Building » Burnley – St Augustine

Burnley – St Augustine

Lowerhouse Lane, Burnley BB12

A plain post-war church which was built in the shadow of two cotton mills (now demolished). The predecessor building, a combined school-chapel of 1897-8, is still in use by the parish primary school. 

The mission was founded in October 1896 from St John’s church, Padiham. The first mission priest, Fr Peter Notterdam, initially said Mass in a cottage in Lowerhouse Lane. In December 1897, the site was bought for a school-chapel, in the vicinity of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. (By 1912, there was one cotton mill in the immediate neighbourhood, by c.1931 three.) The land was part of the Woodbine Estate, owned by the trustees of William Dugdale, a wealthy local mill owner. The foundation stone was laid by Bishop Bilsborough on 29 August 1897, who also opened the building on 8 May 1898. The contractors were Messrs Smith Brothers, and the total cost was about £1,700. The chapel was on the upper floor. Lady O’Hagan, a member of the local Towneley family, gave a chalice, a ciborium and a statue of the Virgin Mary.

In the early twentieth century, the mission and parish flickered in and out of existence: it was closed in c.1904, then became again an independent mission, in 1918 it was closed again and reopened. In 1922, a presbytery was built by Messrs Smith Brothers for £2,200. In October 1947, Fr Veale presented a new font. In 1954, the parish priest bought a new site of 1.835 acres for £400 to build a new church. The site was on the other side of Lowerhouse Lane, between the Imperial Mill and houses in Hordley Street. Construction started in May 1961 and on 28 October 1961 the Vicar General Mgr Anthony McNulty laid the foundation stone for a new church. The church was opened on 13 June 1963 by Bishop Beck. The architect was Peter R. Nuttall of Rawtenstall and the contractors Howarth Construction Co. Ltd. of Burnley. The total cost was around £30,000. The altar and marble furnishings were made by Fitzsimmons of Liverpool and R. Halliwell of Stockport. Three statues from Stufflesser of Ortisei were installed. From the old church only the Stations and the tabernacle were brought.

In March 1973, the altar was moved forward. On 24 September 1980, the church was consecrated by Bishop Beck. In the 1990s, planning permission was refused for a parish hall and consequently the west end of the church was adapted as a parish room. In 2005, St Augustine’s ceased to be an independent parish. The presbytery was closed and sold two years later. In 2006, St Augustine’s was amalgamated with the parish of St Mary Magdalene, Burnley.

The church has reinforced concrete portal frames, with walls faced in brick laid in stretcher bond and a pitched concrete tile roof. The plan is rectangular with a narrower chancel, a wider narthex and a sacristy block off to the southeast. The west elevation has a triangular-headed recessed entrance with an iron screen and gate with the words ‘Christus heri hodie semper’. Within the porch inside the gates, there are vertical coloured glass panes to the former west gallery, and horizontal coloured glass strips to either side. The former baptistery at the northwest had coloured glass (now blocked) in square and oblong splayed frames. There are triangular dormer windows to the former west gallery in the west bay. The nave windows extend as copper-roofed dormers above the eaves.

Internally, two nave bays have been screened off from the nave as part of the parish room created in the 1990s (with a timber and glass screen and a white cloth above). This has a suspended ceiling, above which the original light fixtures (removed in the nave) still survive. At the northwest is the former baptistery (now toilets). At the southwest is a stair to the former west gallery which is now partitioned off as another room. The nave has four bays, three of which have dormer-style windows. The easternmost bay has on the north side the foundation stone, more square and oblong windows with coloured glass, a statue of the Sacred Heart, the circular font and the pulpit of white and black marble. The opposite bay has the Lady altar, the statues of the Virgin Mary and St Joseph by Stuflesser, and the entrance to the sacristies. Across the sanctuary and the side chapels are the white and black marble altar rails. The sanctuary has seven vertical windows to north and south. The marble is of white and black marble with alpha, omega and ChiRho symbols. The tabernacle stand is of white marble. Above is a timber baldacchino with a sunburst and a dove. The crucifix on the east wall is presumably that by Stuflesser. The sacristies wing also contains storage rooms and a confessional. The Stations are painted plaster casts.

Heritage Details

Architect: Peter R. Nuttall

Original Date: 1963

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed