Building » Hurst Green – St Joseph

Hurst Green – St Joseph

Whalley Road, Hurst Green, Clitheroe, Lancs BB7

The chapel is a modest nineteenth century stone building of no particular architectural significance, but making a positive contribution to the Hurst Green Conservation Area. Its primary significance lies in its historical associations with St Joseph’s school, which traces its origins back to the seventeenth century. The chapel also contains some furnishings of outstanding significance: the altar and reredos from J. J. Scoles’s St Peter, Stonyhurst (qv), brought here when that church was reordered in 1893.

The history of the chapel of St Joseph is closely bound up with the history of Stonyhurst College. The chapel and adjoining Catholic village school were served by Jesuit priests after the Jesuit English College at St Omers relocated to Stonyhurst in 1794, but the earliest reference to a chapel in Hurst Green is in 1686 when Richard Shireburn, the Catholic owner of Stonyhurst resolved to found a ‘Meason de Dieu’ for the people of the parish. A deed dated 1706 records that Sir Nicholas Shireburn endowed almshouses and provided £10 a year for a schoolmaster. Registers held at Lancashire Record Office go back to 1763. Also at Hurst Green, St Peter’s Catholic Club was established in 1794, and is claimed on the parish website to be the oldest post-Reformation Catholic Guild in England (located near the village centre, in a grade II listed building). A chapel building is marked on the first edition OS map (surveyed 1845) as part of the school. In 1859-60, alterations were made to the school, and both chapel and school were dedicated to St Joseph. The present chapel is thought to have been built between 1867 and 1870. In 1893, the original altar from St Peter’s church at Stonyhurst was given to the chapel, after a new altar and reredos were installed at the latter.  According to the parish website, the altar now at St Joseph’s was made in 1835 by local craftsmen, after an altar ordered from Italy was lost in a storm at sea.


The low single-storey building is orientated with the altar roughly to the east. The chapel is built of uncoursed rubblestone, with a Welsh slate roof, with a short ‘chimney’ to the west gable end. The west entrance has double leaf pine doors with a glazed transom light over, probably late nineteenth century in date.  The small walled yard at the west end is now sheltered by a PVCu and glazed roof structure. This is reached from the school yard to the south. There is also an internal doorway from the two-storey school building that abuts the south side of the chapel. The north side of the chapel has three PVCu windows facing into the field, and a raking stone buttress. The east wall is blind.

Inside, the chapel is a low rectangular space, with sanctuary and nave all under one roof. The four-bay roof has exposed purlins carried on collar trusses over the nave with plain principal rafters over the sanctuary, the latter with a painted inscription in Gothic script. The walls and slope of the roof soffit are plain plastered, except for the east wall which is hung with wallpaper of Puginian pattern. The floor is pine boards, with a strip of vinyl covering the central aisle and a carpeted platform to the sanctuary. The principal features in the chapel are the stone Gothic altar and reredos, with carved angels under cusped aches on the frontals and a high central monstrance throne to the reredos, the ensemble brought here from Scoles’s church of St Peter, Stonyhurst (qv) in 1893.  The sanctuary was re-ordered at an unknown date when the altar was brought forward. Stubby octagonal plinths bearing statues of the Sacred Heart and Our Lady flank the altar. The congregational seating consists of simple pine pews, probably nineteenth century.

Heritage Details

Architect: None identified

Original Date: 1870

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed