Building » Sabden – St Mary

Sabden – St Mary

Whalley Road, Sabden, Clitheroe, Lancs BB7

A modest but neat stone-built structure of 1937, adjoining a mid-nineteenth century house, and making a small but positive contribution to the local conservation area.

The two small settlements of Sabden Bridge and Heyhouses grew and merged from the late eighteenth century, with the establishment of a cotton mill at Sabden Brook. The small Catholic population had to make the journey over the hills to Clitheroe to attend Mass until 1877, when a school-chapel, with three adjoining cottages, were built in Pendle Street East, following a donation from the Trappes family of Clayton-le-Moors. Mass was said once a month by Jesuit priests coming from Clitheroe until 1909, when Sabden was handed over to the diocese and the first resident priest, the Rev. John Meade, appointed.  Bank House (49 Whalley Road), an end-of-terrace house with a substantial garden, was acquired to serve as a presbytery; a ground floor room was used for worship until funds were raised for a purpose-built church adjoining.

The present church was built in 1937 at a cost of £800 by the Burnley builder and contractor Daniel Durkin, from plans drawn up by ‘young Mr Dennis Durkin’ (Bolton), presumably the son of the builder.  Stone from a cotton mill at Lowerhouse then in the process of demolition was used in the construction. The church bears some resemblance to Christ the King, Burnley (qv), erected by the same builders in the previous year.

Later additions have included an entrance lobby at the west end of the church, and a parish hall. The church is served from Clitheroe, and Bank House is tenanted. The former school-chapel in Pendle Street East survives, now in residential use.


The church is attached to the side of Bank House (49 Whalley Road), a handsome end-of-terrace mid-nineteenth century stone-built house, with Gothic detail to the entrance and a two-storey bay window. The church is built of ashlar stonework, said to have come from a demolished nineteenth century cotton mill at Lowerhouse, with a slate roof. It is a plain, single-cell building, with a later western vestibule addition, in matching materials but with a slightly steeper roof pitch. The flank elevations are of four bays, the bays marked by attached buttresses with offsets. The windows have modern hardwood frames, replacing the original metal-framed windows. The westernmost window on the entrance (garden) side was originally the main entrance, made into a window when the vestibule addition was added. The interior is plain in character, with white plastered walls and ceiling, the braces exposed up to collar level. There are furnishings of particular note; there is no evidence of the painting of St Jerome recorded by Bolton in 1950 (p.169), which is thought to have come with the Jesuits from France to Stonyhurst.

Heritage Details

Architect: D. Durkin (Builder)

Original Date: 1937

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed