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robes, tiara on the head, keys in hand, at the gate of Heaven. The

sinister or left window is dedicated to St. Paul. At the base he is

represented as being struck blind at his conversion, and above he

is kneeling as if translated to the third Heaven, with our Blessed

Saviour seated in majesty on His throne, surrounded by the seven

spirits. The Chapel of Our Lady is 26 feet by 12 feet, is on the

north side of the chancel and north transept, and filled in b\

ornamental metal screens. The altar and reredos in the Lady

Chapel are of elaborately carved marble and alabaster. This chapel

contains three stained windows. A marble tablet attached to the

wall of this Chapel contains the following inscription : ' Pray for

the five sisters of the family of Dalton, of Thurnham, Charlotte,

Bridget, Mary, Lucy, and Elizabeth.' The Convent Chapel opens

into the south side of the chancel bv a broad arch filled with

ornamental iron work, bv which contrivance the Sisters of Mercy


are enabled to be present at all the services of the Church without
leaving their own beautiful little oratory. On the left of the
chancel and opening" into the south transept is a small Chapel,
dedicated to St. Charles Borromeo, the founder of Sunday Schools ;
the altar, with its life-like group of figures cut in Caen stone,
is very greatly admired. The high altar is a magnificent specimen
of sculptured veined marble and alabaster, and was presented to
the Church by the late Mrs. Gabriel Coulston. The altar in the
Whiteside chantry is of Caen stone, supported by marble pillars,
the reredos consisting of an arched panel enclosing an admirable
life-like and nearly life-size group, being perfect images from life.
On a tablet, inlaid with a polished brass, in the Coulston chantry it is
recorded that Thomas Coulston, of Well House, the founder of this
chantry, died in 185b, in his 46th year, was a benefactor to the
Church, Convent, and poor schools, in which for 28 years he
constantly taught on Sundays. Each chancel is lighted by two
beautiful stained glass windows. The pulpit* is a semi-octagonal,
and displays on its fine veined marble sides four scenes from the
life of St. Peter in white alabaster relief. The north wall is pierced
bv four three-light windows, each of a different design. The west
wall is pierced by a large window and two smaller ones. The nave
is lighted by five clerestory windows of pretty design. The
presbytery is placed on the south-west side of the Church. It
forms with the sacristy and south walls of the chantry chapels a
fine square block of buildings, having easy communications with
the Church, sacristy and confessionals. The material mostly used
in erecting the Church and presbytery was local stone, supple-
mented by stone procured from the site. At first the seating-
capacity of the Church consisted of goo benches. Mr. James
Duckett, of Preston, contracted for the masons' work ; Mr. Robert
Wilson, Lancaster, for the wood work; and Mr. Thos. Dickinson,
Lancaster, executed the plumbing and glazing. The Church was
consecrated by the Right Reverend Dr. Goss, October 4th, 1859,
and opened on the following Thursday by the same prelate, assisted

*The pulpit was presented to the Church by William Leeming, Esq.


by the Right Rev. Bishop Turner, the Right Rev. Dr. Briggs, the
Right Rev. Bishop Roskell, two vicars-general, fifteen canons from
the dioceses of Liverpool, Salford, Beverley, and Nottingham, and
fortv-six other priests.

On the 31st December, 1868, the Very Rev. Dean Brown
died and was succeeded afterwards by the Rev. Canon Walker,
then known as the Rev. William Walker, of St. Austin's, Preston.
Canon Walker set about making improvements, and in due course
filled in the lower portion of the east chancel wall with a number
of artistic arcades cut in stone, and had the interior painted and
decorated. The arcades — eight altogether — were afterwards filled
In with life-size paintings in gold and colours, by Messrs. Eaton &
Bulfield, of Lancaster. The figures represent the Virgin Mary, St.
Peter, St. Paul, St. Joseph, St. William, St. Charles, St. Wilfrid,
and St. Cuthbert. Most of them were given to the Church by the
late Mrs. Parkinson, of Bare. New seating accommodation was sup-
plied, and now there are 29 polished pitch-pine benches on the newest
principle in each aisle, capable of seating 290 adults. In January,
1880, a peal of bells, the gift of the late Mr. John Gardner, added
to the dignity of the sacred edifice. The eight bells are suspended
at a height of 105 feet from the base of the spire. In June, 1881,
the figure of St. Peter seated in the Papal chair was placed within
the Church, facing the north door. The representation of the saint
rests on the summit of an ornamental pedestal 4 feet 9 inches high
The figure-proper is 6 feet high, and is composed of incorruptible
wood bronzed so as to render it a fac simile of the statue in bronze
in the Vatican Basilica in Rome. St. Peter holds two massive
keys in his left hand, the right hand being raised as if in the act of
pronouncing the Papal Benediction. In January, 1885, the Confra-
ternity of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour was established in this
Church, prior to which a highly decorated picture of Our Lad}- of
Perpetual Succour in enamelled oil colours, set in a Gothic moulded
gilt frame, enclosed within a richly carved frame and canopy of
fumigated oak, surmounted by a papal cross, was affixed to the
north wall of the Lady Chapel. On a small table before the picture


