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ABOUT US

HISTORY

The church was built at the sole expense of Mrs Eliza Ann Reade, the first incumbent's wife, to serve the needs of the then developing village of Tue Brook. The architect was George Frederick Bodley who created a fine example of a church built in the style of early English Decorated Gothic, (an architectural design that was popular during the fourteenth century), and intended for Catholic worship in the developing ritualism of the High Church party.

 

Liverpool Mercury, Friday 24 June 1870

 

ST JOHN'S, WEST DERBY - The CONSECRATION, fixed for this Day, (Friday) has been unavoidably POSTPONED.

 

Thus read the Bishop of Chester's notice of cancellation. The following day the Liverpool Daily Post printed an article under the headline "The Bishop of Chester and Church Decorations" which reported that the Bishop had refused to consecrate the church on the grounds that he considered that certain features in the church's decorations were objectionable, in particular, the reredos and two stained glass windows.

 

The postponed consecration took place on Saturday 20 May 1871. The event was reported in the Liverpool Daily Post on Monday 22 May 1871. The report, in hindsight, reveals some interesting anomalies.

 

The report states that 'the walls and roof in every direction are extensively decorated' and are shown to be so on a contemporary sketch. The church was more richly decorated then than it is now. There were full length paintings of saints on the clerestory walls and a Jesse Tree on the west wall all of which, and more, were painted out during the 1910 restoration. However, in places, the paint is beginning to peel off the walls and the original stencil work can now be seen. And what has been revealed is a rather austere medieval gothic design.

 

The report goes on to say that 'the church is heated by means of hot water pipes for which purpose four stacks of iron pipes are piled at each corner'. However, down the central and side aisles of the church there is ducting with large iron grills thus supporting the unsubstantiated claim that the church was originally heated by a hot air system.

There is also an extensive description of the organ's specification, which was altered significantly during the 1895 rebuild. The report bemoans the fact that the organ does not have a pneumatic action. Originally the organ console was situated in what is now the Lady Chapel and it had a pneumatic action.

 

It is interesting to speculate at this point as to whether the Bishop cancelled the consecration in 1870 because certain features of the church's decorations had incurred his displeasure. Or, did Bodley seek the Bishop's approval to postpone the consecration because he (Bodley) was dissatisfied with certain aspects of his own work? i.e. the heating system did not heat the church. Leaks from the pneumatic system to the detached console caused the organ to malfunction. Perhaps Bodley's dream of early English decorated gothic stencil work had succumbed to the vogue of Victorian gothic fantasy. In addition there was the question of the 'offending' reredos.

 

The original reredos was a triptych of the Albrecht Durer School with scenes from the Passion of our Lord from his betrayal to the visit of St Mary to the Sepulchre. At that time, 1870, many people had thought that the reredos had come from a Roman Catholic Chapel: at that time, Roman Catholics were promulgating the doctrine of the Infallibility of the Papacy, much to the consternation of protestant England.

 

As to whether the Bishop was influenced by the threat of sectarian violence or that it was preferable for a gothic church to have a gothic reredos and not a renaissance one, regardless of its pedigree, is a moot point. Anyhow, the reredos was removed and replaced by the present simpler reredos, which Bodley had designed personally. The triptych doors were added in 1991 in memory of Fr. Sampson's parents and sister.

 

The new parish was a mix of 'working class' and 'middle class' people who were migrating out of the overcrowded and insanitary town of Liverpool into its suburbs - this can be ascertained from the style of terraced houses in the area. The Rev. and Mrs Reade did not live in the parish, but in her family home The Elms' in West Derby. Mrs Reade and her maternal family were generous benefactresses. In 1847 Mrs Reade's mother, Mrs Thornton, had paid at her sole expense for the building of St James' Church West Derby. In 1875 St John's School was opened which was built and furnished at Mrs Reade's expense. In 1876 Mrs Reade paid for the extension to St James' Church, which include the Chancel and the Thornton Memorial Chapel.

 

By 1874 concern about the new ritualistic practices infiltrating the Church of England had come to a head. The controversies centred on the use of vestments and incense, Eucharistic doctrine, and the ceremonial of the Mass. On 15 June Queen Victoria told Archibald Campbell Tait, Archbishop of Canterbury, that something must be done about 'Romanizing tendencies' and the Bishop of Bath and Wells, Lord Arthur Hervey, declared that Ritualists were as fanatical as the Indian Mutineers or Scottish Covenanters.  The Archbishop conspired with Queen Victoria and her Prime Minister Disraeli to frame the legislation 'to put down ritualism' and abolish 'the Mass in masquerade'. On 15 August, the Public Worship Regulations Act, which laid down severe penalties for liturgical innovators, was passed to widespread protestant rejoicing.

