Lancashire

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A small C17 and C18 church associated with the astronomer, Jeremiah Horrocks

St Michael at Much Hoole (sometimes simply calledHoole) dates from 1628 - the year that is carved over the south door. It was then that John Stone of the nearby Carr House funded the buildingas a chapel of ease of Croston church. It retained its inferior position for a mere thirteen years, until 1641, when it became a parish church in its own right. The Act of Parliament granting parochial status notes "The inhabitants thereof cannot at any time with convenience repair to the parish church of Croston by reason of the remote distance from the same and the often inundation of waters happening in those parts."

The main body of the church we see today is of warm red brick with darker bricks picking out the occasional diamond or cross pattern. Thosenearer the tower are a slightly darker red. The bricks are said to be of Dutch origin, brought to Lancashire as ballast on the ships of Andrew Stone (brother of John, and a merchant in Amsterdam) which travelledup the River Douglas. Whatever the origin, this brickwork, combined with the simple square headed windows with round-arched lights, and stone decoration, gives the church a charmingly domestic feel.

The brick south porch has a segmental entrance arch with leaf decoration in the spandrels and a square hoodmould and tablet above. Over this, the end gable is decorated with three stoneurns with flame-like finials.

The west tower is an addition of 1719 - the date being inscribed in the lead of the roof. It is stone faced, with barely emphasised quoins,and projects only slightly from the body of the church. The west end is a symmetrical composition ofa square-headed door, with oculus and arch above, flanked by Tuscan demi-columns. Above is a two light window, and over that bell louvres (altered). The tower is topped by small corner pinnacles and battlements. On the south face of the tower is a large painted sundial. Inside the nave the tower is supported by an arch on big detached columns which project down through the west gallery. Both galleries were added at the time of the tower.

The nave has a single aisle leading to a pointed chancel arch and chancel. The latter, known as the Horrocks Chapel, was added in 1858. A large pulpit with ornate tester, and dated 1695 stands to the north side of the chancel arch.

The east window, and one in the north wall, commemorates Jeremiah Horrocks, the astronomer. He was living in Much Hoole when he observed the transit of Venus across the face of the sun on 24th November 1639. This event, which he had accurately predicted, was tremendously important in the development of astronomy generally, but also for the development of the subject in Britain.

The remaining glass is C19, with one good C20piece - the baptism of Jesus - by Shrigley & Hunt. This is located near the font -a column supportingan octagonal bowl with an inscription of 1663.

A recent vestry/office has been added to the south-east corner of the church. Theattempt to make it fit in with the building is largely successful.

The west tower

The west tower is stone faced and was added in 1719. It projects only slightly from the building.

View from the south

The south porch, and the main brick-built body of the building date from 1628 .

View from the west gallery

The church has west and south galleries, with traceried fronts,supported on slim columns.

The west gallery and tower supports

The tower does not have walls inside the church, but instead is supported on two large columns.

East Window

The east window is one of two roundels that commemorates Jeremiah Horrocks. A third is planned.

Nave window

The simple windows of 1628 are typical of their time - compare Whitechapel.

Photographs and text Tony Boughen