is a lamp kept constantly burning", and sockets are provided round
its surface for votive offering's of lighted wax candles, which are
constantly provided by pious Catholics who are devoted to Our
Lady of Perpetual Succour and St. Alphonsus, her premier devoted
servant. This picture is a fac simile of the miraculous picture in
the Church of St. Alphonsus, Rome." The most recent presenta-
tion to the Church at the time of writing is a superb sacred heart
altar of sculptured Caen stone, with finely wrought alabaster
statues, fully described in the Catholic News. The Church
is now, 1891, capable of seating 1,027 people. The devotion of
the Catholics of Lancaster to their Church and its teachings has
been abundantly exemplified by their deeds -deeds firstly attribut-
able to a correct estimate of the worth of the sanctuary of God,
and, secondly, to the humble walk and generous self-denying
labours of Dean Brown and Canon Walker, the latter of whom
has a kindly grip for everybody, and is unquestionably a broad-
hearted gentleman whose deportment is no less admired by anti-
catholics than his friendship is esteemed by all who are fortunate
enough to secure it be they Protestants or Catholics. The erection
of the Church commenced in April, 1857, and it was completed
in September, 1859.

Another writer says : —

" The principal entrances are on the west and north west,
and over the entrance at the basement of the tower you observe a
fine statue of the Apostle to whom the Church is dedicated. The
windows are objects of contemplation to all lovers of the staining
art. ' On the west at the summit of the five-light window is a
circular device over the centre light, two smaller circles appearing
between the apices of the arches symmetrical!} disposed on each
side. This central figure work comprises six quatrefoliated circles
enclosing a single sexfoliated circle, to which the two outer circles
correspond, the latter being sexfoliated. On the north are four
three-light windows one of which contains intersecting arches,
having the intervening spaces in a manner uncusped, while another


presents an interesting instance of a centrepiece formed by the
alternate arrangement of three pointed, and three circular trefoils."
The window at the end of the northern transept ' is of the two-light
form doubled in accordance with a well-known architectural prin-
ciple and one principal circlet in the centre set off with two subsidiary
circlets. In the upper circle are inscribed two equilateral triangles,
standing vertically, one on the base, and the other on the apex, so
as to form six smaller equilateral triangles and a hexagon in the
middle including another example of circular foliation. ' The
window at the end of the south transept is of the order of St.
Catherine's Wheel and exhibits ten circular devices enclosing a
stellate figure in the centre. A semi-octagonal arrangement ter-
minates the chancel and is relieved bv stained glass windows in
three lights. The representations of St. Peter receiving the Keys
and the Conversion of St. Paul, with the Ascension distributed over
the three lights of the central window are admirably executed.
The Saviour is seen ascending to Heaven and the Apostles gazing
earnestly as he soars to His throne attended by a host of angels and
archangels. On each side of the chancel stands an image, life-
like, facing the centre of the Church. There is the B.V.M. arrayed
in gorgeous apparel of gold and blue embroidery on the left,
crowned and holding a sceptre as she fondles the .Sacred Infant,
upon Whose knee rests as a plaything the ball which indicates
imperial dignity. On the right is seen St. Joseph hailing from a
pedestal of wax candles and flowery odours. His dark hair and the
green lining of the rich mantle that is folded around him stand out
prominently. He holds in his hand a staff, from the top of which
white lilies seem to be springing." Another image appears at the
eastern end of the south transept set above an altar* of pure-
white marble, under a crimson canopy faced with gold. This altar
is consecrated to the Sacred Heart. There are the Whiteside and
Coulston Chantries on the south, an exquisite font standing south-
west on a granite base and bearing a Latin inscription. There arc
six altars of marble or stone and a Lady Chapel on the north east
containing a tablet in memory of the Daltons' of Thurnham. The
Chapel of St. Charles is on the south of the chancel. The pulpit is

* This Altar has been replaced.


on the right of the centre aisle by the transept and is a marvel of
beauty in every way. From its columns four figure-heads project
while on its sides are depicted four scenes from the life of St. Peter.
The fourteen Stations of the Cross are also well worth attention.
The Monstrance is adorned with a base of gilt, and during that
most solemn ceremony, namely, the Benediction of the Blessed
Sacrament, the light glistens from numerous precious stones, which
were given by ladies of the congregation. There may be seen the
blue flash of the emerald, emblem of love, the red light of the ruby,
unity's sign, and the pure effulgence ot the crystal gem all
emblazoning the circle of the Host."

The Very Rev. Provost Walker, in 18S8, printed a. guide
concerning the new stained glass windows. The following informa-
tion is, therefore, extracted from the same: - " Messrs. Hardman
and Co., London and Birmingham, have been engaged inserting
stained glass windows in St. Peter's Church, and two of them — in
the north and south transepts are now completed. The window in
the north transept was presented by Mrs. Matthew Hardman,
Mr. Robert Preston, and his wife, Mary, in memory of the late
Matthew Hardman. The design of the window is in keeping with
the other stained glass lights in the Church, and along with
the other new windows will add to the beauty of the Sacred
Edifice, already rich in the specimens of decorative art. In
view of the recent beatification by the Hoi}- See of fifty-four of the
English Martyrs who suffered death for their religion in the Tudor
period — an event which the Catholics of this country have long and
earnestly prayed for — the happy thought suggested itself of blending
with the more personal object which the new window subserves, a
commemoration of this important occurrence in the history of the
Catholic Church in England. This double object will explain the
raison d'etre of the different figures, subjects, &c, represented in
the windows, the general features of which may first be noted, and
then a more detailed description given of the different parts : — The
window entitled "The English Martyrs' Window," is in the
north transept. The first panel represents Blessed John Fisher,



Bishop of Rochester, widely known and esteemed for his wisdom,
piety, and godly life; second, Blessed Thomas Morethe distinguished
and learned layman, of unstained honour and inflexible integrity ;
third, Blessed John Houghton, the cloistered contemplative, ofpure
life and fervent piety; the fourth, Blessed Cuthbert Maine, the
zealous and holy priest. Suitable inscriptions (in Latin) are placed
under each figure, and below these are four medallions, containing
illustrative subjects from the lives of the Beati above-named. The
inscription along the bottom of the window, which is also in Latin,
runs : ' Pray for the good estate of the Church in England.' In the
heads of the four lights, over the cumfries, are demi figures of the
patron saints of the donors family. In the tracery, surmounted by
adoring angels, is pictured, on a deap ruby ground, Our Blessed
Lord, the King of Martyrs, His sacred head crowned with thorns,
His pierced hand being raised in benediction. This may be regarded
as the key-note of the whole composition — Victory through suffering,
the Cross and the Crown. The four lights may now be described in
rather fuller detail. First light, Blessed John Fisher, Bishop ot
Rochester, in mitre and richly flowered cope ; the orphrey of the
latter being ornamented with the escallop shell on the saltire, from
the Arms of that See. The short-lived dignity of Cardinal, conferred
upon him while in prison by Pope Paul III., is indicated by the red
hat and title of St. Sabina lying at his feet. King Henry VIIL's
brutal jest on this subject will be remembered. In one hand he
bears the martyr's palm, and in the other a book, as a man of
learning and distinguished author, while his arm encircles the
pastoral staff, with vexillum attached. The face is taken from
Holbein's portrait of the Bishop in the Queen's collection. The
subject below, in medallion, represents Fisher kneeling at the feet
of the king, and entreating him not to prosecute the divorce of the
Queen, Catherine of Arragon. An inscription at the bottom of this,
as well as the other medallions, explains the incident. Second
light, Blessed Thomas More, sometime Lord Chancellor of England,
in the robes of that high office, with golden collar of S.S. round his
neck. In his right hand he holds a rich beg, embroidered with the
royal monogram and crown, containing the great seal of the kino -


