St Charles & St Thomas More

History of the Parish of St Charles and St Thomas More

St. Charles and St. Thomas More Parish 

“The Parish of St Charles & St Thomas More, illuminated by Christ and led by the Holy Spirit, seeks to bring that light to South Liverpool. Nurtured by scripture, prayer and the Sacraments, we journey together, seeking to come closer to God, so that we can proclaim His love, in our thoughts, words and actions, by striving to be a loving and welcoming community.”

The original parish boundary ran from the river up Dingle Lane, Ullet Road, Aigburth Drive (to the end of the lake), Mossley Hill Drive, Queens Drive , North Mossley Hill Road, Elmswood Road, Woodlands Road and thence in a straight line to the river between Jericho Farm and Otterspool Station. A small area south of Dingle Lane was included in St. Finbar's parish in 1960 and St. Charles' boundary now follows Colebrooke Road to the river. At the other end of the parish the Aigburth Vale and Mossley Hill portion was taken into St. Thomas More's parish in 1964 and St. Charles' parish now ends with Fulwood Park.

The parish is within the area of Toxteth Park which was laid out by King John after 1207. The Park extended from the river to what is now Smithdown Road and from Otterspool to what is now Parliament Street. It was disafforested in 1604 and divided into a number of farms which were tenanted mainly if not entirely by puritans.

Early in the last century the town began to spread outwards into the Aigburth area. The cast iron Church of St. Michael was consecrated in 1815 and the builder John Cragg also erected five houses in the neighbourhood which became known as St. Michael's Hamlet. One house, the Hermitage was acquired by the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1912. Another, the Cloisters, was acquired by them in 1884 and is used as a community house for the Sisters. At the back are students' halls of residence built in 1960 serving Christ's and Notre Dame College of Higher Education. A third house, the Friars, was occupied by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament from 1924 until it was demolished in 1930.

Prior to the existing development which took place for the most part towards the end of the last and the beginning of the present centuries a number of large houses, some with cottages, stood on either side of Aigburth Road from the Dingle to Aigburth Vale. One such was "Laurel Mount", now the site of Belgrave Road, the grounds of which extended to the river in part along Southwood Road (formerly Mersey Street) and included the site of St. Michael's Station, built when the railway was constructed in 1864.

Another house was "Glen Toxteth" on the site of the present supermarkets at the corner of St. Michael's Road which was used in later years for social functions including St. Charles parish whist drives and dances.

Tramway Road was so named because a shed for building train bodies and stables were erected there following an extension of the tramway to Algburth Vale.

Between the site of St. Charles Church and Fulwood Road (formerly Fulwood Lane or Jones Lane) were "Ivy House" and "Larkfield". Land to the rear of these properties on both sides of the railway was acquired by the Fulwood Golf Club in 1905. The club was wound up when the land was requisitioned by the government in 1942. Adjoining land on the river side of the railway up to Fulwood Park was used as the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board sports ground up to a few years ago. The field on the Aigburth Road frontage ( now occupied by the army barracks and blocks of flats and Fulwood Drive) was at one time used by Batty's Dairy for grazing and the herd of cows crossing Aigburth Road to and from the shippon between Brentwood and Wendover Avenues was a familiar sight. It was also used in 1934 for a "Save our Southern Hospital" fete and on other occasion for a "Liverpool Can Make It" exhibition. During the Second World War anti-aircraft guns went into action on this land during the May 1941 air raids and glass windows in houses in the vicinity were blown out by the blast from the guns. Land on the near side of the railway between the end of St. Michael's Church Road and Larkfield Road was owned by the Liverpool Football Club (Rugby Union) - the oldest open rugby union club - from 1963 to 1986. The reclaimed land on the river frontage was part of the site of the International Garden Festival in 1984. On the other side of Fulwood Road was a mansion called Fulwood Lodge with extensive grounds. In the 1887 Gore's Directory it was described as a convalescent home and in the 1894 Directory as the Southern Cricket and Tennis Club. The next building, The White House, was erected in 1666. It became known as "The Three Sixes" about a hundred and fifty years ago and was used as a doctor's residence and surgery from the late 1930s until recent times when its original name was restored.

Fulwood Park is a private residential park laid out in the 1840s on land formerly belonging to White House Farm.

The land opposite the church on the other side of Aigburth Road between Normanton Avenue and Eastfield Drive was formerly a field called Nearmost Smoot Hey which was purchased from the Earl of Sefton by a Matthew Gregson who built a mansion called Normanton. He was a kinsman of his namesake Matthew Gregson, the antiquary. The family sold the property to the Normanton Park Estate Company Limited in 1888.

The name "Parkfield" comes from the house which once stood some distance back from the junction of Ullet Road and Aigburth Road and which with the adjoining land between Ullet Road and Lark Lane belonged at one time to Robert Gladstone an uncle of William Ewart Gladstone. The lake in Princes Park was originally a stream which crossed the declivity in Ullet Road and flowed through this land over the low lying ground behind the gardens in Alexandra Drive then across the dip in Aigburth Road and through the ravine at the bottom of Dalmeny Street and continued behind St. Michael's Church and through what was recently the rugby ground to the river. It was known as "Dickensons Dingle". Amongst the oldest surviving buildings in the parish are houses in Hadassah Grove, off Lark Lane, which were built at a time when the surrounding areas (including Sefton Park which was opened in 1872) were fields.

A Church irrespective of size, reflects in its design and embellishment how much the community it serves values it as a place set apart for worship. The wealth of Liverpool whether used by public bodies or private individuals was used responsibly and as a duty, in providing public buildings worthy of the Port's renown world-wide, and above all churches. From the late eighteenth century Roman Catholic chapels though few in number had come to be expected as part of the confidence and stability of society in general. Priest, church, presbytery, school - each singly or collectively, was an outward sign of respect, of conscience, a "court of appeal" with which people identified and to which they could be referred. It was a matter of duty to found and endow in order to nurture faith and to create that beauty that is a foretaste of heaven.

The parish of St. Charles Borromeo was established in 1892 and what makes its first church so Interesting is that it was iron, and that John Cragg, Iron Master of the "Mersey" Iron Foundry in Tithebarn Street, lived in St. Michael's Road, Toxteth Park. He counted among his friends and business associates the architect A.W.N. Pugin in who appreciated the merits of iron in the construction of churches, and above all in ornamental work. This iron church was in use up to 1898 when it was taken by road and canal to Platt Bridge, Wigan where it was opened on 29th January 1899 as the church of The Holy Family and served that parish until 1956.

In 1892 Fr. Frederick D'Heurter took up residence at 16 Southwood Road, a semi-detached stuccoed villa of elegant Georgian proportions and delicate wrought iron porch, balcony and gateway. The second parish priest, Fr. Richard Blanchard, lived there up to 1899 when the present presbytery was ready for use.

The dedication to St. Charles Borromeo was in keeping with the resurgence of the Catholic Faith throughout the nineteenth century just as at the time of the Counter-Reformation in which St. Charles Borromeo (1538-1584) took such an energetic part. It is not surprising therefore that the architects of the second church, Pugin and Pugin, designed a church that would be a feature in the district, a building hallmarked with confidence and dignity embodying the continuing spirttual revival nationwide; one too that drew its strength from the great Age of Faith, fulfilled by its architects' choice of Decorated Perpendicular Gothic, but unlike many such churches having the light springing freshness of French Gothic.

The north-east facing porch and tower are parallel with the main road, the nave being at right angles to it. Above each of the double entrance doors to this porch one set facing north-north-east, the other south-south-east, there are two statues finely carved in sandstone, one of St. Charles Borromeo, the other of St. Anne, mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mrs. Annie Vicars gave these statues in memory of her husband, and for herself. They were blessed in 1901. Traditional flooring of Inset black and white marble is the first indication of the thought that has gone into designing and decorating the interior of this beautiful church.

Externally the tower, 95 feet in height and built in three storeys, is, even at the present time, the salient feature in a district where the landscape is heavily urbanised. The organ loft is in the first storey over the porch; the second, with double louvres on each side was Intended to house the belfry. The corballed and embattled parapet surmounts the third storey, its weight lightened by crocheted octagonal pinnacles that emphasise the ankles and appeal to the eye in their diminishing perspective. Yorkshire pierpoint, now mellowed, with red Runcorn stone dressings form the church exterior. Mr. Kirkbride of Fleetwood secured the contract. The Foundation Stone was laid by Bishop Whiteside on 28th May 1899. Just a year later on 27th May 1900 the Bishop blessed and opened the church.

Former roof decoration

The desire for the beauty of a style tested by time, in itself a monument to builders past and present, was the choice of Fr. Richard Blanchard who had served for six years as curate at St. Oswald's Old Swan, a church once noted for its architecture by A.W. N. Pugin. It cannot be by chance that the symmetry of this interior of St. Charles's has the upspringlng of true Gothic as appreciated by that architect whose descendants were chosen to draw up plans that would incorporate qualities of strength with elegance and delicacy. Light reflected by the white Stourton stone of the walls maintains that spatial relationship between length and breadth and height. At eyelevel the stone contributes to the calm of the interior and so attention is drawn to the sanctuary. An enhancement to this tripartite chancel is the rhythm of the arches (similar to those of St. Nicholas' pro-Cathedral, now demolished). The finely bibbed open roofs of the chancel and side chapels have the same soaring quality of the nave's open timber roof with its massive beams. All furnishings and woodwork enrich this Interior without reducing the airiness and lightness of the building.

Polished alabaster was used for the high altar with columns of Vert des Alpes marble. When this sanctuary was re-ordered the reredos composed of panels of adoring angels flanked by niches of statues of St John Nepomucene and St. Thomas Aquinas was removed, but still remaining is the elaborately carved spire. Beneath it is the brass tabernacle by Hardman and Powell (of Pugin design) of Birmingham. The altar was supported on Girotte de Sarto marble columns with moulded caps and bases. Both altar and communion rail, the latter of alabaster and marbles already named, were the generous gifts of the Misses Baynes of Cressington in memory of the Reverend James Cross (died 1900) and of their parents. Chancel and side chapel floors are laid with parquetry. All was designed by the architects, Pugin and Pugin, the altar and rail being the work of Boulton and Son, Cheltenham. Hardman and Powell's work is seen in the stained glass Rose Window, erected in memory of Mrs. Annie Vicars, a most generous benefactor of the church. The nave wails in cream with chocolate colour dado were painted by Jelly and Co., Liverpool at a cost of £58 a collection for which was taken at the Mass for the unveiling of the chancel in 1906 at which both the Bishops of Liverpool (Whiteside) and Salford (Casartelli) were present. In 1909 the Misses Baynes paid for the repainting of the sanctuary.

The lady Altar and the marble pulpit was the combined gift of Mrs. Purgold, Mrs. McGuinness and Mr, W. L. Roberts in memory of their brother Mr. Frank Roberts. Wood finely carved and gilded is the material of this altar, reredos and canopy, additional dimension obtained by the quatrefoil and rose motif of the reredos. The overall impression is of filigree work that so fittingly portrays the feminine quality of the subject. In contrast stone and marble are used for the Sacred Heart altar for the detailed centre panel bas relief of heart surmounted by the crown , and chalice All are surrounded by the Crown of Thorns. Variety and depth of colour are obtained by the light and dark tones of the self-coloured marble . Pugin and Pugin designed the altar. The statue by Boultons of Cheltenham, was the gift of the Spanish community in the parish and a special Men's Choir took part in the opening High Mass on Sunday, 28th June 1908. This community valued the role it played in the parish and serves as an example of how St. Charles's was so much aware of world events such as the Spanish - American War of 1898. Centred on Cuba which had roused strong partisan feelings, a special Mass was offered for the Spanish killed in that war.

Consecration in 1952

At the meeting of St. Charles Church Society on 7th October 1900 the decision was taken to commission suitable Stations of the Cross. Encouraged by the generosity of several members who promised to donate a station, designs and estimates were obtained from Bayaert of Bruges, Mayer of Munich, Hardman and Powell of Birmingham and Mr. Joseph A. Pippet of Solihull "a painter whose work had been highly recommended". Five months were spent in examining the different designs. Finally Fr. Blanchard and the committee decided unanimously to accept Mr. Pippet's tender. Eighteen months later, on 22nd March 1903, the new stations were erected and blessed by Fr. Alexander, O.F. M. (who came frequently to the parish 1901-1902). The stations, each of which cost £15, are representational. The paintings in rich dark colours are enhanced by the gilded frames. Individual stations were given by the children of W.L. Roberts in memory of their mother Emilie Roberts; one was given in memory of Ramon and Telesphora de Larrinaga; another in memory of Fr. James Cross. Others commemorated were Mrs. Annie Vicars, John Baptist Eckes and his wife Anne Elisabeth, Francis Joseph Pearce and his wife Mary and their children, John Murphy and his family, Captain Cummins, John and Anne Martin, James and Elizabeth Hall, Andre and Anna Gassner, John Rez and Alexandra Rastelo and Brian and Elizabeth Ennis. Relations of the donors gave the others and one donor was a non-catholic lady.

The church is further enriched by the stained glass windows in glowing colours, each one representing an aspect of devotion, each a help to prayer each linking parishioners of the early days with the present through the memorials for whom individual windows were donated. The Rose Window above the High Altar is of angels in shades of gold and diffuses the light to a constant glow and fluidly captures the pattern of sanctuary roof and parquetry floor. Designed by the architects to continue the theme of the original reredos of adoring angels, it is the work of Hardman and Powell and was donated by Mr s Annie Vicars in memory of her husband.

In the Rosary Window (1912) the Christ Child shares the beads held by His mother whose gaze is directed on to the child's hands. Jewel colours, richly patterned to resemble brocade reveal the craftsman's skill in depicting the Queen of Heaven, Queen of the Holy Rosary with stylised lily representing the Tree of Jesse. Two angels with iridescent wings give movement to an otherwise static composition as they wait to enfold John Baptist Eckes and his wife Anne Elizabeth, the donors of this window which was unveiled on 8th December 1912. The use of motifs such as the quatrefoil rose, star and fleer de lys and others, relate to detail in other windows and to the decoration of the church as a whole. The rich colours used in the window dedicated to the Sacred Heart (1919) show in high relief the treatment of the central figure and the marks of His suffering, death and resurrection. The donors, Charles Edward Mumford and his wife Harriet Mary are represented by their patron saints, Our Lady and St Charles Borromeo. The former kneeling, looks up at Christ. St. Charles, also kneeling is looking at Christ's feet for the saint in his humility and earnestness to bring about reform through prayer and penance went barefoot about his work. His Guardian Angel, hand upon the saint's head, stands nearby. The Holy Family Window (1919) is an outstanding example of genre painting. This study in concentration shows Jesus the apprentice working at the carpenter's bench under Joseph's supervision. The hammer blows, sawing and general activity in the workshop are offset by Mary's absorption in her sewing. The strong lines of the homely sombre colours carry the imagery of the simple dignity of family and work. Mr. and Mrs. Francis Joseph Pearce and their children donated this window.

SanctuarySanctuary Window

There can be few churches without a reference to Our Lady of Lourdes, and St. Charles Borromeo's has what is not so usual a stained glass window installed in 1919 in memory of Mrs. Catherine Mitchell and her brother John Delahunty. Our Lady's hand is outstretched to soothe and reassure Bernadette whose left hand shields her eyes from the dazzling white light that flows from the Virgin The simple peasant figure provides the foil for the light that is reflected in the rock and vegetation. Three figures - a while- haired bearded man and a younger with brown hair and a woman kneeling with her hands to her face - are amazed at the light surrounding the apparition but the Virgin looks only at Bernadette.

A poignant reminder of the suffering that the Great War 1914-1918, brought to families is palpable in the window given by Mr. Emile Purgold in memory of his two sons who gave their lives for their country in August 1917. The kneeling figures of the two khaki-clad servicemen Raymond and Louis are each supported by their patron saints, of Ransom and Crusader fame respectively Dominant is the figure of the Eucharistic Lord. The figure of Raymond is detailed with boots, spurs and calthrops, and on the border below is the badge of the King's Liverpool - the spirited charger. Louis wears puttees. His cap, like his brothers is on the floor beside him, and like his brother his hands are clasped but his head is bent forward. As a member of the Royal Flying Corps the badge depicted is wings in a feathered circle and laurel wreath. The romance of knighthood is evident in the depiction of the saints in amour and surcoats. St. Raymond's right hand clasps his sword, unsheathed but his visor is raised. St. Louis with hands Joined in prayer, looks down upon young Louis and weeps. The tension created by the attitudes to war and victory is relieved and interpreted in its true light by the peace that emanates from the figure of Chrlst standing robed in white, the bright red of the cloak flowing around Him as He holds the chalice from which He is raising the host. The triumph over suffering and death (symbolised by the marks of the nails in His hands and feet) is portrayed in the exceptionally rich nimbus. Each window, each aspect of the church has put eternity into man's mind.

All other windows are leaded diamond paned translucent glass with gold tinted borders. The number of lights forming each window depends on where placed. These windows are impressive and with stone mullions by allusion add to the height and strength of the building.

Benefactors have been boundless in their generosity to this church. Dean Patrick Cahill of Southport gave the stone Baptismal Font in 1895; the marble pedestals for the statues of St. Joseph and St. Charles Borromeo were given in memory of Mr. T.B. Maloney. Other statues, the donors unknown, are of St. Anthony and St. Teresa of Lisieux. The last named is positioned on the window sill of the landing below the choir loft. Mr. Domingo de Larrinaga provided the organ which was blessed and used for the first time on 23rd September 1900. Music has been so much a part of this parish, a "good muster" for "my first choir practice" being recorded in Mr. Howard Feeny's diary on Friday, 28th September 1906, and he conducted for the "first time Turner's Mass" on Sunday, 30th September. On Wednesday, 19th June 1907 "Dr. O'Hagan took the baton" and on Sunday 28th July "Filke in D Dur (first time) and Veni Sponsa" were sung. This was followed on 4th August by Gounod's Messe Breve and Guadeamus Ave Verum in the evening after which the choir "broke up for holiday" - all of which points to the thought and care given to building up a repertoire, and to the dedication of conductor and singers - as the following examples taken from Mr. Howard Feeny's diary reveal: Tu Rex Gloriae (Gounod), Santley's Ave Maria, Mozart's Jubilate Deo, Gounod's prologue to the passion and Popule Meus (during distribution of Palms, 4th April 1909), and other works for music was stimulated by those so keenly interested and who responded to the desire to enrich the liturgy to God's glory and for the edification of themselves and others.

The fine detail of the church is carried through into the sacristy and vestry even to the diamond paned gold bordered windows. Furnishings are of the best. The oak and cedar vesting press (1900) and the cupboard and lavabo (1901) were the gifts of Mr. William E. Nelson, J.P. (shipowner), who was created a baronet in 1912, and his wife Margaret. Mrs. Annie Vicars's generous gifts included a safe, £500 towards the Church Fund and a silver chalice. Another chalice was given by Oscar Gautes of Freetown in memory of his son Richard who died 18th May 1907. The church is also fortunate in being among those to have been given a chalice from James and Clara Reynolds in memory of their children who died in childhood and in thanksgiving for the life of their surviving child, a daughter. This chalice is decorated with one large diamond surmounted by six amethysts and seedpearls. When not in use it rests in the original carrying box lined with green velvet. Among the vestments is a chasuble made by Mrs. Ryan to commemorate Fr. John Glldea's Silver Jubilee in the priesthood in 1988. There is also a banner celebrating the 21st anniversary of the Unlon of Catholic Mothers.

The Christmas Crib is in scale with the church and arranged for the season in the Sacred Heart chapel against a dawn background. Unusually there are six black sheep and five white. The Journey of the Magi, with a camel is traced from a point near the sacristy door and across the chancel until they arrive at the stable. The setting and idea is sensitive and must have great appeal to a congregation of diverse background and tradition. For many years a nativity scene was also arranged on the tower but this has been discontinued An Easter Garden is arranged in Our Lady's chapel.

The open roof of the nave and ribbed vaulting of the chancel were decorated with the symbols associated with the 2000 year long history of the Church. Chancel and side chapel are more richly and densely coloured and patterned than in the nave roof where the unpainted panels contribute to the spaciousness of the building which has the strength and vigour - the timeless qualities of the Church whose faith founded this mission.

PlaqueTablet of war dead

In the porch is the tablet to the memory of the twenty-eight men of the parish who gave their lives in the Great War 1914 - 1918 which was unveiled on Sunday, 27th July 1925 by Major General Dupre , Commander of the 55th West Lancs division. Among the officers present was Colonel Sir John Shute, a Catholic notable in Liverpool's business and political sectors. The service was conducted by Dean Blanchard. Also dedicated to their memory was the extension to the schools, on 10th October 1926. Fiftyone names are recorded on the tablet commemorating the dead of the second World War 1939 - 1945. Unlike the first war tablet the force in which service was given follows the name and not the rank. Significantly for a Liverpool parish , twenty-one were in the Merchant Navy and five in the Royal Navy or Reserve.

The handsome presbytery of three storeys and Mansard-style roof and gable is brick built and well finished with red brick lower cornices. The chimneys are in part external and tapped substantially in red brick and tale. The areas set aside for parking and the immediate grounds are sombre but an iron gate leads to a private garden of lawn and pergola. The entire complex has brick and sandstone wails.

The individual can make a personal decision in his life to remain a Christian - however? can you choose to live in a parish? I think not. What is left up to us is not whether we choose to live there but whether we choose to take part in the life of that parish. When we have fully committed ourselves and taken up fur truly Christian lives, which God intended for us all, then we will see changes in our parish and in our world - changes we all desire" These words are taken from the first (and only) issue of our Parish Magazine, under the heading "What is a Parish?" Certainly during one hundred years there have been changes, and this account attempts to show some of these and how we have been touched by local, national and even world events, and in turn how the parish has responded. It is, of necessity, a personal choice taken from the Archives and from reminiscences volunteered by parishioners.

The first recorded baptism took place on 4th September 1892. Joseph Francis Weston of 52 Tramway Road, son of Edward Vincent and Emma Frances was baptised by Fr. D'Heurter, Francis Hardacre and Elizabeth Willmer being godparents. A later entry by Fr. Blanchard states that Joseph Weston married Maria O'Donoghue in St. Joseph's, Liverpool. We traced Mrs Weston in Grassendale, who reported that her late husband had left Aigburth at a very early age and had no memory of St. Charles. But we can record that their son became a priest and is currently placed at St. Alban's Warrington. The first recorded marriage here on 23rd. January 1894 was of David Donnelly of Mersey Road Widnes, son of Thomas and Norah Donnelly, to Ann Murphy of "Kingston", Aigburth Road, daughter of John and Emma Murphy. The celebrant was a visiting Jesult priest.

The early notice books give very detailed accounts of the parishioners' zeal in providing furnishings, vestments and other requisites, and include entries such as "The same gentleman who has provided oil for the sanctuary lamp has generously promised a black vestment". Another gentleman promised a beautiful statue of Our Lady, and another promised statues of St. Charles, The Sacred Heart and a sanctus bell. On 26th November 1894 there is an entry "Thank you for the cope and veil. We now require a set of vestments to match". The response was immediate and on Christmas Day the vestments were blessed before the last Mass and used for the first time, though a collection of £1-4-6 was still required the previous week. Details of other benefactors and their gifts appear elsewhere in this brochure but the love with which the congregation as a whole contributed is evident. Equally evident is the significance of this in the life of the parish.

Another important feature of parish life was the Charity Sermon. Notable preachers would visit and give the sermon for which there would be an entrance fee. Sometimes the collection was for our own missions as on the 15th March 1896 when the Bishop of Salford, the Rt Rev Dr Bilsborrow preached at the Solem High mass and the evening sermon was given by the Rev Fr Sykes SJ rector of St Francis Xavier's. The collection was in aid of the schools. A frequent visitor was Rt Rev Monsignor Nugent as was Fr Berry who appealed on behalf of his Boys' Homes. Not all visitors were making special appeals however. Fr Cross preached on a number of occasions, as did priests from Bishop Eton and Franciscans especially Fr Alexander OFM who also gave many retreats here.

Fr D'Heurter had left, Fr Blanchard been appointed and the old church been removed when on 27th May 1900, the new church was opened by His Lordship the Bishop of Llverpool - the Rt Rev Dr Whiteside the sermon preached by Bishop Brindle DSO, Auxlllary bishop of Westminster, who was born in Christian Street, Liverpool. Tickets were required and benchholders asked to be in their seats by 10.55am. The collection amounted to £103. Withln a few days the church was officially registered for Religious worship and on the 6th July 1900 was registered for marriages, the authorisation reading: "I hereby certify that a separate building named St Charles RC Church, situated at Aigburth Road in the Civil Parish of Toxteth Park in the County Borough of Liverpool in the Registration District of Toxteth Park, being a building certified according to law as a place of meeting for Religious Worship was registered for solemnising marriages therein being substituted for the building named St Augustine's Home, Aigburth Road, Toxteth Park now disused" It was signed by the superintendent registrar - J. Moulding. One of the last couples to be married in St Augustine's was John Gonzales, coachman to the Larrinaga family of The Hermitage, St Michael's Hamlet, and Antonia Eulalia Fuica, maternal grandparents of Mr Tony Morris. The first couple married in the present church were the parents of Canon John Walter Campbell, DD, PhD, BA (1901-1982) PP. St John's, Wigan 1949-1982.

