BRIEF GUIDE TO ST. MICHAEL’S CHURCH, HOOLE
BY PROFESSOR BARRIE GLEAVE.
Photographs © 2007 - 2008 Barbara
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
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
tablet commemorating Horrocks, the message of
which is largely fictional, was contributed
by the clergy.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
font, polygonal, massive and undecorated,
apart from the inscription on it, was given
by John Stones in 1633.