History and Architecture
All Saints Church, Thornton Hough was consecrated on the 5th May 1868 by the then Lord Bishop of Chester (The Right Rev. William Jacobson D.D.) It is of Gothic design of the 13th century with a tower and spire approximately 120 feet high.
The Church, Vicarage, School (now the Parish Hall) and School House, together with the School and School House at Raby, were a gift from Joseph Hirst, a wealthy woollen mill owner from Wilshaw, near Huddersfield in Yorkshire where he had already built the church of St. Mary the Virgin five years earlier.
Joseph Hirst had married Eleanor Ramsey from Chester in 1831 when he was aged 26 and had purchased Springfield House (now Thornton House) which he used as a retreat to recuperate from the strains of business.
On 15th January 1866 Joseph Hirst purchased farmland from James Houghton, a merchant for £600. The construction of the church and the adjoining vicarage and school took a little over twelve months, the foundation stone having been laid by Joseph Hirst in March 1867. The church was designed by John Kirk & Sons, Architects of Huddersfield and the work was carried out by John Moorehouse and his six sons who were all masons from Meltham, near Huddersfield. The cost of the entire work was about £8,500 excluding the cost of the ground.
The church is cruciform in plan consisting of a nave, transepts and chancel and is constructed of stone from the immediate neighbourhood; the wall stones are of red sandstone and the dressings are of ashlar from Storeton quarries.
Numbers in the above plan are used for reference in the description below.
As you enter the churchyard from Raby Road, the ARCH over the steps was given in memory of Walter Kerr Fernie of Stanacres, Raby Road (now Thornton Farm). Mr Fernie died in 1928 aged 59 years and is buried on the North side of the church.
The SPIRE is 120 feet tall. There is only one bell. The clock is original but is now powered by electricity and automatically resets itself to accommodate British Summer Time. The clock originally had four dials, but when Joseph Hirst realised that the church roof obstructed his view of the north facing dial from his home at Springfield House (now Thornton House), he added the fifth dial.
As you enter the porch, the WINDOW on the left (1) in memory of Christina and James Thomson depicts two events in the childhood of Jesus: (a) when as a baby, his parents presented him in the Temple, (Luke 2:22) and (b) when as a boy of twelve, he stayed behind in the Temple to question the teachers of the law himself, (Luke2:42). The left hand light portrays the temple in a middle eastern manner representing the old order, while in the right hand light the temple is represented by Gothic shapes which western eyes associate with the Church of Christ and thus the New Testament. The cage in the left hand light contains the two doves brought as a sacrifice. In the right hand light near the top, Mary and Joseph are seen peering from behind a column. These two events remind us of our Baptism and Confirmation. The "Artist's Mark" in the bottom right hand corner of the left hand window shows us that the windows were designed and made byAlfred Robin Fisher at the Chapel Studio in Kings Langley, Herts in 1978.
The INSCRIPTION (2) over the glass doors ("Let us enter into his gates with thanksgiving" etc) as you enter the church is original. Similar inscriptions were painted over the windows inside the church, but were painted over when the church was decorated sometime after 1937.
The GLASS DOORS (2) replaced the original timber doors and draught curtain in September 1989 and were a gift from Lord Leverhulme to celebrate the centenary of his family's connection with Thornton Hough.
Inside the church, MOTHERS UNION BANNERS (3) have been in use since 10th June 1958 when the first banner was dedicated in memory of Canon J Edwin Smith who was Vicar of All Saints from 1953-54. It was Canon Smith's wife who started the local M.U. movement in Thornton Hough on 12th January 1954. The banner on display was made by one of the branch members, Mrs Vicky Patrick Davies in memory of the late Mrs Eveline Bernard and was dedicated in January 1994.
The BRASS TABLET (4) on the west wall is in memory of George Jellicoe who returned from the Boer War where he had served in the 8th King's Liverpool Regiment and was at the relief of Ladysmith. He served as Verger and Sexton for over fifty years and died in office in 1958, aged 84 years.
The WEST WINDOW (5) depicts"St Michael and all the Angels in victorious conflict over the Dragon", and was placed there in the 1920s in memory of those men from the church who gave their lives during the First World War. It was necessary to first remove the Gallery which ran along this wall and was reached by a staircase from the North Porch. The doorway at the South end of the Gallery can still be seen. The Gallery seated 100 and when used was mainly for children.
Beneath the window is the Roll of Honour showing the names of 30 men and boys from the church who died for their country during the First World War. Fifteen of these names are also recorded on the War Memorial in the centre of the village together with another two names.
The CROSS (6) temporarily marked the grave of an unknown British soldier on the Western Front during the 1914-1918 war. It has been entrusted to the care of this church by the Imperial War Graves Commission.
The STANDARD (7) of the Thornton Hough and District Branch of the Royal British Legion has been laid up in All Saints Church since November 1962, when a new Branch Standard was dedicated. The Standard was carried for nearly thirty years at many parades of ex-servicemen held at Thornton Hough and other parts of Cheshire and Lancashire.