So the parish with its new church moved into the twentieth century; but what was parish life like at this time? It seems that before the advent of television, the church had occupied a much larger part of peoples lives. Fr D'Heurter had returned on a number of occasions such as the Feast of St Charles or the anniversary of the opening of the old church but acclaimed preachers continued to visit on most Sundays. The Apostleship of Prayer was established, members receiving monthly Communion together and the Third Order of St Francis soon followed. There was an annual pilgrimage to Holywell. In addition to Midnight Mass, Masses at Christmas were at 7.30, 8, 9, 9.30, 10am and Solemn High Mass at 11am with confessions on Christmas Eve from 4pm to 10.30pm.

In the Holy Week confessions were from 3pm to 5pm and from 7pm to 10pm. Holy Communion was distributed at 7.15, 7.30 and 7.45am and during the 8am Mass on Maundy Thursday with the church open all day until 8pm for visits to the Blessed Sacrament. On Good Friday Mass of the Presanctified was at 10am with Stations of the Cross Sermon and Veneration of the Relic of the True Cross at 3pm It was an austere day, a day of fasting and abstinence with "meat, eggs, cheese, dripping and lard forbidden - and also milk and butter forbidden at the collation". The choir was active and on 23rd September 1900, the eighth anniversary of the foundation of the mission, they sang at the Solemn High Mass at the opening of the new organ and in the evening they sang Rossini's Stabat Mater and were rewarded with a collection in aid of choir expenses. Also active were the Church Society, which was in existence as early as 1898, and the Altar Society.

Parish Bazaar 1961Centenarians

Social functions took the form of concerts held in the Sefton Park Assembly Rooms, a theatre or concert hall at the corner of Tramway Road and Aigburth Road, which was later to become the Rivoli Cinema and in 1957 was acquired by the parish for social and educational purposes. It was used frequently for parish socials until other premises were available. Parishioners were regularly informed of concerts elsewhere, for example, a concert in the Philharmonic Hall in aid of Homes for Catholic Friendless Youths and also lectures at St George's Hall or the Picton Hall.

Civic responsibilities were fostered when parishioners were encouraged to vote in the area election of Guardians, priests and lay, to safeguard the interests of those in the workhouse, in Brownlow Hill. The parish contributed £11.14.5 towards the statue in St John's Gardens erected by public subscriptlon, to the memory of Monsignor James Nugent, the Friend to All in Poverty and Affliction, described by the historian Mr Brian Plumb as "the only priest in England to have been deemed worthy of a public statue." Perhaps here it may be appropriate to mention that parishioners regularly contributed to Fr Berry's Boys' Homes and to the Girls' Orphanage in Falkner Street, later moved to Druids Cross and to our own Benevolent Society for the poor of the parish.

It is true to say, however that Aigburth was the home of many wealthy people, merchants, shipowners, business people and evidence of their generosity to the church appears in other sections of this booklet and in the church itself Mrs Kathleen Hamilton who worked in Lark Lane in the 1920s who remembers servants coming to the shops in open carriages to collect orders for their employers. Recurring names in the registers, the lists of Benefactors and members of the Church Society are De Larrlnaga, Purgold, Pearce, Steinmann and Domingo de Ybarraqdo, a Spanish national. Indeed Spanlsh people well represented in the parish and a Mass had been offered for the Spanish soldiers and sailors who had perished in the Spanish-American War 1898 and the beautiful marble and alabaster Sacred Heart Altar was presented in 1908 by the Spanish Community.

Soon after this a change occurred which affected us all. Pope Pius X pronounced his decree admitting little children to Holy Communion on attaining the use of reason . Lady Eileen Thompson recalls that as Eileen Smallwood of Tramway Road she was in the first group of children to make their First Holy Communion at the age of seven years: Her older sisters had been 13 when they received for the first time. Afterwards the children celebrated with a cooked breakfast in Fr Blanchard's dining room. Then they were taken in open landaus to the country lanes of Hale for a picnic and Mr Mountford presented every child with a prayer book.

According to the archives the children had their own times for confession and, at 3 pm on Sundays, instruction and Benediction, popularly known as Sunday School. Baptisms were at 2 p.m. each Sunday with Baptisms and Churchings at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesdays. Babyies were brought to church usually within the week after birth.

Soon the country was at war and week after week, names appeared of those wounded or killed in action , but it was not until Pentecost 1916 that a Requiem Mass was offered for Corporal Francis Lindon, "the first of the congregation to be killed in action". The name of Sergeant Raymond Purgold appears in 1917 followed three weeks later by that of his brother Second Lieutenant Louis Purgold who are commemorated in a stained glass window. But there were many others, most ranks being represented, the full list appearing on the memorial erected in the porch in 1925. Each year on Armistice Day a simple service is held when a wreath is laid followed by a short silence before the 11 a.m. Mass when we remember those lost in the two world wars.

About this time evidence of the first vocations was beginning to emerge. On Trlnity Sunday 1926 Archbishop Keating visited St Charles' to ordain two priests, one of them Fr Patrick Joseph Monaghan of Bickerton Street. On 22nd July 1928 Bishop Dobson came and ordained Joseph Maloney, who had lived in St Michael's Hamlet for Hexham and Newcastle. He died forty-one years later as parish priest of St Wilfrid's Gateshead. On 2nd June 1929 Archbishop Downey visited to ordain Fr Harold Joseph Kirwin of Ancaster Road and another priest. Although it was thirty years later when St Charles' hosted another ordination, that of Fr Bernard Bimpson of Dingle Lane and Birchtree Road, many other ordinations took place elsewhere, details being given by Mr Brian Plumb. One interesting anecdote is related in the archives. When Monsignor Alexander Jones of Sandhurst Street, who later edited the English translation of the Jerusalem Bible, came from his ordination in Rome in 1933 to sing his first High Mass for us, his young subdeacon was John Joseph Buckley of Dalmeny Street who was ordained in 1935. Both these priests were frequent visitors to the parish, Fr Buckley, from the Nottingham Diocese, often celebrating Mass at 7.45 a.m. on a side altar. Other visitors included Fr Thomas Roberts S.J. later to become Archbishop Roberts and Fr Gerard Mitchell. We know the list of clergy is incomplete and would welcome any further information and particularly of women religious as these are not mentioned in the archives.

In July 1933 the congregation was informed that St Charles' and one other parish were the only ones in the city without an S.V.P. conference. By September Fr Walsh had established a Conference of nine members. The Presldent was Mr Richard E. Morris, his son taking over from him and today his grandson Mr Tony Morris is a member of this active society. The third President was Mr Frank Myles who served for many years until his recent death. No call for help went unanswered and on the 8th December 1985 the Bene Merenti medal was presented for his work and dedication to the church, an honour shared by his wife and family, by the S.V.P. and by the whole parish. The societies continued together with the missions, the May and June processions and the annual pilgrimage to Walsingham, but many of these activities were curtailed by World War II In this war Mr Joe Hall lost two brothers and Mr Thomas Moran, husband of Mrs Lily Moran of Tramway Road, who married in 1941, was killed in Italy in 1943 Other familiar parish names are lasted on a second memorial in the porch but one of the saddest entries in the archives is after notification of the banns of marriage of one couple - "killed in action before the marriage took place"

Fathers Walsh and McCabe followed Dean Blanchard who had guided us from the last century but it was Monsignor Chaloner, parish priest from 1951, who cleared the church debt and on Wednesday 25th May 1952 had the church consecrated by Bishop Halsall, some forty priests attending. The following Sunday Archbishop Downey joined us for High Mass. Present at our celebration was Fr Chamberlain O.S.B. of Parbold who was here in 1899 when the foundation stone of the church was laid. Many will remember the Guard of Honour, the solemn entry and the garden party which followed. It was Monsignor Chalonler who purchased the Rivoli Cinema in 1957 for educational and social purposes after South Grange, which had served its purpose from 1946 to 1957, was condemned and demolished. Many parishioners look back nostalgically to the annual Bazaar and Sale of Work when a great corporate spirit developed during the' months of preparation. Pictured is the Bazaar on 9th December 1961 when the magnificent sum of £700 was raised, Housey-Housey, Tombola or Bingo took place on Tuesdays and Fridays with Joe Hall and his many helpers and in its hey-day it attracted 1,000 members and was a main source of income. Societies such as Scouts, Guides (originally started by Miss Rita Krell) and Brownies and the Youth Clubs also met in the old Rivoli. After the induction of Fr Thomas Mangan following Monsignor Chaloner's retirement in 1966 the Rivoli was sold in March 1972. By this time the new premises on the site of the car park and South Grange had been officially opened by Bishop Gray on 8th December 1971. The Parochial Centre was used by various groups, social and pastoral. The U.C.M., established in 1969, met on Wednesday, Bingo continued twice weekly and on Monday afternoons the '60's Club , not restricted to parishioners, established by Mr William De Haan, Mrs Nancy De Haan, Miss Mary Darby and others met. All these activities are still flourishing.

