Tag Archives: history

St. Chad’s secures National Lottery support

We’re delighted to be able to announce that St. Chad’s has received a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £199,800 for an exciting heritage project, ‘Repairing the roof, bringing our community together, and sharing our artistic treasures’. Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the project focuses on preserving the building of St. Chad’s for future generations, opening it up to people from the community of Kirkby, and helping us to understand the incredible works of art that are in the building. We are hopeful that the building work will start later this spring, and be complete before Christmas, and there will be an ongoing programme that explores the building and significance over the next 12-18 months or so. The church will remain open throughout the works.

The current church building will be 150 years old in 2021, and we are very much looking forward to celebrating the century and a half that it has been a key part of the community, an icon of the town. Part of this is work on the stone work at the west end of the church, and to the nave roof – the longest section – to ensure that the building will be around for many years to come. But we also know that the building is under-used. We want more people to enjoy this historic part of Kirkby, and to understand the national importance of so much of the building. To this end, we will be putting on heritage events, installing information points within the church and online, and curating a community history project to produce a booklet with some of the story of the church and its town.

There has been a church in Kirkby for a thousand years or so – the mention of Kirkby in the Domesday book as Cherchebi, the place by the Church, tells us that. The font that is housed in St. Chad’s is similarly ancient, of Norman origin, and uniquely beautiful in its carvings. The Earl of Sefton built the current church between 1869-1871, and commissioned its stained glass windows, oak furniture, pipe organ and magnificent mosaic from leading artists and craftspeople of his time, not least from Henry Holiday, one of the leading artists of his day. Ever since, the people of Kirkby have adopted the church as their own, and it is a popular place for Christenings, Weddings and Funerals. The tower is visible from much of the town, and Kirkby residents know that they’re home when they see it.

Commenting on the award, Team Vicar, Rev. Philippa Lea, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have received this support thanks to National Lottery players and are confident the project will create a fabulous opportunity for peope in Kirkby to discover this very special place.”

St. Mark’s Church, Northwood

St MarksYou are very warmly invited to join us at St. Mark’s Church in Northwood, as the congregation there prepares to celebrate the life of the church. We are moving out of the building to pastures new, and are looking back to give thanks for the stories contained in the old building, and looking forward to the story that God is preparing us for in the future.

Bishop Paul Bayes is with us at 4pm, this Sunday, 20th March. Everyone is welcome – bring memories, stories, photos – and if you aren’t able to make it, we’d still love to hear from you.

Please keep us in your prayers as we look to the future in God’s hands.

Remembrance Sunday 2015

7000 petals scattered in St. Chad's to commemorate Remembrance Sunday.Several hundred people turned out to pay their respects for Remembrance Sunday this year, despite the conditions. This was the last year at the cenotaph in its current location, and as last year, the parade then went into St. Chad’s for a brief service, remembering the 75th anniversary of the start of the Liverpool Blitz. Cadets read some first hand experiences and memories, images of the blitz brought back memories for some, and told Liverpool’s story for others, and an evocative soundscape of air raid sirens and bombs, made the memories even more powerful. The event finished with singing Abide with me, and the petals scattering showing that despite so many losing their lives, they are not forgotten.


Kirkby is a town with ancient roots, but a very modern feel. Mentioned in the Doomsday book, we know that there has been a settlement here for over a thousand years, and the font in St. Chad’s dates back to that time. It is humbling to think that for half of Christian history, children in Kirkby have been christened in the font that is now in the present St. Chad’s.

Remaining an agricultural village for hundreds of years, the area was changed irrevocably by the Second World War, when the Royal Ordnance Factory was built. At the time, it was well away from any settlement, so that in the event of an accident, no houses would be affected. After the war, the factory was converted into Kirkby Industrial Estate, with major employers moving there, such as English Electric, AC Delco, Kraft, Kodak, and many more.

To allow for the ‘slums’ in Liverpool to be cleared, the City decided that it needed to build new towns on the outskirts, and so they bought the land for Kirkby off the Earl of Sefton, and began building in the early 1950s.

One of the stipulations that the Earl put in place, was that no one should build too close to St. Chad’s, which is what gives St. Chad’s such a wonderful green space all around it.

As the new estates were built, it was felt that each needed their own churches. These began, meeting in barns, huts, schools, etc. until eventually, the three of them built their own new buildings. The four churches have always been sister churches, and have a proud tradition of close working and friendship, a tradition that endures to this day. Sadly, in 2016, the decision was taken to move out of St. Mark’s church building, which was the end of an era in Northwood.

The churchmanship of the parish has varied, and each church has its own different history, but it’s fair to say that on the whole, the parish is nearer the top of the candle than the bottom! These days, we welcome most styles of worship, music and spirituality within the Christian tradition, and are inclusive and broad in our theology.

There is more history on the individual churches’ pages – please do browse around and have a read.

First World War commemoration

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. There will be a Candlelit Vigil Service in St. Chad’s to commemorate the declaration of war on Monday 4th August, at 7.30pm. We are working with other churches and organisations in Kirkby, including the Catholic Churches and Lifegate Church, to mark the occasion. Everyone is welcome, from any church or none.

New Archdeacon of Leicester

Rev. Tim Stratford announced this morning that he has been appointed as the new Archdeacon of Leicester, and so will be leaving Kirkby in September in order to take up his new post. His new role will include being responsible as Archdeacon for the city of Leicester, as well as the rural areas of the diocese to the east of the city. This is a fantastic opportunity for him, so congratulations!