clom. In his other hand is a book, indicative of his fame as a man
of letters, and a martyr's palm. The pensive face, and head crowned
with quaint cap, is from the portrait made so familiar to us by the
pencil of his friend Holbein. The subject below depicts the meeting
of Sir Thomas More with Bishop Fisher at the portal of Lambeth
Palace, to which both of them had been summoned in order to have
the oath of the Royal Supremacy tendered to them. More salutes
the Bishop with the words, ' Well met, my lord : I hope we shall
soon meet in heaven.' Third light, Blessed John Houghton, Prior
of the London Charterhouse. He wears the simple and picturesque
white habit of the Carthusian order, the severe rule of which forbids
the wearing of any special marks of distinction. He carries a palm,
and presses a book of the Sacred Scriptures or other Holy Writings,
to his breast. The subject underneath represents the martyr, with
two other priors of his order, and Richard Reynolds, for the order of
St. Bridget, on their way to execution, passing beneath a window
of the dungeon of the Tower in which Sir Thomas More was confined,
through the bars of which he and his daughter, Margaret Roper,
who was with him at the time, observe them attentively. Fourth
light, Blessed Cuthbert Mayne, the first missionary priest put to
death in England, and proto-martyr of Douav College. He is the
first in order of the long and glorious line of more than 150 Mission-
ary Priests, trained in that celebrated college, who, from the year
1577, the date of his death, until the end of the reign of terror,
cheerfully risked their lives and poured out their blood for the
conversion of England.

Lancaster cannot boast of a very long martyr roll ; but the
catholics of the county town will cherish with gratitude and
affection the names of the four laymen and the eleven priests
who suffered the most atrocious tortures for the Faith, and sealed
their doctrine with their blood. Of these priests, one was a Fran-
ciscan, seven received their education at Douav, two at Yalladolid,
one at Seville, both places more or less connected with the parent
college — all were animated with the spirit that animated Cuthbert
Mayne He wears the full vestments of his priestly office, for



exercising" which he was cruelly put to death. On his heart forming
part of the orphrey of the chasuble, is the holy name 'Jesus' so
constantly on the lips of those holy men in their sufferings. He
holds his palm in one hand, and in the other it may be, his missal or
other liturgical or devotional book,, and looks up with a joyful and
serene expression. Below is pictured the seizure of the martyr by
the sheriff of Cornwall in the house ol~ Mr. Francis Tregian, at
Volveden, who looks sorrowfully on in the background while an
attendant of the sheriff rifles a chest in search of books, papers, or
' Church Stuff,' as it was called. The donors' patron saints, at the
top of the four lights are : St. Matthew, the Apostle, St. Helen, the
first Christian Empress, St. Mary Magdalen, and St. Richard,
Bishop of Chichester, each having some distinctive emblem, and
scroll with name. A legend placed below them, and crossing the
window runs thus : ' Orate pro anima Matthaei Hardman et domo
ejus.' A rich golden brocaded curtain figured with roses, hangs
behind the four large figures, and the grisaille groundwork of the
entire window is likewise decorated with roses, which should be
regarded here both as the rose of England and the flos martyrum,
its thorny stems typifying the crosses and sufferings through which
Heaven is to be reached, and which were so bravely borne by those
saintly English martyrs of the olden time here commemorated. In
the south transept is 'The Rose Window.' In the description of
the north transept window, allusion was made to the prominent
introduction of the rose amongst the ornamental details ; in the
present window we again meet with the same significant flower ; in
this case, however, it is no longer used as a simple accessory, but
forms the principal feature in the design ; its flowering branches
spreading from opening to opening, over the greater part of its
surface. The conception of this window is due in the first instance
to Dante's immortal poem. In the Xllth Canto of the Paradiso the
poet describes a mystic wheel of vast circumference encompassing
another, equally mystic, two garlands of sempiternal roses, respon-
sive each to each, and each the abode of glorified souls ; in the
XXXth Canto he shadows forth a vision of a luminous rose, within
the spreading convolutions of which, he beheld angels and saints