 

The Rev. J.C. Reade was evidently a Tractarian, but he was sufficiently cautious or tactful in his presentation of the faith as not to attract any hostile demonstrations against the church. Coloured stoles were worn at this time but Eucharistic vestments had not been introduced. When Mrs Reade died in 1879 the patronage of St John's passed on to her husband, who resigned the living a year later. He appointed, as his successor, the Rev. John Lindsey who was a Scottish Episcopalian with 'advanced views'. Fr Lindsey introduced vestments and the use of incense and thus encroached upon the (new) Bishop's zones of sensitivity. It was thought that his attitude and the introduction of liturgical changes were cavalier and tactless but it is more likely that he was politically naive.

 

In 1880 Liverpool gained city status and the appointment of a Bishop is the prerogative of a Prime Minister. At that time Disraeli, the Prime Minister, had suffered a crushing defeat in the General Election. There was no love lost between Disraeli (Tory) and Gladstone (Liberal, High Church and a native of Liverpool). Disraeli regarded Gladstone as "that unprincipled maniac" and Gladstone, of Disraeli, "his doctrine is false but the man is more false than his doctrine".

 

Disraeli decided to spite his arch enemy by appointing a 'low church' Bishop to the new See of Liverpool. The Dean-elect of Salisbury; John Charles Ryle. The new Bishop was rapturously welcomed by the dominant Tory party in Liverpool who regarded the large number of Roman Catholic Irish immigrants as a subversive force and any Romanizing tendencies were a Popish plot to overthrow the establishment. The Irish in Liverpool may have been numerically strong but all the levers of power; council, police, local judiciary and press were in the hands of an unholy alliance of diehard Tory reactionaries and Orangemen.

 

Fr Lindsey's ministry at St John's did not last very long - four years. The next incumbent was Fr Francis Chenevix Trench, son of the Archbishop of Dublin. His father was the Archbishop at the time of the disestablishment of the Anglican Church in Ireland in 1871. To all intents and purposes Fr Trench got on well with Bishop Ryle (the 'Old Boy' network!). Fr Trench retained the use of vestments but dropped the ceremonial use of incense. Both he and the Bishop had common aspirations - the creation of mission churches. Fr Trench established the Mission Church of the Advent in Empress Road off Townsend Lane to serve the needs of the congregation in that area of the parish. Another achievement of Fr Trench was the building of the Vicarage, which was completed in 1890. However, sectarian politics were fermenting in the Diocese and would have an impact on St John's in later years.

 

Most of Ryle's time in Liverpool was dogged by Ritualistic controversies. The most famous one concerned St Margaret's Church, Princes Road. James Hakes, a surgeon at the Northern Hospital and leader of the Protestant Liverpool Church Association, determined that that particular church ought to be 'deromanised'. Since Ryle had argued in one of his tracts that "Ritualism is a Romeward movement and a departure from the Reformation", Hakes was confident that the Bishop would give him every support in his crusade. On 29 January 1885 he formally complained to Ryle about twelve alleged illegal practices being used by James Bell-Cox, the Vicar of St Margaret's. The twelve were: using lighted candles when not required; elevating the paten; mixing water with wine in the chalice; prostration by the priest during the prayer of consecration; bowing towards the crucifix; the sign of the cross during the administration; wearing illegal vestments; singing the Agnus Dei; standing with the back to the congregation; obscuring the manual acts; the ceremonial washing of the chalice; and kissing the Bible at the reading of the Gospel.

 

The Protestant Association instituted legal proceedings against Bell-Cox. The ecclesiastical court found the Vicar guilty and suspended him from office for six months. Bell-Cox decided to take no notice of the suspension and carried on as before. The whole unhappy affair rolled on for a number of years, at one stage Bell-Cox spending seventeen days in Walton Prison. Eventually he won an appeal to the House of Lords and continued in his ministry at St Margaret's.

M Smout Four Bishops of Liverpool (Liverpool Diocesan Centenary Committee 1985) p. 17

(Fr Bell-Cox's crucifix is at St John's on a pillar in the north aisle)

In all, five priests were imprisoned for their faith under the Public Worship Regulations Act of 1874.

 

  • Rev Arthur Tooth, St James, Hatcham, London. Horsemonger Gaol, 22 January - 17 February 1877, 28 days.

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  • Rev Thomas Pedham Dale, St Vedast, Foster Lane, London. Holloway Prison, 30 October - 8 December 1880, 49 days.

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  • Rev Richard Wm. Enraght, Holy Trinity, Bordesley, Birmingham. Warwick Gaol, 27 November 1880 - 17 January 1881, 49 days.

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  • Rev Sidney Faithorn Green, St John, Miles Platting, Manchester. Lancaster Castle, 18 March 1881 - 5 November 1882, 595 days.

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  • Rev John Bell-Cox, St Margaret, Toxteth, Liverpool. Walton Gaol, 5-21 May 1887, 17 days.

 

The behaviour of the Church Association was particularly disgraceful in the case of Fr Green. In order to pay their costs they sent in bailiffs to take possession of the vicarage, turned his wife and family out into the streets and sold his books and furniture.

 

Little is known of the following incumbent, Fr Clark, other than that he was young and that he came and that he went. Fr Thompson succeeded him in 1895. He soon made his presence felt when his advanced views alienated the congregation to such an extent that they threatened to withhold from subscribing to the Easter Offering. By now the endowment of the living was negligible and the Vicar (unless he had private means) was wholly dependant upon the Offering. The congregation literally 'starved out' Fr Thompson within eight months of his arrival.

 

The Church Council, in those days, had a peculiar constitution. Under the provisions of an Act of Parliament of 1868, the Vestry (i.e. the Council), which effectively controlled the finances of the Church, was to be elected annually after Easter. Anyone (irrespective of religious allegiance) who lived in the parish was entitled to attend the meeting; and, any such who contributed regularly to a voluntary church Rate was entitled to vote. In theory, this meant that it was perfectly possible to 'pack' a meeting with non-church people who could then gain considerable power over the church and the incumbent.

This had happened to Fr Arthur Tooth in 1877 at St James's Hatcham in London when an extreme Protestant sect took control of a High Anglican church.

 

Within two months, May 1896, Fr Brockman was inducted as vicar. Problems with the Vestry, regarding his predecessor's treatment, were soon resolved for it is reported that Fr Brockman said "they starved him out: they will not starve me out". The first issue of a Monthly Leaflet appeared shortly after his induction and continued for nearly a hundred years, from which a broad history of the parish can be found. As a precautionary measure, for the first few years, the annual Vestry meetings were held on Easter Monday when troublesome people would be out elsewhere enjoying themselves.

 

Fr Brockman had already been involved in the battles for Catholic principles that were being waged at that time - he was Curate to Fr Bell-Cox at St Margaret's Princes Road at the time of his imprisonment. (See also the penultimate paragraph in St John the Baptist Tuebrook (A short guided tour).) From the outset he made it clear that the traditions of the Church would be maintained and developed. A daily Mass was established and by Easter the following year the order of service (sung Matins followed by Solemn Eucharist) changed. The office was said and the principal service became the Solemn Eucharist. The ceremonial use of incense was re-introduced at Easter 1898. The liturgical 'innovations' were carefully explained in the Monthly Leaflet before they were put into practice. In reality the liturgical changes were introduced gradually over many years, but the initial changes caused hostile reactions. On Palm Sunday 1899 the Churchwardens had 'given into custody two foolish men for molesting and disturbing the clergy during Divine Worship'. In September 1901 Fr Brockman's assistant, Fr Cave, seceded to Rome and in the December the Bishop of Liverpool, Dr Chavasse (Bishop Ryle retired in 1900), issued Fr Brockman with an ultimatum - he would not license an assistant priest to the parish so long as the ceremonial use of incense was retained. However, according to Fr Brockman their main disagreement was on the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament, which the Bishop would not sanction. Whatever the causes, Dr Chavasse implemented his threat and for the remaining 24 years of his incumbency, Fr Brockman never again had a licensed assistant. The wrath of Chavasse descended upon other churches also. With the publication of the Archbishop's 'Opinions', pronouncing the ceremonial use of incense to be illegal, Bishop Chavasse made one more attempt to make his recalcitrant clergy conform. In April 1903, an official attempt to enforce the obedience of the local High Church clergy by law was made by the introduction into Parliament of a Liverpool Church Discipline Bill, evidently intended to re-activate the now discredited Public Worship Regulations Act 1874. The Bill proved abortive, but its very submission encouraged further demonstrations, and persecution of the Anglo-Catholic Churches in the city. John Kensit, founder of the Protestant Truth Society, and later Pastor George Wise, the militant Protestant demagogue, who dominated municipal political and religious life in the city in the 1890s and 1900s, led these demonstrations. The worst disturbances at St John's were those on three successive Sundays in August 1904. The marching bands of the Orange Lodge litter Liverpool's folklore with stories of noisy processions. The bands were often preceded by a very large drum, known as a Lambeg drum.

