St Wilfrid's Church, Preston
|St. Wilfrid's Preston|
|Catholic Church of Saint Wilfrid, Preston|
North end of St Wilfrid's Church, Chapel Street, Preston
|OS grid reference|
|Founder(s)||Fr Joseph 'Daddy' Dunn|
|Functional status||Parish church|
|Heritage designation||Grade II*|
|Designated||27 September 1979|
|Architect(s)||Ignatius Scoles and Samuel Joseph Nicholl|
|Bishop(s)||Bishop Michael Campbell OSA|
|Priest(s)||Fr Stephen Patterson SJ|
Saint Wilfrid's is a Roman Catholic church run by the Society of Jesus, in the city centre of Preston, Lancashire, England. It was built in 1793 and is situated between Fishergate and Winckley Square on Chapel Street.
Saint Wilfrid must have had a particular devotion in Preston, because the original parish church, the present-day St. John's Minster, was originally called St Wilfrid's. However, it changed its dedication to St. John the Baptist in 1581, and again to St. John the Evangelist in 1770, meaning that when St. Wilfrid's church was built in 1793, there was no confusion between the two.
The first post-reformation Catholic church in Preston was established by Jesuits in 1761, St Mary's in Friargate.
This church, now demolished, soon became too small and was replaced by St Wilfrid's which was begun in April 1792 and finished 14 months later and cost £4000.
The church was built before the Restoration of the English Catholic hierarchy, which probably explains why such a large church is relatively discreet in the landscape of Preston city centre. Instead of being at right-angles to the street, it is parallel and does not have a surrounding green space or a spire to make it more distinctive.
The first stage of building the church was to have plain brick edifice with a balcony around the three sides facing the altar inside. However, soon the congregation outgrew the church and it was decided not only that the church needed expanding, but it needed to be grander.
In 1878 a new 'sodality' chapel and confessionals were added and the inside of the church was remodelled. One of the architects of this remodelling was in fact a Jesuit priest, Fr. Ignatius Scoles SJ, son of the architect Joseph John Scoles, who designed the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street in London, St Ignatius Church in Preston and the Church of St Francis Xavier in Liverpool. This new stage of building work was finished in 1880.
Ten years later stone cladding and terra-cotta and stone carvings were added to the exterior and elaborate marbles from all over Europe were fixed to the interior walls and columns. The final church, after renovations of 1996, still looks fresh and bright.
The church is still administered by the Society of Jesus whose community is next door on Winckley Square, and who ran the nearby Preston Catholic College until its closure in 1978. The church itself is open daily during shopping hours and is a place of quiet and prayer for young and old alike.
The adjacent parish centre hosts various activity groups, such as the local Society of Saint Vincent de Paul and Christian Life Community. It also houses a sanctuary bookshop which sells religious items such as rosaries, missals and crucifixes.
- British Listed Buildings
- Diocese of Lancaster Deaneries Archived 2013-02-07 at the Wayback Machine.
- Jesuits in Preston
- Hunt, David (1992), A History of Preston, Preston
- St Wilfrid's History Page Archived 2010-11-06 at the Wayback Machine.
- Warren, Leo (1993). Through Twenty Preston Guilds. Preston.
- St Wilfrid's Parish Groups
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