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View picture GMMs visit September 2006
GMMs visit September 2006
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GMMs visit September 2006

St. CUTHBERT ASSEMBLAGE

A short history of the Church after which the Assemblage is named.

by Rt.W.Bro. D.F. Walsh, VII°

 HALSALL PARISH CHURCH

The Church is dedicated to Saint Cuthbert, and has stood on this site for at least 800 years.

At the time of the Black Death in 1348 the vicar, Richard-de-Halsall, had completed the new Nave and was building the new walls of the Eastern part of the church around and beyond an existing Chancel.  This was an old custom in these parts.

Many of the masons and carpenters died during this period, and all work ceased.

The plague over, the new church tower was dedicated in 1400.

Sir Richard Halsall, vicar from 1513 to 1562/3, had his recumbent effigy dressed in ecclesiastical robes, his feet resting upon a dog, carved in alabaster in the Church.  In the Chancel are also the effigies of Sir Henry Halsall and Margaret, his wife.  He is dressed in armour, and she in robes and jewels.

Above the arch of the Chancel there are the faint remains of what is thought to be a fresco-painting illustrating “Doom”.

Beyond the Choir at the apex of the East window is a carved hand raised in benediction.  It is thought that behind this hand may be Saintly relics.

There are many mason-marks, including one above the belfry door which seems to represent an ancient plough.  This device also appears at Neston (Cheshire)  and also in a modified form at Sefton (Lancs/Merseyside).  It has been suggested that some rebuilding or restoration was paid for by the antient Guild of Ploughmen.

In the Church are many unusual carvings.  One of the Misericords depicts two naked men wrestling, each encouraged by a Monk.  One of the pinnacles has a figure, straddle-legged, pulling his mouth wide open with his fingers.

There is a tradition that a statue of St. Nicholas stood at the West end of the early church looking out to sea, and that this was lost when the tower was moved to its present Western position in circa 1348.  It is thought that this tower was used in olden times as a landmark for mariners.

The Church housed a Grammar School which, it is believed, eventually became Ormskirk Grammar School.


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