Weld Bank, Chorley PR7
St Gregory’s is of historical importance as an early manifestation of revived open Catholic observance in the Chorley area. The church has been subject to many changes of which the distinctive and unusual tower (1845) is of particular interest. The modern reordering is simple and unobtrusive.
Mass was said at nearby Burgh Hall (demolished) from 1755-70 and a permanent church established by Fr John Chadwick in an altered farm building on or near the site of the present church in 1774. This was sited in open countryside on land leased from a local landowner, Edward Weld.
A larger church was built in 1814 under Fr Richard Thompson after the land was given to the church in 1810. It cost £3,333 and was possibly designed by Thomas Burgess (also responsible for St Bede’s, Chorley, q.v.) though his involvement may have been restricted to altering the farm building. Fr Henry Greenhalgh added the aisles in 1831-32, and the tower, baptistery, porch and confessionals in 1845 (architect unknown). The interior was subsequently remodelled to the designs of Matthew Honan, whose plans are dated 25 November 1910. More alterations took place in the mid and in the later 20th century.
The aisles, west front and tower are of stone, the chancel of partially exposed brick. Flanking the west entrance are two niches containing stone statues of Our Lady of Dolours and St Gregory. A niche on the second stage of the tower contains a statue of Christ carrying the Cross.
The main body of the church is of five bays, without structural division between nave and chancel, terminating in an apse with a five-bay blind arcade with fluted Corinthian pilasters. The ceiling is coffered. This scheme of fibrous plaster beams, a Vitruvian scroll frieze and classical cornice was introduced by Honan in 1910. A west gallery on Tuscan columns with a panelled front was shortened by Honan in 1910. The western entrance area is flanked by a baptistery and confessionals, with a staircase to the gallery. Baptistery with mosaic applied in the 1960s (possibly 1966), no longer used for its intended purpose. The remodelled aisle arcades take the form of large, square columns; Honan added fibrous plaster arches to the aisles and fibrous plaster Corinthian pilasters to the columns in 1910, but these have since been truncated, probably when green marble facings were applied to the column bases in about 1936.
The stained glass is all 19th century, except one window at the west end of 1963 and a Millennium window by Design Lights. The aisles each contain a Portland stone altar; that on the south side is by Edmund Kirby, designed in 1890. A chancel screen was removed by Honan in 1910 and the chancel has been simply reordered in the late 20th century with the addition of a stepped stage and simple, smaller altar by Terry Sarsfield.
Other furnishings include a brass dated 1846 on the north wall, possibly by Hardman, and a statue of the Virgin Mary in the south aisle. Externally, a small memorial to the north of the entrance commemorates the Reverend Henry Canon Greenhalgh.
Architect: Possibly Thomas Burgess. Matthew Honan undertook significant alterations in 1910.
Original Date: 1814
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: II