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Old church (early C18) and new church (late C19) located side by side

Pilling is a small coastal settlement in an area of flat land. It has two churches, one now redundant.


The old church at Pilling (below) stands 100 metres to the south of the new church in the original graveyard which is still used. It is a long, low, stone built rectangle, with a low pitched roof, and a bellcote with a segmental pediment. There are 5 bays with corner quoins. The south windows are semi-circular headed and recall those at Poulton le Fylde and Woodplumpton. However, here the treatment is simpler. Instead of curved Y tracery they are divided vertically into two lights by a straight mullion. A keystone and blocks suggesting capitals are the only decoration. On the north wall the windows are square headed at the ground floor and semi-circular above. The east window is like those of the south wall, but larger and divided into three lights by two vertical mullions. The south door has naive capitals with volutes, and a keystone carries the date of construction - 1717. Inside are box pews and three-decker pulpit.


The new church - St John the Baptist - (illustrated right) was built by the Lancaster firm of Paley & Austin in 1885-87 at a cost of £7,000. It is a large church with a spire recessed in the west tower. Here, as at Dalton in Furness, the architects use different coloured stone to enliven the surface - the tower parapet has pink stone tracery contrasting with the buff surround. On the tower red stone rounded trefoils and mouchettes decorate the indented parapet, contrasting with the beige of the bulk of the building.


The church is clerestoried with inventive tracery. Small chancel chapels extend out from the main building. Inside the nave is surprisingly tall with aisles on each side of the arcades. The columns of the nave arcades are octagonal. The tower and chancel arches are both high.


There is a variety of Victorian and modern glass. Shrigley and Hunt of Lancaster are well represented. Recent glass includes designs illustrating local plants and birds, including curlew and shelduck (see right), lapwing, oystercatcher, black-headed gull and wood pigeon.

The spire

In its coastal location by the flat area of Pilling Moss St John's spire is an obvious landmark.

The nave looking east

The church is unusually large for such a small community.

C20 stained glass

Three windows depict local birds in their tracery lights - here are curlew and shelduck.

The old church (1717)

The south wall has large round-headed windows to benefit from the light.

Photographs and text © Tony Boughen