Ecclesiastical Buildings
A History of Allerton and Mossley Hill @ allertonOak  
A History of Allerton and Mossley Hill home page
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Historical Background
The establishment of major churches in Allerton and Mossley Hill began in 1858 with the new Church of Our Lady of the Annunciation at Bishop Eton and continued in the 1870s with St. Michael and St. James, Mossley Hill, and All Hallows, Allerton. Before that time, the population had been too small to warrant dedicated parish churches, and perhaps it still was then, but the nearest Church of England churches were some way off and some residents, or ex-residents, had money to spend.   The relevant ecclesiastical areas c.1870 were Holy Trinity, Wavertree, All Saints, Childwall, St. Mary's, Grassendale and St. Anne's, Aigburth. The founding of the two new churches also marked the founding of the parishes of Mossley Hill and Allerton. This was the period when the Gothic Revival in architecture was in full swing and the designs of many of the churches and chapels were dominated by this fashion.
All Hallows Church
The Church of All Hallows, Allerton
The Grade I Listed All Hallows church is the finest in the area. It was built in 1872-76 for John Bibby II (1810-1883), a merchant and second son of John Bibby I (1775-1840), shipping magnate and founder of the Bibby Line. He donated £20,000 for the construction, which was intended as a tribute to his first wife Fanny née Hartley, who was born on All Hallows Eve and had died in 1856. The foundation stone was laid on All Hallows Eve, 1872.
The church was designed in the Perpendicular Style by Liverpool architect George Enoch Grayson, who, with his partner Edward Ould, designed St. Peter's church Woolton and many other exceptional buildings in Liverpool and elsewhere. The exterior is local red sandstone and the interior makes much use of white stone from Storeton.
All Hallows interior
East Window
North Transept Window
North Aisle Window 1
North Aisle Window 2
Of particular interest in All Hallows is the outstanding ensemble of stained glass. 14 of the 15 stained glass windows were designed by Edward Burne-Jones, with supporting foliate lights in the earlier windows designed by William Morris, and constructed by William Morris & Co. They have a remarkable symmetry of concept embodying clear storytelling and represent some of the finest Victorian stained glass anywhere. They were removed to the isolated Lancashire village of Slaidburn during the Second World War. This was just as well because the replacement plain glass windows were destroyed in an air raid. The originals were replaced in 1946. This tour around the major items of stained glass in All Hallows begins with the east window and proceeds anti-clockwise.   Burne-Jones thought that the east window of 1875-6, The Adoration of the Lamb, probably based on a painting by Van Eyck, was his finest window design. Christ is portrayed as the Lamb of God surrounded by the Evangelists and angels, with cherubim and seraphim in the tracery. The overall tone is delicate whites and browns. Typical of late Burne-Jones is the single composition spread across all of the lights. The north transept window of 1880 depicts Four Holy Women: Miriam, Ruth, Esther and the Virgin Mary, with panels below showing Miriam finding Moses, Ruth with Boaz, Esther with King Xerxes and the Magi led by a star. The north aisle contains four windows of 1882-6 depicting the early life of Christ, the first two being The Anunciation to the Shepherds and The Nativity.
North Aisle Window 3
North Aisle Window 4
West Window
South Aisle Window 1
Continuing along the north aisle are Christ in the Temple and The Baptism of Christ. These later windows employ stronger and darker colours. By the time of the aisle windows, Burne-Jones had taken over all of the design work and the colouring was also probably due to his increased influence over Morris.   The west window of c.1880 above the main door shows Matthew, Mark, Luke and John with panels below depicting Samuel presented to Eli, the baptism of Christ, Christ blessing children and Abraham sacrificing Isaac. The south aisle contains a further four windows of 1882-6 depicting the later life of Christ, the first being The Feast in Simon's House.
South Aisle Window 2
South Aisle Window 3
South Aisle Window 4
South Transept Window
Continuing along the south aisle there are The Crucifixion, The Resurrection and The Ascension. Continuing with stronger colours in these later windows, the use of deep pink, mauve and dark blue is very unusual.   The south transept window of 1879 depicts Four Holy Men: Noah, Moses, Daniel and St. Paul, with panels below showing Noah building the Ark, Moses and the bronze serpent, Daniel in the lion's den and St. Paul preaching.
