Preston’s Victorian churches revealed in new book

Posted on - 29th March, 2012 - 9:32am | Author - | Posted in - History, Preston News
preston church spires at surise

The spires of St Walburge's and St Peter's form a distinctive skyline

Their spires dominate the Preston skyline but how much do you know about the city’s churches?


A new book celebrating a Victorian journalists visit to the chapels in Preston and the surrounding Lancashire countryside has been released.

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It takes the essays of Anthony Hewitson who in the early 1860s set out visiting every church in the city and writing an article on it for the Preston Chronicle.

His observations give a good indication of what the city was like in those industrial times.

Here’s what Hewitson had to say about two of the most famous churches:


St Walburge’s Church, Ashton

st walburges church

Hewitson tells of the “magnificent view” from the spire, which is the highest of a church in England. He describes “to the east you have Pendle, Longridge, and the dark hills of Bowland, northwards in the far distance, the undulating Lake hills; westward, the fertile Fylde, flanked by the Ribble, winding its way like a silver thread to the ocean; and southwards Rivington Pyke and Hoghton’s wooded summit with a dim valley to the left thereof, in which Blackburn works its vigorous existence.”

He reviews Father Papall who gave the sermons in a “sweeping powerful voice” and tells of how at least 20 of the congregation fell asleep after five minutes of the sermon.

St Mary’s Church, Penwortham

st mary's church penwortham

St Mary's Church in Penwortham

Hewitson describes the mixed congregation on display in Penwortham, everyone from the county court judge to the “rural hobbledehoy”.

He says the church itself is “ancient” and “bears many traces of by-gone days”.

The book titled Visits to Some Preston & District Churches and Chapels by Anthony Hewitson and is avilable from Landy Publishing priced £8.

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