Lancashire

Churches

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An interesting and very individual brick church of 1838 in the Romanesque style

As one travels alongthe quiet lanes of the rural Fylde, this buildingcomes as a surprise. The student of architecture, seeing it from afar,might think it a municipal pumping house by Sir Joseph Bazalgette, and filled with steam engines. However, Out Rawcliffe, St John, is a remarkable, and very individualessay in the Romanesque styleby John Deerhurst, built in 1838, the year after he designed Preston Prison.

During the years between 1835 and the late 1840s many English church architects favoured the Norman or Romanesque style. Freckleton, Holy Trinity, of 1837, is a nearby example of this fashion. The building of Out Rawcliffe church was funded by Robert Wilson FFrance of Little Eccleston Hall, a local landowner, who gave the land for the church.

John Deerhurst's buildingis a simple red brick rectangle covered by a double-pitchroof. At each corner is a slender turret. The one to the south-west serves as a belfry. The west front is a symmetrical composition with a door flanked by round-arched windows. These light two small rooms. The doorway itself has stone detailing. Above is an uninterrupted row of nine arches, which are alternately window and blank. Surmounting this, in the centre of the gable, is a circular stone panel with chevron around its edge, and three vertical stripes in the centre: do they represent The Trinity? The turrets have two elongated arches on each face, and are topped by a cornice with brickwork chevron below. The effect is rather Regency Italianate.

The north and south walls have two tiers of round-arched windows, and the east wall has three stepped windows. Inside, the church is one large space. There is a west gallery, and one imagines there were three originally, but local knowledge suggests not. Behind the altar is an uncomfortable arrangement of arches - one over two, and two below each of these. A three-decker pulpit is positioned in the north east corner. The church originally had two aisles, but now has one, following the installation of largerpewsfrom St John's, Preston, in 1988.

The north and south walls have windows with exceptionally good later C20 stained glass. These mainly depict single figures, including St Cecilia and St George, and are by Abbott & Co of Lancaster, and others. The colourful east window shows Christ with children,and has a storybook feel toit. The west wall has a monument to the FFrances. It is a rectangle on brackets, divided into two round arches enlivened with chevron, supported on columns with scallop capitals.

The former vicarage to the east continues the round-arched theme. Nearby isOut Rawcliffe Church of England Primary School.

The west front

A perfectly symmetrical composition inspired by continental Romanesque architecture.

East end

More symmetry, but now broken by alarge pulpit and the organ (formerly at Hambleton).

Three-decker pulpit

The round-archtheme is continued in the woodwork of the pulpit and altar rail.

Stained glass by Abbott and Co.

The lower windows to north and south are filled by goodstained glass, mainly from the 1960s and 1970s.

The west door

Chevron molding, typicalof Norman stone architecture, is here mimicked by brickwork.

Photographs and text Tony Boughen