History and Architecture: The Building of Christ Church

 

Statue marking Miss Ellen Ann Robinson Morris' grave.

Christ Church owes its existence to the generosity of a local lady, Miss Ellen Ann Robinson Morris, whose father,Thomas Morris, had held a family pew at Douglas Chapel for many years.

Following the death of both her parents, Ellen inherited her father's wealth. Generously,shedecided to use her money to replace the, reputedly rather ugly, Douglas Chapel with a new church in memory of her mother, Mrs Ann Morris.The consents of the Bishop of Manchester and the Rector of Eccleston, as Patron of the Benefice,were asked and obtained and Sir Thomas G. Fermor Hesketh, M.P., Baronet of Rufford Park, presented a site for the new church, as a free gift. Thus Christ Church, the new Douglas Parish church, was born and the congregation of Douglas Chapel moved upwards from the foot of Parbold hill almost to its top.Church, was consecrated in 1875.

History Trail !

Seek the clues about the building of Christ Church

Find

Miss Ellen Ann Robinson Morris gravestone and read its inscription, which tells of Miss Morris' involvement in building the church.The grave (pictured on the right) can be found just outside the church door on the right of the stone seat. It has a statue of a lady on top holding a flower garland on top of it.

Memorial Tablet

 

 

Look

for the memorial tablet (shown left) which is over the west door, which bears the inscription: 'This church was built and partly endowed by Miss Ellen Ann Robinson Morris to the Glory of God, for the benefit of the parishioners and in memory of her Mother, Mrs. Ann Morris, and was consecrated on the 28th day of October 1875 by the Right Reverend James Fraser, D.D., Lord Bishop of Manchester.'

 

The building of Christ Church generated much excitement. On Monday, 26th September 1870, a special ceremony was held to celebrate the laying of the foundation stone.

Reporting on the ceremony, the Wigan Observer stated that ' The weather was beautifully fine and the picturesque scenery was displayed in unusual brilliancy. About half-past one a procession was formed from Douglas Chapel to the site of the new church. There was a great profusion of banners and bannerets and the scene was quite an animated one.'

Miss Morris laid the foundation stone with the words: "In the faith of Jesus Christ we place this corner stone in the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. Amen."

Photograph of Christ Church taken in the 1950's.

It is recorded that a history capsule was placed in a cavity, beneath the foundation stone.This consisted of a bottlecontaining copies for that date of the Wigan Observer, Manchester Courier, Liverpool Courier, Manchester Examiner and Ormskirk Advertiser, together with a florin, a shilling, a sixpence,a fourpenny piece, a threepenny piece, a penny and a half-penny for 1870. A document was also included in the history capsule , recording that the church was erected by Miss Morris on land given by Sir Thomas G. Fermor Hesketh, M.P., and that the Vicar was the Rev. W. Price, and the Wardens were Messrs. J. Barton and T. Bimson. Amongst the patrons attending the ceremony were Mr. T. H. Myres the architect, Mr. John Preston the builder and Mr. Pownall, clerk of the works.

Sadly the excitement of building Christ Church proved too much for the vicar, the Rev. W. Price,who conducted the service for the foundation ceremony. He died suddenly on Sunday, 12th July, 1874, the year before Christ Church was completed. Reporting on his death, the Southport Visiter said that ' Over-exertion and intense anxiety to complete the new church at Parbold, have undoubtedly hastened the death of the lamented gentleman.'

The building of Christ church was finally completed in 1875 and on Thursday, 28th October,1875, it was consecrated by the Lord Bishop of Manchester, the Rt. Rev. James Fraser, in the presence of a large number of people. The Vicar at that time was the Rev. William Coombs, who had succeeded the Rev. W. Price, and was thus the last incumbent of the old Douglas Chapel and who became Vicar of the new church until 1884. The Rector of Eccleston was present,as patron of the living. It is recorded that the Bishop preached an eloquent discourse from the Epistle of Jude, 3rd verse : 'Beloved when I give all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation it was needful for me to write unto you and exhort you that you should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.'

 

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