Lancashire

Churches

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Early C17 tower, Georgian nave and Victorian chancel - but what lies beneath?

The Domesday survey of 1086 records three churches in Amounderness. One of them may have been Poulton but we cannot be sure. What we do know is that by 1293 a church hadexisted since the time of Count Roger of Poitou, who had been given Amounderness by King William after the conquest. In 1590 the churches of the area were described as ruinous, and the building of the new church began in the early C17. Adescription by William Thornber in his "The History of Blackpool and Its Neighbouhood" (1837)suggests the old church had stood for "seven centuries", was of red sandstone, wasdouble-roofed, and had semi-circular nave arches and windows. Interestingly, late C20 renovation work has revealed red sandstone under the ashlar, and what may be a medieval roofline under the plaster of the west wall.

The west tower, a plain structure with angle buttresses, battlements, small corner pinnacles, and round-headed bell-openings is the oldest visible part of the church. It probably dates from the time of Charles 1, and some have suggested that a stone in the church, carved with the date 1636, actually commemorates its construction. This tower predates the nave, and was judged sufficiently acceptable to be left standing when the main part of the church was rebuilt in 1751.

The south doorway sets the Georgian theme for the main bodyof the church. It has Tuscan columns, a frieze with triglyphs, metopes,guttae and mutules, and is surmounted by a triangular pediment. What atfirst glance appears to be a matching priests door to the east was in fact the entrance to the Fleetwood family vault. It is dated 1699, so, like the tower it was kept when the rebuilding took place. It has no columns, but carries a broken-bed pediment on consoles, has a shouldered architrave, and an inscription in place of the frieze.

The windows of the naveare large, semi-circular headed, with curved Y tracery. Pevsner suggests the tracery is a later addition - the colour of the stone and the sharpness of the moulding do suggest this. However, the whole arrangement is not toodissimilar to that at Woodplumpton, and there the tracery appears to be contemporaneous. Whatever the date, they make for a very light interior. The addition of the apse in 1868 necessitated considerable internalre-arrangement which was carried out in 1883. Gallery stairs at the east were removedleaving entry by the beautiful Georgian staircase in the north-west corner. Internally the extension provided a chancel arch, and consequently greater focus on the high altar. In so doing it transforms the original Georgian conception of a rectangular decked hall, and reintroduces the qualities sought by Victorian Anglicans.

The pulpit of c.1636 has been re-assembled and restored. It has an inscription from the Book of Isaiah. Also of this date is the door into the choir vestry which originally formed part of the Rigby family pew. Other significant furnishings includea brass chandelier of 1710.

The church seen from the Market Place

The main entrance is a Georgian doorway with columns and pediment.

The nave looking towards the chancel

The galleries are on both sides of the nave, and across the west end.

Oval window (C19)

The prominent keystones in the oeil de boeuf windows echo those of the nave windows.

Chancel apse(C1868)

The plain Georgian rectangle was extended by the addition of the semi-circular chancel.

Photographs and text Tony Boughen