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            The Parish Church of St. Mary,

           Penwortham

The idea of enlargement was well into the background in 1884 when parishioners were content to reopen their Church after thorough cleaning of the stonework, improvements to Seward’s heating apparatus (which dated from 1865-6), and laying Minton’s tiles on the Nave and Chancel floors.


New Vestries, by Leach, Rhodes, and Walker of Manchester, were dedicated by the Bishop of Blackburn in 1956.


In 1959 a new organ by Jardines of Manchester was installed in the west gallery and in 1964 the Font was moved a few feet north and west to the centre of the area formerly occupied by the choir stalls.


The Fire


On Tuesday, January 6th, 1857 workmen were making some repairs to the Vestry next to the Tower.  They lit a fire in the heating boiler which was in the cellar beneath. At 4 pm they left, with the fire still smouldering - safely, they thought - in the boiler.


However, during the night the Vestry was set on fire, either because the boiler flue had become too hot, or because wood shavings had been allowed to fall on to the boiler and had ignited. Early the following morning, a gamekeeper on his rounds discovered the Vestry to be totally burnt out.


Although the Vestry door had been burnt down, and the stone arch above it cracked by the heat, there was only slight damage in the rest of the Church, and that damage was confined to the organ in the west gallery.  Inside the Vestry, everything was destroyed including a large oak chest containing documents, maps and registers.


Later on in the year, the Churchwardens rebuilt and refurnished the Vestry, purchasing also - belatedly - a fire proof safe. The total cost of the replacements and rebuilding was £46.


Fonts


Nothing is known about the font that existed in Penwortham Church before the 17th century; presumably there was one.


A font inscribed  “T.R. 1667”, given possibly by Thomas Robinson (Vicar 1653-4), stood in the church until the 19th century (see note 5). In the 18th century, this font was superseded by a more grandiose marble font, inscribed:


 H.Fleetwood, huius sitis necnon Ecclesiae Patronus

(attamen indignus) D.D.D.Q 1725


That is

 H Fleetwood of this place and also Patron of this Church

(although unworthy) gave and dedicated this gift 1725


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