Text Box: St Marie’s, Southport
In the Deanery of Sefton Coast North and the Archdiocese of Liverpool


Tel: 01704 531229

Email: stmaries.southport@rcaolp.co.uk

St Marie on the Sands - a brief history

by Mary Aldred


The original church of St Marie on the Sands, opened in 1841,  was designed by

A.W.N. Pugin.  A sketch of the building, captioned "St. Mary's on the Sands,

Southport", appeared in The Dublin Review', of 1841. It was described thus:-

"This building     which possesses every requisite for a parochial

church - nave, chancel, rood and screen, stone altar, sedilla,

sacrarium, southern porch, stoups for hallowed water, font and cover,

bell and turret, organ and loft, open seats, stone pulpit, stained glass and is capable of holding 300 (???) persons."

In 1852, the south aisle was added and this, again, was designed by Pugin.

The church was practically rebuilt in 1875. Additions included - a north aisle, a baptistry, the lengthening of the nave and the raising of the main roof.

The new nave gable, pierced by three lancet windows and a wheel window was surmounted by a belfry rising to 60 feet. The roof of the nave was raised by 11 feet and celestory lights introduced. The new north aisle was lighted by a traceried window and six two-light windows, corresponding in design with those on the south aisle. In the chancel were placed two fine windows and a wheel window.

For the Diamond Jubilee of the church, in 1901, a new high altar, designed by Peter Paul Pugin, was installed.  This necessitated raising the chancel roof by 5 feet and the bricking-up of the two low-level windows. These two windows can now be seen over the confessionals.  The wheel-window, now hidden from view in the church, is still visible from the cemetery, at the rear of the building.  The chancel was enclosed by an alabaster altar-rail this being topped with marble.  A pair of ornate brass gates were then added.

The altar stands forward of the end wall of the chancel and is mainly of white stone, richly carved. The steps approaching it and the super-altars, for carrying candlesticks and flowers, are of Malplaquet marble. In the centre and above the tabernacle is the throne surmounted by a richly-carved and crocketted canopy borne upon marble shafts and carved stone caps and bases, whilst the front of the altar is divided into three panels.  The centre panel depicts the Lamb of God.  On the left is a pelican pecking its breast to feed its young from its own blood -symbol of The Blessed Sacrament.  On the right is a chalice a a Host surrounded by a vine.  The reredos, which is also of carved stone, is erected against the end of the chancel and occupies the whole of the centre wall of the apse and a portion of the wall on each side of it and the altar being used for a flight of steps which lead to the throne. The reredos is divided into five bays, the centre coming back of the canopy over the throne and those one each side being filled with traceried panels.  In these panels the three inner panels are of adoring angels.  Originally, to the left, was a full length painting of St Edward.  Many years later this was replaced by a painting of Our Lady.  The other full length painting is of St. Anne.

No records reveal the name of the artist who painted the ceiling in the chancel.

In 1924 a facade of Portland stone was added. A report states that "there were no architectural alterations".

In the 1990s an inner narthex was erected which resulted in a seating reduction

and in 1999 the church was re-ordered, to comply with Vatican guidelines.


Pugin's design of the original St Marie's was copied several times.  An example

is St. Paul's, Oatlands, Tasmania which was opened in 1851. 

This church, however, appears to be the same, today, externally.

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