Building » Bolton-le-Sands – St Mary of the Angels

Bolton-le-Sands – St Mary of the Angels

Main Road, Bolton-le- Sands LA5 8DN

Built at the expense of two well-known wealthy local Catholic families. The external appearance is a little severe, but the church is prominently located on a corner site and is of high townscape importance. The interior is tall and narrow, and particularly richly furnished and adorned.

The church was built at the expense of the Clarksons and the Coulstons, two wealthy Catholic families who moved to the village in the 1840s. Henry Clarkson originally provided a converted stone barn at his farm for use as a place of worship, and this building survives to this day. He and Anne Coulston acquired the site, then comprising a house, some cottages and about an acre of land. The foundation stone was laid in September 1882 by Cardinal Manning, Archbishop of Westminster. The building was completed in 1884 and consecrated in 1884. The architect was Edward Simpson of Bradford, a pupil of E. W. Pugin. The cemetery was consecrated in 1886. Anne Coulston also gave £1,000 towards the building of St Peter’s at Lancaster (now the Cathedral) and left money for the establishment of a school in Bolton-le-Sands. She is buried in the cemetery.


Please also refer to the list description, below.

The church is 72 ft long, 38 ft wide, 50 ft high to the ridge, the spire 84 ft. The style is Early English and Decorated Gothic, tall and compact, with a southwest porch tower with what Pevsner described as ‘quite irresponsible details’, by which he perhaps meant the zigzag mould with over-large gargoyles on each of the faces of the upper stage, and the odd gabled buttresses. The interior is tall, with narrow aisles and five-bay nave arcades of circular piers with polished granite shafts. Very tall chancel arch with a strange concoction of superimposed shafts in the responds. The aisles have extraordinary timber roofs, curved and panelled on the outside with kingpost trusses, each with a member mirroring the curve, the angle with a pierced spandrel etc. Elaborate nave roof with side arcading, fussy treatment of the clerestory, where the windows are arranged in triplets sharing a mould with foliage and heads between pipe corbels supporting the roof principals. There is a west gallery supported by polished granite piers.

The interior is richly ornamented and furnished. The chancel is painted and stencilled with symbols, texts, Mary, Joseph and angels. Records at Diocesan House say that this was carried out in 1895-97 by Hardman and Co., under the direction of J. A. Pippet. There is a very elaborate reredos, by T. G. Wall of Cheltenham, with a central pinnacle and scenes from the life of Our Lady. North and south chancel chapels have stencilled schemes, ornate iron gates and reredoses of marble and Bath stone, also by Wall. The stylish mahogany benches are said to be by Gillow. Late nineteenth century east and west windows both with scenes from the life of the Virgin.

The attached presbytery is a remodelling of a pre-existing building, the Georgian character of which is still apparent at the rear. The cemetery lies to the east of the church, beyond the presbytery garden. There is a gateway in form of Gothic arch with Latin inscriptions, dated 1885. A stone crucifixus stands in the centre. The most elaborate monument is that of the patron, Miss Anne Coulston + 1900, with an elaborate chest tomb and a stone with a crucifixion with angel mourners.

Entry amended by AHP 17.12.2020

List description


Roman Catholic Church, 1880, by E.Simpson of Bradford. Snecked sandstone rubble with sandstone dressings and slate roof. Tall nave and chancel with continuous ridge line. Low lean-to aisles with slightly higher pitched roof to chancel aisles. Aisles and clearstorey have small lancet windows. West end has tall lancets, hood and vesica. Porch under slim south-west tower, which is heavily buttressed, square in form, broached to a louvred octagon above with pyramidal roof. Steeply-arched 5-light decorated east window. Inside is a 5-bay arcade with marble columns and heavy sculptural detail. Chancel arch has ringed shafts on heavily carved corbels. Short 2- bay chancel with tall stone reredos and stencilled wall decoration. Timber gallery on marble columns at west end. The nave has an open timber roof with high collars, king posts and arcaded ashlaring. Some stained glass of late C19th date.

Heritage Details

Architect: Edward Simpson

Original Date: 1880

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Grade II