This month sees the 150th anniversary of the opening of St Mary’s RC Church in Euxton.
Tom Parker, secretary of the Pastoral Parish Council, has written ‘History of the Parish of St Mary’s’ to mark the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the opening of the church on October 29, 1865.
Euxton’s Catholic history, however, pre-dates the building of the church by some 500 years, with the faith being upheld and protected through the dark days of the Penal times by prominent local families, as Tom explains:
The first documentary evidence of Christianity in Euxton is found in a Deed of 1330 in which ‘Robert, the son of Richard the Priest of Eukeston’ makes a grant of land.
A later Deed names Robert and Gilbert as other ‘Priests of Eukeston’, so perhaps there was some sort of religious community here at that time.
Euxton’s Catholic history can be traced back to the 14th century, when it housed a ‘chapel of ease’ to Leyland Parish Church (perhaps with ‘Richard the Priest’ in residence).
The then-Catholic chapel at Euxton (now the Parish Church) was rebuilt by the Molyneux family in the 16th century.
The ‘Historical Notices of the Diocese of Chester’ also record that ‘In the 15th (year) of Henry VIII (ie 1524) James Anderton of Euxton founded a Chantry in the Chapel of Euxton for a Priest to pray for the souls of himself and Agnes, his wife’.
The chapel remained ‘in Catholic hands’ throughout the Reformation, as the ownership was vested in the Molyneux family rather than the Catholic Church, although few services took place there and it gradually fell into disrepair, before the ownership was transferred to the Established Church in 1718.
It was in 1718 that the first Catholic chapel at Euxton Hall was opened to the public.
In 1735 Rev. Thomas Anderton, uncle to the then squire William Anderton, made his will and bequeathed most of his property “for the support of the Chapel which I have established at Euxton Hall”.
The Rev Anderton died in 1741 and it is from this time that a permanent clergy was appointed and the Parish Registers commence.
A new Chapel was built at Euxton Hall in 1817 by William Ince Anderton, partly funded by public subscription, but by the 1850s the congregation was beginning to outgrow this Chapel and a process started which resulted in the building of the new church which was opened on October 29, 1865.
More details are covered in the newly-published ‘History of the Parish of St Mary’s Euxton’, available from St Mary’s Church, priced at £6.