Building » Ince Blundell – The Holy Family

Ince Blundell – The Holy Family

Back o’ the Town Lane, Ince Blundell, Liverpool 38

An estate church in Quattrocento Italianate style by J. J. Scoles, built for the Blundell family and linked to the service wing of Ince Blundell Hall. The church has a magnificent painted interior by the Craces, with an altarpiece and panel paintings by Gebhard Flatz.

The Blundell family became established in the Liverpool area in the fourteenth century. They remained loyal Catholics throughout penal times. A new house was built in about 1720 by Robert Blundell on the site of a previous house, and was completed after 1761 by Henry Blundell. Henry also enclosed the park, built two entrance gateways, built the Garden Temple and the Pantheon, the latter to house his important collection of antique classical sculpture. With the end of the male line, Thomas Weld inherited the estate in 1837. He extended the house, employing Messrs Crace on the internal redecoration. He also employed J. J. Scoles to build a new chapel in 1858-60. The first chapel had been on the first floor of the house at the end of the service range, roughly in the same location as the gallery of the present building. Amongst the priests serving in the old chapel was Blessed Dominic Barberi, who received John Henry Newman into the Catholic Church.

The Italianate style of the present  building  displays the client’s classical sympathies; for Scoles it was a reversion to his classical beginnings (seen for example in the chapel at Prior Park, Bath, 1844) from the Gothic he had embraced in the 1850s (as seen at St Francis Xavier, Everton and Our Lady, Lydiate). From its opening the chapel served both as a private chapel and a public place of worship. Towards the end of the Weld-Blundell era it was loaned to the Archdiocese at a peppercorn rent. At the end of the 1950s the estate was put up for sale, and the contents sold (Henry Blundell’s sculpture collection going to the Liverpool Corporation). At that point the chapel was given to the Archdiocese. The house was purchased by the Canonesses of St Augustine, previously based at Park House, Waterloo, who established the nursing home that continues to this day.


See list description, below. The description of the interior is brief, and can be augmented as follows:

  • The Raphaelesque altarpiece and the four framed grisaille paintings on the walls of the nave are by the Austrian Nazarene painter Gebhard Flatz (1880-81), commissioned by Thomas Blundell at a cost of £2,500;
  • Messrs Crace were responsible for the Arabesque wall decoration, and most likely also the apsidal painting showing Christ in Majesty attended by angels and the flat, blue coffered ceiling. The wall decoration has been diluted by overpainting in duck egg blue;
  • Intact marble high altar with classical tabernacle, of undetermined date;
  • The organ gallery is supported on grey veined marble columns and has a balustraded front;
  • There are two large stained glass windows over the gallery by Forrest of Liverpool, c.1860. One shows St Thomas the Apostle and Thomas Blundell and his five sons, the other St Teresa of Avila with Theresa Blundell with her six daughters;
  • Four early twentieth century stained glass windows below the gallery at the west end to various Blundells, by Hardman;
  • A large brass to Charles Blundell set into the floor, c.1860 and probably by Hardman;
  • Small polygonal marble font in apsidal recess on north wall, with ogee wooden cover with carved figure of St John the Baptist at the top;
  • Minor altars to Our Lady and St Joseph in apsidal recesses;
  • Plain oak benches of twentieth century date.

List description


Chapel serving as parish church. 1858. By J.J. Scoles, interior decoration probably by Crace. Brick with stone dressings, slate roof. West facade of 2 storeys. Stone base, 1st floor sill band and top pediment with cross. 1:2:1 round-headed windows, the central pair in break forward. Upper window of 2 round-headed lights and roundel under round arch; foliage in tympanum. Flanking niches under cornices. An enclosed porch with octagonal turret to left. Rest of exterior plain, with round-headed windows.

Interior: 5-bay nave has coffered ceiling and west gallery on Doric columns and with balustrade. High windows with rich cornice/sill course. Round apse with tunnel vault. Interior painting in arabesque style similar to that in Hall. (q.v.)

Listing NGR: SD3267903021

Heritage Details

Architect: J. J. Scoles

Original Date: 1858

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Grade II*