Letters: Opening the doors to church’s heritage

The interior of English Martyrs RC Church
The interior of English Martyrs RC Church
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English Martyrs RC Church, on Garstang Road, Preston, was open to visitors on Saturday, September 15, as part of the annual Heritage Open Days which take place nationwide during September.

First held in 1994, Heritage Open Days allow visitors free access to a wide range of buildings and sites of religious, historical, cultural and architectural interest, which would normally not be accessible to the public or which would charge an entrance fee at all other times.

During the course of the day, some 50 visitors took the opportunity to visit this beautiful Grade II listed Gothic Revival Church, which is more properly known as the Church of St Thomas of Canterbury and the English Martyrs.

Opened in 1867, and extended in 1888, the architect was Edward Welby Pugin, son of the more famous Gothic Revival architect, Augustus Welby Pugin, who designed the interior of the Palace of Westminster.

Guided tours were available for those who wished to learn more about the history and key features of the church and refreshments were available in the adjoining hall, where a small display of photographs and archive material could also be viewed.

Since 2017, the church has been in the care of the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest (ICKSP), an order of Roman Catholic Priests founded as recently as 1990. They celebrate the Liturgy in Latin according to the traditional rite of the Catholic Church, sometimes known as the Extraordinary Form.

The ICKSP has also been responsible for the iconic Grade I listed St Walburge’s Church, Preston, since 2014, always a popular attraction during Heritage Open Days, where visitors can climb the tower to the base of the spire, the third tallest spire in the country. This year some 450 visitors came to St Walburge’s on the three days it was open for the event.

Both English Martyrs

and St Walburge’s look forward to welcoming visitors again for Heritage Open Days 2019.

In the meantime, tours of St Walburge’s are given every Saturday between 11.30am and 2.30pm.

Dave Gorman

via email