Building » Bolton – St Patrick

Bolton – St Patrick

Great Moor Street, Bolton BL1

Although small in scale, the church of St Patrick is a landmark within the area. It dates from 1861, and with its corner spire it was more architecturally ambitious than other Catholic churches built in the town around this time. The church and presbytery, together with the boundary wall to Great Moor Street, form an attractive group, even though the Gothic treatment of the presbytery is only skin deep. Built to serve a largely Irish community who escaped the misery of the potato famine and sought jobs in the textile mills, the church has a reputation as a great spiritual centre for Bolton.

A meeting at St Peter and St Paul’s School, Bolton in 1853 led to a proposal to build another church in the town. In time a site was found in Great Moor Street, and a building was commissioned from the architect Charles Holt. The church was opened on 17 March 1861 and dedicated to St Patrick, whose Irish countrymen played a major role in establishing a strong Catholic community in Bolton. A school was started around the same time, with classes taking place at first in a three-storey warehouse, until a purpose built school was erected in Dawes Street, off Great Moor Street, in 1884.

During the incumbency of the Rev John Burke (1907-1911), a new high altar and the stained glass east window with an image of the Crucifixion were installed. Fr Burke may also have been responsible for the lavish stencil decoration recorded in black and white photographs of the early twentieth century.

In 1946 the top section of the spire was taken down and rebuilt. St Patrick’s School closed in the post-war period. In 2003 the parish was merged with that of St Edmund under the care of Fr Gerard Haugh, and with the closure of St Peter and St Paul in 2010, it too was subsumed within the re-named parish of St Edmund and St Patrick.


See list entry, below. The church was built in 1861 in the Gothic style to the design of Charles Holt. It is built of rubble stone with ashlar dressings and a slate roof. There is a nave and a single aisle, and it occupies a corner plot, with a tower and spire at the junction of the two streets. The tower is in two stages, with angled buttresses to the lower stage and an octagonal upper stage with openings and a short copper spire. The upper stage dates from 1946, and was built to replace the original taller, slate-covered spire that was found to be structurally unsound. The nave is lit by pairs of lancets, with a rose window of spherical triangles in the west gable. There is a north-west porch and another entrance from Great Moor Street.

The church interior consists of a nave and four-bay north arcade with octagonal piers, a panelled wagon roof, and a west gallery on cast iron columns. The shallow chancel retains the early twentieth-century traceried reredos, with the altar brought forward. The east window depicts the Crucifixion with Our Lady and St John, and is contemporary with the high altar. The side windows have images of Thomas More and St John Fisher, and there is a large carved crucifix on a timber base at the west end. The pews date from the 1960s. There is no trace of the elaborate stencil decoration that is recorded in historic photographs.

The presbytery, which is probably contemporary with the church, is set back behind a small forecourt, reached by an arched gateway through the front boundary wall. The front facade is faced in rubble stone to match the church, and is three storeys high. There is a canted bay window on the ground floor with a pointed arched doorway alongside, and arched mullioned windows on each floor. The side and rear walls are of red brick, and appear to have been built in the late nineteenth-century. Most of the rear windows have been replaced in upvc. The interior (which was not inspected at the time of listing) is late nineteenth-century and has no features of interest.

List description:


Roman Catholic church. 1861. Charles Holt, architect. Roughly coursed and squared stone with ashlar dressings and slate roof with scalloped bands. Presbytery is rubble faced with brick to rear, slate roof. Nave with single aisle, and tower to (liturgical) south-west. Presbytery adjoins the church to the east.

EXTERIOR: 2 stage tower with short spire, clasping buttresses to lower stage which has simple chamfered arched doorway in south face of tower, with statue in niche above. Bell chamber lights in upper stage which is chamfered to form octagonal base for short copper spire. Asymmetrical west end, with roof sweeping over north aisle, which has west doorway. 3-light window of foiled lancets in west of nave, with rose window above. 4-bay nave with low triple lancet window in western bay (beneath gallery within), and paired foiled lancets in other bays. Presbytery is 3 storey, single-window range in asymmetrical gable, with catslide roof to right over entrance in added porch with quatrefoil window over. Canted bay window in main gable to left with spired 2-light casement windows above, and 3-light window in gable apex.

INTERIOR: has 4-bay northern arcade with octagonal shafts on high bases and double chamfered arches. Panelled wagon roof. Western gallery. Simple chamfered chancel arch. Traceried reredos with low relief panels each side. Stained glass in east window, a depiction of the crucifixion. The interior of the presbytery not inspected.

(BOE: Pevsner N: South Lancashire: Harmondsworth: 1969-).

Listing NGR: SD7180108961

Heritage Details

Architect: Charles Holt

Original Date: 1861

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Grade II