click to return to 
Formby Home & Contents

The Parish of Formby
in the County of
-- Lancashire --

click to return to Lancashire Home

The parochial chapel appears to have stood originally in Raven Meols, but the site of the modern St. Luke's Church, with its ancient burial ground, is now within the limits of Formby. Little is known of its history. In 1334 a settlement was made of a dispute as to the tithes of the fishery at Raven Meols between the rectors of Walton and Sefton.The patronage is attributed to the Halsalls in the sixteenth century, and the Formbys in the next. The rector of Walton has, however, from 1723 presented the curate in charge, as he does the vicars now.

Its fate after the Reformation is not known. As it was far distant from the parish church and the people adhered to the old religion, it is probable that services were not very regularly held; in 1590 it was not mentioned, while about 1612 it was reported that only 'a reading minister' served this chapel. The Commonwealth Surveyors of 1650 described the chapel as ancient and parochial, and recommended that the township be formed into one independent parish.

At the beginning of the eighteenth century, the chief resident family having conformed to the Established religion, and the old chapel having become almost overwhelmed by the sand and otherwise unfit for service, the church of St. Peter was in 1736 erected upon a piece of waste land in a central position, some of the material of the old chapel being used. This church, enlarged in 1830, is a plain brick building, with a campanile containing one bell; the chancel was enlarged and a side chapel built in 1873.

St. Luke's Church was built in 1852–5 near the site of the ancient chapel; a district was formed for it in 1888. Holy Trinity Church was erected in 1890, and a district was assigned in 1893. At Ainsdale, St. John's has been licensed for services since 1887.

A school was erected on the waste in 1659 by the inhabitants; an endowment was given in 1703 by Richard Marsh.

The Church of England Victoria Home for Waifs and Strays was opened in 1897.

Protestant Nonconformity appears to have been unknown in Formby until 1816, when the Rev. George Greatbatch, a Congregationalist minister of Southport, preached here. No regular services were held by this denomination until 1881, when the Assembly Room was used; a school chapel was opened two years later. The Wesleyan Methodists built a chapel in 1877; they have also a mission room.

The Wesleyan Methodists and the Congregationalists also have places of worship at Ainsdale, the latter an offshoot of the Southport churches, 1877–9. As already stated, the greater part of the population adhered to the Roman Church at the Reformation, and so late as 1718 Bishop Gastrell found that a quarter of the inhabitants were still faithful. In 1767 the number of 'papists' had increased to 363. The names of the priests have not been recorded before 1701, when Fr. Richard Foster, S.J., was here, his stipend being £16, of which £10 was given by the people. The Jesuits had charge of the chapel down to 1779, but secular priests also visited the place. After a short interval one of the latter, the Jesuit order having been suppressed, received charge here in 1784, and the succession is continuous from that time. A new chapel was built in 1798 on the old site. The church of Our Lady of Compassion was erected in 1864 at some distance from the old one.

The church of St. Anne, Freshfield, erected in 1886, is connected with a girls' industrial school in charge of the Sisters of Charity, formerly carried on in Mason Street, Liverpool. It is served from Formby. At Freshfield also is St. Peter's school for Foreign Missions, begun in 1884, associated with the Mill Hill College founded by the late Cardinal Vaughan.

From: 'Townships: Formby', A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 3 (1907), pp. 45-52

Formby Home & Contents ©Lancashire OnLine Parish Clerks

Lancashire Home