Building » Dunsop Bridge – St Hubert

Dunsop Bridge – St Hubert

Trough Road, Dunsop Bridge, Clitheroe, Lancs BB7

A small chapel in Early English style by Pugin and Murray, built by the Towneley family, apparently on the proceeds of racehorse winnings.  The building is little altered, and has a richly polychrome sanctuary with marble and granite altar, encaustic tile floor, painted and stencil wall decoration and stained glass by J. B. Capronnier. The churchyard has a notable Towneley memorial, and is the burial place of a Bishop of Nottingham. This is the northernmost church in the Diocese of Salford, in an idyllic rural setting at the entrance to the Trough of Bowland.

The church was built by Col. Charles Towneley of Thorneyholme Hall, on land belonging to the family’s Whitewell estate. The family had acquired Thorneyholme Hall in the early nineteenth century, and until St Hubert’s was built, Mass was said in the family chapel there. It is said that the church was built from the winnings in the Epsom Derby of 1861 of Col. Towneley’s horse, Kettledrum. Col. Towneley was a keen huntsman, and the church was dedicated to St Hubert, patron saint of hunters.  The architects were E. W. Pugin and James Murray (with whom Pugin was briefly in partnership) and the church was opened by Bishop Richard Roskell of Nottingham on 2 May, 1865. It seated 100, and cost £700; in the early years it doubled during the week as a school, until a separate school was built nearby by Col. Towneley.

When built, the church was in West Yorkshire and the Diocese of Leeds, and was served by Jesuit priests coming from Stonyhurst. In 1974 the parish became part of Lancashire, and in 1988 the church was transferred to the Diocese of Salford.

The churchyard houses the Towneley family vault, and is also the resting place of Bishop Roskell.

A small, stone-built church in Early English Gothic style, built in 1865 from designs by E. W. Pugin and J. Murray, and consisting of an aisleless nave and apsidal sanctuary. There is a gabled northwest porch, a sacristy giving off the south side, and a bellcote holding one bell at the west end. The walls have a perimeter plinth and are buttressed at the corners of the nave and around the apse, and there are stone hoodmoulds over the lancet windows. At the west end are triple lancet windows, over a high continuous sill. The roofs are of slate; the original decorative ridge tiles have been lost.

The interior is a dark and intimate space. The apsidal east end is vaulted, and enriched with painted and stencil decoration, including a depiction of Kettledrum (just visible on the left hand side of figure 3, below the Towneley arms). The walls on either side of the of the sanctuary arch are also richly coloured and contain trefoil-headed recesses, housing statues of the Virgin Mary and St Joseph. The sanctuary retains what appears to be the original altar and gradine, the altar with marble columns with floriated caps and a polished granite frontal with central panel of the Virgin Mary flanked by kneeling figures of St Hubert and a bishop.  In front of this, the forward altar is of wrought iron, which together with the wrought iron lectern, candle stand and sanctuary lamp were made in 1993 by Ron Carter, from designs by Sheila Carter. The sanctuary has an encaustic tile floor with fleur de lys and other patterns. In the apse are three windows by J. B. Capronnier of Brussels, dated 1865, with the Virgin and Child in the central light, St Anne to the left and St Veronica to the right. Capronnier also made the west windows, with St Hubert and stag in the central light, and Saints Peter and Paul to left and right. That to St Paul is to the memory of Richard Eastwood, Towneley estate manager, who was heavily involved in the building of the church (and, according to some sources, helped to pay it; the Eastwood arms also appear in the apse, and Richard Eastwood is buried in the churchyard). The nave has a perimeter boarded dado and appears to retain its original pews, with shaped and chamfered ends. The nave contains further stained glass windows and memorials to members of the Towneley family and others, and at the west end below the central window is an alabaster Towneley wall memorial. A portable wooden Gothic font near the sanctuary was given in memory of Frederick Phillips (d.1946).  The stoup by the main entrance is medieval; according to the short guide to the church it came from the church at Burholme, near Whitewell. 

Heritage Details

Architect: E. W. Pugin and J. Murray

Original Date: 1865

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed