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            The Parish Church of St. Mary,


                                                       The Church

St Mary's Church, Penwortham is located in Church Avenue, Penwortham, Lancashire, England. It is an active Anglican parish church in the deanery of Leyland, the archdeaconry of Blackburn, and the diocese of Blackburn. The church has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade II* listed building.

The oldest part of the church is the chancel which dates from the 14th century. The west tower was built in the 15th century. The nave and aisles were rebuilt in 1855–56 by the Lancaster architect E. G. Paley. As part of the restoration the roof was raised, and the north and west galleries were removed.[4] Between 2009 and 2011 the church was reordered, under-floor heating was installed, and the pews were replaced by chairs.

St Mary's is constructed in stone and has a slate roof. Its plan consists of a four-bay nave with north and south aisles, a south porch, a chancel, and a west tower. The tower has diagonal buttresses and a battlemented parapet with pinnacles. On its west side is a doorway, above which is a three-light window with Perpendicular tracery. Over the window is a niche with an ogee head and crocketed pinnacles. The bell openings have two lights and are louvred. On the sides of the nave are five two-light windows. There is a blocked priest's door in the south wall of the chancel, above which is a stone inscribed with the date 1653.

Inside the church, the arcades are carried on alternate round and octagonal piers. The memorial tablets include one to the cotton manufacturer and politician John Horrocks who died in 1804.There are fragments of early stained glass in the chancel windows. Before the reordering of 2009–11 there were box pews of 1855 in the church, those in the aisles being arranged to face the centre of the church, rather than to the east end.The organ is in the west gallery, and was installed there in 1959 by Jardines of Manchester. The ring consists of eight bells, all of which were cast in 1965 by Mears & Stainbank at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.

In the churchyard are four structures that have been designated as Grade II listed buildings. One of these is a gravestone dated 1682, and another is a gravestone dated 1686. To the south of the church is a sundial dated 1815. John Horrocks has a second memorial, this being his tomb chest in the churchyard; it is also a memorial to other members of his family.

Re-ordering  2009 - 2011

Some time ago it became obvious that major work needed to be carried out on the church interior.  The floors on the box pews on the side aisles were collapsing, water was leaking under  the floor from the heating system pipe work and the oil-fired boiler installed in the 1950s was becoming increasingly unreliable.

After much deliberation it was decided to replace the heating system with an under floor system and to remove pews and other furnishings.  The whole floor  of the nave and the chancel was to be on one level and the flooring was to be of stone.

Once the faculty had been approved work started in 2009. In order to install the new  heating system the floor had to be dug up and this was the start of our problems. Excavation revealed a large number of skeletal remains which, under an agreement between the Church of England and county councils required them to be investigated by archaeologists. Moreover, the ground under the existing floor was weakened by many collapsed graves which meant that we had to revise our plans for the sub-floor on which the heating matrix was to be installed.  It was decided to drive pilings into the floor and  mount concrete cross members on which the new floor would be laid. We also discovered three crypts which had not been known about previously as records prior to 1856 had been lost in a fire of that year. Notwithstanding these problems which delayed the project considerably work was completed in June 2011 and we returned to church with much celebration on 19th June 2011.

During the re-ordering we took the opportunity to install a more effective sound system which is compatible with wireless microphones, CD/DVD music systems and interfaces well with the instruments of our music group “Euphoria”.

Although the re-ordering did not pass without some criticism of the new arrangements, on the whole it has been very well received. The space allows flexibility of use for a variety of purposes from different styles of worship to the hosting of concerts and other events.

Recently, we hosted a choral evening performed by the Preston Orpheus Choir which was very successful. The improved acoustics in the church were approved by the choir and this gives us hope that other similar events will be forthcoming.

Following the re-ordering the archaeologists provided us with their comprehensive and detailed report and this can be read or down loaded here.

Chris our Vicar was interviewed by Joe Wilson of BBC Radio Lancashire in September 2011 and a summary of that interview can be found here.