Blackburn Road, Darwen, Lancs BB3
A simple Early English Gothic design of the 1880s, much altered in the early 1960s. The white marble war memorial is noteworthy.
The mission in Lower Darwen was established from St Joseph, Darwen in 1872. Land was given by Edward Petre of Dunkenhalgh, Lord of the Manor, and a school-chapel built, largely at the expense of the mission priest, Fr Van-der-Weghe. The foundation stone for the present church, built from designs by Edward Simpson of Bradford and seating 400, was laid by Bishop Vaughan on 19 August 1882, and the church was opened by the bishop on 11 April 1883. In 1884 a wooden statue of the Sacred Heart was presented by Richard Holden of Blackburn.
In 1961 the church was extended at the west end, at a cost of £17,000. It may have been at this time that the original polychrome stonework of the interior was covered. The parish is now united with St Joseph, Darwen (qv).
The church is a simple stone structure in Early English Gothic style, consisting of an aisleless and towerless nave, and a narrower chancel with a canted apse and side chapels. A hipped-roof sacristy gives off the north side of the sanctuary, and has a flat roofed addition to the rear. Windows consist of paired lancets in the nave, high-level triple lancets in the sanctuary, and small circular cinquefoil windows for the side chapels. In 1961 the church was extended at the west end, with shallow gabled porches on the southwest and west sides. While the design of the porches, with their Westmorland slate-faced gables, clearly betrays their later date, the effect of weathering on the stonework (and more recent repointing) means that the difference between the original and later work is no longer nearly as apparent. The roof covering is slate.
The original interior has been significantly altered by the additions at the west end, and by the covering of the original polychrome banded wall surfaces. The walls are now plastered and painted, but the nave retains its perimeter dado panelling (thought to be an addition of the 1920s) and scissor-braced roof and the chancel its painted timber roof. The elaborate capitals at the chancel arch are gold painted. The pews may be original, but have been adapted to two banks with a central alley (early photographs show three banks and two alleys). The gallery front at the west end is painted with a large modern copy of Leonardo’s Last Supper. Apart from the Sacred Heart statue and a crucifix on the east wall, the furnishings in the sanctuary and side chapels all appear to be modern, and not of special interest.
Architect: Edward Simpson
Original Date: 1983
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed