Celebrating Margaret Rope - stained glass-artist

The Papal Zouaves: The Victorians who fought for the Pope

The Cockpit of Conscience: Society, Politics, and Religion in Stuart Lancashire, 1603-1714 by Dr J. A, Hilton

Video on St Patrick's Church, Wigan

A Study Day on the Life and Significance of Master Laurence Vaux: 23 November 2019

The First Catholic Charitable Society of Preston

The Biographical Dictionary of Greater Manchester Architects, 1800-1940

Images of Pyne Chalice, Standish Vestment and Wrightington Burse

New book on Gerard Manley Hopkins in Lydiate

Bicentenary of St Mary's and St John's, Wigan

Celebrating Margaret Rope - stained glass-artist

The following article updates research on Margaret Rope's work, including a window in Upholland College. 

The missing windows

by Ch. Art-Story

One of the issues in researching the works of any artist is the tantalising knowledge that other unknown or unseen works by them are still out there, yet to be revealed. Sometimes we know of these ‘missing’ works only through a teasing phrase in an old document. Some, we know did exist at some point, but […]

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More information abut Margaret Rope including her biography, bibliography, and illustrations can be found on Wikipedia at Margaret Agnes Rope by clicking here.


The Papal Zouaves: The Victorians who fought for the Pope

by Fr Nicholas Schofield, Monday 26 April, 7pm

Fr Nicholas Schofield is giving a Zoom presentation on 26 April at 7pm. He will talk about the volunteers from Britain and Ireland who flocked to Rome to help the Pope defend the Papal States between 1860 and 1870.

Fr Nicholas is the Parish Priest of Our Lady of Lourdes and St Michael in Uxbridge. He is the Archivist of Westminster Diocese and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. His publications include The English Cardinals, The English Vicars Apostolic as well as numerous articles in the Catholic Times.

The Zoom link is:

 Meeting ID: 826 1740 8535

 Passcode: XQNtz0

 Registration is not required but it is possible to register for the talk on Eventbrite using the following link.


The Cockpit of Conscience: Society, Politics, and Religion in Stuart Lancashire, 1603-1714 by Dr J.A. Hilton

Takes up Thomas Fuller’s 1662 characterisation of Lancashire as divided between Protestants and Catholics, showing how religious and political division undermined the county’s status-conscious society, obsessed with religion, a tension manifested in outbreaks of witchcraft and demon-possession, and culminating in civil war. It considers how the abolition of monarchy and Episcopalian Protestantism resulted in the proliferation of radical Protestant sects, followed by the restoration of king and bishops, and then another revolution which led to the eventual rejection of communal religious violence.
Dr Anthony Hilton is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and Editor Emeritus of North West Catholic History. His publications include Catholic Lancashire: From Reformation to Renewal, 1559-1991.

Obtainable from J. A, Hilton, 282 Whelley, Wigan, Lancashire, WN2 1DA, for £18 inc. p. & p.



Video on St Patrick's Church Wigan

This is a video about St Patrick's, Wigan, saved from closure and revived:

When you click on it the link takes you to the Vimeo website which tells you the video is private and asks for a password. The parish has published the password which is:


The video's creators write:

In 2017, the Archdiocese of Liverpool issued St Patrick's Catholic Church in Scholes (a small district of Wigan, England) with a notice of closure. This decision came as a result of declining congregation numbers and a lack of new priests to succeed an ageing clergy. In response, the local community rallied together against the Archdiocese to reverse the decision and maintain St Patrick's as a historic part of the local community. This film documents the fight of local parishioners to save their beloved church from closure, details their resistance to the increasingly secular modern society, and depicts the unwavering spirit of a tight-knit Catholic community with St Patrick's firmly at its heart.




A Study Day on the Life and Significance of Master Laurence Vaux (Catholic Priest and Confessor of the Faith) on the 500th Anniversary of his Birth

The Wrightington Burse

The Wrightington Burse

Saturday 23rd November 2019
Holy Mass at 9.30 am St Joseph's Church, followed by a Study Day on Master Laurence Vaux and the History of St Joseph’s Wrightington at St Joseph’s Parish Centre (talks commencing at 10.30 am). Including an exhibition of Catholic artefacts describing the local history of Standish and Wrightington

Dr Tony Hilton (North West Catholic History Society) will give the keynote presentation on Laurence Vaux

Tea/ Coffee provided - Bring a packed lunch

Address: St Joseph's, Wrightington, Lancashire, WN6 9PA Tel.: 01257 676027


Rev Dr Andrew Unsworth, organiser of the Study Day, writes:

I would like to announce two study days dedicated to the Catholic Priest and Confessor of the Faith, Master Laurence Vaux to mark the 500th Anniversary of his birth this year.

I invite you and any of your friends and colleagues interested in the Catholic History of the North West to the main symposium on Saturday, 23rd November, to be held at the Parish Hall at St Joseph's, Wrightington, Lancashire, WN6 9PA (Tel.: 01257 676027).

On Saturday 23rd November, I would like to begin the day with the celebration of Holy Mass at 9.30 am (attendance is optional) in St Joseph's Church.

The day’s proceedings will be held in the Parish Centre (adjacent to the Church) beginning at 10.30 am with tea, coffee and a welcome.

