St Mary of Furness, Barrow in Furness - Roman Catholic
St Mary of Furness,
Barrow in Furness
St. Mary's Catholic Church is built on a plot of ground facing Duke Street, generously presented by the Duke of Devonshire through Sir James Ramsden, to whom the Catholics of Barrow owe a deep debt of gratitude. The designs were furnished by the late Mr. Pugin, to whose father this country is indebted for the revival of Gothic architecture-a style which seems intimately connected with the sublimity of christian worship. The church was built in 1866-7, at a cost of £6,000. The finished design includes a tower and spire which, when added, will render the building not only a conspicous object in the street in which it is situated, but an ornament to the town. The interior is spacious, accommodating about 800 persons, and consists of an apsidal chancel, nave, and side aisles. The latter are separated from the nave by rows of arches resting on pillars with alternately moulded and floriated capitals. The pupit is a creditable piece of carving, bearing on its four sides, cut in high relief, representations of the four evangelists in the act of committing to writing the inspirations of the, Holy Ghost. The chancel is embellished by a magnificent altar and reredos, designed and carved by Messrs. Neill and Pearson, the eminent sculptors of Dublin. The whole design is beautifully characteristic in its conception, and harmonizes well with the Gothic style which has been preserved throughout the edifice. The prominent portions, consisting of the antependium (front part of the altar), the tabernacle, and the candle benches, are all composed of statuary marble, except the plinth, which is of dark coloured marble. Behind is the reredos of Caen stone, containing six arches, three on each side of the tabernacle, resting on beautifully polished columns of Galway green marble. Within these niches are the following effigies : on the right the Immaculate Heart of Mary, St. James, and St. Paul; and on the left a statue of the Sacred Heart, St. Peter, and St. John. The reredos is surmounted by embattled work, richly moulded and carved. On the front of the altar are two very significant groups representing the Last Supper, after Leonardo da Vinci, and the Adoration of the Lamb. These groups stand out in high relief, and are both admirable specimens of the truthfulness and delicacy of the sculptor's chisel. Above the tabernacle rises a massive canopy, supported on red marble columns. It is octagonal, resting on a square, which has gablets on each of its four sides, in which are arches. Each of these gables is finished by a finial. The upper part of the canopy is richly crocketed, and terminates in a large floriated finial. The tabernacle and candle benches are heavily moulded and inlaid with red, green, and white marbles. The tabernacle is also enriched by an elaborate brass door, on which are engraved a cross, and a border of beautiful flowing foliage. The work is all executed in the highest style of art, and is a credit to the sculptors. Last year, 1881, a large and powerful organ was added to the church, which necessitated a very considerable enlargement of the gallery. The instrument was originally built by Messrs. Hill and Son, of London, for the Theatre of the Liverpool Philharmonic Society, and contains nearly 3,000 pipes. It is blown by hydraulic power, but is also so arranged as to be independent of water force. We are glad to note that the cheap coloured prints of the Stations of the Cross hitherto used in the church, are now (June, 1882) being replaced by a set more worthy the edifice. The new series are well executed oleographic copies of the Italian masters. Each picture is encased in a massive oak frame of two shades, richly carved in the Renaissance style. A bell and bugle moulding and corner pattresses give a lightness and artistic finish to the frame. The upper and lower shafts carry tablets, bearing the number of the station and the names of the donors. The frames are the design and work of Mr. Matthew Russell, and bear testimony to his manipulative skill. The mission is under the care of the Rev. E. Caffrey, assisted by two resident curates, and numbers about 5,000. Attached to the church is a handsome presbytery from the designs of Mr. J. O'Byrne, of Liverpool. The Schools, near the church, form a good block of buildings, of the Gothic style to agree with that edifice, and enlivened by the introduction of bands of cream coloured bricks. The accommodation becoming too limited, the schools were enlarged in 1881, by the addition of a spacious two storied building, increasing the capacity to about 1,000. The new wing is a substantial brick building with a capacity for 500 children, and was erected at a cost of about £3 per child of the accommodation. The boys' school is under the care of Mr. Bulmer, and the girls' and infants' under Miss Fairbairn and Miss Shaw.
from Mannex's directory of Furness and Cartmel, 1882.
Original registersRecords remain at church (including Liber Baptizatorum (9) 1865-date; Liber Matrimoniorum (2) 1889-date; Liber Defunctorum (2) 1872-1940).
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