Building » Claughton-on-Brock – St Thomas

Claughton-on-Brock – St Thomas

Smithy Lane, Claughton-on-Brock PR3 OPN.

Early post-Relief Act church in chapel style, much embellished in later C19 under the patronage of local family. In an idyllic rural setting, and 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 gentry – in this case the Brockholes (later Fitzherbert- Brockholes). The present church was completed in 1794, that is only three years after the Relief Act; prior to this, mass was said in the rectory house, adjoining (the drawing room had been fitted up for this purpose in 1744-45).   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 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. I have found no evidence to support the suggestion of Little  that the chancel extension and furnishing was carried out under the direction of JJ Scoles, although this is by no means  unlikely  (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 remained.

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 C19, this building predates the church and was, as stated above, used for local worship.

LIST DESCRIPTION:

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’.

Heritage Details

Architect: Unknown

Original Date: 1794

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed