Building » St Helens – Holy Cross and St Helen

St Helens – Holy Cross and St Helen

Corporation Street, St Helens WA10

A substantial town church built for the Jesuits, and a late work by their favoured architect J. J. Scoles. One of the two principal places of Catholic worship in St Helens, with an interior which retains much of its original nineteenth-century character.

St Helens developed as an industrial town in the nineteenth century, although a Catholic chapel was built here as early as 1793 (subsequently enlarged and replaced by the present church of St Mary Lowe House, qv). Holy Cross was established as a Jesuit mission, and the foundation stone of the present church was laid in May 1860 by Fr Seed SJ, the Jesuit Provincial. Apparently concerns about the stability of the ground forced late changes to the design of the east end of the building, and the choice of a flat rather than a pitched roof. The building was opened in May 1862.


See list description, below. Further information gleaned from the archdiocesan archive:

  • The statues of apostles under canopies in the nave spandrels were added in about 1876
  • The high altar was designed by Scoles and executed by a Mr Sterling of Liverpool, but was augmented in 1919
  • The altar and reredos in the Sacred Heart chapel in the north transept are by Mayer of Munich and date from about 1888
  • The screen to the chapel dates from 1886
  • The organ case in the west gallery is of 1887
  • The stained glass in the north transept window and the east rose window is of 1862 by Thomas Unsworth of London, that in the south transept windows by M Casolani
  • The marble and alabaster altar rails, with oak doors, run across the entire width of the church and were added in 1917
  • The Lady Chapel altar dates from 1952, replacing one from 1905
  • The churchyard is enclosed by contemporary stone boundary walls with elaborate sandstone steps and gateways.
  • The church was reordered in 1980-1.

List description


Catholic church. 1860-2. J. J. Scoles. Rock-faced stone with ashlar dressings, slate roof. Single vessel nave and chancel with aisles under lean-to roofs, transepts and side chapels under lean-to roofs; north porch. 8-bay nave has 3- light windows with Curvilinear tracery, those to clerestory have segmental pointed heads; aisle windows between weathered buttresses. West end (ritual west is actual east) has 5-light window above small entrance, with spherical triangle window above. Transepts have 4-light windows with rose windows above. Chancel has rose window with blind lights below. Some tracery heads have been repaired on south side of church. Interior: 8-bay arcades on slender octagonal piers; corbelled statues of apostles to spandrels. Flat ceiling with moulded beams. End bay of nave is enclosed, 1st bay of arcade has gallery with C20 screen below and to the sides. Timber chancel arch with rood and pierced with tracery; continuous alabaster altar rail. Timber parclose screens to chapels. Elaborate reredoses to chancel and chapels. Sacred Heart chapel in north transept has elaborate screen; entrance flanked by arcading on paired marble piers, wrought iron gates, rich reredos and blind arcading with pinnacles to north and west walls.

Heritage Details

Architect: J. J. Scoles

Original Date: 1860

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Grade II