Fr Mangan saw a time of great change in the church, particularly after Vatican II, and shepherded the congregation through the Introduction of the new English Liturgy, beginning here with the 4.10 p-m. Mass in February 1965, while in 1967 the new Rite of Mass was introduced with a greater involvement of the laity. In 1972 work began on decorating and re-ordering the church when the marble altars, rails, pulpit and font disappeared. The highlight of the year was 11th December when Bishop Augustine Harris consecrated the new altar. A concelebrated Mass followed and a social in the new hall. Three young men, Mr Paul Davitt, Mr Paul Neilson and Mr Richard Carter, the latter ordained for the Leeds Diocese in 1985, were commissioned as Lay Ministers of the Eucharist at Upholland College in December 1978. During this time the men of the parish organised and carried out the Planned Giving Campaign and a major concern of Father Mangan was the pastoral care of elderly, sick and housebound parishioners.

There is no doubt, however, that the highlight of the century was the visit of Pope John Paul II in May 1982 when we were asked to provide a hundred men as stewards and Fr Mangan had a dais erected near Aigburth Road the better to see the Pope as he passed through the centre of our parish. (It was not the first time the television cameras had featured St Charles' Church as they had been out in force in March 1961 for the funeral of George Formby, whose mother lived in the parish.)

After the joy of the Papal visit, Fr Mangan, who was in poor health, announced, with deep regret, his forthcoming retirement at the end of the year and his plans to continue to reside in the presbytery after a brief stay in St Augustine's Home. Sadly, it was not to be, as he died before the end of the year and Fr John Gildea took over the duties of Parish Priest rather earlier than anticipated.

So as we approach our centenary what is parish life like today? While it is difficult to imagine what our forebears would think of barbecues and car-boot sales many parochial activities continue and the parochial club is a pleasant venue for entertainment, especially on Saturday and Sunday evenings. The Youth Club established by Fr Glldea in 1980 in the refurbished old school is popular, with separate sections for Juniors and Seniors. At the other end of the age span, care of the elderly and housebound has developed and dedicated helpers bring the older parishioners to Mass on Sundays since our own mini-bus was purchased; others bring parishioners in wheelchairs The Welfare Committe established by Miss Joan Dillon: works with the S.V.P. on various projects such as an annual Mass and luncheon party, the young musicians brightening these occasions. In summer 1988 two of our parishioners, Mrs Ellen Costello and Miss Catherine McGuinness (Cissie) celebrated their own centenary with a Mass in the Parochial Centre and a Papal Blessing. We with them continued blessings in their 105th year. That year we rejoiced also with Fr Gildea on the celebration of his Silver Jubilee with a Mass and reception in June. The following month there was a parish pilgrimage to Lourdes led by Fr Gildea. As members of the Aigburth Council of Churches we welcomed our neighbours for the first time to a United Service in 1984 and more recently to a dramatisation of the Stations of the Cross by Miss Bernadette Egan performed by our young people and we frequently attend Ecumenical Services in the local churches.

Today Masses are in English, Holy Communion is received in the hand and on weekdays also from the chalice and the Eucharistic fast has been reduced to one hour while the fasting and abstinence laws have been altered with a greater emphasis on other forms of penance. Reconciliation services supplement individual Reconciliation. There are evening Masses on Sundays and Holydays, Sunday evening Folk Masses and Masses on Vigils. The long Benediction has disappeared to be replaced by a shorter form after the Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. Devotion to the Rosary continues nightly in October and every day after the mid-day Mass. This Mass itself is well attended by our own parishioners and by friends from neighbouring parishes, and on any day many of our parishioners attend Mass in the Blessed Sacrament Shrine in the city centre. Their priests and others sometimes say our Masses, with Fr Harnett S.C.J. being a frequent visitor. The parish has never been without a priest during holiday times and Fr James, whose relatives live in the parish has come from Ghana to spend some weeks with us. For our Jubilee he has sent a vestment decorated in vibrant African colours to add to the beautiful chasuble with its salver embroidery, made by Mrs Ruth Ryan for Father's Silver Jubilee.

Perhaps one of the most significant changes today is the Involvement of the laity in the various ministries in the church. Parishioners such as Eucharistic ministers, Readers and those who help in the "Little Church" for the very young can be seen performing their duties, but others such as cleaners work behind the scenes. All are dedicated to service in the parish and this is significant when one recalls that in a church which once had two curates Fr Gildea is our only priest. He is not alone in his work however, as in 1985 Sr Veronica F.C.J. who had helped as a Eucharistic Minister for the sick came "to help us as a Parish Sister". She was to make visits and help in various proJects within the parish. It is a changing parish; we lost the Dingle section to St Finbar's in 1960 and the Southern section to St Thomas More's in 1964 but now Fulwood Village and the Riverside development have added considerably to the parish and while some twenty Nursing and Residential homes have been opened, many young families have settled in the parish.

In preparation for our centenary Fr Harnett S.C.J. and Fr Gildea accompanied a pilgrimage to the Holy Land last year and Fr Gilda is leading a pilgrimage to Lourdes this summer. We have also visited the Lake Distract where our Mass was celebrated in Keswick in the lovely church of Our Lady of the Lakes and St Charles Borromeo. While our church is being decorated and the organ refurbished, our weekday services take place next door in St Augustine's Home at the invitation of the Little Sisters of the Poor to whom we owe an enormous debt of gratitude. Not only were they the owners of the land on which all our parish buildings stand, but over the years they have welcomed us to their chapel as they did while we awaited the opening of St Charles' present church in 1900 and indeed since the foundation of the parish in 1892.

We await with joyful anticipation our Centenary when at 7.30 p.m. on 25th September 1992 Archbishop Derek Worlock will join us for a Mass of Thanksgiving for one hundred years of St Charles Borromeo, Algburth M.D.P.

The Original Church

No city or town in Great Britain and few in ireland contains so many Catholics within its boundaries as the city of Liverpool" With these words Alderman Thomas Burke commenced his famous Catholic History of Liverpool. Published in 1910, that book tells us much about the post-reformation period, the massive Irish immigration of the 1840s and the great city-centre parishes that came as a consequence. But as Liverpool spread itself Catholicism travelled with it, so when in 1892 it was decided to begin a new mission in the Aigburth district, it was not something that happened by chance or in isolation. It was rather, a logical expression of what was happening to Catholicism both locally and nationally.

The Right Reverend Bernard O'Reilly was Bishop of Liverpool from 1873 until his death in 1894. Every year, in Advent, he used to write a Pastoral Letter in which he would report on the spiritual condition of the diocese. He would express concern for areas where no facilities for the practice of the Faith existed, and give notice of places he considered ready for development. Always of course, accompanied by an appeal for financial assistance. In 1891 he wrote "Many families are settling down in the suburbs of Liverpool to which large numbers of Catholics are constantly moving. We are told that our losses are not in the centre of towns where, as a rule, the people are known to the clergy, but in new streets where hardly anyone knows his neighbour". Twelve months later he wrote of the new mission of St Charles "Although opened only a few weeks ago, between Sefton Park and the river it is already gathering a comfortable congregation". And he allocated to it £150 from the Mission Fund.

They were very active times for Catholicism. Wthin the decade 1883-1893 Liverpool had witnessed the largest ordination ceremony to take place in England since the Reformation. That was on 12th August 1883 when at St Joseph's Grosvenor Street, Bishop O'Reilly ordained 13 new priests for the diocese. A model seminary had been built in rural surroundings at Upholland. In 1885 the first Catholic to be elected to Parliament for a Llverpool constituency was Thomas Power O'Connor, who represented the old Scotland Division for 44 years. Battles were fought and won to rescue Catholic children from workhouses. Orphanages, charitable institutions and new missions developed with unprecedented rapidity from Seaforth to Garston, while even the Vicar of St Cleophas, Princes Park, praised Catholics from his pulpit for the sacrifices they made for their schools and their zeal for their religion.

