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            The Parish Church of St. Mary,

           Penwortham

                                                  

                                                                       The Nave


The Nave


Until the beginning of the 19th century, the Nave of Penwortham Church was narrow and low.with a gallery across the west end. In 1822 a new gallery, containing pews which were ‘sold’ to pay for the alterations, was installed along the north wall, joining the existing gallery at the west end.  At the same time, the level of the roof was raised, four windows were added at a higher level on each side, and the roof parapets crenellated.  The marks of these two roof levels can be seen on the wall of the Tower facing the Nave as two diagonal lines on either side of the present Organ.


The historian Baines, writing in 1836, describes the Church as narrow and gloomy - it had as far as we know no side aisles.  (Although Baines says it had one, there is more substantial evidence against this view. Over the Chancel Arch was a decrepit painting of the Royal Arms.  The Chancel Arch seems to have been no more than an opening sixteen feet across and eight feet high, with the north gallery nearly halfway across it.


The body of the Church measured 27 feet by 61 feet; about three fifths of the area was covered by galleries: small wonder, then, that it was called gloomy.  The Font was under the west gallery, immediately south of the door to the Tower.


Opposite the north Gallery, and about ten feet into the Nave from the Chancel Arch, stood the tiered arrangement of  (three-decker) clerk’s desk, reader’s desk, and pulpit, with the latter highest and hard against the south wall.


By mid-century the rebuilt Nave was found to be too small, and plans prepared by Paley of Lancaster were agreed on as the basis for rebuilding the Nave in its present form.


Two other plans were considered. One, inoffensive but rather weak, involved putting the Nave and two aisles under one roof in which a few gable former windows replaced the clerestory. In this design the aisles pews faced east.

The other plan did not involve building side aisles, it retained the old Nave and its galleries, inserting into the north wall a galleried transept slightly higher than the Nave. In contrast to the mid Gothic of the Nave, and the three-decker pulpit, this transept was to be of the most aggressive Victorian Gothic.  There was to eb a large rose window behind the gallery, trefoiled ridge tiles of two sizes, and heavy geometric tracery in windows considerably larger than those in the rest of the Church.

Penwortham was spared this. The galleries were cut back almost to the Tower, The Font brought forward into the open Church, and the roof raised once again to permit a clerestory.  Two new aisles were built, to be filled with tiered pews facing into the Nave. The old ‘private’ pews from the north Gallery went into the north aisle, better spaced in order to allow their occupants to indulge in what was then an innovation, to kneel. Children’s benches occupied the back of the Church in front of the Tower. The two canopied square box pews juxt inside the  Chancel were not then interfered with.


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