Building » Great Harwood – Our Lady and St Hubert

Great Harwood – Our Lady and St Hubert

St Hubert’s Street, Great Harwood BB6

A large Gothic revival church, built by E. W. Pugin and James Murray at the expense of James Lomax of Clayton Hall. Lomax also funded the presbytery, school and hall; he and his wife are buried in a vault under the Lady Chapel. Notable furnishings include an important collection of stained glass by Hardman, a high altar and reredos by William Farmer, and a fine hanging rood. With its 117 ft tower and spire and large burial ground, the church has strong townscape value.

The mission was founded in 1857 and the first mission priest, Fr (later Canon) Dunderdale, arrived on 24 June. Mass was initially said in a cottage in Queen Street. Later the presbytery was in a four-room cottage in Britannia Street. By 1857, construction of the church and the presbytery was underway. They were the gift of James Lomax (1803-86), descendant of James Lomax of Clayton (1717-92) who had converted to Catholicism in 1765. The latter had bought land in Great Harwood, and his son, Richard Grimshaw Lomax (1763-1837), acquired the manor of Clayton. Richard’s second son, James (1803-86), was educated at Stonyhurst, succeeded to the Great Harwood property in 1837, built Allsprings (c.1839), and married Frances, daughter of Charles Walmsley of Westwood House, near Wigan. His older brother, John, died in 1849, and James inherited Clayton Hall. Perhaps inspired by his father’s gift of land and £500 to build a chapel at Enfield, James decided to donate the land and pay for the construction of a church in Great Harwood.

The foundation stone was laid on 8 September 1858. The church was consecrated on 1 November 1859, and formally opened two days later by Bishop Turner. Bishop Roskell of Nottingham, former Provost of Salford, preached the sermon. Mr Lomax was a keen hunter, and the church is dedicated in part to St Hubert, patron saint of hunters. (Other references to his passion for otter hunting are four gargoyles in the shape of otter hounds below the spire.) The architects were Edward Welby Pugin (1834-75) and James Murray (1831-63); the church and presbytery are one of four confirmed results of a brief collaboration of Pugin and Murray between 1856 and c.1859. The total cost of the church and presbytery is variously given as either £6,000 or £11,000. (According to the Preston Guardian, the presbytery alone cost between £6,000 and £7,000.)The contractor for the presbytery was Mr Farrell of Manchester. At the same time, a school with three departments (infants, girls and boys) was built to the north of the site (some accounts say this was built before the church). The church is an interesting early example of the Gothic church type developed by E.W. Pugin in the 1860s, which typically had an apsidal east end, short chancel, wide open views of the sanctuary and cross gabling.

When the church opened, only the apse windows had stained glass. The remaining stained glass windows (all by Hardman & Co) were installed by August 1865. The overall cost of these was over £1,500, with the west window alone costing £200. The stained glass is recognised as being ‘one of the most important collections of Hardman stained glass of this period’ (Fisher, p.86). Hardman also provided all the metalwork, which included the altar rails, wrought-iron screens to the founder’s chantry chapel, a brass to Mr and Mrs Lomax (£120),  and a monstrance with semi-precious stones (£35; no longer at the church). In 1864, the church was decorated by John Earley of Dublin to designs of J.H. Powell, paid for by Lomax. In 1868, St Hubert’s Hall and a reading room were built, also with a donation from Mr Lomax. In 1869, a new organ was installed. In 1882, Mr Lomax paid for an extension to the school, and three years later for an extension to St Hubert’s Hall. On his death, Lomax was interred in the family vault below the founder’s chantry chapel in the church. In 1891, his wife Frances died and was also buried in the vault.

In 1920-25, the parish priest was John Stephen Vaughan, Titular Bishop of Sebastopolis and Auxiliary Bishop in the Diocese of Salford. He is buried in the churchyard. During the Second World War, the stained glass windows were stored at Stonyhurst, and later apparently only partially re-installed (Buildings of England). (Fisher states that the current windows, including those filled only with coloured ornament, are all part of the original scheme. It seems likely that the lost parts of the windows refer to the trefoils in the north aisle and in the Lady Chapel, which are now filled with plain blue glass.)

In 1947, the senior school moved to new premises, the junior school was amalgamated with St Wulstan’s school, and only the infants’ school remained in the buildings beside the church. In 1967, a new infant and junior school was opened off Harwood Lane, and the old school was closed and eventually demolished. At some point, St Hubert’s Hall was also demolished. Probably as part of a post-Vatican II reordering, the original altar rails were remodelled, the screens to the chantry chapel removed, the latter refurnished as a Lady Chapel, and the panelling in the apse removed and the sanctuary murals painted over.

In 1995, the parishes of St Wulstan (qv) and Our Lady and St Hubert were combined into one parish with two churches, with the parish priest living at the presbytery beside St Wulstan’s church. The listed presbytery at Great Harwood was sold.

Over the last ten years, the church has been comprehensively repaired, after suffering from dry rot, an unsafe spire (due to rusting metal holding together the masonry), and general dampness. This was funded by two English Heritage grants. Faculties were granted for: repair works to masonry, re-roofing and repair of the roof, timber treatment works and repairs to the church spire (2001); renewal of church lighting, rewiring, provision of new light fittings, replacement of plant (2003); redecoration of the interior (2003); conversion of flower room to an accessible toilet (2004); removal of plaster and timber panelling in the side aisles in order to carry out dry rot treatment works and reinstatement works thereafter (2005); removal and reinstatement of internal plaster, timber treatment and rot repairs, repointing and masonry repairs and repairs to the windows and tracery (2007); removal of bell and reinstatement on a new bell frame (2008); works  of repairing, renovating, conserving, and re-pointing to the tower and spire (2011). The architects are Lloyd Evans Pritchard of Manchester.


