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OPENING OF THE NEW CATHOLIC CHURCH AT WESTBY
On the 31st of May, 1859, the foundation stone of a new church, to be dedicated
to St. Anne, was laid at Westby, a short distance from the Wray Green station, on the Lytham branch
railway. Up to within about sixteen years ago there had been a Catholic chapel at Westby Hall, but
on the opening of the new chapel at Lytham it was closed by the proprietor, the late Mr. Clifton,
the building having been originally merely a domestic chapel attached to Westby Hall, which was at
one time a seat of the Cliftons.
This closing of the chapel was felt to be a great inconvenience by the numerous
Catholic families in the neighbourhood, and there has been a desire among them to erect a new place
of worship, and their efforts were seconded by various friends in other parts of the county.
Colonel Clifton, the owner of the township, disposed of the land on liberal terms to Miss Thurnham,
of Dalton Hall, who presented it for the purposes of the new church. Liberal donations were made
towards the object, and now, on an excellent site commanding a view of the Fylde and the country
“o’er Ribble," the church stands, and a very pretty country church it is.
The building just opened comprises a church 94 feet
long by 36 wide, and is simply a nave terminating in s circular apse. On the Gospel aide is a
spacious vestry, which connects the church with the presbytery. The whole of the building is
erected in red brick, with stone dressings to the windows, over which are blue brick arches.
The church is divided into eight bays, in each of which are two circular windows. The windows
of the chancel are arcaded and ornamented with small columns. There is no east window, but
over the reredos is some elaborately worked tracery, filled with some brilliant glass by
Messrs. Hardman, of Birmingham.
The difficulty of one roof covering the whole span has been admirably arranged,
and from the west end has fully the appearance of being divided into three compartments. The
construction is original, and produces a good effect. The altar and reredos although simple are
very effective, and have been executed by Mr. Farmer, of London. The altar rails are in oak with
turned and octagonally cut balusters.
At the west end is a bell cot in slate and lead. The only entrance is at the
south porch. It is difficult to describe the style of the building, which has been carried out by
Mr. Welby Pugin, under the direction of the Lord Bishop of Liverpool. The cost of the building is
about £2,000. Mr. Robert Catterall, of Kirkham, was the contractor of the entire edifice. Mr. T.
Turner, of Preston, was the sub-contractor for the wood and iron work, and Mr. W. Catterall, of
Blackpool, for the plumbing and glazing.
The church was opened for divine service on Sunday. High mass was sung by the
Rev. James Corry, S.J., of the Church of the sacred Heart, Edinburgh. The Rev. C. Teebay, of St.
Edward's College, Liverpool, officiated as deacon, and the Rev. W. Ball, of the Willows Chapel,
Kirkham, as sub-deacon. The deacons of the throne were the Rev. Joseph Walmsley, of Lytham, and the
Rev. C. Walker, of Lea. The Rev. John Bilsborrow, of St. Cuthbert's College, Ushaw, was the master
of the ceremonies. The Rev. Thomas Abbott, of Monmouth, was also present.
The BISHOP took for his text, “Wisdom hath built for herself a house; she has
hewed her seven columns." The right rev, prelate said —Bad as the world is, I am not one of those
who think that the ago in which we live is worse than other ages. On the contrary, I am rather
inclined to believe that God has blessed this ago in a most singular manner.
I refer not only to those inventions which tend so much to the comfort of man I
refer not only to the expansion of your commerce—to the fact that our country is intersected with
railways, and that now not only is the intercourse between one portion of the empire so much
facilitated, that whatever produce is grown, through the providence of God, in any part of the
world, is now brought to us; so that truly the great family of the human race seems to be, as they
are the children of one father, and brothers and sisters springing from one parent: not only has
this age progressed in those improvements, but we may also notice great improvement in morals.
Other ages have excelled it in the greatness of their crimes—and I refer not
only to pagan history, but I refer also to Christian times, when, if we witnessed heroic acts of
virtue, we had also to lament great and vicious acts of wickedness. I think, therefore, there is no
doubt that the age has improved, not only intellectually, but also morally not only in the avoiding
or great crimes, but also in the performance of good works, with which the land abounds. We find a
greater care for prisoners ; a greater mercy shown to criminals ; we find that men are anxious, not
so much to avenge crimes as they are to amend criminals ; we find houses of refuge built for the
poor ; we find accommodation given to those who are sick ; we find houses of refuge opened for
those who wander our streets as houseless poor ; we find, in fact, there is hardly any ailment, any
evil, with which mankind is afflicted for which charitable individuals do not come forward to
provide a remedy.
And yet, with all these advantages, this age is truly a wicked age. Not only may
we judge of this from things which come within our own knowledge, but we may also judge from those
things which are recorded, day by day, in the usual medium employed to circulate news from one and
of the world to the other. There is hardly a day passes when we do not receive intelligence of some
fearful or dreadful murder. We find children imbruing their hands not only in a brother's, but also
in a parent's blood ; we find instances on record of children being taken away in the night and
being brutally murdered ; we read of houses being broken into and being robbed with violence ; we
read of mysterious poisonings—we learn, in fact, that there is hardly any crime or sin to which men
in past ages have been accustomed, that is not committed tenfold in this our age, because our
population is so much greater now than it was in times past. Drunkenness, cursing and swearing,
every species of uncleanness, is now committed, I might say, almost without a blush.
The time was when those who committed these things hid themselves from the light
of day; but now men are not ashamed of their crimes—they rather glory in them, and consequently
make, as it were—I was going to say atonement--but they make a dreadful counterbalance against the
efforts which are made for the amelioration of the human race. There ascends up, day and night, a
cloud of crime into the sight of that God who is all holy, and in whose sight the very heavens are
not clean, and who, in times passed, has punished iniquity so fearfully.
It is the same God, we must remember, who drove our first parents from Paradise.
Having referred to the punishment of Cain; the manifestation of God's anger against sin at the time
of the flood ; by the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah ; and by the I annihilation of the hosts of
Pharaoh in the Red Sea, he asked—How is it that God's hand is stayed ? It is because there is one
who is himself without sin—the first-born and eternal Son of God, end equal to Him in all things;
because He, himself spotless and sinless, is forever making intercession for us; ever remains with
us, dwells with us, and is ever repenting on our altars, that sacrifice by which an angry God is
appeased. In fact, whatever good has been in the world from the beginning, whatever mercy God has
shown, from the time of our first harvests to this day, whatever kindnesses he has showered down
upon the human race, is all owing to the prospective advent of our Divine Saviour.
It would have been a sad thing for us if the mercy of God had stayed in his own
death upon the cross—if there had been no means of continuing, and of perpetuating, His mercy to
us. Wisdom hewed out for herself seven columns, and our blessed Lord instituted seven sacraments,
by which He communicated those graces which He had purchased, not only for us, but for all future
Having alluded to the great benefits which God conferred upon the human race,
through the medium of the sacraments, and the many comforts they would derive from the invocation
of Him who was ever present on the altar, he expressed a hope that, as the erection of that church
in their midst would be a sign of God's mercy towards them, so it would also be to their children's
children, a sign of His presence; and he trusted it would not only be to them the occasion not only
of great -graces, but that they might also feel that crownlng grace, to fight well the battle, and
go successfully through the last struggle, that they might one day see God face to face.
And here let him take the opportunity of thanking, in God's name, all those who
had laboured so perseveringly to complete that building. Some of them had passed away, but their
good works survived them. There were others who were still amongst them "whom God still blessed
with life to continue their benefactions and to make a good use of that with which God has blessed
them. They were all stewards, and according as they used or abused the things God bad given them,
so would he reward them. He alluded to the uncertainty of riches, and urged them to give liberally
to God for those who gave ungrudgingly had always found that what they gave they received again a
The right rev. prelate then thanked not only the wealthy, but also the poor, who
bad struggled hard and laboured unceasingly until they had raised that spacious; beautiful, and
commodious temple to God’s honour. They had provided a resting place amongst them, and he trusted
His graces would flow upon thorn and their children. He besought them to pray for all those who had
been benefactors to that church. Some time, he trusted, they would not forget one who belonged to
that family, who, in times gone by, used to lead them in battle, shared their griefs and their
sorrows, and was also a sharer of their triumphs. He had shown to them a kindly and generous
feeling; he felt for them in their trials, and he trusted he would have not only their sympathy,
but also their prayers. Let them pray that God would bless him, and would bless his house; let them
pray that his son might grow up strong; that he might succeed to his father's honours and his
father's estate; and that God would one day grant that a family who had done so much in times past
might be brought back into His true fold, that there might be no separation in religion, as ho
trusted there was no separation in that love and sympathy which they ought, to entertain. And he
trusted that church would be the means of cementing a more brotherly and a kindlier feeling amongst
all, even amongst those who did not agree with them. They must remember that they were all
brethren, as they were all children of the same Father. They roust endeavour to proclaim the truth
of their religion, not by argument, not by unkindliness, not by wranglings, but by prayer, by
sympathy, by a mutual exchange of all those good offices which were impressed upon them in the
gospel of the previous Sunday. All were made in God's image, all were redeemed by the blood of
Jesus Christ, and all were struggling to obtain the same glory. Let them then pray that all might
receive that reward which God had promised to those who, in the straggle of life, not only ran and
fought, but gained the victory in the race.
The ceremony was then continued.
At half-past three in the afternoon vespers were sung, and benediction was given
by the bishop.
The discourse was given by the Rev. CHARLES TEEBAY, of St. Edward's College,
Liverpool, who said he deemed it no small happiness to have the privilege of personally
congratulating them, or rather of coming amongst them that day as a sharer in the joy which
everyone who was not a stranger in the Fylde must feel on that most happy and auspicious day, when,
after many years of widowhood, the Church would there again become the joyful mother of many, many
children. The fountain that had long been sealed was again opened and from that church would
thenceforth go streams of life and grace to gladden and to fertilise the spiritual harvest that was
destined, with God's blessing, to arise around the church. It was the will of God that, for a time,
the district should be deprived of its church, of its altar, and of its sacrifice, but oven then
God bad not abandoned them.
The church was crowded at both services. The collections amounted to the handsome sum of