Building » Burscough – St John the Evangelist

Burscough – St John the Evangelist

Chapel Lane, Lathom, Burscough, Ormskirk L40

An early nineteenth century chapel and attached presbytery of simple Nonconformist type. They do not follow the normal arrangement with the church placed discreetly behind the presbytery (cf St Benet, Netherton) but, like the slightly later chapel at Aughton (qv), form an L-plan. The interior of the church retains its early character, with a western gallery and Corinthian half columns at the east end, but the exterior has early twentieth century brick additions at the west end.

Catholic priests are believed to have been sheltered at Burscough Hall during penal times. In 1667 the deeds of the Hall and fourteen acres of land were conveyed to Peter Lathom, a local property owner and presumably a recusant, who in 1700 leased the Hall, apparently with a requirement that the lessee should allow for a Catholic priest to be in residence. This is the date given in the Archdiocesan Directory for the establishment of the mission.  Mass was said in an upper room in the Hall.

The present church and presbytery were built alongside the Hall by Fr William Coghlan, who served the mission from 1810. He contributed £500 towards the final building cost of £1,519 19s 3d. Building began in 1815 and the last payments were made in January 1819. The burial ground was created in 1837, during the time of Fr John Anderton.

In order to accommodate an expanding congregation, a gallery was installed in the chapel by Canon Hodgson, who served the mission from 1850-71. About this time the plain internal walls were adorned with polychromatic stencil decoration (now removed or covered). Canon Hodgson also built a school and teacher’s house in 1852.  

In 1877 Canon James Fisher had the lease of the Hall assigned to himself, placing the lease in the hands of the serving priest; it was only in the 1960s that the transfer of the deeds to the Archdiocese was completed.

During the time of Fr James Eager (1884-1914) the church was reseated, a communion rail added and the organ renovated. It is possible that the marble reredos and altar (now reduced in size and brought forward) also date from this time.

In 1915 a bell tower with flanking porch and baptistery were added at the west end of the church, from designs by James A. Baron of St Helens, and a bell from Scarisbrick Hall hung in the tower.

In 1953 concerns about structural movement led to the addition of a large buttress on the (liturgical) north side. The design of this, and that of a new stained glass window depicting St John the Baptist also installed at this time, was by F.X. Velarde (drawing at the RIBA). In the same year the bell was recast by Whitechapel bell foundry.

The windows on the north side of the nave were added in 1956, from designs by Charles Blakeman of London. 

Post-Vatican II reordering involved the removal of Fr Eager’s communion rail and the bringing forward of the altar.

In 1986 the last tenant left Burscough Hall, by then a farmhouse. The property lay empty for a few years before being burnt down in the early 1990s. It has now been rebuilt, incorporating what remained of the old fabric.


See list description below. This could be augmented with the information contained above. 

The church is orientated north-south, but in this report the description follows conventional liturgical orientation.

List description (church and presbytery)


Roman Catholic church and presbytery. c.1815-19; altered. Red brick in English garden wall bond (4+1), the south facade rendered, with sandstone plinth and slate roof. L-plan, the church forming a receding wing to the presbytery. Two storeys and attic, with a 2+2 window south facade (to the garden) disguising the church as part of the house: the latter has a round-headed doorway offset right of centre, and 2 windows on each floor, all sashed without glazing bars, whereas the church, continued to the right, has 2 blind windows on each floor (all these windows with raised sills and plain reveals). The effective entrance front is the north side: here the church is a plain wing with a large round-headed window in the re-entrant side, a small early C20 tower-cum-porch at the north gable, and 3 round-headed windows in the east side wall; and the presbytery has a small C20 lean-to porch in the centre, a round-headed stair-window above this with radiating glazing bars, two 16-pane unhorned sashed windows on each floor, with raised sills and wedge lintels; and a single-storey extension at the west end. INTERIOR: the church has a north gallery on 2 cast-iron columns, a round-headed sanctuary arch, a coved oval ceiling to the sanctuary, and a tetrastyle Corinthian reredos with giant semi-columns.

Forms group with Burscough Hall Farmhouse approx. 20m west

Listing NGR: SD4433410727

Heritage Details

Architect: Not established

Original Date: 1818

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Grade II