History

THE JOURNEY OF ST CUTHBERT'S CHURCH
Due to the length of the document this can be seen as a download so you can read it on ebook readers or PC. You can download it here.This is courtesy of Keith Hamnett.


ST CUTHBERT NORTH MEOLS PAST AND PRESENT

This is the oldest Church and also the oldest public building in Southport. For over 825 years Christians have worshipped here in a succession of buildings designed to reflect the worship styles of the time and the size of the population.

North Meols was mentioned in the Doomsday Book and the first Rector, Adam the Clerk is known to have been here in 1178. Wooden boards listing the Rectors of North Meols can be found on the West wall of the Church.

There is a tradition that the body of St Cuthbert was brought here in the ninth century. The monks from Lindisfarne were seeking a safe refuge after the coast of Northumbria was invaded by the Vikings and for many years wandered through southern Scotland and northern England before eventually going to Durham, where St Cuthbert is buried. Certainly, crosses and Churches were erected at many of the resting places.

The present Church building dates from 1739 but with substantial rebuilding and alterations from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

In 2003 the Millenium project was completed. This has enabled better facilities to be provided, for children, the disabled and for all who are interested in the heritage of this Church and community.

BRIEF CIRCULAR TOUR

The font is eighteenth century and has its original cover, it is possible to get a good view of the whole of the Church. The carved reredos behind the altar and other woodwork in the Chancel is worth a closer look. It was originally in St Peter’s Church in Liverpool. It is the work of Richard Prescot and was completed in 1704. The panelling of the rest of the Church was dedicated in 1931.

All the stained glass is twentieth century except for the window in the centre of the north wall which dates from 1861.

The brass chandeliers were gifts to the Church in 1955. They are copies of those hanging in the corridors of the House of Commons.

Immediately behind the font is one of the two Royal Arms in St Cuthbert’s. This one is Victorian but the form is still in use today. You can also see two chairs used at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. These were given to the Church by Col. R.F. Hesketh who was MP for Southport at the time. In the woodwork above the font is a dove, the symbol of the Holy Spirit.

As you walk around Church look at the panels. Most record the names of local families but there are some other interesting ones as well.

From the font moving clockwise you will see the second set of Royal Arms. These are Hanoverian and may date from the death of George III in 1820. A case in the Heritage area displays items of interest.

To your left is a painted wooden board giving a list of benefactors of North Meols Grammar School. Note the entry for 1692.

The Heritage Centre permitting the displays of documents and artefacts was created in 2003 as part of the Millenium project. There are facilities for visitors to access records on computer by prior arrangement.

The largest window on the North wall was erected in 1861. This was originally the east window and is Venetian in style. The glass was designed by William Wailes of Newcastle and shows St Paul preaching at Athens.

There are several memorial panels on the wall including the War memorial giving the names of parishioners who lost their lives in the two World Wars.

In the North-east corner of the Church is a small chapel where you are invited to spend a moment in quiet prayer.

Continuing towards the altar the full impact of the carvings and the East window is revealed. In the window above the crucifixion can be seen St Cuthbert and the four Patron Saints, George Andrew, Patrick and David. To the left of the altar is a banner depicting St Cuthbert, the arms of Liverpool Diocese and Southport as well as the badges of some of the Southport Churches.

Returning to the main part of the church take a moment to look back towards the font and the gallery which before the 1908 alterations extended around most of the building. This also affords the best view of the Noah window.

You will find, alongside of the pulpit, the memorial of Thomas Fleetwood who drained Martin Mere. Next is a monument by Nollekens to Roger Hesketh of Meols Hall. His hatchment is on the south wall to your left. Halfway along this side of the church you will see the ‘Squire’s pew’ still in use today by the Hesketh family with some more family memorials behind. Alongside this is the Parish Chest – dating from 1700, this is an early form of safe with three locks. One key for each of the Rector and the Churchwardens.