Tim and Jen have been in Kirkby for over 9 years now, and he has led the parish through a period of change and growth. Jen’s work with the children will be sorely missed, as well as her hospitality!

There will be a service in Leicester Cathedral on Saturday 29th September to welcome Tim to his new diocese, and we are hoping to get a coach together for a day out down there.

Read more on the Leicester Diocesan website (here).


An Inclusive Church?

A personal opinion by Jeremy Fagan.

What does it mean for the church to take seriously the command of Jesus to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations? Or to respond to St. Paul writing to one of his churches that in Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female?

On the face of it, this is an easy question – surely it’s about welcoming everyone no matter who they are? The church should be for everyone, regardless of who they are.

But this answer hasn’t always come easily to the church through history. There have been times when the church has supported the institution of slavery, or when churches in parts of the world have held segregated services – only white people welcome here. At other times, the church has seemed to be on the side of the wealthy, taking their side against the poor. In England, many churches would have pew rents – the wealthy hired the most comfortable seats in church, boxed off from the poor people standing at the back, and with their own fireplaces and heaters to keep the comfortable.

These battles have largely been fought and won. We would now not want the church to be a place of racial discrimination, or one where anyone is treated differently because of either their class or their income.

But the church continues to debate how far it is possible to include two groups of people in its leadership. The first, accepted by the majority of the church, is women. Women priests were first ordained in the Church of England in 1994, but it has still not (quite!) got to the point of ordaining women bishops – although there are women bishops in other parts of the world. The debate is no longer about whether women should be ordained, but what provision to make for those members of the church who find that they are unable to accept women’s ministry.

The second group is people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered. This has been a much more contentious issue over the last ten years, with large parts of the church welcoming the ministry of gay clergy and bishops, and large parts of the church vociferously opposing it.

On this issue, Jesus in the gospels is silent. St. Paul mentions it once or twice, and there are one or two mentions in the Old Testament. But in general, it does not seem to have been an issue in ancient times. Where it is mentioned, we are unsure if what is references is homosexuality as we understand it, or the practices of the Greek temples of their day, often abusive towards young boys and girls. I do not believe that what St. Paul condemns is lifelong loving relationships between two adults of the same sex, but instead the kind of destructive sexual behaviour that is destructive whether it is homosexual or heterosexual.

Instead, what I read in the gospels is a Jesus who condemns the religious of his day for excluding people, who welcomes people from across society, and who seems to regard rules that damage human life as unnecessary. Marriage is seen as a lifelong commitment, and is often (but not always!) the picture throughout the bible as a picture of heaven – a loving, life-giving life-long relationship. (St. Paul on the other hand regards celibacy as the higher calling.)

So for me, the church is called to be a place that includes and welcomes people of all sexualities and genders, that affirms their calling from God and vocation to serve their church. This will, I hope and pray, eventually extend to the church being a place where lesbian and gay couples are able to be married in the sight of God as well as in the sight of the state, and the lesbian and gay clergy and bishops that already serve in the Church of England are able to be fully open and honest.

Bishop James has recently expressed his own position on this, that he feels that it should be an issue over which Christians are fully able to disagree, and yet to remain within the same church, worshipping God alongside each other.

More information is available from Inclusive Church.

St Chad's Open Days

If you have walked past St Chad’s Church on Old Hall Lane but have never looked inside then come to an Open Day.

St Chad's, Kirkby
The gem that is St Chad's

St Chad’s will be open every Sunday afternoon in July and August 2011 for visitors to come and look around.  Everybody is welcome.  We will have some wardens on hand who can answer questions and provide leaflets.

1.00 – 4.00pm every* Sunday in July and August
*1.30 – 4.00pm only on 24th July and  28th August

Enjoy the beauty of the Pre-Raphaelite art inside.
Don’t miss the Saxon font.
Look at the historic church yard and site of a saxon church.
Light a candle, say a prayer, find some peace, meet with God…

Admission free.

Interested in joining us for worship on a Sunday morning click here, or on a Sunday evening click here.

St Chad's Montage

Alice Wharton (1907-2009)

Alice Wharton unveiling a tiled collage at Kirkby Church of England School as part of its 200th Anniversary celebrations.

Alice unveiling a ceramic collage at Kirkby Church of England School as part of the 200th Anniversary celebrations

It is with a mixture of sadness and appreciation that we mark the death of Alice Wharton on Friday 4th December 2009.  Alice lived in Kirkby for longer than any other person ever has. She moved to a residential home in Huyton only after her 100th birthday but has kept close links with many friends here until her death aged 102.  St Chad’s has been her spiritual home through all her years.  The church was only 32 years old when she was born

Alice Wharton, nee Appleton, was born at Rushton’s Farm, Kirkby, in 1907. The farm was situated by what was to become the Bird’s Eye Factory. She was educated at Kirkby Church of England School and has maintained close links with the school ever since. Her memories have given children a first-hand taste of history.

Our prayers are with her son Frank preparing for Alice’s funeral, which will be in Church followed by burial in the churchyard on Friday 11th December at 12.30pm


Alice’s memories of St Chad’s (pdf)


Alice on the KMBC history web site in audio
It is worth viewing this and the subsequent 5 pages there