Building » Rishton – St Charles Borromeo

Rishton – St Charles Borromeo

Station Road, Rishton, Blackburn BB1

A large interwar Gothic church, built alongside the presbytery and school-chapel of 1896. It belongs to the partnership (c1936-46) of E. Bower Norris and Francis Reynolds, which produced the now listed churches of St Dunstan, Moston and St Willibrord, Clayton (qqv). Four stained glass windows of the 1890s by Mayer & Co of Munich were transferred from the previous church. The church is a local landmark.

In 1885, the ‘Hermitage’, a former joiner’s shop, was rented and converted for use as a school. The following year permission was given for use of the building also as a chapel. Following further alteration, the first Mass was said in October 1886, marking the beginning of the mission. In 1887, Fr Aukes, the first resident priest, arrived. In the 1890s a new site was bought in Station Road for a new church. A new presbytery and dual-purpose school-chapel were built there and opened in 1896. The cost of both buildings was over £5,000.

By the 1930s, the school-chapel had become too small and a new church was built on the other side of the presbytery. The foundation stone was laid on 8 May 1937 by Bishop Henshaw. The church was opened in 1938 and the architects were Ernest Bower Norris and Francis M. Reynolds. Four stained glass windows by Mayer & Co of Munich were moved from the school-chapel to the new church.

In the 1960s, a small weekday chapel was constructed between the church and the presbytery. During post-Vatican II reordering, the altar was moved forward, the stone pulpit removed and the present second-hand timber pulpit installed. The church was consecrated on 19 December 1986.


The church has load-bearing brown brick walls in Flemish bond, with dressings of red sandstone and limestone, and roofs of Westmorland slate. The plan is longitudinal with shallow transepts at the east and west ends, and a tower at the northwest.

The gabled west elevation has a recessed doorway whose keystone is the corbel for a sandstone statue of the church’s patron saint. On either side are small oblong windows. Above the doorway is a tall, recessed window of two lights, with cusped tracery under a hoodmould. At the gable’s apex is the base of a cross. The square tower has three stages, with small oblong windows to the lower stages and louvred two-light openings with simplified flowing tracery to the top. At the apex of the copper-clad pyramidal tower roof is a metal cross. Off the north side of the tower is a single-storey flat-roofed baptistery. Beside it is a boiler house. The north and south elevations have paired lancets to the lean-to aisles and groups of three small oblong windows to the clerestory. The shallow cross-roofed transepts at the northeast, southwest and southeast have rose windows above shoulder-arched doorways. The chancel is lower and narrower than the nave. It has three stepped lancets to the sides, while the flat-roofed side chapels have three lancets of equal height.

The narthex under the gallery has dados of unpainted brick. A shouldered arch of unpainted brick leads into the former baptistery with small wrought-iron gates still in situ. Three shouldered arches also lead into the nave, with two shouldered windows between them. The four-bay nave has a tall pointed arcade to the narrow aisles. The aisle bays are linked by further shouldered arches. The nave has an open kingpost roof. The arcade pillars and aisle walls have unpainted brick dados. The confessionals and the sacristy are to the north. At the northeast of the nave is the octagonal font, carved with ecclesiastical symbols, beside a free-standing timber aumbry.

The Lady Chapel at the northeast has a stone reredos and altar with an icon-style painting of the Virgin Mary. In front of the entrance of the chapel are timber altar rails and statues of Our Lady of Lourdes and St Bernadette. In front of the chancel arch is the carved timber pulpit installed during the post-Vatican II reordering. The sanctuary has two arches (filled with wrought-iron screens) to the chapels below three lancets. The stone forward altar is the original altar. The reredos is in a shallow niche behind an arch. The stepped timber reredos has carved Perpendicular tracery panels, a central crucifix and two angels. The gradine is of stone and the tabernacle stand in front was created when the altar was moved forward. The foundation stone is to the north of the reredos.

The south chapel is dedicated to St Joseph and has an altar and a reredos which match those in the Lady Chapel. A statue of the saint is on the altar, while a statue of the Sacred Heart stands behind the timber altar rails at the entrance to the chapel. In the aisles are unpainted statues of St Teresa and St Jude, possibly by Stuflesser of Ortisei. The nave windows have stained glass panels with ecclesiastical symbols. The west window has two of the Mayer & Co windows of St Charles Borromeo and St Elizabeth. Two further windows were installed in the central lights of the south and north sanctuary windows: St Bernard and St Thomas, each flanked by the symbols of the Four Evangelists in the outer lights. The rose windows in the transepts have coloured glass and the three lancets to the side chapels have floral patterns. The Stations of the Cross are painted plaster casts set in shallow pointed niches.

Heritage Details

Architect: E. Bower Norris & F. M. Reynolds

Original Date: 1938

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed