Building » Penwortham – St Mary Magdalen

Penwortham – St Mary Magdalen

Leyland Road, Penwortham, Preston PR1

An exceptional building by Francis Roberts, one of the most interesting church architects in England of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The church has received widespread attention in the architectural press and is a building of architectural distinction. The original church is also a building of some architectural quality, incorporated with great sensitivity by Roberts as an attached parish hall, the link between the two buildings making explicit architectural references to the earlier building.

St Mary Magdalen’s was established as an offshoot from the Jesuits’ church of St Wilfrid, Preston. In 1911 plans for a chapel-of-ease were prepared and an anonymous donor provided land for school and church and £1,000 towards the building of the church. The total cost of the land and buildings was approximately £2,500. The church was built from designs by the prolific Preston-based architect W. C. Mangan, and was opened by Archbishop Bourne on 29 September 1912. The Caen stone altar formerly stood in the private chapel of Alston Hall. The parish was erected on 28 November 1933.

The new church was built from designs by Francis J. Roberts, at a cost of £250,000. It was opened and consecrated by Archbishop Worlock on 9 July 1987. The original church became the parish hall.


The church was built in 1987-8 from designs by Francis B. Roberts. It is of red brick, with some half-timbering with a slate roof. It has a monumental east tower with plain angle pilasters, a lozenge-shaped east window, triangular louvred bell-openings at eaves level, and a short swept slated spire. Prominent timbered dormers with hipped roofs to the nave. The principal entrance is via a short link between the west end of the nave and the attached church hall. It is gabled with a barge-board with zigzag detail reflecting the architectural detailing of the church hall, and double doors with attractive furniture to Roberts’ design by Trapp forge.

The interior is lined with grey brick, with exposed timbering and render. The Blessed Sacrament chapel is located behind the altar within the tower. Stained glass by Mark Angus, 1990. Screen by Lund and Edge. Furnishings include a white marble altar from the previous church.

The parish hall, formerly the church, was built in 1910 from designs by W. C. Mangan. It is built of red brick with blue brick dressings and decoration and some red sandstone dressings, under a slate roof. Free Romanesque style with decoration concentrated on the west end. Gabled porch with zigzag detail to prominent bargeboards, elaborate red sandstone doorway with shafts with cushion capitals, interlace carving, etc. Sides with paired round-headed lancets. The interior retains a round chancel arch with Norman shafts and mid-twentieth century stained glass with roundels depicting saints, martyrs, etc.

Entry revised by AHP 11.01.2021

Heritage Details

Architect: W.C. Mangan (original church), Francis Roberts

Original Date: 1987

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed