The Prescotian Webzine

Worship in Prescot Today
PRESCOT PARISH CHURCH. Originally the church was dedicated to All Saints, but was later re-dedicated to St. Mary the Virgin, probably when the present church was built in 1610. It is believed that the site was a religious sanctuary even in pre-Christian times and that a Christian church of timber and clay was built there by Celtic monks. However, there is very little evidence remaining of the previous buildings. The base of the south wall may be ancient, and the clergy vestry is probably of the fifteenth century. The floor of this vestry is actually two feet below the level of the chancel, but a wooden floor has been constructed four feet above this. The tower and spire, 150 ft. high, were added in 1729, and there is a peal of eight bells, cast by Mears of London in 1845, and quarter-turned in 1934.

The fine open roof of the nave, dated 1610, is of black oak, and has eleven trusses, which are alternately tie and hammer beams. The pendants and brackets are finely carved, and the rafters are of effective design, enhanced by the plastering between. The octagonal pillars are interesting because they represent genuine Gothic architecture in its last phase, before it was superseded by the Renaissance style. In 1818 the aisles were enlarged and the north and south walls, windows and doors were made.

Another interesting feature is the font, which is very old and appears to have been the original one. It was later discarded in favour of a handsome marble font, presented by Daniel Willis, of Halsnead, in 1755. Eventually, after being used in Roby Church, the old font was restored to its present place, and the marble font now stands by the organ chamber.

The chancel is rich in black oak for the panelling, altar rails, and choir stalls, which are richly carved and dated 1636. Eleven of the stalls have misericord seats, a very unusual thing in parish churches. On the north side of the chancel stands an effigy, life-size, of John Ogle, a member of a prominent local family, who died in 1612. He was the donor of the very fine chair, dated 1610, which stands close by. By the effigy is an ancient poor-box. The graceful screen was dedicated in 1921 in memory of the men of Prescot who fell in the 1914-18 war, and the beautiful reredos, in dark oak, was presented by Mrs. E. G. Evans in 1891. The choir vestry was built in 1900.

PRESCOT CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH. The old Non-conformist Church at Prescot was erected in 1756, and several families and individuals, at that time attending church at St. Helens, but whose residence was in or near Prescot, for the greater convenience of themselves and their families left the ministry of Mr. Mercer for that of Mr. Holland, the then minister of Prescot. The work at Prescot thus dates from February 29th, 1756, the number of members then being seventy-six. The foundation stone of the Ebenezer Chapel was laid on July 30th, 1811, by Rev. Thomas Spencer of Liverpool. The land had not been legally conveyed to the Trustees, and it was not until 1860 that this matter was settled and a Deed of Enfranchisement was procured from the Fellows of King's College, Cambridge, who were Lords of the Manor of Prescot. In 1868 movements were made towards the building of the present church in Aspinall Street. At a church meeting on October 6th, 1874, Mr. Prescott reported that the land had been purchased from Mr. Aspinall for the site of the new church. On the 16th August. 1877, the foundation stone of the present church was laid by Major W. W. Pilkington. J.P., of St. Helens. In connection with the church at the present time there is a very active Amateur Dramatic Society, a Ladies' Guild, and Parents Association.

THE METHODIST CHURCH . The Rev. John Wesley passed through the town on his way to Warrington in 1757. The only reference in his Journal is under the date 10th April. 1768 (Sunday) when he attended the Parish Church and afterwards preached in the open air. About the year 1770 one of Wesley's itinerants took his stand on the fish-stones which were around the prison in the Market Place, and there preached to the crowd which gathered. Later, the first group met in the Tan Yard, afterwards known as Pottery Place, in Kernble Street, and subsequently removed to the "Long Room" in Eccleston Street. A more commodious building was later acquired in Houghton Street (now the Church of England Day School). This old chapel becoming inadequate, land was acquired in Eccleston Street, and. in 1S37, a Gothic-style building of hewn stone, capable of accommodating 500 persons, was erected, and is still used as a Sunday School. At the end of the 19th century, the Trustees acquired the old Unitarian Chapel in Atherton Street. This served as a Mission Hall until 1910 when the present church, accommodating about 750 persons, was erected.

ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH. Dedicated to Our Lady Immaculate and St. Joseph, the Roman Catholic Church in Vicarage Place was erected in 1856, and is a stone building in the Gothic style, consisting of a chancel, nave, transepts and a tower containing one bell. Also St. Luke's Roman Catholic Church. Shaw Lane. Prescot.

OTHER CHURCHES in the town include St. Paul's Church (C.E.), Bryer Estate, Zion Independent Methodist Church, the Welsh Congregational Church in Warrington Road, the Salvation Army Hall in Warrington Road, and the Bethel Church. Evans Street.

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