Syro-Malabar Cathedral of St. Alphonsa, Preston

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Syro-Malabar Cathedral of St. Alphonsa
St Ignatius Syro-Malabar Catholic Church
St. Ignatius - - 1533737.jpg
Entrance from Meadow Street
Syro-Malabar Cathedral of St. Alphonsa is located in Preston city centre
Syro-Malabar Cathedral of St. Alphonsa
Syro-Malabar Cathedral of St. Alphonsa
Location in Preston
Coordinates: 53°45′49″N 2°41′48″W / 53.7637°N 2.6967°W / 53.7637; -2.6967
OS grid referenceSD5416929933
LocationPreston, Lancashire
CountryUnited Kingdom
DenominationCatholic (Syro-Malabar)
Websiteofficial website
Founded1833 (1833)
Founder(s)Society of Jesus
DedicationIgnatius of Loyola
Functional statusActive
Heritage designationGrade II*
Designated27 September 1979[1]
Architect(s)Joseph John Scoles
StyleGothic Revival
ParishSt John XXIII

The Syro-Malabar Cathedral of St Alphonsa[3] also St Ignatius Church is a Catholic cathedral of the Syro Malabar rite[4] in Preston, Lancashire, under the administration of the Syro-Malabar Diocese of Great Britain[3] (before under Diocese of Lancaster). It is situated close to the Preston city centre and the entrance to it is along Meadow Street. The building was opened in 1836 and was the first church in Preston to have a spire.[5]

Since January 2015, the church has been used as a cathedral for the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church.[6]

On 28 July 2016 Pope Francis[7][4] raised the status of the church to that of cathedral and appointed Messenger Joseph (Benny Mathew) Srampickal as the first bishop.[8]



Prior to the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 the first legal Roman Catholic churches were built in a simple style similar to that used for Non-Conformist chapels and often incorporated the priest's house.[9] The church was originally a Jesuit foundation.


St Ignatius is one of the earliest examples of a Gothic style in the city of Preston. Work on the church started in 1833. The architect was Joseph John Scoles, who also designed the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street, in London and the Church of Saint Francis Xavier, Liverpool for the Society of Jesus.

St Ignatius is one of the oldest surviving Roman Catholic church buildings in the city, and the architectural historian Sir Nicholas Pevsner declared it to be of national interest along with the sister church of St. Walburge. He said that it was an unusually planned Roman Catholic complex for this date.[10]

Originally the church was much smaller, but in 1858, five new bays were added, including a new chancel and side chapels. The architect was Joseph Hansom who designed St Walburge's in 1847.[1] The church still possesses original designs for stained glass by John Hardman of Hardman & Co., but the windows were not made.[9] Further alterations were made to the church in 1885–6 by Matthew Ellison Hadfield and George Webster, the confessionals were removed providing space for two new chapels and the remodelling of the chancel. The altar was raised and a new super altar made from Hopton Wood stone placed on it. New confessionals were built outside the walls, a third chapel, the Chapel of the Sacred Heart was added at the north end. Alabaster figures and much wood and stone carving were added by Frank Tory of Sheffield.[11][12] In 1912 a side chapel and baptistery were added.


The church had a relationship with St Ignatius Catholic Primary School next door. The school was built in 1863 and extended in 2000. Masses were regularly held in the church for the school.[13]

Outside the church is St Ignatius Square. In 1982 the square was declared to be a local conservation area, preventing any development that would significantly change the character of the historic part of Preston.[14]

In 2001, the church saw the departure of its last resident parish priest, and it was merged with the parish of English Martyrs Church. Mass was celebrated in the church once a week, at 9:30 am every Sunday.[9] On 11 October 2014, the parish was amalgamated to include the congregations of St Teresa's, St Joseph's and St Augustine's and was renamed the Parish of St John XXIII.

Syro-Malabar Church[edit]

On 2 December 2014, the church was closed. On 31 December 2014, Michael Campbell, Roman Catholic Bishop of Lancaster, was asked by George Alencherry, Major archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, for exclusive use of a church in Preston by the local Syro-Malabar community. The bishop offered St Ignatius church, which was accepted. The church will remain open for private prayer and have Masses in the Syro-Malabar rite.[6]


The 19th century mystic poet Francis Thompson was baptised at the church in 1859, and the poet Fr Gerard Manley Hopkins SJ was a curate there during the late 1880s.[9]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b British Listed Buildings Retrieved 28 February 2013
  2. ^ Deaneries Archived 2013-02-07 at the Wayback Machine from Diocese of Lancaster Retrieved 28 February 2013
  3. ^ a b "Syro-Malabar Cathedral of St. Alphonsa, Preston, Lancashire, England (Syro-Malabar)". Retrieved 2017-01-25.
  4. ^ a b "Pope turns ex-Preston church into Indian Catholic cathedral". BBC News. 2016-07-28. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  5. ^ Preston from British History Online, Retrieved 28 February 2013
  6. ^ a b Lancaster: Bishop saves historic church for Indian Catholics from Independent Catholic News, 12 January 2015, retrieved 13 January 2015
  7. ^ "Vatican Declares New Cathedral For Indian Catholics – Cathedral to be St Ignatius, Preston". Sunrise Radio - Official Site. Retrieved 2017-01-25.
  8. ^ Pope Erects Eparchy of Great Britain of Syro-Malabar with a new Bishop from Vatican Radio News retrieved 28 July 2016
  9. ^ a b c d St Ignatius History from Retrieved 28 February 2013
  10. ^ St Ignatius Preston from Genuki, accessed 28 February 2013
  11. ^ "150 Years Of Architectural Drawings", Hadfield, Cawkwell, Davidson, Brampton Print and Design, ISBN 0 9509437 0 3, page 75, Details 1886 re-order.
  12. ^ The Tablet 1886 re-order.
  13. ^ St Ignatius School from, Retrieved 28 February 2013
  14. ^ St Ignatius Square from, retrieved 28 February 2013

External links[edit]