Mossley Hill Church as new
Bombing damage in Mossley Hill Church
The Church of St. Michael and St. James, Mossley Hill
The Grade II Listed church of St. Matthew and St. James, commonly known as Mossley Hill Church, is described in the Pevsner Guide as 'one of the best Victorian churches Liverpool'. It was built in red sandstone in 1870-5 to a design of Hubert Austin and Edward Graham Paley.
It was named after its founder and benefactor Matthew James Glenton (1786-1868), a Liverpool born merchant who left the £28,000 for its construction in his will. It is said that, in the 1830s, he was standing at the junction of Rose Lane and Mossley Hill Road admiring the view and commented to his companion on the suitability of the location for a church. It continues to dominate the horizon for miles around.
Some of the original stained glass windows were designed by William Morris. In Arthur Mee's book Lancashire, the majestic interior is described as follows: 'The base of the tower forms a choir and the lofty arcades lead to it like an avenue. There is rich carving in the oak stalls, on the pulpit and on the alabaster font. On the canopied reredos is a coloured carving of the Upper Room in Emmaus (a copy of a glass mosaic in Westminster Abbey)'. In 1922 a new chapel, the Ritchie Chapel, was added to the north-east corner of the church.
In August 1940, during the Second World War, the church was the first in England to be damaged by enemy bombing. The roof was badly damaged and all of the stained glass was destroyed. The church was restored in 1950-2 and the original windows were replaced by clear glass except for two magnificent stained glass windows at the east and west ends. The east window depicts The Apostles' Creed and the west window, Paradise Lost.
In the passage leading to the church hall, which was added to the south-west corner in 1975, are two stained glass windows by Morris & Co., rescued from Cheadle Congregational Church when it was demolished in 1970.
Mossley Hill Church today
Bishop Eton Chapel
Bishop Eton
Bishop Eton originated as Eton House, built in 1776 as a boarding school for boys. It passed through various hands until It was bought in 1843 by Liverpool timber merchant and catholic Henry Sharples, who shared it with his cousin Bishop James Sharples. Sharples and George Brown (later bishop of Liverpool) made the house their official residence and in 1845 erected a chapel to a design by the celebrated father of the Gothic revival Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin.
The Redemptorists took up residence in 1851 and demolished the chapel to build the present red sandstone Church of Our Lady of the Annunciation to a design by the architect's son Edward Welby Pugin. Parts of the original chapel, including some of the windows, were reused in the new church, which was opened in 1858. Among the windows preserved from the original chapel are one of St. Edward the Confessor in the first bay of the north aisle, one of St. Oswald in the opposite bay of the south aisle and a third, of rather Moorish design, at the west end of the north wall. The west window of 1920 represents the Last Judgement.
The chapel to the northeast of the sanctuary is now the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, where there is a copy of the original icon in the Church of Sant'Alfonso in Rome.
A fire in 1973 destroyed the gallery, organ and the entire roof, which had to be reconstructed. The complex is now known as Bishop Eton, the seat of the Roman Catholic Parish of the Redemptorist Fathers and Brothers.
Bishop Eton interior
St. Barnabas's Church in 1914
The original church and parochial hall c.1905
The Church of St. Barnabas, Mossley Hill
St. Barnabas's church had its origins when the increasing population density in the area around Smithdown Road and Penny Lane warranted a separate church from that of St. Matthew and St. James. In 1900, donations from numerous benefactors enabled the purchase of the non-denominational Calvary Church on Smithdown  Road, which became the first St. Barnabas's church. It was known as The Tin Cathedral and was between Cramond Avenue and Blenheim Road, a less than ideal situation opposite a refuse incinerator and the tram sheds. It was dedicated in 1900 as a chapel of ease to St. Matthew and St. James. In 1904 a parochial hall was completed that survives as Fogherty's Pub.
By 1901 the site of the present church, at the entrance to the Elm Hall estate, had been chosen. In April 1912, the plans and designs of the Liverpool architect  James Francis Doyle were accepted and construction work began with the laying of the foundation stone on St Barnabas's Day. The benefactors were the Singlehurst family, who donated a total of £15,000 towards the construction work. Robert Singlehurst (1821-1912) was a Brazil merchant and ship-owner. Grove House on Penny Lane (now Dovedale Towers) was subsequently purchased for a new parochial hall and sunday school until it was sold in 1965.
The Perpendicular styled church was consecrated on St Barnabas's Day 1914 at a total cost of about £25,000. It is constructed in multiply sized red sandstone blocks and brick in an elaborate pattern. The Pevsner Guide speaks of a 'cool and dignified interior [...] a serious, sober piece of work'. Originally  the massive tower had been designed to hold eight bells but because of cost pressures only one bell was installed. In 2010, a new peal of 8 bells was installed using bells recycled from closed churches. As a young boy, Paul McCartney sang in the choir at St. Barnabas's.
St. Barnabas's Church
Allerton Cemetery under construction in 1909
The Anglican Chapel
Springwood Avenue
Allerton Cemetery
In 1906, following the suburban expansion in the south of Liverpool around the turn of the century, 234 acres (95 ha) of the Allerton Hall estate south of Springwood Avenue (largely parts of Oak Farm and Short Butts Farm) were acquired at a cost of £50,000 by Liverpool City Council for a new cemetery.
The layout embodies the conclusions about good cemetery design drawn by the Burials Committee during their visit to the continent in 1908. It is based upon a broad central avenue, with grave spaces set back from the main walks behind planted borders to give an impression of a pleasant park. A considerable area of evergreens was planted to retain the atmosphere during the winter. The first burial took place in 1909.
By 1911, the red sandstone lodge, gates, superintendent's house and three chapels were nearing completion. The chapels are all Gothic in design with steeples. The Anglican Chapel occupies a commanding position at the end of the main drive, with the Roman Catholic and Non-Conformist Chapels symmetrically disposed to the south-west and north, respectively. Since the opening of the new crematorium on the other side of Springwood Avenue in 1975, they have, sadly, fallen into disuse. The whole site, however, is Grade II listed.
Today Springwood Avenue is another of Allerton's beautiful thoroughfares. The long lines of overhanging copper beech trees create an appropriately funereal atmosphere.
The Roman Catholic Chapel
The Non-Conformist Chapel
All Souls Church in 1935
The Church of All Souls, Allerton
The original All Souls Church in Liverpool was located in Vauxhall, but became redundant and was demolished in the early 1920s. A new parish of that name was created in Allerton in 1923. Open-air services were carried out until the parish acquired a wooden canteen building that was converted into a church and church hall, and remained in use until the completion of the church that stands today on Mather Avenue.
The present Grade II listed church was built in 1925-7 to a design of Liverpool architects D.A. Campbell and E.H. Honeybourne. The cost of £25,000 for the structure itself was provided by the will of Sir Alfred Lewis Jones (1845-1909), a Liverpool shipowner who lived at Oaklands (now demolished) in Aigburth. The legacy was originally intended for a new church in Mossley Hill. However, the construction of the Liverpool Corporation housing estate at Springwood in the 1920s meant that there was greater need for a church in this area. The trustees of Sir Alfred Jones's estate subsequently agreed, at the suggestion of Bishop Chavasse, to transfer the project to here.
It is an imposing structure in Italian Romanesque/Byzantine style with a towering campanile, built mainly of brick that supposedly changes in colour with the changing light. The elegant interior features skilful use of brick and stone and a dramatic sense of space and height with soaring Romanesque arches.
All Souls Church today
Dovedale Baptist Church
Grade II listed Dovedale Baptist Church on Dovedale Road was built in 1905-6. The exterior makes use of red brick, terracotta and especially, and highly unusually for Liverpool, flint. It was clearly designed to stand out as a non-conformist statement.
Dovedale Baptist Church
Acknowledgements and Further Reading
For more on the History of Bishop Eton see the Bishop Eton website, and for Allerton Cemetery see the English Heritage website. As always, for a thorough discussion of the architecture see Lancashire: Liverpool and the South-West (The Buildings of England, Pevsner Architectural Guides), Richard Pollard & Nikolaus Pevsner, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2006.
This is a non-commercial website that is intended entirely for research and educational purposes. If I have unintentionally breached copyright with any images, I hope that the copyright owner will tolerate my usage in the present context, otherwise I will remove the material. Modern colour photographs are by the author.