Building » Great Harwood – St Wulstan

Great Harwood – St Wulstan

Rushton Street, Great Harwood, Lancs BB6

An interwar brick church, built to replace an earlier tin church. The parish complex includes a bowling green, one of formerly three in this street in the nineteenth century.

The mission was founded in 1912 from St Hubert’s church, Great Harwood (qv). With the help of a bequest, Fr Hill bought three and a half acres of land for £1,000. A tin church was erected on the present site and a school built to a design by Oswald Hill of Manchester. In 1928, the architects Mercer & Duckworth prepared plans for a men’s club (not realised). The following year, the presbytery was built for £2,000, probably also designed by Mercer & Duckworth. In 1936-7, a new church was built, to a design by R. Mercer of Preston (not J. Mercer as in The Buildings of England). The foundation stone was laid on 3 October 1936 by Bishop Henshaw. Mr Woof [sic] Cronshaw of Blackburn was the builder.

At some point, the square-ended sanctuary and side altars had carved Gothic panelling to their east wall. As part of a post-Vatican II reordering the former side altars were screened off diagonally but most of the panelling survives behind the screens.


The church was built in 1936-7 to a design by R. Mercer. The walls are faced in brick laid in stretcher bond and the roof is covered in slate. The original metal windows survive but on the north and south elevations hardwood secondary glazed units have been fitted to the outside. The plan is longitudinal.

The west elevation has a projecting narrow bay containing the porch, with entrances on both sides. Two registers of three windows are contained in recessed panels, with gabled heads to the upper windows and panels of herringbone brick between the two levels of windows. Below the stepped gable is a projecting cross in tiles. On either side of this porch bay is the west gable and small gable-headed windows. The south elevation has eight bays with pairs of gable-headed windows between shallow buttresses – only the west bay has a single window. Below the eaves is a corbel table. The north elevation is similar but has windows only to the five westernmost bays, beyond which the sacristy abuts the church. The east elevation has the foundation stone with three groups of windows above: pairs of gable-headed windows on either side of a recessed panel with three gable-headed windows divided by brick mullions and above panels of herringbone brick. The heads of the central east windows extend into the gable, which has a projecting stepped feature similar to that at the west, also with a thin cross of tiles.

The eight-bay interior has a gallery at the west end. None of the sanctuary windows is visible from the inside: The easternmost side windows are in the screened-off former side chapels, and the windows in the east wall are completely boarded up from inside. The ceiling is segmentally curved, with thin, golden ribs in a zigzag pattern. Above the narthex is the gallery. Inside the nave are a statue of the Sacred Heart under a carved Gothic canopy (northwest), and a statue of the Virgin Mary under a similar canopy (southwest).

The sanctuary arch is a shallow segmental curve, flanked by two pointed arches into the former side chapels. From the sanctuary there are also lateral arches to the former side chapels; the resulting square pillars contain the aumbry and the piscina. The remaining timber altar rails appear to have been shortened. The altar, lectern, presidential chair, and canopied tabernacle stand are all of dark stained wood, and are likely to contain parts of the unified furnishing scheme which existed at some point. The diagonal screens to the former side chapels also have Gothic carving and three gabled windows filled with yellow opaque glass. The screen in the northeast corner includes a war memorial plaque which refers to a statue which was part of the memorial. Doors lead into the spaces behind, which retain carved tall panelling. Other furnishings of note in the sanctuary include a carved pieta, a statue of the Virgin Mary and fine brass candle stands. The Stations of the Cross are modern reliefs mounted on panels. The sacristies, the confessional and a former weekday chapel (in a former sacristy) are all at the northeast.

Heritage Details

Architect: R. Mercer of Preston

Original Date: 1937

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed