Building » Garston – St Francis of Assisi

Garston – St Francis of Assisi

Earp Street, Garston, Liverpool 19

This church is a landmark in a run-down area, and a building of consistent quality and construction. The interior is noble and well- proportioned, and contains high quality fittings.

Garston was a small village until the coming of a saltworks in the 1790s and a coal dock when the St Helens  and  Runcorn Railway arrived  in 1853.  In the late 19th century a new town was developed with industrial premises and terraces of workers’ housing. A Catholic church was founded by adapting a former Wesleyan chapel in Chapel Road in 1883. Following the purchase of adjoining land, a school was erected in 1884, a presbytery in 1895, and finally the new church in 1904. The tower was added in 1938-39.

The church was erected in 1904-05 to the design of David Powell. It has a broad nave, aisles and transepts, with a tall northwest tower. The tower has a distinctive outline, rising sheer to the belfry stage, then receding, where the angle buttresses clasp the corners, and finally terminating in an octagonal crown. Triplets of lancets are used throughout, in the clerestory, the north aisle, transepts and nave windows, and give the building a simple and defining rigour. The exterior is faced in coursed red sandstone with ashlar dressings, and the roof is tiled.

The  interior  is  spacious,  well  proportioned  and  uncluttered.  The  arcades,  the sanctuary walls and other surfaces are faced in Runcorn ashlar. Whilst the remaining wall surfaces are plastered, they are very convincingly painted in simulation of ashlar (the decoration dates from 1929), so that superficially the interior appears to be entirely of stone. The south transept is longer than the north and there are two chapels on the south side, one on the north. The sanctuary, which is raised up four steps, was reordered in 1971 with a new marble floor. This was extended into the nave, and a large stone altar was placed centrally within it. The marble altar rails were removed to the sides.   At the west end is a narthex with an organ gallery and a modern screen below. The baptistery, which is now used as a store, projects out from the south west corner of the church.

The fittings and furnishings are of high quality. In the sanctuary is an elaborate white limestone reredos with a central canopy and niches containing figures of the Virgin and St Anne. To the sides are mosaic panels showing the vision and the death of St Francis, dating from 1929. The chapels have marble and stone altars and reredoses. At the entrance to the Lady Chapel is a fine marble statue of the Virgin and Child (probably Italian, late 19th century), and there are canopied figures in white marble of St Patrick and St George placed against the west wall.  The Stations of the Cross take the form of large oil paintings by the Liverpool painter May Greville Cooksey, who also painted the panels of Christ, adored by St Francis and St Catherine, St Bernard and St Margaret Mary in the chapel of St Francis. She too painted the War Memorial crucifixion in the Sacred Heart Chapel in 1919. A large plaster statue of St Francis on a canopied wooden stand is placed at the west end of the north aisle. The pews are contemporary with the church.

Heritage Details

Architect: David Powell

Original Date: 1904

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed