St Mary of the Assumption, Bolton - Roman Catholic
St Mary of the Assumption,
This Church, which was built for the accommodation of worshippers in Little Bolton, stands second in point of seniority in the town, being opened in 1845 by Father Dowdall, then of SS. Peter and Paul's, Pilkington Street. The first resident Priest was Father Smith, who was followed by Father Snape, and on his removal to become Chaplain of Belle Vue Gaol, Manchester, Father Taylor took up the ministry, and for seventeen years he laboured assiduously amongst his flock, being instrumental in the establishment of both the Halliwell and Astley Bridge Missions, in addition to the present commodious Schools of St. Marie's. He died in harness some twelve or fourteen years ago, much regretted by his people whom he had served so faithfully. The present Rector, who succeeded Father Taylor, is Father Denis O'Brien, Vice-Chairman of the Bolton School Board, who, we may remind charitably disposed Catholics, is anxious to replace his present Church by one more worthy of the name, and that will accommodate his largely increased congregation. Collections for this object have been in progress for some considerable time. Father H. F. Roche is Assistant Priest.
Father O'Brien had not been many months at the helm before he was confronted with a most difficult problem for solution. The establishment of the School Board brought about quite a revolution in the old order of matters educational in the town, armed as that body was with very drastic powers (both inquisitorial and compulsory) over the attendance of children at school, and the equally drastic application of those powers at the hands of a staff of energetic and inexorable Inspectors; failure to comply with the mandate of these gentlemen either by parents or children almost inevitably meaning prosecution, with its pains and penalties. Though much hardship and suffering was the result of all this, especially to the very poor (and St. Marie's is not without its quota), it had the good effect of greatly increasing the attendance at St. Marie's Schools. To meet this demand for additional school accommodation it was found necessary to greatly enlarge the existing schools at a cost of some hundreds of pounds. Funds to meet this extra expenditure did not exist, but this sufficient excuse for not doing most things was of little avail with the education authorities in London; the work must be done and that quickly, was the answer, and with the usual energy of priest and people done it was, the money being borrowed. For the purpose of paying back this borrowed capital, a bazaar was held some time afterwards with a highly successful result, the sum needed and something more being realized. Thus was St. Marie's placed in the proud position of being possessed of a fine church, presbytery, and commodious schools, absolutely free from debt. This highly satisfactory state of things still continues, and yet it must not be supposed that the financial needs of the mission are light and easy to bear. On the contrary the-calls are many and unavoidable. The late Government's Assisted Education Act in its operation has not lessened but considerably increased the demands on the school account, and at the present time the managers are greatly exercised to provide necessary funds.
In the Church is a Stained Glass Window representing the Virgin with the Infant in her arms, and the Church is also enriched with Statues of St. Joseph and St. Aloysius on either side of the Altar within the Sanctuary, while just outside the Sanctuary are handsomely carved oak Altars, with oak canopy, and containing Statues of the Sacred Heart and Our Lady, both erected by a townsman, Mr. Rowe, Davenport Street. The Sanctuary and Church generally have recently undergone considerable improvement; the Church has been painted and decorated, a new High Altar has been erected from designs prepared by Mr. Pugin, of London, also new Tabernacle. The Sanctuary has been extended and the flooring covered with enamelled figured tiles. Handsome vestibule doors have been placed at the front entrance; and, the Organ has been thoroughly overhauled at considerable expense, and placed in first-class condition. The Church will seat 500 worshippers.
Attached to the Church are also spacious Schools, accommodation being provided for over 700 scholars, whilst the number of children on the register is over 600.
Taken from St Patrick's Schools Grand Bazaar Handbook: 1892
BOLTON, ST MARY'S
The church was opened September 13, 1847. The first priest in charge was Fr. Thos. Smith, who was here for ten years. Fr. James Snape was here for a time. Fr. William Taylor came here from Swinton in 1860. He built the schools here and was prepar ing to build a new church here when he died in 1878. Fr. Taylor was responsible for building the first school-chapel at Astley Bridge, which was dependent at first on St. Mary's. Fr. Denis O'Brien was here for 20 years and served for a long time on the Bolton School Board. Fr. Wm. Fowler, Fr. Donatus Burke, Fr. James Lawless, and Fr. H. Bolger have had charge of this numerous and active parish during the present century. Extensive additions and renovations were made by Fr. James Lawless before his sudden death.
Taken from "Salford Diocese and its Catholic past", a survey by Charles A. Bolton, a Priest of the above Diocese. Published 1950 on the First Centenary for the Diocese of Salford.
Original registersThe church registers are now held at St Edmund's, Bolton.
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