THE CHURCH


Before the present building there was a wooden structure on or near the present site opened and licensed for worship in 1889. One account states that the building was moved to Birkenhead where it became Saint Bede's in All Saints' Parish (now disappeared.) It later became a golf pavilion somewhere in the Southport area ~ allegedly.

 

The present Church (a daughter of Saint Bridget's, West Kirby Parish Church) was begun in 1889~1891 designed by the Chester architects Douglas and Fordham (1884). John Douglas was born in Sandiway, Cheshire and was a pupil of E. Paley of Lancaster and practiced in Chester from about 1860. He designed a number of churches and private homes and was responsible for much estate work for the first Duke of Westminster, his principal patron. He was a brilliant exponent of half-timbering and made extensive use of Ruabon terracotta. Saint Andrew's was often regarded as his finest ecclesiastical building.

 

The 1889 building consisted of Nave and Aisles only and was completed in its present form in 1909. If you know where to look (near the front two pillars of the Nave) you can see the join. The building is in red sandstone with ashlar dressings and roofs of green Coniston slate. Added in 1907 were north and south aisles with lean-to roofs.

 

There are clerestory windows with the north transept being the organ chamber and the Lady Chapel (an afterthought) is the south transept giving the church the typical cruciform shape. The tower space is included in the Chancel (also added at this time) and the tower is topped with a short spirelet set diagonally. The building is Grade II listed and is regarded as a good example of modern Gothic. 

 

Outside on the east wall are a figure of Saint Andrew (at the gable end) and niches contain Saints Simon and Jude with Latin words  from the Apostles' Creed by them and a carved dedication inscription dated 1908 is on the same window ledge.

 

The principal builders were Messrs William Ford of Claughton Road, Birkenhead and by the time the building was completed it had cost nearly £10,000 with about £1,500 still to be collected. The foundation stone dated 1891 is to be found at the base of the west wall of the church.

 

Inside there is some splendid stained glass. The 5 light east window and the four north aisle windows are by Herbert Bryans (or Bryams) possibly a pupil of Kempe and certainly a contemporary whose influence is obvious. Kempe's sign was a wheatsheaf while Bryans has a sable hound courant (a running black hound) usually found in the bottom corner. A great-niece of Bryans visited Saint Andrew's during the 1990's and took photographs of his windows for a book she was preparing.

 

The east window (Glover memorial) depicts Christ in glory, Christ crucified and the Christ child surrounded in other lights by Apostles, Saints and Angels. This window was a gift from the Cain family (of Cain's breweries, (amalgamated with Walker's in 1920) and apparently there were some objections at the time to receiving a gift from such a source! Sir William Cain had given his home at Wilton Grange to be used as a military hospital during World War I and was a well-known generous benefactor. The north aisle windows depict the Annunciation (Farrington memorial) the Birth of Jesus (Thacker King Memorial) the Adoration of the Magi (King memorial) and the Presentation [Purification] (AG.Cox, priest memorial). The windows in the south aisle, starting from west are a Resurrection scene, a depiction of Faith, Hope and Charity as female Saints with appropriate symbols. And new at the end of the 90's are the Transfiguration  (Alfred Gardiner memorial) and the Agony in the garden of  Gethsemane (an Appleton family memorial) These last two were  made by Sep Waugh of York.

 

The church contains other gifts such as the Stations of the Cross (numerous anonymous donors) put in (physically) by the late John Parks. There are sanctuary lamps, candlesticks, choir stalls and prayer desks made by Guest and Wardle of Chester and carved by Bridgeman's of Lichfield in oak. The beautiful High Altar reredos was made by G Webb in 1911 and originally was painted in two shades of   grey with red and gold flowers. Its present gold leaf, red, green and blue date from the 1970's and together with the font cover are the  design of the highly esteemed Dykes Bower. The figures on the
reredos are the Blessed Virgin Mary, her parents, Saint Joseph and Saint John the Baptist, King David and Saint Andrew.

The font itself is octagonal in sandstone. The brass eagle lectern was made by Benham and Froude in 1904.

A major gift was the organ. Built by Rushworth and Dreaper for about £3000. It is a three manual instrument with pneumatic pedal action. It was overhauled in the 1970's and until the demise of Rushworth's in the 1990's was maintained by them and even now a  former employee of theirs continues that work. Some additional stops were added in the late 1990's which helped to brighten the tone. The distinguished Dr Laurence West followed by Dr Caleb Jarvis and then by his pupil Pat Phillips ensured that the organ was heard to its best  advantage.

The donor was Mrs Venner Vincent in memory of her son Bernie (Bernard) who died tragically at the age of 15 while a pupil at Shrewsbury school. It was dedicated on 1st November 1928 when Laurence West played for the service and gave a small recital which was followed by a recital from George Thalben Ball the long serving  distinguished organist at the Temple church in London. The splendid oak organ case work was made by H.J.Whelan of West Kirby to the design of A. Barbosa.

The need for a new church in Saint Bridget's parish was brought about by an increase in the population resulting from the arrival of he railway and later through the opening of the Mersey road tunnel.  Slightly earlier new parishes had begun at Frankby and Meols. The population of Saint Andrew's parish has never been much more than 5000 having started at about 2000.

 

The Anglo Catholic tradition has always been in place at Saint Andrew's ~ in differing forms according to the taste of the then incumbent. Canon Eric Fairfax Robson came at the end of World War I and became Vicar in 1920 when it became a parish in its own right. He was followed for a short while by George Richardson Kemp (whose widow still lives locally) 1952~1955 and he by James Mitchell McTear (1956~1969) one of whose daughters is still involved at Saint Andrew's. John Ivan Morton was here from 1970 until 1976 when he departed for Saint Matthew's, Northampton where he spent the remainder of his ministry. Canon Bertram L Barnby came next, a distinguished musician in his own right, who served from 1976 until 1982. Then followed, Canon Dennis Charles Kelly (1982~2001) one of whose daughters maintains a connection with Saint Andrew's. He was followed by Father David Michael Dixon (2001~2010). The present Parish Priest is Fr. Peter Walsh.

 

Much of this article is based upon the personal knowledge and recollection of Canon Kelly who drew his work from a similar history done by Mrs Mary Lonorgon (a former worshipper, now in Cumbria) Dr Norman Earl Mawby and notes by the late Edward Hubbard and his book about John Douglas.

 

Recent additions to the church furnishings include the icons of  Christ Pantocrator and St Andrew; the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham, in the north-west  corner of the nave, and the refurbishment of the Lady Chapel.