Building » Osbaldeston – St Mary

Osbaldeston – St Mary

Longsight Road, Osbaldeston, Blackburn, Lancs BB2

A well-detailed Perpendicular Gothic design of the 1830s, with attached Tudor-style presbytery. The interior shows the persistence of the pre-Puginian single-volume galleried arrangement. The most notable of the furnishings is the reredos of the 1850s. The church, presbytery and adjacent school form a good historic group of stone buildings in a prominent position on Longsight Road.  

Osbaldeston Hall was the home of Blessed Edward Osbaldeston, Catholic priest and martyr, who was hanged, drawn and quartered at York in 1594.

A mission was established at Osbaldeston in 1834 as an offshoot of Samlesbury (qv), and a farmhouse served as a school and chapel. In 1836 Capt. William Heatley of Brindle Lodge, near Preston, gave land for the building of a church and presbytery, with burial ground. He also donated forty-nine acres of farmland as an endowment and, with the Hubbersty family, paid for a stone-built Gothic Revival church, which opened on 25 October 1838. The presbytery, stables and a coach house were built at the same time.  The identity of the architect is not known, but clearly this is the work of somebody well-versed in the language of late Gothic architecture and no doubt influenced by J. J. Scoles’s church of St Peter, Stonyhurst (qv), completed in 1835.

The Rev. Thomas Irving (mission priest from 1837-56) built the school (1845) and in the church added a choir gallery with an organ which had been built in 1824 for old St Mary’s parish church in Blackburn. According to the historical notes in the church, Fr Irving also embellished the sanctuary with a reredos by Professor Frederick Barff and two pupils of the Munich artist, Cornelius. Frederick Settle Barff (1823-86) was a Catholic convert who from the mid-1850s ran an ecclesiastical decorating business in Duke Street, Liverpool. He later became a Professor of Chemistry and is remembered for inventing a method for rust-proofing cast-iron. Peter von Cornelius (1783-1867) is associated with the Nazarene group of German painters. The two pupils of his mentioned in the historical notes may have been Herr Fischer and Wurms, pupils of von Cornelius who in 1854 decorated the walls of the side chapels at St Peter, Stonyhurst (qv) with frescoes.

The high altar was removed from the east wall after the Second Vatican Council, and the exposed area adorned with portraits of martyrs, by Andrew Henderson, a parishioner (1992).


The church is described in the list entry, below. This offers an adequate architectural account, but gives little information about the furnishings. The list entry can be augmented with the following points:

  • The church is said to be built of built of Millstone grit, from the Butler’s Delph quarry, near Blackburn
  • Inside, the western gallery is a slightly later addition. It contains an organ which is said to have been built in 1824 for the Anglican parish church of St Mary, Blackburn (replaced in the later 1820s by the building which is now the cathedral).
  • The main feature of the interior is the reredos of the 1850s, by Frederick Settle Barff, with painted panels by two pupils of Peter von Cornelius. This has a central group of the Virgin and Child, flanked by St Augustine of Canterbury and St William of York. Below them, the area exposed by the post-Vatican II removal of the high altar has been decorated with painted portraits of Saints Thomas More and John Fisher and ten Lancashire martyrs, painted in 1992 by Andrew Henderson.
  • The forward altar appears to be a reduced version of the old high altar incorporating the central panels.
  • In the nave is a handsome grey and black war memorial of c1920, with a central crucifix and scrolled open pediment above.
  • The stained glass is twentieth century, mainly clear but incorporating small stained glass panels with sacred monograms etc.
  • The pews are also twentieth century.

List description:


Church of St. Mary, with presbytery


Roman Catholic Church and presbytery, 1837-8. Squared sandstone with slate roofs. Church has angle buttresses with pinnacles and a string course at window sill level. Windows each have a mullion and a transom and have their upper lights pointed under a pointed head with hood. North and south walls of 4 bays. West wall of 2 bays. At the apex of the gable is a stone bellcote of square plan with embattled parapet. Below it is a niche with statue. The west door has a chamfered surround with pointed head. The presbytery, adjoining at the east, is of 3 bays with double-chamfered mullioned windows, of 2 lights at the left and one in the centre. The right-hand bay has 4 lights on the ground floor and 3 above. A drip course rises over the ground-floor windows and door. The door, in the central bay, has a chamfered stone surround with pointed head. Right-hand gable coped with kneelers. Chimneys, with clustered shafts, at left and set back from right-hand gable. Inside, the west gallery of the church has a panelled front with tracery decoration carried on 2 slim iron columns. The king-post roof is moulded, with moulded purlins and intermediate principals.

Listing NGR: SD6486631855

Heritage Details

Architect: Not recorded

Original Date: 1838

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Grade II