11.00 am A talk on the ‘Biography and Significance of Master Laurence Vaux’ (Dr Tony Hilton).
11.45 am A talk on the ‘History of St Joseph’s Parish, Wrightington in its 125th Anniversary Year’ that will refer to the influence of Vaux in Standish and Wrightington (Rev Dr Andrew Unsworth).
12.30 pm Lunch (It suggested that attendees bring a packed lunch. Drinks provided throughout the day).
1.15 pm The Vaux Vestments: The Standish Vestment, the Ushaw Opus Anglicanum Vestment, the Wrightington Burse and their possible links to the Poulton Vestment kept at St John the Evangelist Church, Poulton (Rev Dr Andrew Unsworth).
2.00 pm Questions and Answers/ Discussion.
2.45 pm Summary and Conclusion.
3.30 pm Conference ends.

An exhibition of photographs and artefacts to mark the 500th anniversary of Vaux and the 125th anniversary of St Joseph’s and its link with Vaux will be held in the Parish Centre until Saturday 14th December, 2019. The exhibition will conclude on that day with a presentation on the Standish Vestment (aka the Vaux Chasuble or Manchester Vestment) by Ms. Joanna Booth at 11 am and will close with the celebration of Holy Mass.

If you can think of any person or organisation that would be interested, would you please send this information to them? Please note the instruction on the need to bring a packed lunch.

Could you please ask them if possible to confirm their intention to attend the gatherings on either day?

Many thanks.

Rev Dr Andrew Unsworth




The First Catholic Charitable Society of Preston

Peter Smith has made available online his work so far on the First Catholic Charitable Society of Preston. It can be found at:

The brethren’s history has been told by two of the town’s priests. Firstly by Fr James Splaine in 1895, when he was rector of St Wilfrid’s.  And secondly by Fr Bernard Page, of St Walburge’s, who incorporated the material in Fr Splaine’s book into his own history of the charity, and expanded on it.

Peter is trying to trace copies of the history of the society by Fr James Splaine's history. Anyone who can help on this or who has any additional information about the society please contact the editor.

Page book cover2 Title page




The Biographical Dictionary of Greater Manchester Architects, 1800-1940


The Biographical Dictionary of Greater Manchester Architects, 1800-1940 is now live on-line, at providing details of over 1,000 architects, 400 partnerships and 10,000 buildings.

[Our editor writes: The nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth were the heyday of English Catholicism, and, therefore, of church building, especially in the Greater Manchester and Merseyside sub-regions. This Biographical Dictionary will be invaluable to students of the Catholicism in the period.]

The title “Biographical Dictionary” is important as it is essentially a text-based resource dealing with architects known to have been born, trained, lived or worked in Greater Manchester between 1800 and 1940. The resource is searchable by name or location of architect, practice, or building. Architects based in the Greater Manchester area have their known works catalogued as fully as possible. Details of architects based elsewhere in the United Kingdom are included insofar as their commissions relate to the Greater Manchester area. Likewise, the works of architects who were born or trained in Manchester but practised elsewhere in the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, and the USA are less comprehensively catalogued. The database currently

 Information is mainly based on contemporary newspaper reports and, from 1843, The Builder. Much detail has then been cross-referenced to civil records of Births, Marriages, Deaths and Census Returns. These methods have long been standard for academics and family historians and have been recently publicised by Professor David Olusoga’s TV programmes “A House Through Time”. 


Images of Pyne Chalice, Standish Vestment and Wrightington Burse

Images used for the article by Fr Andrew Unsworth in the NWCH Journal 2019 can be found here.


New book on Gerard Manley Hopkins in Lydiate

Gerard Manley Hopkins : the Lydiate Connections by Will Daunt

gm hopkins the lydiate connections cover small

Gerard Manley Hopkins' poetry had an enormous influence on the evolution of twentieth century poetry in English, and two of his most distinctive poems were written while he was posted to the Jesuit church of St. Francis Xavier, in Liverpool in 1880-1881. 'Felix Randal' tells of the life and death of a parishioner that the poet had ministered to. 'Spring and Fall' was composed during one of Hopkins' frequent visits to the village of Lydiate, where he was sent to say Mass at Rose Hill House. This local guide reflects particularly on what might have inspired the poem: the countryside, the people and Hopkins' own life. It includes specially-commissioned artwork by Susan Hodgkins, and concludes with a local guided walk and an Afterword by the renowned Hopkins scholar, Professor Joseph Feeney S.J.

Proceeds from the sale of this book will be given to the charity, Hospice Africa.

The book was published in June 2019.  The author will be giving a talk on Hopkins at 7.30 on Monday 22 July, at Lydiate Village Centre, Lambshear Lane, Lydiate L31 2LA. Copies of the book (cover price £6) will be on sale for £5.

The book is available from Amazon here. It will soon be available from Waterstone's in Ormskirk.



Bicentenary of St Mary's and St John's, Wigan

To mark this bicentenary, two articles from our journal, usually restricted to members, are made available here: one is on Wigan's first post-Reformation Catholic church of 1688, and the other is on the controversy that led to the building of two Catholic churches about a hundred yards apart in 1819.

St Mary's and St John's Wigan (PDF)

 To further mark the bicentenary, we make available another article from our journal. This article from the 2017 volume is on Thomas Mewburn Crook, the sculptor who carved most of the sculptures in St Mary's.

Thomas Mewburn Crook (PDF)