows in the east wall and large paired windows to the side walls.

The interior is surprisingly spacious as it is open to the roof and with no physical division between nave and sanctuary, but with simply expressed curved structural trusses. The walls are plastered and painted and the roof finished with a proprietary boarding system. At the  west  end  glazed  doors  on  the  right  open  to  the  former baptistery, whilst solid doors on the left give access to the confessional. Simple contemporary pendant light fittings. Oak pews, said to have come from the earlier church but possibly adapted. Mobile oak font (now in the northeast corner) and an oak aumbry on a shelf (also in the northeast corner). The altar, ambo and tabernacle stand date from 1999 by Martin Woods of Martin Woods Associates of Kendal, part of the re-ordering designed by Joe Alston of Burton in Lonsdale. They are treated as rustic tapering stone piers. A relic of St Boniface is set into the altar. This was a gift of Bishop Fulda of Germany, a friend of Monsignor Basil Loftus, who also gave a small stone statue of St Boniface which stands on a window sill. Painted statues (from a catalogue) of Our Lady and St Joseph on brackets either side of the sanctuary. Coloured and engraved glass in the sanctuary. Small carved and painted Stations of the Cross, possibly from Vanpulles Ltd.

Diocese: Leeds

Architect: J. M. Hall

Original Date: 1959

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed