St Michael and All Angels Church, Altcar

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St Michael and All Angels Church, Altcar
Church of St Michael and All Angels, Great Altcar.JPG
Church from the southwest
St Michael and All Angels Church, Altcar is located in the Borough of West Lancashire
St Michael and All Angels Church, Altcar
St Michael and All Angels Church, Altcar
Location in West Lancashire
Coordinates: 53°33′03″N 3°01′42″W / 53.5509°N 3.0283°W / 53.5509; -3.0283
OS grid reference SD 320,065
Location Great Altcar, West Lancashire
Country England
Denomination Anglican
Churchmanship Central
Status Parish church
Founder(s) William Molyneux, 4th Earl of Sefton
Dedication St Michael and All Angels
Functional status Active
Heritage designation Grade II*
Designated 11 October 1968
Architect(s) John Douglas
Architectural type Church
Groundbreaking 1878
Completed 1879
Materials Timber framed, red tile roof
Parish Altcar
Deanery Sefton
Archdeaconry Liverpool
Diocese Liverpool
Province York

St Michael and All Angels Church stands to the west of the village of Great Altcar, West Lancashire, England. The church is timber-framed and is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade II* listed building.[1] It is an active Anglican parish church in the diocese of Liverpool, the archdeaconry of Liverpool and the deanery of Sefton. Its benefice is combined with that of St Stephen's, Hightown.[2] In the Buildings of England series it is described as "an utterly charming church".[3]


The earliest record of a church or chapel on the site is in a lease dated 1429. In the 17th century the church is said to have been of timber and plaster. In the 1740s it was destroyed by fire and a new church was consecrated in 1747. This was said to have been a small brick building with a cupola containing one bell and a very plain interior.[4] That church was demolished and the present church was built in 1878–79 to a design by John Douglas at the expense of the 4th Earl of Sefton.[3] The church was restored in the 1990s, mainly to deal with rot which was affecting the timber.[5]



The church is half-timbered on a brick plinth with a red tile roof. The framing is mostly close studding with a middle rail.[1] It has been suggested that timber framing was used, not only for aesthetic reasons, but also because the foundations on underlying peat were not sufficiently stable for a stone building.[5] The plan of the church consists of a five-bay nave, a bell turret on the west gable end, a south porch, a narrow north aisle, a two-bay chancel at a lower level, a north organ chamber, and a vestry. The bell turret is close-studded and has a pyramidal roof with a finial and a weather vane.[1] The church is unique in Douglas' output as being entirely half-timbered.[6]


The communion rails, chancel rails, and pulpit were designed by Douglas and are of carved timber.[3] The reredos consists of painted tiles, executed by Craven, Dunhill & Co. to designs by Heaton, Butler and Bayne. It depicts Christ breaking bread before Cleophas and Mary in the centre, St Michael on the left, and Euphrasia on the right. The only stained glass in the church is in the west window. This is dated 1885 and depicts the baptism of Jesus.[5]

External features[edit]


At the entrance to the churchyard is a lych gate dated 1879 which was also probably designed by Douglas. It is made of oak with a stone slate roof and is listed Grade II.[7] The churchyard contains the war grave of an army officer cadet of World War II.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Historic England, "Church of St Michael, Great Altcar (1230934)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 9 April 2015 
  2. ^ St Michael & All Angels, Altcar, Church of England, retrieved 10 May 2011 
  3. ^ a b c Pollard, Richard; Pevsner, Nikolaus (2006), Lancashire: Liverpool and the South-West, The Buildings of England, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, pp. 179–180, ISBN 0-300-10910-5 
  4. ^ Farrer, William; Brownbill, J., eds. (1907), "The parish and township of Altcar: Church", A History of the County of Lancaster, Victoria County History, University of London & History of Parliament Trust, 3, pp. 221–226, retrieved 21 March 2008 
  5. ^ a b c Boughen, Tony (2004), "Altcar, St Michael", Lancashire Churches, archived from the original on 7 May 2008, retrieved 21 March 2008 
  6. ^ Hubbard, Edward (1991), The Work of John Douglas, London: The Victorian Society, pp. 128–127, ISBN 0-901657-16-6 
  7. ^ Historic England, "Lychgate approximately 20 metres south east of Church of St Michael, Great Altcar (1073147)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 9 April 2015 
  8. ^ WOODFIN, KENNETH THOMAS, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, retrieved 12 February 2013