Building » Grange-over-Sands – St Charles Borromeo

Grange-over-Sands – St Charles Borromeo

Kents Bank Road, Grange-over-Sands LA11 7EY.

A compact stone-built church in Early English style in the heart of this attractive seaside town. 

The original mission territory lay between those of Ulverston, Kendal and Windermere and covered some fifty square miles. Grange was put under the pastoral care of Fr William Massey, rector of the Ulverston mission, who launched an appeal for a church in 1881. He wrote:

‘The Catholics of Cartmel, Lindale and Grange, are practically speaking out of reach of church on Sundays; and, for that reason, those who either for health or recreation of mind, would otherwise seek the delicious air, and the repose of a spot so favoured and so secluded from the  profanum vulgus, shall I say of Cheap Trips, are in most cases prevented from doing so. It has been written of Grange: Grange is destined to become the Montpelier of Lancashire, where invalids suffering from bronchial and other pulmonary disorders are permitted to seek for health, in retirement, near their friends, instead of being exiled to the distant shores of the Mediterranean. A plot of land containing 1,600 yds. contiguous to the land belonging to and adjoining the  Crown  Hotel,  and  having  a  right  of  way  through  to  the  Esplanade…has been purchased for £173 6s. 8d….It is proposed to build at a cost of no more than £800, a neat and modest building to be used as a chapel until it is required as a school; and thus those who give to this work may have the gratification of seeing a chapel rise from the ground with their own eyes, in the immediate future, and for their own immediate use, and another altar will be raised in this isolated district, to perpetuate the great, unfailing Sacrifice that was daily offered up in days gone by within the venerable walls of Furness Abbey’.

Successful fundraising, and generous financial support from friends of the newly appointed parish priest Fr John Bilsborrow (notably John and Ellen Sutcliffe of Witham) allowed work to start on a new church, school and presbytery in June 1883. The architect was E. Simpson of Bradford and the contractor Mr Murgatroyd of Idle, Yorkshire, respectively also architect and contractor for the new church then rising at Bolton-le-Sands.

Within a year Fr Bilsborrow left Grange to become Vice-Rector at Upholland. He was later to become Bishop of Salford. He wrote:

‘I am happy to state that shall be able to hand over the finance of Grange to my successor in a healthy condition…a stained glass window in the east gable, a marble Altar, a statue of Our Lady, the Altar steps, the tiling of the Sanctuary, Communion rails, Ciborium, Tabernacle, Sanctuary lamp and bell, Crucifix and candlesticks I have obtained as gifts from friends’.

At the opening of the church on 22 January 1884 Bishop Reilly of Liverpool said he had never seen a church so completely furnished at its opening – all it lacked was a font.


Although not of the scale or lavish fitting out of Simpson’s church at Bolton-le-Sands, St Charles is built of the same snecked sandstone and slate roof, and is also built in Early English style. The church is entered through a west door, via a twentieth century flat-roofed stone porch. The interior is roughly T-shaped in plan consisting of an aisleless nave with chapels giving off either side of the sanctuary. As at Bolton, oblique views of these chapels are obtained through arches in the sanctuary. Paired angel corbels support the sanctuary arch. There is an elaborate marble high altar with carving depicting the Birth and Passion of Our Lord and a forward altar in similar (presumably reused) materials. The east window contains figures of St Charles Borromeo and St Cuthbert. The stained glass in the west window replaces that destroyed in 1941. There is a marble altar in the Lady Chapel, and also here a crucifix commemorating the Sutcliffes, principal donors. There is a small baptistry with abstract modern glass giving off the (ritual) south side of the west end of the nave. The font has been relocated to the sanctuary, and replaced with a statue of the Sacred Heart. The pine benches are presumably original. The Stations date from 1904 and are said to be Bavarian.

The school room, now a sacristy and ancillary accommodation is attached to the building on the (liturgical) north side, is of matching materials and has a prominent tapering chimney stack, pierced with Gothic detail. The presbytery lies to the rear, and is again built of the same materials.

Heritage Details

Architect: E. Simpson

Original Date: 1882

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed