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St Michael's Church, Hoole.
www.hooleparishchurch.com
VISITORS GUIDE

A BRIEF GUIDE TO ST. MICHAEL’S CHURCH, HOOLE
BY PROFESSOR BARRIE GLEAVE.
Photographs © 2007 - 2008 Barbara Luke

Welcome to our online guide to St. Michael’s Church, Hoole. From the Church door, the guide takes us up the nave looking at the windows in the south wall, then into the Horrocks Chapel. Return down the nave observing the windows in the north wall before exploring the galleries and ending with the baptistry.

THE NAVE
The nave was built in 1628 as a Chapel of Ease to Croston Parish Church. It became the parish church of Hoole when that parish was created by being hived off, along with the messuage known as Carr House, from Croston in 1641. The rebuilding was financed by Thomas Stones, a London merchant, his brother Andrew, a merchant in Amsterdam, and another brother, who was farming the Carr House land. The chapel was built of warm red bricks, thought to be of Dutch origin, having been brought as ballast in ships belonging to Andrew Stones trading up the river Douglas. The nave’s simple, square-headed windows have stone mullions each having four round arched lights. Interest is added to the external walls by the use of darker bricks to play out the diamond and cross patterns

Oak pulpit canopy with inscriptions
The pulpit erected in 1695, is a rare example of a two-decker oak pulpit with a fine, richly carved canopy and sounding board around which the inscription reads “Richard Foxcroft, Minister, James Iddon, William Wilding, Churchwardens”. Unfortunately, its fine curved base is obscured by the reading desk.

Churh Box Pew made in 1631
Furnishing of the building began with the installation of pews in 1631. These were probably box pews of which two survive, one each side of the aisle at the front of the nave. One pew of this date can be found by the baptistry, and another in the Horrocks Chapel. On the upright panel of each are carved the initials R.O.F.O. The remainder were replaced in 1854 by those in use today.

THE HORROCKS CHAPEL
Jeremiah Horrocks, the first person to observe a Transit of Venus, came to Hoole in June 1639 and stayed until the early summer of 1640. He observed the 1639 Transit from an upper room at Carr House in the afternoon of 24 November (6 December in the modern calendar) and continued to make measurements of Venus’ movement across the sky for the following few weeks. This ground breaking work laid the foundations not only for modern astronomy but also for much of science. (See the booklet by Allan Chapman, Jeremiah Horrocks and Much Hoole, available from the Church).

The Chapel was created to perpetuate the memory of Horrocks by the Reverend Robert Brickel, B.A. Rector from 1848 until his death in 1881, who raised money by public subscription in Lancashire, Oxford and Cambridge to fund its creation. The Chapel is generally considered to consist of the chancel and sanctuary.

The chancel had been built in 1824 extending the church eastwards. Here the two windows each have three lights and the glass in them is probably the oldest in the Church.

The window in the south wall has words from the Creed and illustrates the taking down of Jesus from the cross, the resurrection and the ascension.

That in the north wall has lights depicting Moses carrying the tablets with the Ten Commandments on them, Elijah burning incense and preaching, and St. John the Baptist carrying a torch for Jesus.

The sanctuary was built in 1858 and the east window installed at this time. This underwent restoration and modification in the early 1970’s. The main modification was a change to the background and replacement of the orange borders by red ones so as to complement the other windows. The two small top quarter panels were not changed. The centre light has the usual east window image of the crucifiction. Above it is a roundel, commemorating Horrocks’ observation of the 1639 Transit, with an image of the astronomical sign of Venus. The latin inscription translates as “Venus seen in the Sun December 1639”. The roundel at the bottom of the light gives an artist’s impression of Horrocks making his observations. The left light shows the angel appearing to the sheperds and below it a harpist, possibly David, given the many references to the harp in the Psalms, whilst that on the right depicts the presentation of gifts to Jesus, and below it an image of a centurion or warrior. In 1930 the block floor was laid in the chancel, the sanctuary was lined with wooden panelling and a modern altar was installed. The block floor of the sanctuary was relaid in mid 2007 and the altar rail brought forward from the sanctuary step to the chancel step.