Beneath this standard is the PEW used by the Leverhulme family with coronets woven into the fabric of the cushions.
The first WINDOW (8) on the north side of the nave is in memory of the Griffith family who farmed at Raby village from 1688-1981. The scene depicts Mary and Joseph with baby Jesus surrounded by farm animals and a shepherd. The window also shows the Griffith homestead.
The "Artist's Mark" near the bottom of the right hand light shows that the window was crafted by Celtic Studios of Swansea in 1982.
WINDOW (9) Jesus talking to children in modem dress with the inscription "Let the children come to me, do not try to stop them" Luke 18:16 and is in memory of Celia E. Ward who was Headmistress of the village school from 1928 until 1959. The tracery at the top of the window contains references to Miss Ward's interests of music and flowers, and a pen and book - symbols of her calling. The window was designed by Alfred R Fisher of Chapel Studio, Kings Langley, Herts in 1977.
The TAPESTRY KNEELERS (10) were designed and worked by members of All Saints and depict local scenes, organisations and religious items and were completed in 1991.
WINDOW (11) shows a sower sowing seed with the inscription "O all ye works of the Lord, Bless ye the Lord, Praise him and Magnify him for ever". The window is in memory of William and Catherine Fryer and was a gift from their daughter Kate Fryer.
The "Artist's mark" near the bottom of the right hand light shows us that the window was designed and made by Whitefriars Glass Ltd. of Wealdstone, Middlesex in1953.
WINDOW (12) shows a Reader at this church's lectern and a Lady in Victorian dress with the inscription "Thy word have I hid in my heart" and is in memory of James Angus Murray of Thornton House who was a Reader at this church for many years. The window also shows Thornton House and the artists mark in the right hand light shows that it is the work of the William Davies Studio from Irby, Wirral in 1997.
The NORTH TRANSEPT WINDOW (13) is in memory of James Darcy Lever (1854-1910), who lived in Thornton House and was the brother of the first Lord Leverhulme. The theme is "All Saints" and depicts St. Michael the Archangel, in armour and sword overcoming the evil serpent, surrounded by saints and angels. Note the symbols of sacrifice on either side: the Lamb standing with the banner and the Pelican feeding her young from the bleeding breast. The window was a gift from James Darcy Lever's widow and family and his niece Mary Ethel Dean in 1912 and was crafted by H Gustave Hiller of Liverpool whose name is shown at the bottom of the right hand light.
The BRASS TABLET (14) is in memory of John Wesley Aldom M.A. the first Vicar of this parish 1867-1897 and was a gift of the parishioners of Thornton Hough in 1897.
THE FONT (15) is of Caen stone and was crafted by Mr T Ruddock of London. The words carved on the rim "Suffer little children to come unto me" are from Mark 10:14. The font was originally located, as in many other churches, at the back of the church near to the door, but in 1989 it was decided to move the font to the front of the church so that baptisms could become part of a normal service.
THE LECTERN (16) is of oak and is original.
The Norman and Beard ORGAN (17) was built in 1912 and replaced the original organ built by Messrs Gray and Davison of London. The materials of the old Organ were taken by the builders in part payment and the remainder of the cost was paid for by voluntary contributions. The organ was completely refurbished in 2013, marking its centenary; the works were carried out by Henry Willis & Sons, Liverpool.
The CHOIR VESTRY (18) was also built in 1912 in memory of William Hodgson Potter and his wife Elizabeth of Cloverley, Brimstage, and other members of the family and was a gift from Jessie Lindsay Tillotson and Mary Emily Potter.
The left hand WINDOW (19) in the Sanctuary is in memory of William Bertie Barnes of the Grange and was a gift from his wife Elaine. It is a scene from the Song of Solomon showing a Bride and Groom with flowers, foliage and swans. The "Artist's Mark," at the bottom of the right hand light shows that the window was designed and made by Petri Anderson from Chapel Studio, Kings Langley, Herts in 2003.
The great EAST WINDOW (20) represents the crucifixion and was supplied by Messrs Clayton and Bell of London. It was the gift of Eleanor Hirst in memory of Mary Beaumont, her only child, who died in childbirth within 12 months of her wedding day, aged 26 years. This was the only stained glass window in 1868 when the church was consecrated. The remaining windows were of cathedral tinted rolled plate with richly stained margins.
The REREDOS (21) is of Caen stone crafted by Mr T Ruddock of London, showing episodes in the life of our Saviour. The first scene on the left is "The Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary". The Feast, observed on the 25th March (Lady Day) commemorates the announcement of the incarnation by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin and the conception of Christ in her womb (Luke 1. 26-38).
The next scene is "The Adoration of the Magi". The first Gentiles to believe in Christ came from the East to Bethlehem, guided by a star and bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the Holy Child (Matt.2.v.1-12). Although they are frequently referred to as the three kings, we know neither their number nor their rank. The New Testament simply calls them Magi (Wise Men).
The Last Supper was the final meal of Christ with his disciples on the night before the Crucifixion. It was followed by the washing of the disciples' feet and the institution of the Eucharist or Holy Communion. The moment captured here is that in which Christ announces that one of his disciples will betray him (Matt.26.21). They all look in horror at one another or at Christ. Judas alone, with the money bag and his troubled soul looks at nobody.
After the Last Supper our Lord retired to the Garden of Gethsemane with his disciples to prepare for his coming Sacrifice. As he was praying that, if possible, this cup of bitterness might be removed from him, but that above all his Father's will might be done, an angel appeared strengthening him. (Luke 22.v.43). Holy Communion involves not just our consolation but also our costly dedication to the will of God.
Somewhere along the Via Dolorosa (Painful Way) from the Judgement Hall to Calvary, Jesus became incapable of carrying his Cross, and a passer-by, one Simon of Cyrene, was compelled to bear it for him. His physical weakness had no doubt been caused by his spiritual battle in Gethsemane, the ordeals of the trial, his flogging by the orders of Pontius Pilate and the continuing brutality of the Roman soldiers. (shown here)
The ALTAR (22) was given by the Congregation and Parishioners in affectionate remembrance of Alice Frances Bull (wife of Rev. H.A. Bull, Vicar from1898) who died in 1935.
The CROSS and CANDLESTICKS (23) on the altar are a gift in memory of Kate P. Fryer who died in August 1955.
The COMMUNION RAILS (24) are of oak and replaced the original rails in 1937. They are in memory of Annie Lever who was for 30 years a communicant at this church.
The right hand WINDOW (25) in the Sanctuary was presented by Sir Thomas Harley in memory of Lady Hilda Harley to whom he was married for 57 years (1924-1981). It shows "Peter and John healing the lame man" (Acts 3. 1-11), and the Virgin Mary being taught by her mother - St. Anne. The tracery above shows Liverpool Cathedral dated 1978 and Chester Cathedral dated 1093. The "Artist's Mark" at the bottom of the right hand light shows that the window was crafted by Alfred Robin Fisher of Chapel Studio, Kings Langley, Herts in 1981. The window was dedicated by Revd. Derek Fathers during the evening service on Sunday 5th July 1981.
The CHOIR STALLS and VESTRY SCREEN (26) are in memory of Elizabeth Daphne Orme of Thornton House, a gift from her parents, Christmas 1934.
The CLERGY STALL (27) is in oak and is in affectionate remembrance of Herbert Ashley Bull, Vicar of Thornton Hough 1897-1945. It was a gift to the church from his family in 1948.
The PULPIT (28) is also in carved oak in affectionate remembrance of Herbert Ashley Bull and is a gift to the church from his family.
The alabaster Memorial (29) to Joseph Hirst Esq. J.P. representing "Christ blessing his disciples" was erected by the parishioners of Thornton Hough after his death in 1875.
The SOUTH TRANSEPT WINDOW (30) represents "Our Lord in Glory" surrounded by Archangels on either side with Angels in the tracery above and groups of Saints in Adoration beneath and is a memorial of Thomas Brittain Forwood, J.P. of Thornton Manor and of his eldest son the Rt. Honourable Sir Arthur Forwood, Baronet and M.P. The window was a gift in 1919 from Sir William Forwood K.B.E. D.L. of Bromborough Hall, second eldest son of Thomas Brittain Forwood.
The GARDENERS WINDOW (31) shows a gardening scene and a choir scene. All the men mentioned here worked on the land as gardeners or farm labourers, and most were also members of the church choir. A selection of buildings from the village are shown along the bottom of the window. The Window was installed at Easter 1977 and was designed by Alfred R Fisher of Chapel Studio, Kings Langley, Herts.
WINDOW (32) depicts St. Scolastica, (died c 543), sister of St. Benedict and the first Benedictine nun, and the inscription reads "0 that men would praise the Lord for his goodness and for his wonderful works to the children of men". It is in memory of Edith Furniss of Thornton Hall 1880-1945 and was a gift to the church by her husband. The "Artists Mark" at the bottom of the right hand light shows that the window was crafted at the Whitefriars Studio, Wealdstone, London in 1947.
WINDOW (33) shows "Our Lord calming the Tempest" with the Liverpool skyline behind. The inscription reads "Peace, be still and the storm ceased". The window is in memory of Robert John Stuart Evans, a Mersey Pilot, who died in an accident abroad aged 26 years. The window shows the Liverpool Pilot's badge in the tracery above and small animals and pets along the bottom. The "Artist's Mark" shows that the window was designed by Alfred R Fisher of Whitefriars Stained Glass Studios, Wealdstone, Middlesex in 1972.
The INTERNAL LIGHTING of the ceiling in the Church was installed in memory of Mrs D.M. Bebbington of Upper Raby Road in 1989.
The EXTERNAL FLOOD LIGHTING and the GLASS DOORS as previously stated were given by Lord Leverhulme to celebrate the centenary of his family's connection with Thornton Hough in 1989.
Every effort has been made to provide a full and accurate record of the church and its fittings. If any reader can provide further information, please contact the parish office.