Lancashire Churches

St. John’s Church in Out Rawcliffe

An interesting and very individual brick church of 1838 in the Romanesque style.

As one travels along the quiet lanes of the rural Fylde, this building comes as a surprise. The student of architecture, seeing it from afar, might think it a municipal pumping house by Sir Joseph Bazalgette, and filled with steam engines. However, Out Rawcliffe, St John, is a remarkable, and very individual essay in the Romanesque style by John Deerhurst, built in 1838, the year after he designed Preston Prison.

John Deerhurst’s building is a simple red brick rectangle covered by a double-pitch roof. At each corner is a slender turret. The one to the south-west serves as a belfry. The west front is a symmetrical composition with a door flanked by round-arched windows. These light two small rooms. The doorway itself has stone detailing. Above is an uninterrupted row of nine arches, which are alternately window and blank. Surmounting this, in the centre of the gable, is a circular stone panel with chevron around its edge, and three vertical stripes in the centre: do they represent The Trinity? The turrets have two elongated arches on each face, and are topped by a cornice with brickwork chevron below. The effect is rather Regency Italianate.

The north and south walls have two tiers of round-arched windows, and the east wall has three stepped windows. Inside, the church is one large space. There is a west gallery, and one imagines there were three originally, but local knowledge suggests not. Behind the altar is an uncomfortable arrangement of arches – one over two, and two below each of these. A three-decker pulpit is positioned in the north east corner. The church originally had two aisles, but now has one, following the installation of larger pews from St John’s, Preston, in 1988.

The north and south walls have windows with exceptionally good later C20 stained glass. These mainly depict single figures, including St Cecilia and St George, and are by Abbott & Co of Lancaster, and others. The colourful east window shows Christ with children, and has a storybook feel to it. The west wall has a monument to the FFrances. It is a rectangle on brackets, divided into two round arches enlivened with chevron, supported on columns with scallop capitals.

The former vicarage to the east continues the round-arched theme. Nearby is Out Rawcliffe Church of England Primary School.