Building » Scorton – St Mary and St George

Scorton – St Mary and St George

Snow Hill, Scorton, Preston PR3 1AY

A fine stone-built church by H. J. Hansom, well maintained and little altered, which forms a good group with the adjoining presbytery, boundary walls, gates and gatepiers, on the edge of the village conservation area.

A mission was established in Scorton in 1713 in a ‘small, rude thatched building used for a clog-maker’s shop on weekdays and for Mass on Sundays’ (Hagen, 2002, p.4).  This was replaced by a new chapel in 1771, which was in turn replaced by the present church, on land purchased for £1,800 from the Duke of Hamilton. The architect was Henry John Hansom; the cost £2,500. The foundation stone was laid by Bishop Alexander Goss of Liverpool on 15 September 1860, and he opened the church on 2 October 1861.


See list entry below. The church is built entirely of ashlar York stone, with a slate roof, in a fourteenth century style, consisting of nave, chancel and a north aisle of four bays with a Lady Chapel. The arcade is supported by four circular piers with moulded capitals. There is no tower, but a bellcote on the (ritual) west gable. The church is therefore of the form advocated by Pugin for smaller parish churches, and bears similarities with the Hansom’s earlier church at Alston Lane (1856, grade II).

The church is entered on the (ritual) south side, leading to a narthex and baptistery, below an organ gallery.  The sanctuary retains its altar rails. There is a new forward altar and behind this the elaborate original high altar, of (painted) stone, with a central nodding ogee arch and panels representing the Resurrection and the Last Supper. Above is a four-light window (Hardman) depicting St James, Our Lady, St Richard, St Elizabeth and with the symbols of the Evangelists. The Lady altar in the aisle came from Clifton Hall, and was donated by a Miss Gillow. The stained glass window was presented by John Weld of Leagram Hall, near Chipping.

The attached presbytery, boundary walls, gates and gatepiers are all contemporary with the church, and also built of ashlar York stone. They form a very attractive and picturesque group.

Entry amended by AHP 20.12.2020

List description (the church, presbytery, gate piers and walls were listed Grade II in 2009, following Taking Stock)


A Roman Catholic church, attached presbytery and associated gate piers and attached walls built in 1860/1 in an Early Decorated period of Gothic to a design by Henry John Hansom. MATERIALS: Sandstone beneath pitched slate roofs. PLAN: The church and attached presbytery are approximately L-shaped in plan. CHURCH EXTERIOR: Virtually all windows in the church have pointed arches, many beneath dripstones that terminate in corbels representing carved human heads. The chancel’s east elevation has diagonal buttresses and a stone mullioned window with four lights and geometrical tracery. In the gable above there is a small triangular window beneath a moulded dripstone with carved heads. The east gable end is topped with overlapping copings and a cross at the apex. The church’s roofline is finished with small crosses running the full length. The chancel’s north and south walls each have a narrow window with the south wall being attached to the presbytery by a short single-storey corridor that contains a half dormer on its east face. The north aisle has a three-light mullioned window with tracery at its east end. Windows to the north face of the north aisle have plate tracery with added external iron bars for security. There are buttresses between the windows and a diagonal buttress at the north west corner of the north aisle. The west face of the north aisle has a two-light window with tracery. There is a narrow window adjacent. The nave has three tall two-light windows with geometric tracery separated by buttresses. There is a carved plaque in relief beneath the central window. The nave wall is attached to the presbytery by a short single-storey corridor that contains one two-light and one single-light rectangular window on its east face. The porch is approached up a short flight of steps with metal railings to either side. The railings each containing `M’ in the centre symbolising Mary, primary patron of the church, together with scallop shells symbolising St James, the secondary patron. The porch has diagonal buttresses. The twin wooden doors have metal strap hinges. The recessed doorway has columns to either side from which spring mouldings that terminate in a pointed arch. Above there is a moulded dripstone that terminates in carved stone corbels depicting Bishop Goss and Reverend Robert Turpin, first priest of the church. Above this there is a statuette of Our Lady. The porch is topped by stepped copings with a cross at the apex. The walls of the porch contain memorial tablets dedicated to past priests who are buried in the vault beneath the porch. Access into the church is through part glazed timber doors set within a pointed arched doorway. The church’s west elevation has one centrally-placed buttress and diagonal buttresses at each corner. There are three-light windows to either side of the central buttress with single-light windows above them and a rose window above the central buttress. The west gable terminates in stepped copings with a bellcote at the apex. CHURCH INTERIOR: The interior consists of a chancel, nave with organ gallery at its west end and a north aisle. The chancel has a narrow window to either side. The north wall has a pointed-arched stone mullion opening giving views into the adjacent Lady Chapel. The south wall has a blocked pointed arched recess. The east window contains stained glass by Hardman depicting St James, Our Lady, St Richard and St Elizabeth and with the symbols of the four evangelists. There is a segmental arched roof with panels each containing the Cross symbol. The high altar is of painted stone with a central nodding ogee arch. It has panels that represent the Resurrection and the Last Supper. Small statues on either side of the altar are thought to be of John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, on the left, and St Thomas Becket on the right. The larger statues to either side of the high altar are of St Mary and St Joseph. There is a new forward altar in front of the high altar. The altar rail has elaborate painted ironwork, columns and a wooden handrail. At the south east corner of the nave there is a wooden pulpit and adjacent there is a doorway leading to the corridor that connects with the presbytery. The nave has four pointed-arched arcades with a fifth smaller arcade giving access to the Lady Chapel. Pews are open backed. The roof of the church is segmental arched with timbers resting on stone corbels to either side of the nave. The corbels have carved and painted angels beneath. The south wall of the nave contains a two-light stained glass window depicting St Charles and St Robert. Other windows in the church are leaded with clear glass. Running the length of the nave’s south wall is a painted dado. At the west end of the north aisle is the baptistery behind ornate low iron railings within which there is a carved stone font. The Lady Chapel at the east end of the north aisle contains a painted altar that came from Clifton Hall, Forton, with carvings depicting the nativity together with the inscription `MR’ on the door of the tabernacle. Behind the altar there is a rich stained glass window presented by John Weld of Leagram Hall, Chipping, depicting Mary crowned `Queen of Heaven’. Above the window are painted the words `Hail Queen of Heaven the Ocean’s Star’. The roof above the Lady Chapel is painted blue with depictions of stars. The organ gallery is timber fronted and contains four coat of arms; St James, Cardinal William Allen, John Paul II and the Abbot of Whalley. The organ is centrally placed within the gallery but partially obscures the rose window when seen from inside the church.

