Helmshore Road, Helmshore, Rossendale BB4
Helmshore House, an Italianate villa of the 1860s, was converted in the 1950s for use as a school and chapel, and later as a chapel and presbytery. Its poor condition led to its disuse five years ago. Since then, the adjacent parish hall has been used for church services. St Veronica’s is served from the church of the Immaculate Conception, Haslingden (qv).
Until about five years ago, Helmshore House, a nineteenth-century Italianate villa, was used as both the church and the presbytery. It was built probably in the 1860s for the Baxter family, a family of local brewers. In 1959, it was acquired by the parish priest of Haslingden, Fr Purcell for £4,300 from Messrs Whitaker & Sons Ltd and converted as school rooms and a small chapel. The chapel was opened on 14 November 1959. In the 1960s, a new chapel was created in a double-height, galleried room and a sacristy in the southern half of the building.
By the 1960s, the original stable block to the northeast was used as ‘Helmshore House hostel’. It was sold after the Holy Ghost Fathers left.
In recent years, the condition of the house has severely deteriorated. A condition survey report of November 2004 (Lancaster Maloney Ltd) recommended works to the estimated value of over £126,000. These included comprehensive repairs to the roof and full re-slating, which have since been carried out. However, no further money has been spent to bring the house back into use.
Since 2008, the former parish hall has been used as the church. It was built in 1967 by Byrom, Hill & Partners. The contractors were Kenleeds Constructions Ltd of Failsworth, and the cost was £11,818. In 1994, a small side extension was built to the south.
St Veronica’s ceased to be an independent parish in 2005. It is now served from Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Haslingden, and the two churches together form St Marie’s parish, Haslingden.
The main elevation of Helmshore House faces west. The plan of the house is square under a hipped roof to the front with two hipped ranges to the east. The house has two storeys, with three bays to the north, west and south elevations. At the rear (east) are two small extensions: a shallow single-storey extension to the north, and a two-storey extension under a hipped roof with a single-storey lean-to (built between 1911 and 1930, according to map evidence). The ashlar of the north, west and south elevations is smooth, while that at the rear is rock-faced. The corners have quoins, and below the eaves is a full entablature with a projecting cornice, frieze and simplified architrave. The west elevation has two shallow bay windows in the outer bays with tripartite windows and a stone entablature. The entrance door in the centre bay has a Doric portico which was filled in with a door and glazing in the late nineteenth century. Several of the original sash windows have been replaced with UPVC windows. The south elevation has three plain window openings (formerly sash windows) and part of the elevation appears to have been rebuilt, possibly following the removal of an extension – probably a conservatory or similar which, according to map evidence, was built between 1893 and 1911. There is a secondary entrance in the centre bay of the north elevation.
The current church and former parish hall has a rectangular plan. It is a steel-portal framed structure faced inside and out in brick. The narthex contains toilet and kitchen facilities. The main interior is four and a half bays long. The sanctuary is screened off with a folding screen. The sanctuary furnishings are all modern and of timber. The altar frontal has a carving of the Supper at Emmaus. Behind the sanctuary are the sacristy and St Edmund Arrowsmith Chapel, the weekday chapel. This also has modern furnishings and Stations of the Cross.
Architect: Not established (Helmshore House); Byrom, Hill & Partners (hall)
Original Date: 1967
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed