Langho - St Mary

York Lane, Langho, Blackburn, Lancs BB6

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A modern Gothic design by Desmond Williams, while still working for Arthur Farebrother & Partners. The interior, with its large structural pointed brick arches, impresses more than the exterior.

A Catholic chapel was built at Old Langho in the sixteenth century, an extremely rare example of a church built during the brief revival of Catholicism under Queen Mary. Opened in 1557, this small chapel

In 1836 a Catholic church was built in Chapel Street, on land given by the local Catholic landowner Henry Petre. This had an octagonal tower and spire, of unusual design. It was one of the smallest churches in the diocese, despite being enlarged in 1875. A segregated part of the church housed Mass-goers from the local ‘epileptic colony’. The church was served by Jesuits from Stonyhurst, until the district of Billington and Whalley was handed over to the diocese in 1917. 

incorporated stonework, roof timbers and stained glass from Whalley Abbey. A later (1687) attempt by Bartholomew Walmesley to return it to Catholic use was frustrated by the Vicar of Blackburn. Now redundant, the chapel is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.  

As well as being very small, the 1837 church was distant from the modern development of Langho. Under the Revd Joseph Porter, a new church and presbytery were built at a cost of approximately £15,000, from designs by Desmond Williams of Arthur Farebrother & Partners. The foundation stone was laid by Bishop Beck on 5 September 1958 and the church, costing £18,750 and seating 240, was opened by the bishop on 12 September 1959. The old church was demolished in 1973. The new church was reordered in 1979 and a new parish centre built in 2006-7.

The church is orientated roughly north-south, but this description follows liturgical convention i.e. with the altar to the east.

A modern Gothic church, externally faced in russet brown bricks, with steeply-pitched double Roman concrete pantile roofs. The flank walls are articulated by simple raking buttresses marking the bay divisions, and within each bay at the sides are groups of triple triangular–headed lancet windows. Most of the windows are now UPVC double glazed replacements. At the west front a narthex or forebuilding is slightly lower than the main body of the church, and with a lower ridge; it has a large pointed arched opening containing a recessed entrance with a statue of the Madonna and Child over. At the east end, the sanctuary is also narrower than the nave, but there is no drop in the ridge height. At the junction of the nave and sanctuary there is a raised bellcote, housing one bell.  On the south side, between the church and presbytery, is a modern parish hall.

The hardwood entrance doors lead into a vestibule or narthex, with organ/choir gallery over. The nave is of three bays, with two large structural pointed brick transverse arches, pierced at the sides with smaller arched openings to form circulation aisles. Further big brick arches to the east and west respectively form the entrance to the sanctuary and frame the narthex and gallery. Between these brick divisions, the wall surfaces are plastered and painted, and the ceilings tiled between the purlins. At the east end the original canopy for the high altar survives, along with a crucifix carved in Bolzano, Italy, while the marble sanctuary furnishings belong to a 1979 reordering. Stained glass dates from 1967 and is by Abbott & Co. of Lancaster (Baptism of Christ, a memorial to Fr John Geoghegan, parish priest 1930-55, flanked by St Peter and St Paul, in memory of the parish dead from two world wars).

Diocese: Salford

Architect: Arthur Farebrother & Partners

Original Date: 1959

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed