Station Road, Maghull, Liverpool 31
A late and altered church by Pugin & Pugin, not among their finest, but nonetheless containing a good collection of stained glass and an interesting post-Vatican II internal reordering.
The village of Maghull developed as a northern suburb of Liverpool after the arrival of the railway in 1849. Until the building of St George’s, the nearest Mass centre was at St Benet, Netherton. In 1887 John Massey of Kensington House, Maghull obtained permission for his brother, Fr William Massey, to say Mass in a stone barn he owned in Station Road, which had been adapted to serve as a chapel. The barn chapel was dedicated to St George, and became a separate mission later in 1887, after the arrival of Fr Charles Green. Massey’s barn soon proved too small, and in 1888 a larger barn on the corner of Willow Hey and Melling Lane was rented from Mr Thomas Colgan, in which a school and chapel were established. At about the same time the present site was acquired, and the foundations laid for a new school and chapel, intended as temporary, opened in 1889. The high altar came from St Wilfrid’s Preston, a gift of the rector, Fr Splaine SJ. A large statue of the Virgin and Child, the altar rails and the font came from Scarisbrick, the gift of Count de Casteja. Two years later the large new presbytery was built.
The temporary church did service until 1927, when the foundation stone for the present church was laid on 11 September by Archbishop Keating. The new church, built from designs by Pugin & Pugin at a cost of £12,000, was opened in August 1929. A parish hall was also built (later replaced by a larger one).
In the 1970s and 80s the church was much altered and extended (by Weightman & Bullen, thinks Fr Kelly). A new entrance area was formed out of a side chapel at the liturgical east end, the sanctuary subdivided with a coloured glass screen and new liturgical furnishings installed. The area behind the screen became a day chapel. Additional seating was provided in two new transepts giving off the east end of the nave, and a family room built at the back of the church. The baptistery was converted to a Lady Chapel.
Church in Early English/Decorated Gothic style by Pugin & Pugin, 1927-9, consisting of a five-bay nave, canted chancel with flanking chapel to south (now entrance porch), sacristy and asymmetrically placed tower to north, transepts, family room and former baptistery. The church is built of red brick laid in English garden wall bond (3:1) under a Westmorland slate roof. The east end of the chancel faces towards the road and has large three-light windows with trefoil cusping on the canted sides and a blind east wall containing a sandstone Crucifixion panel. The former Lady Chapel adjoins this to the left (south), now converted to form the main entrance to the church. To the right (north) is the two-stage tower, with tall lancet belfry windows to the upper stage and a crenellated, pierced parapet. In front of this, a double height gabled structure housing sacristy below and choir loft above. A sandstone carving of St George under a canopy is set into the wall at first floor level (added in 1943). The earlier presbytery is attached to the north. Later (1980s?) transept projection on the south side of the nave, red engineering brick laid in stretcher bond under a Westmorland slate roof, and projecting from two original shallower gabled bays. The west elevation has five stepped lancets with trefoil cusping, attached buttresses and a canted addition, the latter in red engineering brick and with a hipped Westmorland slate roof, housing a family room. Its design takes its cue from the original baptistery (now Lady Chapel) projecting from the north side of the west end of the nave. Beyond this is the flat-roofed red brick addition of the north transept, which projects in front of the rear elevation of the presbytery.
The interior consists of a single volume for the five-bay nave, and a subdivided chancel. The nave has arcade recesses marking the bays, but no aisles, although the two western bays are arcaded and always opened onto short transepts. The present larger transepts were added later, at a time when the Catholic population and attendance were growing. There is a scissor truss roof over the nave. The subdivision of the chancel took place in the 1970s and involved the insertion of a multicoloured glass screen within a concrete frame, incorporating steps and the tabernacle on a stone base at its centre. The space behind the screen is a weekday chapel.
Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of the church interior is the quantity and quality of its stained glass, mostly early twentieth century, and to all appearances from the studio of Hardman. The blue, abstract glass in the Lady Chapel (former baptistery), belongs to the 1970s reordering, and the original baptistery glass has been reused in the south transept, along with other large panels depicting Lancashire martyrs.
Architect: Pugin & Pugin
Original Date: 1927
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed