Building » Nelson – St John Southworth

Nelson – St John Southworth

Vaughan Street, Nelson, Lancs BB9

A plain interwar combined school-chapel, replacing an earlier dual use building on the site. The mission and the church were originally dedicated to St George.

The mission was founded from St Joseph’s, Nelson, in 1897. On 17 February that year, three children from St Joseph’s Infants’ School and the mission priest at St Joseph’s, Fr Robert Smith, cut the first turf at the current site, overlooking Walverden Park. Bishop Bilsborrow laid the foundation stone for a combined school-chapel on 23 October 1897 and opened the upper floor chapel on 3 December 1900. The building is said to have been designed by Fr Smith and was built largely with voluntary labour. Of L-shaped plan, the building had a gable with a small bellcote. The school was opened on 12 May 1902. Part of the ground floor was occupied by a convent.

The chapel was served from St Joseph’s, Nelson, until 1922 when St George’s became an independent parish. On 29 November 1924 Bishop John Stephen Vaughan laid the foundation stone for a new school-chapel on the same site. It was opened on 12 February 1925 by Bishop Henshaw. It was furnished with a second-hand oak altar. In 1939, the sanctuary was decorated with murals of saints by Mr Nicholson of Longridge. In 1953, stained glass with emblems of St George was installed in the sanctuary. In 1967, a new altar and rails were installed.

On 26 July 1984, the foundation stone was laid for a new combined porch for the church and the social centre below. In 1986, the parishes of St George and St Joseph were amalgamated. In 1992, St Joseph’s church was closed and St George was rededicated to St John Southworth.


The church has an oblong plan on a northeast-southwest axis. The walls are faced with rock-faced stone. The hipped roof with a timber and steel structure is covered in slate. There are lean-to entrance porches on the short walls. The building has two storeys to Vaughan Street, and three to the car park behind. The elevation to Vaughan Street is ten windows wide, all of them nearly square with chamfered stone lintels. The first floor windows have outer UPVC glazing and inner leaded lights with stained glass panels depicting ecclesiastical symbols. The other three elevations have more irregular fenestration and a mixture of timber, metal and UPVC windows. The ground floor windows to the short elevation to St George’s Road have metal grilles with the initials of the patron saint, ‘SJS’. The windows above have modern stained and coloured glass. There is another panel of modern coloured glass in the porch on that side, which also has the 1984 foundation stone as a lintel to a doorway on the lower ground floor. The interior has not been inspected.

Heritage Details

Architect: Not established

Original Date: 1925

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed