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St Mary the Virgin Goosnargh


Proof of the existence of St Mary the Virgin Chapel begins in 1330, when its 'chaplain' was required to send an ox of the value of 10s. to the Abbot of Vale Royal every year. The list of the names of the Vicars and Curates show that has been in continual use since then.

The church is on the north side of the village of Goosnargh, and consists of chancel with north vestry, nave, north aisle, south aisle, south porch and west tower. None of the church, with the possible exception of one of the windows of the north aisle, is older than the 15th century.

The north arcade and aisle and the 60 foot tower date from this period but the chancel is said to have been rebuilt in 1553. The south arcade and aisle were possibly rebuilt at the end of the 16th or in the early years of the 17th century.

In the 18th century the church had a gallery at the west end, in 1800 another gallery was added at the east end in front of the chancel for the use of the inmates of Goosnargh Hospital. Repairs had been carried out in 1788, but the building remained more or less unrestored till 1868–9, when it was substantially repaired.

The font, which stands at the west end of the south aisle, has a square bowl standing on a modern pedestal, and may be of 15th century date. The organ was formerly in the west gallery, but the present one, which was built in 1906, is at the east end of the south aisle. There is a brass to the Rev. Wm. Bushell in the north aisle, and a stone slab to Thomas Whittingham, who died in 1667.

There is a ring of six bells, with inscriptions as follows: Treble, 'God preserve the Church and Queen Ann 1713'; (2) 'Prosperity to the Church of England a.r. 1742'; (3) 'Abr. Rudhall cast us all 1713'; (4) 'Christopher Swainson A.M. minister, a.r. 1742'; (5) 'Presented by R. Newsham esq. Mears and Stainbank 1883'; tenor, 'I to the Church the living call and to the grave do summon all, 1753.'

The chalice is from 1746 and a paten is inscribed 'Presented to Goosnargh Church in memoriam Charles Osborne Gordon, vicar of the parish, who died Aug. 19, 1892.' There are also a plated chalice and flagon and a plated breadholder inscribed 'Presented to the Parish Church of Goosnargh by Townley Rigby Knowles esq. in memory of the late William Shawe esq. 1872.'

The registers begin in 1639, but are imperfect up to 1675.

In the churchyard to the south of the tower is a circular stone shafted sundial on two circular steps, the plate of which is dated July 1746 and bears the name of the Rev. C. Swainson. Further east is the socketed base of a churchyard cross. The oldest dated gravestone is 1668.