without number, placed in stately order in the effulgent light of
Heaven. This idea may, perhaps, have been a reminiscence of the
great rose windows of France, some of which he most likely saw
during" his travels in that country and in the radiating circles of
which, it was usual to represent the whole hierarchy of Heaven,
disposed rank after rank, in solemn order, and in great splendour
and beauty of colouring. In the present instance, the limited space
at command, and also the representation ot a kindred subject in the
west window of the Church, forbade any attempt at this kind of
treatment ; the rose-like form of the window itself, however,
together with its suggestive name, sufficiently account for the
choice of the treatment adopted. These roses, too, may well
symbolise the graces and virtues of the saintly throng" seen by the
poet in his mystical rose of Paradise ; the white betokening purity,
innocence, and cleanliness of heart : the red, faith, fervour of love,
suffering, &c. ; while in the centre of the window is appropriately
placed the emblem of St. Peter—

Into whose keeping Christ 'lid give the keys
Of this sweet flower.

The red and white rose, also, thus prominently introduced into a
Lancaster window, instinctively carry back the thoughts to the days
when they were the l strife-stirring and direful badges ' of contend-
ing factions ; here, however, blossoming peacefully side by side,
they happily may suggest also thoughts of charity and brotherly
love, and so let us trust that the kindly shelter of the sanctuary
will cause 'This flower to germin in eternal peace.' This window-
is the gift of the Bishop of Leeds and about twenty priests who were
either born in Lancaster or brought up from earliest infancy in the
town, and who have adopted this admirable method of perpetuating
their regard for the Church. Their names are suitably honoured in
the brass below the window ' The great west window,' with its five
lights and corresponding tracer}' is the gift of Mr. Joseph Smith.
It is a more intricate and elaborate work ; and in the grouping and
grace and expression of the figures, in the combination of colours
and in the clearness and distinctness of all the details, it exhibits :t
rare example of perfection in stained glass. ' Te Deum laudamus,


Te Dominum confitemur.' Such are the words inscribed on the
banderole held by the two kneeling - bishops in the base oi' the
window, representing St. Ambrose and St. Augustine, the joint
authors, according" to a beautiful legend, of this magnificent hymn
of praise, and such is the theme it has here been attempted in part
to illustrate. In the midst of the window, within a large circle
emblem of eternity — formed of clouds, angels playing on sackbut,
psaltry, timbrel and harp, etc., our Blessed Lord is seated on a
canopied throne, His right hand raised in Benediction, and His lett
holding an orb, in sign oi His dominion over all things. He is
clothed in a richly diapered golden mantle, with jewelled border,
and wears the breast-plate with its twelve mystical stones, with
which of old were associated in some mysterious way, the Urim and
Thummim— Light and Perfection. About the throne in solemn
attitude, clothed in white garments, adorned with borders, orphreys,
etc., are the seven archangels ' who stand in the presence of God.'
St. Michael in front on one side, with the cross-marked banner and
sword, as leader of the hosts of Heaven ; in the corresponding
place on the other side of the throne, St. Gabriel, the great
messenger, with lily branch in his hand ; the remaining arch-
angels follow in due order. Beneath the archangels are placed the
four apocalyptic creatures, assigned as emblems to the Evangelists,
and between these, underneath the feet of our Lord, a cherub and
seraph with arms outspread, the former with wings of blue, indica-
tive of knowledge ; the latter, red, of love ; these 'continually do
cry' ' Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dorriinus Deus Sabaoth,' the
words being: inscribed on the long carved scroll running across this
part oi' the window. Midway in the dexter light (left hand o\
spectator), are ranged the Apostles under the scroll bearing the
words ' Te gloriosus, Apostolorum chorus.' St. Peter, Prince ol
the Apostles, the Patron of this Church, sits prominently in front,
holding his keys oi' Power; then St. Paul and St. Andrew with
their respective emblems ; above them St. James major, St. John
the Evangelist, and St. Thomas. Opposite this group, in the
sinister light, with the verse ' Te Prophetarum laudabilis numerus,'
are placed the royal prophet David with his harp in the front, next


to him Isaiah with saw, and Daniel ; behind these, Jacob and
Ezekiel. In the lower part of both dexter and sinister lights, under
the scrolls inscribed ' Te martyrum candidatus,' and ' Lauclat
exercitus,' are seen St. Stephen, the first martyr, St Alban, proto-
martyr of England, and St. George, our English martyr patron, on

Online LibraryCross FleuryTime-honoured Lancaster ... Historic notes on the ancient borough of Lancaster → online text (page 15 of 55)