Nationally, Henry Matthews, the first Catholic to enter the Cabinet since Emancipation had become Home Secretary, Sir Charles Russell had been appointed Attorney General, Cardinal Manning was hailed as champion of the poor and his protrait painted on Trades Unionists banners. Then, albeit in the teeth of fierce apposition, another Catholic - Sir John Stuart Knill - had been elected Lord Mayor of London. To celebrate the Sacerdotal Golden Jubilee of Pope Leo XIII, the enormous church of St Joseph had been erected on the very crown of Highgate Hill, the highest point in all London. This was the background against which the new parish of St Charles came into being, and it came in the spirit of optimism, some may say of Triumphalism.

Old church interior

Some of the early parishioners were rich and prosperous and have left their names on stained glass windows, altar plate or sacristy furniture Others more humbly shouldered the day to day expenses of church and school. The result being a parish that increased from 600 souls in 1892 to 1300 in 1917, to 2300 in 1952 and about 3500 today. And the new parishes of St Finbar, and St Thomas More have absorbed considerable numbers who formerly belonged to St Charles'.

Before 1892 most if not all this area was part of the parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, established in 1865 and it was the senior curate of that church who was given the responsibility of opening the new mission. His name was Fr Frederick D'Heurter and he took residence at 16 Southwood Road. In no time at all he had a temporary church erected on Aigburth Road. The site had been purchased from the Little Sisters of the Poor who had maintained St Augustine's Home since 1885. The cost of the land was £2223, and we know from details of conveyance that before it had belonged to the nuns it was owned by Demetrius Augustus Galatti and Lucia Frangopulo.

That first church was described as an "iron church" that is a mass-produced article, usually made in the West Midlands and assembled on site, in a matter of weeks. Its outer walls were lined with corrugated sheeting painted green or ochre. To lend an ecclesiastical air windows were pointed like Gothic lancets and the altar was placed beneath what resembled an arch. With statues, brassware and Stations of the Cross they could be made very devotional both in atmosphere and appearance. Old St Charles' was opened on Sunday 25th September 1892. The Universe reported that Fr Willlam Dubberley SJ, of St Francis Xavier's preached in the morning and Monsignor James Nugent (whose statue now stands in St John's Gardens) preached in the evening. Bishop 0'Reilly presided at both events. From the first Notice Book we learn of appeals for lamps, vestments and a crib.

That original church served the parish for six years. When it closed in 1898 it was taken down and reassembled at Platt Bridge near Wigan, where dedicated to the Holy Famlly it survived until 1956. Through the courtesy of Miss Philomena A. Fagan, of Walthew Lane, Platt Brldge, we have secured photographs of both the exterior and interior of that inexpensive but time-honoured structure.

With the removal of the old church the site was cleared for the building of the present church and presbytery. In the interim Mass was celebrated in the school. The Universe reported the laying of the foundation stone by Bishop Whiteside on the afternoon of Trinity Sunday, 28th May 1899. Clergy present were: Frs R. Blanchard (St Charles' ,) J. Swarbrick (St Sylvester's), J. J. Fanning (Toxteth Workhouse), E. Pyke (Mount Carmel), J. Hughes (Bishop's Secretary), W. H. Leeming (St Paul's, West Derby); laity mentioned were Messrs Domingo de Larrinaga (ship owner, St Michael's Hamlet), Emile Purgold (merchant, 68 Parkfield Road), Frank J. Pearce (merchant, shipping agent and insurance broker, 30 Linnet lane), Paul Edward Hemelryk (Justice of the Peace, Gateacre), Dr O'Hagan (Woodbourne, Aigburth Road) and Thomas Burke, the Catholic historian. Estimated cost of the building was £6500, that was as much as the average person could expect to earn in a lifetime.

The Clergy

1892 Frederick D'Heurter
1893 Richard Blanchard
1931 Michael A. Walsh
1946 Charles A McCabe
1951 Francis Chaloner
1966 Thomas Mangan
1983 John A. Gildea


Curates since 1911: Michael Egan, Augustine J. Hurley, Frederick Rice, Bernard Hornby, Theophilus Kennis, Laurant Ausian, Martin Kennedy, John Taylor, Vincent Reape, James Howard, Augustine Croker, Francis Kelly, Francis Fleming, Thomas Ames, Thomas Byrne, Richard Firth, William Hall, Martin A. McCawley, Sylvester Cowell, Austin K. Stirzaker, John J. Byrne, Stanley Baker, Henry McCaffrie, Gerard Reynolds, Gerard Bone, Thomas Mangan, Oliver Brady, Thomas P. Latham, Dermot Casey, Joseph Gibb, James Finnigan, John A. Gildea, Brian Murphy.

A layman proud of his powers of criticism once said to an archbishop "Why are the clergy so awful?" The archbishop, who happened to possess an extremely quick wit replied "Because we have only the laity to get them from". A more moderate and far more accurate assessment of the parochial clergy is to be found in the statement that they are the creators and creations of the local church. In beginning to write about the seven parish priests and the thirty-two assistants who have served St Charles' since its foundation in 1892, one is conscious of the divide, good humoured or otherwise, that inevitably appears whenever one attempts to write or speak at length about the clergy.

I once happened to remark to a woman whose cousin a zealous priest had founded a parish and seen it supplied with all the necessary buildings and all of superior quality, "He built that church didn't he?" To which she answered "No he didn't , the people built it, he only organised it". Again, when centenary publications were being planned I have heard people say "And we don't want it full of things about the clergy". Well no such strictures were placed against me on this occasion, and as no parish could began to exist without a priest to offer Holy Mass and administer the Sacraments - all else no matter how worthy is secondary to this - no apology is offered for writing about the clergy of the century in some detail

Over these 100 years St Charles' has been served by seven parish priests and 32 assistants. But as two of the parish priests were already assistants here at the time of their promotion, the total number of persons is 37 not 39. The Continent, Ireland, old Catholic Lancashire and of course Liverpool itself have been the sources of supply. Of the 37, 16 were born in Ireland, eleven in Lancashire seven in Liverpool and three in Belgium. Apart from the founder, Fr D'Heurter who quickly removed to a country parish, and Mgr Chaloner who retired at the age of 71, all the former parish priests have died in office, never having sought better things elsewhere. Both Fr Blanchard and Fr Mangan became Deans of the district and in the time of the former it was a very large deanery indeed, extending from the old pro-Cathedral to Garston.

Of the curates several did not belong to the archdiocese but came here on loan, either from Belgium (Kennis and Ausian) or from Ireland (Hurley, Rice and Kennedy ) Of the others all except Mgr Gibb and Fr Howard went on to become parish priests, and even if we are unable to point out any great mystics, martyrs or scholars (although Fr Fleming was a seminary professor for a time) we can ascribe to them all great steadfastness and fidelity, and given the events that the century in question has embraced, this is no mean achievement.

Fr Michael Egan was in the advanced stages of tuberculosis when he came here and died soon afterwards, greatly revered by the poor people in St Augustine's home. Fr Bernard Hornby by contrast was an athlete and a very good centre-forward. A country bred priest from near Lancaster after the division of the archdiocese he returned north and died in retirement in 1958 after many years' service elsewhere.

Fr Thomas Ames is still remembered for his skill with a stirrup pump during that fateful May of 1941 when it appeared as if the Germans were going to destroy all Liverpool by fire. Fr Firth went on to wonderful work with the Apostleship of the Sea. Fr McCawley is remembered for his fine tenor voice and for the parish dance he organised at the Rialto, assisted by schoolboy Michael McKenna who is now archdiocesan Director of Finance.

Fr Sylvester Cowell is only recently dead. Frs Brady and Latham died young, the former following a severe fall at Knowsley, the latter after an operation at the age of only 47 . Perhaps to be strictly accurate Mgr Glbb and Fr Brian Murphy were not curates in the canonical sense of the word. They gave assistance here while holding other responsibilities, Mgr Gibb in the Finance department, Fr Murphy in the Matrimonial Tribune. Doubtless others will stimulate memory of timely inspiration or good done by stealth. But whether living or gone to their reward it is a duty and an honour to express here our gratitude to all the assistant clergy of St Charles'.


