Smithy Lane, Claughton
An early post-Relief Act church in chapel style, much embellished in the later nineteenth century under the patronage of a local Catholic family. The church is set in an idyllic rural setting, and is notable for the quality of its fittings and furnishings.
As in many other parts of rural Lancashire, Catholicism was sustained during the penal years by recusant landowners – in this case the Brockholes (later Fitzherbert-Brockholes). The present church was completed in 1794, only three years after the Second Relief Act; prior to this, Mass was said in the rectory house, adjoining (the drawing room had been fitted up for this purpose in 1744-5). Alterations to the church were carried out in 1835 under Fr Henry Gradwell; he was also responsible for the building of the nearby school in 1853. In 1872 Thomas Fitzherbert-Brockholes gave the land for the present cemetery at the rear of the church.
The list description (below) makes no mention of the sumptuous sanctuary furnishings, other than the attached marble columns and gilded entablature. The sanctuary was extended and furnished in 1835, with major financial contributions from the Fitzherbert-Brockholes. The central high altar is surmounted by a colonnaded housing for the tabernacle supporting a domed cupola and cross. Bryan Little suggests that the chancel extension and furnishing was carried out under the direction of J. J. Scoles (the reordering is contemporary with, and similar in character to Scoles’ work at St John’s, Wigan). There are two smaller flanking altars against the east wall, also in marble (1872, sculptor W. J. Hastings).
Originally there were galleries on three sides, and it is said that 700 people could be seated when the church first opened. The side galleries were probably removed in 1835, although the west gallery remains.
The cemetery given by the Fitzherbert-Brockholes in 1872 contains a number of monuments to members of that family and of parish priests, displaying varying degrees of elaboration.
The list description makes no reference to the attached presbytery. Although much altered in the nineteenth century, this building predates the church and was, as stated above, used for local worship.
Entry amended by AHP 18.12.2020
Roman Catholic church, dated 1794, although façade said to be of 1835 (Pevsner). Rendered with sandstone dressings and slate roof. Façade has clasping pilasters and cornice with blocking course and central cross. 3 keyed lunette windows spring from a band and light the gallery. A central single-storey ashlar porch has a moulded pediment and a doorway with round head, keystone, and impost band. The side windows have plain stone surrounds with round heads and impost band and now have later C19 Venetian tracery. Inside the porch there is an inner doorway with an architrave and a Latin inscription below a pediment. An oval plaque is inscribed: ’MDCCXCIV’. A west gallery is carried on fluted columns. At the east attached marbled Corinthian columns support an entablature above which is a decorated cove. This returns on both the north and south walls. In the vestibule under the gallery is a painted Water stoup whose upper part appears to be C17. and is inscribed: ‘AW 1699’.
Architect: Not established
Original Date: 1794
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Grade II