PRESBYTERY EXTERIOR: The presbytery is of two storeys with a basement. Its front south elevation is of three bays with an off-set main entrance. The left return is of three bays with a slightly projecting gable to the right and a side entrance to the left. Doors on these two elevations are panelled beneath two-light over windows. Windows are rectangular and all sash, and the window and door surrounds are splayed with a small centrally-placed ogee in the centre of the lintels. The right return has a plain gable to the left with a contemporary attached single-storey rear kitchen block containing a casement window and a door and plain window in its return. A set-back two-storey gable with a small casement windows in the ground floor and a stone mullioned and transomed window of six lights in the upper floor completes the right elevation. There is a rear entrance in the gable’s return. There is a centrally-placed axial chimney stack and similar above the rear gable. The one above the east gable has been truncated. PRESBYTERY INTERIOR: The ground floor consists of living room, dining room, office and kitchen whilst the upper floor contains master and guest bedrooms together with toilet and bathroom facilities. Original features include a number of doors and door furniture, some fireplaces and fire surrounds, window shutters and a corner wall cupboard in the dining room, skirting and simple cornicing and the staircase. The four gate piers are of sandstone with chamfered plinths and chamfered columns topped by decorated and steeply pitched copings of two slightly different designs of which the inner two and outer two match each other. The gateposts hold modern wooden gates within which the original wrought ironwork has been inserted. The ironwork contains the letter ‘M’ symbolising Mary, primary patron of the church. A low curving sandstone wall topped with wrought iron railings connects the outer and inner gate piers.

HISTORY: SS Mary & James Church was designed by the architectural firm of J A Hansom & Son of Clifton, Bristol, with Henry John Hansom, the son, acting as the lead architect. W Yates of Preston undertook the masonry and J Turner of Preston the joinery. The building cost £2,500 and it was opened in 1861 by Bishop Alexander Goss, Bishop of Liverpool. The church was redecorated to celebrate its centenary in 1961 and redecorated again in 2001 when particular care was taken to ensure that the character of the church and its original designs were preserved. Religious statuary has been introduced inside the church at differing periods during its lifetime. The church organ is by Harrison & Harrison, the eminent Durham-based organ building company and originally came from Swalwell Wesleyan Methodist Church, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne; it was installed in the organ gallery in 2002. The original presbytery kitchen has been converted into a dining room and its fireplace has been renovated whilst the fire surround in the presbytery living room is a relatively modern replacement. The original wooden church gates have been replaced, however, the original ornate ironwork has been re-used within the modern gates.

SOURCES: Andrew Derrick, The Architectural History Practice Ltd., St Mary and St James. Unpublished Report. Sarah Hagen, A Walk Around Sts Mary and James Church, Scorton.

REASONS FOR DECISION: SS Mary and James Church, its attached presbytery and the associated gate piers and attached walls are designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * This church and presbytery are elegant examples of building for the Roman Catholic church in a period of resurgency. * This ensemble is a rare example of a group of structures designed by Henry John Hansom, junior partner in the well-known architectural practice of J A Hansom and Son who have many listed buildings to their name * The buildings are well maintained and remain relatively unchanged from their original design * The church retains many early fixtures and fittings and has been maintained and redecorated in a sympathetic manner designed to preserve its original character and internal decoration.

Heritage Details

Architect: H. J. Hansom

Original Date: 1861

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Grade II