The early plain glass windows were largely replaced by stained glass during the late nineteenth century. The first window in the south wall was installed in 1863. It shows Jesus being baptised by John the Baptist and the last supper with texts.

The second window, also installed in 1863, depicts the occasion when Jesus, with the sisters Mary and Martha, said “But one thing is needful and Mary hath chosen that good part”, and St. Paul preaching in Athens.

THE BRICKEL VESTRY
The vestry was extended in 1998/1999 and dedicated in 2000 to the memory of Robert Brickel and his several works in the Parish. To mark this event Brickel’s booklet “A Chapter of Romance in Science; in Memoriam Horroccii”, was republished with additional material by W.G. Carr (available from the Church). In each of the extensions to the church great care has been taken to match as closely as possible the brickwork and windows in the pre-existing fabric so as to preserve the unity of the building

The first window in the north wall, originally installed in 1872, has roundels to commemorate the Transits of Venus of 1874 and 2004 whilst one of the centre lights show the faith of the woman who, to be healed, touched the hem of Jesus’ garment, and the other offers the promise of eternal life.

The tablet commemorating Horrocks, the message of which is largely fictional, was contributed by the clergy.

The second window, installed in 1878, points to Christ’s healing ministry, love for mankind and love of children as exemplified by the healing of Jairus’ daughter and of the man with the paralysed hand, and the raising from the dead of Lazarus.

The plaque is the hatchment or funeral hatchment of Richard Rothwell, who died in 1824. It would be displayed outside the house and then inside church to notify the death and rank of the deceased.

Funeral Hatchment of Richard Rothwell.

THE TOWER
Construction of the tower is variously ascribed to 1799, 1720, and 1722. It is built of dressed stone. The west face is composed of a square-headed door beneath a big oculus window with an arch above flanked by two Tuscan demi-columns. Above is a two light window and above that the bell louvres. It is topped by corner pinnacles and battlements.

Picture of the Church Tower at St. Michaels, Hoole

A bell was hung in 1823 but, having a bad crack, had to be recast and rehung in 1972. The clock, contributed by the parishioners as their commemoration of Horrocks, was installed in 1859. Its original mechanical action had to be replaced by an electrical mechanism also in 1972. The sundial, with its quotation from Horrocks that translates as “Without the sun I am silent”, was installed in 1875. The eastern part of the tower is supported by a large arch carried by two big columns that extend downwards through the west gallery so that the building of the tower resulted in modest extension of the nave

Southern and Western Gallery were built at the same time as the tower

The western gallery, which houses the choir and organ, and the southern gallery were added at the time the tower was built. The first organ, a pipe instrument, was installed in 1857, and was replaced in 1941 by a Hammond organ, which in turn was replaced by the existing Allen Digital instrument in 1994. The carillon of ten bells, rescued from a redundant church in Preston was installed in 1995.

The southern gallery was built by local farmers for their workers and their families to attend church without sitting alongside their employers in the nave. It was furnished with box pews, each being assigned to the workers of a particular farmer who was identified by a brass plate on the pew door. Unusually, the box pews survive as do some of the brass plates.

Window on the stairs to the gallery

The window below the west gallery, installed in 1882, shows Jesus walking on the water, the curing of the crippled beggar in the temple, and Paul shipwrecked off Malta.

Mary, Joseph and Simeon present the child Jesus in the temple

The struggle portrayed in these lights gives way to peace in the final light where Mary, Joseph and Simeon present the child Jesus in the temple

Modern stained glass window - baptism of Christ
Finally the baptistry window was widened from three to four lights and the fine modern window installed in 1973. At its centre is the baptism of Christ, next to this are 1960’s scenes of families coming to church for the baptism service surrounded by images of Christians throughout the world and various images - the dove of peace, the fish (the early sign of Christians), and the shell (the baptismal symbol).

The font, polygonal, massive and undecorated, apart from the inscription on it, was given by John Stones in 1633.

Baptistry window

Further details of St Michaels at Hoole can be found in the booklet "From Vision To Reality" - written by Stan Pickles and Linda Taylor, and available from the church.