Building » Chipping – St Mary

Chipping – St Mary

Longridge Road, Chipping, Preston, Lancs PR3

A handsome stone-built Classical chapel with attached priest’s house, built by the Weld family shortly before Catholic Emancipation in 1829. A school building was built at the same time. The interior is of the Georgian galleried character popular for Catholic churches before the Puginian reaction, but the design and fitting out of the sanctuary is unusually rich. Church, presbytery, school (now parish hall) and burial ground form a particularly attractive group within the Chipping Conservation Area.

Leagram Hall in the Forest of Bowland was the home of the Shireburn family, and a centre of recusancy from the late seventeenth-century onwards. In the 1750s the house passed to the Welds, cousins of the Shireburns, and in about 1775 Thomas Weld rebuilt the house, with a domestic chapel in the west wing. The chapel is described in Bolton as ‘very plain inside and out’, being of the galleried auditorium type favoured for Catholic chapels at the time (although this was the Thomas Weld who built the remarkable chapel on the family estate at Lulworth, Dorset, described by Fanny Burney as ‘a pantheon in miniature’).

In 1827 George Weld built the present church, attached priest’s house and school (now parish hall) in Chipping village.  A hopper head on the (ritual) north elevation of the church is dated 1827. The name of the architect is not recorded, but one possibility is Robert Roper of Preston (1757-1838), who rebuilt the east front of Leagram Hall for Weld in 1822 (although his churches of the 1820s are all in lancet Gothic style, while Chipping is Classical). The cost of £1130 was raised by public subscription, and the church opened on 24 June 1828.

From 1828-57 the church was served by Jesuits or Franciscans, and thereafter by diocesan priests.

In 1872 the organ was brought here from Stonyhurst College. Some sources say that it is eighteenth century in date, but the entry in the BIOS National Pipe Organ Register suggests a date of c1825, and manufacture by John Davies, using parts supplied by J. C. Bishop of London.

In 1914, side altars were erected in memory of Fr de Gryse. A photograph also shows the old (possibly original) seating and gives a teasing hint of the original form of the ceiling, which was probably flat with coved sides. Both were renewed in 1950, when the present benches were introduced. It has not been established when the original glazing bar sash windows were replaced with leaded panes, but the parish history in the Diocesan Archive says that Canon Fitzpatrick re-leaded and renovated the church windows in 1988 (the church had been listed in 1983).

In 1997 a faculty was issued for the removal of suspended ceiling tiles and restoration of the plaster ceiling (although the church still has ceiling tiles). The church was reordered and redecorated in 2000, involving the moving of the side altars, pulpit and font and removal of the altar rails and gates.  In 2003 a faculty was granted for the return of the high altar to its original setting (it had been brought forward in a post-Vatican II reordering) and installation of a new forward altar, ambo and presidential chair. The present Lady shrine in a side chapel alongside the sanctuary incorporates the old altar stone from the chapel at Leagram Hall.  Bolton (1950) also states that a wooden tabernacle in the church also came from that chapel, although it is not clear whether this refers to the present tabernacle.


The church is described in the list entry, below. The architectural setting and fitting out of the sanctuary is very rich, but there appears to be no published information about the artists and craftsmen involved. The stencil decoration is clearly not original. This would benefit from further research.

Apart from those described above, furnishings of note include brass memorials to George and John Weld, probably brought from the later nineteenth-century chapel built at Leagram Hall. Framed on the wall are a linen bag, said to have once contained the decapitated head of Fr Philip Holden, Martyr, and a map of the mission boundaries (1892). The underside of the gallery is enclosed to form a narthex, in which are placed a nineteenth century octagonal font and a timber war memorial shrine.

List description:


Roman Catholic. Church, 1827. Squared, punched ashlar with slate roof. North-west and south-east walls of 5 bays each, having tall windows with plain stone surrounds, semi-circular heads with keystones, impost band and sill band. South-west wall blank except for doorway with architrave and moulded cornice. Beneath the cornice is an inscription and date, 1827.

Interior. Gallery with organ at southern end, supported on slim iron columns. The one-bay chancel is divided from the nave by a screen with 4 giant attached marbled Corinthian columns with pedestals and an elaborately decorated frieze and cornice. The central wide arch to the chancel is flanked by two smaller arches with doors set within them, in a triumphal arch motif. The rear wall of the chancel has stencilled decoration, with 2 more Corinthian attached columns and 2 quarter-columns.

Listing NGR: SD6234543257

Heritage Details

Architect: Not established

Original Date: 1827

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Grade II