History and Architecture: Links to the Past

 

The use of the two fonts at Christ Church has varied over the years.

Six years ago baptisms were conducted around the newer, larger font donated by the Price family but, its position just outside the creche, made it difficult for everyone to see what was taking place.

The Rev. Simon Glynn decided to make use of the older, lighter font for baptisms, which can be moved into a central position at the front of church, allowing everyone a clear view of the ceremony.

 

Christ Church (Douglas Parish Church) is a very ancient ecclesiastical foundation, having historical links right back to the 14th century and a little chapel, known as the Douglas Chapel that stood at the foot of Parbold Hill.

The History Trail!

The first clue that points to Christ Church's ancient origins can be found by examining the pulpit. Look closely at the wooden panelling. Do you notice anything significant?

Click or tap the photograph of the pulpit to flip it and reveal a zoomed in in view of the panelling. You will now see the date (1648) carved in the top right hand corner. This is when the pulpit was made.

Where did the pulpit come from?

To discover where the pulpit came from we must travel southwards from Christ Church, down the hill, across the railway, across the canal and almost up to banks of the River Douglas. Eventually, amongst a cluster of stone buildings, a cross can be seen as pictured on the left.

The cross marks the spot where the old Douglas Chapel stood. Click or tap the photograph of the cross to flip it and reveal the inscription which reads:

"Here stood old Douglas Chapel for four full centuries loved
and thronged by those who worshipped God from all the country round.
Existed 1526.
Rebuilt 1821. Demolished 1875.
The Holy Table, Font and Pulpit are now in
Douglas Parish Church.
This Cross carved from the Old Threshold stone
was erected July, 1906.
Your Fathers ! Where are They?"

Douglas Parish Church is, of course our church, Christ Church Douglas-in-Parbold. A ceremony to reflect the links with the Old Chapel and unveil the 'Memorial Cross was carried out at Christ Church in July, 1906.

N.B. Although the inscription on the cross records that the chapel was demolished in 1875, it has been suggested that it was only the dismantling of the interior that took place in 1875. This is supported by a reference in a history of the Leyland Hundred, which states that the building was not taken down until 1878.

There are many scenic walks leading to and from the memorial cross. You might find it interesting to seek it out. Click on one of the stars opposite for a map that pin-points the position of the cross and shows the parish walks. The better map loads quickly on most computers but if you experience problems select the compressed version. The compressed map will load very quickly but isn't quite as crisply focused.

Some historians may regret the loss of an interesting and historical building,but when the Douglas Chapel was dismantled virtually nothing from it was wasted. The old pews and timber taken from inside the chapel were sold by auction and its stones, windows and bell were used to build a school next to Christ Church. This school, like Christ Church, was built due to the generosity of Miss Ellen A. R. Morris. It opened on July 21st, 1879 with 22 pupils, aged between 4 and 9 years, half of whom had never been able to attend school before.

Below is a photograph of the old school taken in 1924. Click or tap the photograph to view photographs of past pupils.

 

Parbold Douglas School in 1924

 

As time went on growing pupil numbers meant the school was no longer big enough for its purpose and Parbold Douglas Academy was built to take its place. Today the old school building is used as a nursery.

Any items from the Douglas Chapel considered worth keeping, such as the Holy Communion Table, font and pulpit referred to on the inscription on the cross, were taken to Christ Church.

Items transferred to Christ Church but not mentioned on the inscription were:

  • A silver alms dish and two chalices inscribed, ' The gift of Eleanor, Daughter of Nicholas Rigbye, Esq., of Harrock. Douglas Chappell 1749.
  • A large silver flagon presented by the Rev. W. Yates, Rector of Eccleston, in 1840.
  • The newer font donated by the Price family.
  • Some wooden reredos, a table and a chair.
  • Two large rectangular plates on which were written the Lord's Prayer, the Creed and the Ten Commandments.

Sadly, althought the font and pulpit can still be seen in Christ Church, the Holy Communion Table and an old carved chair cannot, as they were stolen in 2001 in what appeared to have been a planned raid.

A replica chair, created to partner the stolen chair, was rejected by the thieves so we can still see what the old chair looked like. We can also view both of the stolen items by looking at the photograph on the next page taken of the interior of the Douglas Chapel.

 

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