Fr Frederick D'Heu|er (1854-1924) was born in Ghent and educated in the seminary there. Ordained priest in 1880 he was accepted for Liverpool by Bishop O'Re1lly and placed at Mount Carmel church , High Park Street as curate. From there he removed to 16 Southwood Road, in 1892, to form the new parish of St Charles. He was a distinguished linguist and held faculities to hear confessions in Dutch, Flemish, French, German, Italian, Spanish and of course English. His stay in Algburth was brief. In 1893 he moved to the little country parish of Lea, near Preston and in 1897 was appointed parish priest of St Joseph's, Wesham in the very heart of the Fylde, where Catholicism had never died out. We are Indebted to the present pansy priest of Wesham for the photograph of Fr D'Heurter reproduced in this booklet.


Fr Richard Blanchard (1861-1931) was born in another stronghold of old Lancashire Catholicity, Ince Blundell. Educated at St Edward's College, Liverpool and UpHolland he was ordained priest on 4th June 1887. He was curate at St Oswald, Old Swan before coming to Aigburth. All the organisation of erecting and furnishing the present church and presbyter as well as the first school in the parish, fell to him. An indefatigable worker and a very powerful personality he opened a refuge for exiled Belgians in Linnet Lane during the First World War.

Fr Michael Aoysius Walsh (1877-1946) was a native of Cork but came to Liverpool at an early age. Educated at St Edward's and UpHolland he was ordained on 28th May 1904 and spent 17 years as curate at St Joseph's Preston, and ten more as parish priest at Castletown, Isle of Man before coming to St Charles. His 15 years here embraced the terrible days of the Second World War.

Fr Charles Joseph McCabe (1885-1951) was a victim of the blitz having witnessed the destruction of St Brigid's in central Liverpool in May 1941 . Born at Virglnla, Co. Cavan, educated at St Edward's and UpHolland he was ordained on 10th August 1913. He held several appointments as curate: St Sebastian, Liverpool, St Mary's, Douglas, St Maria's, Widnes, St Mary's Chorley and St Vincenfs, Liverpool. As parish priest he served St Patricks Peel, St Joseph's, Penketh and St Brigid's Liverpool before coming to St Charles' in 1946 . St Brigid's no longer exists. Although it was rebuilt even more splendid than before, it, and its entire parish disappeared to make way for the second Mersey tunnel There can be no doubting that Fr McCabe got St Charles' as a reward for faithful service and as compensation for his loss elsewhere. Post war restrictions on builders' materials hampered much that he would like to have done to make good the wear and tear of 50 years. But he did effect a complete interior cleaning and washing of the altars and saw the golden Jubilee of the present church suitably celebrated in 1950. He died on 9th February 1951.


Mgr Francis Chaloner (1895-1969) was a native of Preston, one of a family of 12 children. He was educated at Ushaw, Nantes and Toulouse, and ordained by Archblshgp Whiteside on 8th august 1920. He did further studyies in Paris and Rome but fell ill with tuberculosis and had to go to Switzerland for treatment. He recovered and was given permission to live in Canada for the good of his health. There he worked very hard, as a parish priest in Vancouver, as rector of a junior seminary at Ladner, Brltish Columbia and then as a hospital chaplain in Vancouver before returning to Liverpool in 1949. After 12 months at St Peter's, Woolston as parish priest he was offered St Charles'.

Many memories remain of this kind and ever courteous prelate. He was created Papal Chamberlain for services to education in Canada. An exact and most exacting person, when the ceiling in St Charles' was given its vivid colours he would appear and call "I think a little more red on the left please" or else "Perhaps a little more blue to the right" and then "No, I think I liked it better as it was". He could never resist a beggar and a hard luck story and loved hearing about a little girl in the school who said, when she heard the story of the Prodigal Son, that she imagined Mgr Chaloner as the kind father and Fr Stirzaker as the errant son. Mgr Chaloner loved the idea.

He did much to bring the people together in social events and had the joy of seeing the church cleared of debt and solemnly consecrated by Bishop Halsall on 28th May 1952. And he was jean nationwide on television officlating at the funeral of George Formby, the famous Lancashire comedian, whose mother Mrs Eliza Booth, lived in St Charles parish (in Alexandra Drive) until her own death at the age of 102. In 1966 Mgr Chaloner retired to Sussex where he died on 11th Aprll 1969. His Requiem took place at St Charles an he is burled at Allerton.

Fr Thomas Mangan (1916-1982) was born in Roscommon and educated at Summerhill College, Sligo and St Patricks Carlow, Ordained for Liverpool in 1941 he served as curate at St Michaels, West Derby Road, St Gerard's Cranmer Street, St Aloysius, Roby, St Robert Bellarmine, Bootle and Sacred Heart, Hindsford before coming to assist Mgr Chaloner in 1961. He became parish priest of St Charles' in 1966 and it fell to him to guide the people through all the changes that the decrees of the second Vatican Council entailed, Including the re-ordering of the sanctuary of the church.

He endured much ill health and had underdone quite a severe operation when it became known that Pope John Paul II was to pass through the parish on his journey from Speke airport to the centre of Liverpool. Fr Mangan refused to consider anything like retiring until after that splendid occasion. Sadly he collapsed the following Advent and although the ambulance staff fought for his life heroically, he was found to be dead on admission to hospital on 17th December 1982.

Fr John A. Gildea, the present parish priest, was born in Liverpool not very far from St Charles but the family moved out to Whlston when he was young. From St Luke's school he went to UpHolland where he was ordained priest on 8th June 1963. He held a number of appointments as an assistant, St Agnes, Huyton, St Matthews, Clubmoor, St Thomas of Canterbury, Waterloo, Holy Angels, Kirkby, St Mark's, Halewood before coming to assist Fr Mangan at about the same time as the Pope was expected in the parish in 1982. He became parish priest after Fr Mangan's death the following December.

Special mention must also be made of Fr Matthew de Jonge, a Sacred Heart Father who for several years lived at St Charles', administered the sacraments, visited the sick and acted as unofficial curate. Many people have expressed their regard for the ministry of Fr de Jonge who is now retired and living in Brabant in his native Netherlands.

Several other priests have lived in the parish while holding other responslbilltles. Fr James Fanning (1844-1909) lived either in Hadassah Grove or at 69 Aigburth Road during his 25 years as chaplain to the poor Catholics in the Toxteth Workhouse in Smithdown Road. It look years of argument for him to obtain a salary - £75 a year - and even longer to get permission to celebrate Holy Mass inside the workhouse. He also acted as chaplain to St Augustine's Home for some years

Mgr James Redmond ( 1886-1972) lived here for a few years around 1930 . He was Archdiocesan Chancellor and later became Vicar General to Archbishop Downey for a year or two. Both St Augustiqe's Home and the Convent of the White Slsters in Alexandra Drive had their own chaplains for a time. Fr John Clarke (1884-1943), Canons John O'Loghlen (1903-1976) and Arthur Maguire (1897-1983) and Fr William Boyle (1917-1976) lived variously at 83 Aigburth Road or 12 Elsmere Avenue.

The Archdiocesan Youth Service obtained premises at 35 Aigburth Drive in 1962 with Fr James Beirne as Director . He remained for about five years after which the Sacred Heart Fathers took over and they had three and sometimes four priests resident there. Of these Fr Patrick Harnett remains, often residing in St Charles' presbytery, giving assistance to Fr Gildea and serving as chaplain to the Riverside area of Liverpool including the Albert Dock complex.

No account of the clergy associated with this parish could omit to mention the vocations to the priesthood and religious life that have been nurtured in this vicinity.

On 20th September 1925 Thomas Roberts SJ (1893-1976) was ordained priest. Not exactly a native of the parish - he was born at Le Havre - but brought to live in the Sefton Park area while very young, he became a Jesuit following his early eduction at St Francis Xavier's College, Liverpool. His career was quite unconventional. In 1937 he was consecrated Archbishop of Bombay where he sold the cathedral and used the money to build churches in poor suburbs. Later he was to say "What does a bishop need with a huge cathedral when television now brings him into the homes of millions?" He celebrated his first Mass in St Charles'.

On 30th May 1926 Fr Patrick Joseph Monaghan (1899-1944) was ordained here. Born in Bickerton Street and educated at St Edward's College, Liverpool and Oscott College, Birmingham. After curacies in Crosby and Garston he became parish priest at Bryn near Wigan, in 1940. Regrettably he died young.

On 2nd June 1929, Fr Harold Joseph Kirwin (1902-1960) was ordained. He lived in Ancaster Road and was educated at St Edward's and Oscot. As a curate he served in Widnes and Seaforth and was an army chaplain during the Second World War. His main task was in receiving the enormous church of St Anne, Edge Hill from the Ampleforth Benedictines, and making good thousands of pounds worth of war damage to that parish, Including the provision of a new school.