The list entry (below) contains a description of the building and its main furnishings. The following are additional comments, following conventional liturgical orientation (the church actually faces northwest).

The list description includes a few errors and omissions:

  • It does not mention James Murray as the architect working with E.W. Pugin.
  • The gablets in the splay of the spire are not crocketed.
  • The nave and aisle windows have four lights, not five.
  • The original reredos and altar (now moved forward) are both of Caen stone. They are by William Farmer of Westminster. The reredos depicts the Last Supper and the Gathering of Manna; the frontal has Ecclesia and Synagoga and the Adoration of the Lamb. The sanctuary also contains a fine hanging rood, and a large octagonal stone font. The modern marble altar rails incorporate some of the metalwork of Hardman’s original rails. The original aumbry in the north apse wall has been removed.
  • The pulpit (now disused) was made of Caen stone by the Benedict Art Company. It is a memorial to Fr Henry Hill (parish priest 1891-1920), and depicts the symbols of the Four Evangelists.
  • The original altar in the founder’s chantry chapel was also by Farmer, with sculpture depicting the Virgin Mary, the Nativity and the Adoration. At some point during the post-war period this was replaced by a modern marble Lady altar, to match marble rails to the chapel. The memorial brass survives (Hardman, 1863), and the founders also feature in the chapel’s stained glass window. Also in the chapel is a statue of St James, with James and Frances Lomax kneeling at his side, from the demolished Sacred Heart, Accrington.
  • The confessional is at the west end of the south aisle.
  • The stained glass windows are all by Hardman and were installed between 1859 and 1865. The west window depicts the Fall of Adam, with panels of the Creation of Adam and Eve, the Expulsion from Paradise and the Temptation. The three apse windows depict (left to right): St Hubert and scenes from his life; the Good Shepherd, the Risen Christ, and Ecce Homo; and the Virgin Mary with Marian scenes. The aisle windows depict saints and the nave windows have coloured ornaments. The Lady Chapel window has Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, flanked by two saints and the two donors.
  • The west gallery is apparently a later addition; originally the gallery in the tower was the only gallery in the church. Its openings are now boarded up.
  • The Stations of the Cross are round-headed plaster casts, now painted a stone colour but until recently coloured. James Lomax is represented in at least one of them.
  • On the north nave wall is a First World War memorial in the form of five plaques (oak and nickel) with regimental badges. On the opposite wall is the Second World War memorial, in form of a plain plaque.
  • The pipe organ comes from the demolished Anglican church of St John’s, formerly in St Hubert’s Road (1911-12, architects: Austin and Paley of Lancaster; demolished 2010).
  • The bell in the tower was cast by Messrs Warner & Son.
  • Encaustic tiles with sacred monograms and the Lomax arms are mentioned in a description of 1859 in the Preston Guardian. They may survive under the present carpets.
  • Statues in the church include the Sacred Heart, St Joseph, St Hubert, and St Anthony.

List descriptions

Church and presbytery


Church, 1857-9, by Edward Welby Pugin. Rock-faced sandstone in irregular courses, with ashlar dressings, steeply-pitched slate roof with fishscale bands. Nave (on north-south axis), west steeple, transeptal aisles, 3-sided apsidal chancel with Lady Chapel. In “Middle Pointed” Gothic style. Most openings have hoodmoulds with figured stops. Three-stage tower with splay- footed spire in centre of west side has angle buttresses, a shallow 3-sided stair turret on its south side, a moulded arched doorway on west side, and above this a niche, containing a statue of Our Lady, which has a crocketed gablet; the 2-light belfry openings have trefoils in place of louvres, and above there is a cornice with ball flower ornament, and gripping beasts at the corners. The splay of the spire has crocketed gablets on all sides; those at the corners form canopies for figures, the remainder lucarnes. Aisles (2 bays, with gables), and nave (2 bays to west side, 3 to east) have buttresses and large 5-light windows, the former with elongated trefoil tracery, the latter with cinquefoil tracery. South gable has a larger 5-light window with similar tracery, an arched doorway below it; apse has gablets to all sides; Lady Chapel has a 3-light window.

Interior: the arch-braced roof, rising from colonnettes, has scissor-bracing at the apex; the pulpit attached to the left side of the chancel arch is approached by an arched tunnel through the pier from the chancel; and there is a projecting gallery at the south end; but the principal feature of interest is an almost complete set of stained glass windows by Hardman. These include: Genesis in the south window; various saints in the transepts; St. Hubert, Christ in Majesty, and Our Lady in the chancel; and foliated patterns in the nave. Presbytery attached at north west corner is simpler but compatible in style, with various gables, tall chimneys, etc.

History: church was built at the expense (£6,000) of James Lomax of Clayton Hall and Allsprings (q.v.), principal landowner in Great Harwood.

Listing NGR: SD7369932177

Memorial Cross c.10m west of church


Memorial Cross, 1888. Stone. Plinth of 3 large octagonal steps, square pedestal, moulded shaft with crucifix at the top. The base of the shaft has stone carvings on the sides (angel, 3 winged beasts); the pedestal has carved shields (sacraments, radiant cross, coats of Arms of Lomax family) and lettering, now mostly illegible, in memory of James Lomax KCSG d.1886, Frances C.V. Lomax of Clayton Hall d.1891, the Very Reverend William Dunderdale, and “those whose bodies lie buried in the cemetery”. Inscription on bottom step states that the cross was erected by members of the congregation in 1888.

Listing NGR: SD7368932158

Heritage Details

Architect: E. W. Pugin and James Murray

Original Date: 1859

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Grade II*