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            The Parish Church of St. Mary,

           Penwortham

The present octagonal Caen stone font in the decorated style was given by a Churchwarden, Mr Norris of Howick House, at the end of 1856 (see Note 6). He asked if he might have the old (1667) font as a garden flower vase.


By about 1870, the Fleetwood (1725) font had found its way into the cellar of the Old Chapel at Longton, where it was found by the  incumbent, The Rev’d C Astbury. He placed it in the old Chapel from which it was transferred to the present Church when that was built in 1886.


The old  (1667) font appeared at the auction of the property of Mr. Norris in 1872, but no one would buy it.  The auctioneer therefore took it to his house at Preston and on his death it came into the possession of a local antiquarian, Mr. T.H. Myers of Ashton-on-Ribble, who restored it to Penwortham Church in 1906.


Armour


When a knight died it was the tradition that some of his armour be hung in the Church at his burial.  Until recently the two morions (helmets) and surcoat of John Fleetwood did indeed hang high up in the Chancel of Penwortham Church; now they are kept in a glass case in the Nave (relocated to the Chancel in 2011).  John Fleetwood of Penwortham and Calwich had a very active career: during his life he as M.P. For Staffordshire, Sheriff of Staffordshire, Guild Burgess of Preston, and Sheriff of Lancashire; he was buried at Penwortham in 1590.


One of the helmets has a beaver (visor) and a crest.  This crest is that of Fleetwood, a wolf statant regardant.  This helmet, gilded, would have been used on ceremonial occasions.


The leather surcoat, worn over the armour to protect the wearer from the sun, is emblazoned with the arms of Fleetwood:


Per pale nebuly azure and or six martlets countercharged


The crest and shield may be seen more clearly on the dexter side of the achievement in the south west Chancel window and on the organ case.


Civil War


During the Battle of Ribbleton Moor, in 1648, Penwortham’s tower may have been used for reconnaissance, and seems to have been fired on, Large stone cannon balls were found in the Churchyard and they are kept in the glass display case in the Nave (relocated to the Chancel in 2011).


Note.  Later research regarding the cannonballs reveals that they are more likely to be Roman ballista bolts which reinforces the view that there was a Roman presence in Penwortham.


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