On 21st May 1932, Fr William Gaughan (1902-1971) was ordained. His family lived at 34 Marmion Road and he was educated at St Francis Xavier's and UpHolland. He was curate at St Helen's Crosby and St Hugh' Liverpool before becoming parish priest of St Luke's, Whiston in 1946. For the last 19 years of his life he was parish priest of Mount Carmel Liverpool, less than a mile from the house in which he grew up, though he was actually born at Bromsgrove, Worcestershlre.

On lst November 1933 Monsignor Alexander Jones (1906-1970), of Sandhurst Street , was ordained in Rome following studies at UpHolland and the Venerable Engllsh College. famed as a Scripture scholar, he edited the English translation of the Jerusalem Bible and was for many years professor of Scripture at UpHolland. For the last six years of his life he was Head of Divinity in Christ's College, Woolton.

On 16th June 1935, Fr John Buckley was ordained for the Diocese of Nottingham and celebrated his first Mass in St Charles. Born in Dalmeny Street on 17th May 1911, he was a chaplain to the forces during the Second World War and then parish priest of Holy Spirit, West Bridgford and a Canon. He died on 26th October 1965.

On 26th May 1945, Fr John Francis Maguire (1919-1985) was ordained after studying at UpHolland. he was curate in Anfield, Knotty Ash and Orford before becoming parish priest of Sacred Heart, Barrington, a position he resigned in 1981 because of ill health.

On 22nd May 1948, Fr Gerard Britt was ordained. His family once lived In Fulwood Road. He celebrated his first Mass here and is now parish priest of Holy Family, Ince Blundell.

On 8th September 1951, Fr Peter McArdle (born in the parish 5th September 1920) was ordained for the society of Jesus. He is currently Spiritual Director at Marlborough Hall Preparatory School, near Chesterfield.

On 16th September 1951, Fr Justin Feeny formerly of 2B Fulwood Park was ordained for the Redemptorists at St Joseph's Hawkstone Park, Shrewsbury. He eventually went to South Africa where he died in 1978.

On 24th May 1959, Fr Bernard Joseph Bimson was ordains od Born at 5 Dingle lane and later of 34 Birchtree Road he is now parish priest of St John Fisher , Knowsley.

On 7th Aprll 1962, Fr John Murphy formerly of Colebrooke Road was ordained and is now parish priest of St Gabriel, Higher Folds, Leigh . On 15th March 1970 his brother, Fr Gerard Murphy was ordained for Brentwood and after service in Colchester and Romford was appointed to his present position as parish priest of St Cuthbert, Burnham-in-crouch, Essex.

On 9th June, 1963, Monsignor Michael McKenna, of Bundoran Road was ordained. Educated at UpHolland, he held appointments as curate at SS Peter and Paul, Crosby as a member of Skelmersdale team Ministry and on the staff of Christ's and Notre Dame College. He is now Episcopal Vicar for Finance and Development.

From the parish notices we learn that Fr Peter Devlin "of this parish" died on 29th May 1964. He was a Missionary of St Francis de Sales at Tetbury in Gloucestershire

On 9th February 1985, Fr Richard Carter formerly of Eastfield Drive was ordained for the Diocese of Leeds. He is now assistant priest at St Josephus, Bradford

We might also mention two others with close connections though not actually having been born in the paris Ph Fr Thomas McGarvey (1901-1969) who was for many years parish priest at Croft near Barrington, Bootle-born and Valladolid educated, he celebrated his first Mass in St Charles' in 1925 . Bishop Augustine Harris of Middlesbroygh, and formerly auxiliary Bishop of Llverpool, was born in Tuebrook. But while he was a seminarist at Upilolland, his family moved into Southwood Road and his sister was married here.

On 1st January 1942, William Arthur McGivern, born in the parish on 10th November 1917, was solemnly professed as Brother Oliver Plunkett in the Hospitaller Order of St John of God at Stillorgan, County Dublin.

At least five parishioners have become nuns. Agnes Rose Kearns (RIP) of the Faithful Companions of Jesus. Nellie Lee, of Lambton Road, a former Bellerive pupil and St Charles' schoolteacher, is now Mother Mary Cecilia, Prioress of the Carmelites in Wicklow. Mary McParland was born in Menzies Street in Mount Carmel parish but attended St Charles' school. She joined the Dominicans and is now in their convent at Newry County Down. May Baker (RIP) of Ancaster Road, became sister Joseph of the Sisters of Charity of St Vlncent de Paul. Sarah Mulhearn of Errol Street and Ashlar Road is now Sister Marie Louise of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Having been a missionary in Africa she is now at the Marlan House, Hilllngdon, London.

Finally, Angela Bolding formerly of 2 Thirlestone Street, is now Sister Mary Peregrine in the Servite Convent at Begbroke, Oxford. B.P

Religious Houses

There were convents in the Aigburth district before the parish of St. Charles' came into existence. The seclusion of St. Michael's Hamlet attracted the Sisters of Notre Dame as early as 1884 when they acquired a community house called The Cloisters. Later, in 1912, they occupied another house nearby, The Hermitage. In 1960 student accommodation for Christs and Notre Dame College was added to the former.

The Little Sisters of the Poor came to Aigburth Road in April 1885 having previously had a house in Hope Street in central liverpool. It appears that Bishop 0'Rellly had some reservations about the move and his permission was given guardedly. He feared the Aigburth property might impose a debt too heavy for the sisters to repay. Then it occurred to him that, if necessary, some of the land could be sold off at a future date. Could he have foreseen that the sale he had in mind would be to a new parish for the erection of a church? Since 1885 St. Augustine's Home has been something of a landmark, and a place where people of modest means have found comfort in their advancing years. It is now a Residential Home registered for 72 persons, having proved itself to be both a blessing and a necessity to people far beyond the confines of the City of Liverpool.

Another house in St. Michasl's Hamlet, 'The Friars' was occupied between 1924 and 1930 by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. They were a French community, expelled from their own country for a time by its infamous Association Laws (directed against Religious Orders) of 1903.

In 1946 the White Sisters came to 20, Alexandra Drive. The main sphere of their work was centred upon Africa. At that time Liverpool was the main port of embarkation, for West Africa especially. For anyone desiring regular dealings with that region, and transporting people or goods, a base in Liverpool was more than desirable, it was essential. The nuns remained until 1970 when the premises were taken over by the Polish Catholic community whose oratory of Our lady of Czestochowa supplied the spiritual needs of Polish Catholics from all over Merseyside until 1979. They then obtained the former parish church of St. Peter, Seel Street, Liverpool.

The Knights of St. Columba is an association of Catholic men commited to the virtues of order, charity, unity and fraternity. Since its inception in 1921, the Liverpool Province has had a vigorous history. In the days when the survival of Catholic schools required rousing meetings and fearless debate, Archbishop Downey used to say that the Knights not only mounted the campaign but footed the bill too. For some years (1960-1981) they maintained Adrian House, a residential hotel in Sandringham Drive, where among other things £5,000 was raised for the Lord Mayor of Liverpool's Freedom from Hunger campaign.

In 1961 the archdiocese acquired a large house in Aigburth Drive as a Youth Centre. Wlth Fr. James Beirne as Warden, it was named Immaculate House. In 1966 it was renamed Evesham House and Fr. Patrick Harnett, S.C.J. was appointed Archdiocesan Youth Director. Fr Harnett had already established the first full time Catholic Youth Centre, the Dehon Centre opposite St. Patrick's church in Park Place. He held office for twenty three years during which many courses were held from which definite structures have emerged. These include School Leaver Programmes, Pilgrlmages, Conferences and Courses, Community Service Scheme Youth Clubs , Liturgy, Residential Work, Youth Groups, Apostolic Groups, work among the young unemployed and Youth Days. In September 1990 Fr. John Seddon became Youth Director and in August 1991 the work of the Liverpool Archdiocesan Youth Sewice was transferred to Leyfield House, West Derby.


Contributors Virginia Bowes, Historian with special interest in church architecture and decoration.

Alcuin E. Feeny Parishioner whose family have lived in Aigburth since 1899. Can remember all St Charles' parish priests excepting Fr D'Heurter .

Margaret D. Peters, Parishioner, with an interest in Catholic history, social history, and people in general.

Brian Plumb, interested in post-Reformation history especially in Lancashire. Has researched all the deceased clergy of the archdiocese.