Building » Little Crosby – St Mary

Little Crosby – St Mary

Back Lane, Little Crosby, Liverpool 23

An early and thoroughgoing example of Puginian Gothic by Weightman & Hadfield, the church is a monument to resurgent Catholic feudalism, built by the Blundells of Crosby Hall, a notable recusant family. It replaced an early eighteenth century chapel and priest’s house, buildings which survive to the east. The church occupies a prominent position in a central village location; in its churchyard setting it is, in the words of The Buildings of England, ‘just like an Anglican parish church  –  a  sign of the strength of Catholicism in this part of the country’.

The church was built in 1845-7 at the expense of William Blundell (d.1854) of Crosby Hall. It replaced an earlier chapel of apparent early eighteenth    century date (an exceptionally early date for a freestanding public Catholic chapel). This building, and its attached presbytery – also early eighteen century in date (1719 datestone) – survive to the east of the present church. Both buildings were much altered in the 1850s when, after the building of the present church, they became a convent and school house. The former convent is now a private house.

The Blundells of Crosby Hall (not to be confused with the Blundells of nearby Ince Blundell) were a notable recusant family, who built a Catholic chapel (the Harkirk) with its own burial ground within the grounds of the Hall. The first burial took place in 1611 and the last in 1753. In 1889 Colonel Nicholas Blundell built a chapel on the site of the Harkirk.


See list description, below. Additional points, drawn from The Buildings of England:

  • The south chapel (Blundell family chapel) was added in 1883. Its wall paintings date from 1935 and are by Arthur Tomlinson;
  • Arts and Crafts copper repousse plaque to Col. Nicholas Blundell (d.1894) and his wife Agnes (d.1890) in the porch.

The parish website states that the painted decoration of the ceiling with the Litany of Our Lady was originally painted by Col. Nicholas Blundell and other members of the family, and was repainted in 1979 by Mrs Barnes, headmistress of the local primary school.

List descriptions



Roman Catholic church. 1845-7, by Weightman & Hadfield. Coursed sandstone rubble, slate roofs. STYLE: simple Decorated. PLAN: nave with west steeple, north and south aisles, chancel with transeptal chapel on south side and attached offices on north side. EXTERIOR: the steeple, a square 3-stage tower with a broach spire, has angle- buttresses terminating at the 3rd stage, a traceried 3-light west window to the 2nd stage and small traceried 2-light windows to the 3rd stage (all these windows with hoodmoulds), and the spire has gableted 2-light lucarnes between the broaches, with stone louvres. The full-height 4-bay aisles with buttresses have traceried 2-light windows, and in the 1st bay of the north aisle is a gabled porch which has a 2-centred arched doorway with a double-chamfered head and a hoodmould, a niche with a statue, and gable coping with an apex cross. Attached to the south side of the chancel are 2 unequal gabled side offices, both with small 1- and 2-light windows and the larger to the right with a gable chimney. INTERIOR: 4-bay aisle arcades of octagonal columns with moulded caps carrying 2- centred arches with 2 orders of moulding; 2-centred tower arch containing gallery; wagon roof painted with the litany of Our Lady; double-chamfered chancel arch with semi-circular responds; chancel with sedilia and piscina, recumbent effigy of William Blundell (d.1854), and 2-bay south arcade of double-chamfered arches on cylindrical column with foliated cap, opening into Blundell memorial chapel painted with scenes from family history. Forms group with associated presbytery and convent (qv).

Presbytery and convent


Presbytery, with attached chapel (subsequently remodelled as convent). Probably all early C18, enlarged and/or remodelled in mid C19 (and altered in C20): the presbytery, dated 1850 on the porch, has a datestone of 1719 on its rear wing, and the convent, dated 1859 on the former porch, has remains of C18 windows at the rear. All brick, the presbytery stuccoed and the convent of red brick with sandstone dressings; graduated slate roof to presbytery, stone slate roof to convent. PLAN: irregular plan, the presbytery with a double-fronted front range attached to the north end of a single-depth rear wing; and the convent attached to its north-east corner.

PRESBYTERY: the front range, in Tudor style, 2 storeys and 2 windows, has a gabled single-storey porch with a shouldered outer opening, and a painted shield in the gable with the date 1850 above it; a 2-storey canted bay to the right with mullion-and-transom windows, a lean-to to the left and small windows on each floor of this side; gable copings with kneelers, a gable chimney to the left and an extruded chimney stack at the right-hand gable. Its rear wing has a raised band between floors, a modern 2-storey bay close to the front range and at 1st floor to the right of this a shouldered stone plaque inscribed “1719”, with the Blundell shield.

CONVENT: Tudor style, 2 storeys and 2:3 windows, with a gabled 2-storey former porch in the centre. This has a stone 1st-floor band carried round, patched brickwork at ground floor of the front (showing position of former doorway), a sunk panel with a carved shield at 1st floor dated 1859, gable coping with kneelers, and a segmental-pointed window in its left side wall. The main range to the left has a segmental-pointed doorway, a C19 2-light stone mullioned window to the right, 2 similar windows at 1st floor, and a square window offset left at mid level to the left. The main range to the right (probably formerly a schoolroom) has 2 tall formerly 2-light mullioned windows with altered glazing, and a small window at 1st floor to the left also with altered glazing. Gable copings with kneelers, gable chimney to left, large lateral ridge chimney in line with porch. The rear wall has the remains of 3 large round-headed windows with brick voussoirs and stone keystones (like C18 chapel windows), various inserted windows and a single-storey service wing with
a chimney.

INTERIORS: not inspected.

Forms group with Roman Catholic Church of St Mary (qv). Listing NGR: SD3199501712

Heritage Details

Architect: Weightman & Hadfield

Original Date: 1845

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Grade II