 

1920 saw the appointment of Miss Hurst as Parish Nurse (Parish Nurses were the precursor to the District Nurse system of community health) and she stayed here for five years. In 1952 Miss Hurst retired to St John's and lived in the Vicarage for fourteen years. She gave St John's the Bell-Cox Crucifix, which had been presented to her by Fr Brockman.

 

Bishop Chavasse was incredibly mean-spirited, for in 1921 he inhibited the Dean of Chester from preaching at the Solemn Mass on St John's Day, which marked the Golden Jubilee of the Church and Fr Brockman's Silver Jubilee as Parish Priest.

 

Throughout his lonely incumbency Fr Brockman worked tirelessly to promote the principles of Catholic worship in Liverpool. His perseverance received public acclaim in 1922 when he became Chairman of the Congress Committee for the Anglo-Catholic Congress being held in Liverpool.

 

Bishop Chavasse resigned his See in 1923 and retired to Oxford where he established St Peter's Hall, a theological training college. The new Bishop of Liverpool, Dr David, was more tolerant than his predecessor; he expressed a wish to visit St John's and made an important gesture by authorising the Vicar to appoint an assistant priest. The Episcopal visit occurred on the Eve of Candlemas 1925. Unfortunately, within a few months, Fr Brockman was called to his rest and was never able to appoint an assistant. He was succeeded by Fr Brancker.

 

Many people in the Diocese thought that Bishop David's tolerance was enigmatic. On the one hand he praised the Oxford Movement for its richer form of worship and the use of devotional treasures of old time. On the other he sought a cessation of services connected with the reserved elements of the Blessed Sacrament - Benediction. Some parishes refused to obey. Bishop David, faced with a refusal of conformity, placed a ban on three parishes: St Thomas's Toxteth, St Margaret's Princes Road and St Stephen's Grove Street. St John's was not affected by the ban. However, Fr Brancker took the Bishop to task for taking disciplinary action against priests for "an excess of devotion" whilst, at the same time, tolerating real abuses and flagrant disregard for the Prayer Book on the part of some of the Low Church clergy.

 

Bishop David, with his liberal tendencies, took exception to the Roman Catholic attitude towards mixed marriages. This resulted in the relationships between the Diocese and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese becoming soured and very acrimonious. This dispute suited some Evangelicals who were eager for warfare against the Roman enemy and were willing to exasperate any situation for their own ends.

 

Meanwhile, at St John's, a liturgical advance was made on Good Friday, 1930, when for the first time the Mass of the Pre-sanctified was celebrated. For the second year running, a procession of Witness round the parish was made in the evening.

 

Fr Brancker was aware of the acute need for a social centre in the parish and with great enthusiasm created various fund raising schemes for the building of the Brockman Memorial Hall. The foundation stone was laid in February 1931 and the building was completed in the September of the same year.

 

The economic realities of the time were overshadowing parish life. In 1933 Fr Brancker made a Christmas appeal for money to help needy parishioners. He mentioned in the leaflet that 'one of our parishioners had to pawn her wedding ring to buy her daughter a pair of shoes...and there are several families quite as badly off. In the following spring there was a Children's Mission during which ninety children made resolutions and received badges: a matter of local pride. Only two months later juvenile delinquency was causing such problems in the city that the Magistrates appealed to Sunday School Teachers to help Probation Officers with visiting. Once again at Christmas Fr Brancker referred to the acute problem of poverty and noted that over 80,000 were unemployed in Liverpool. An Occupational Centre for the unemployed, sponsored by local churches, was opened in Morris Green.

 

Fr Tayler succeeded Fr Brancker in 1936. His main interest lay in improving the quality of life for the children in the parish. He introduced some liturgical changes to bring St John's more into line with current Anglo-Catholic practice. The Gloria took its proper place at the beginning of the Mass and in 1937 saw the introduction of the traditional Candlemass ceremonies and the blessing and imposition of Ashes on Ash Wednesday.

 

In the December of 1937 Mr Ralph Sawle made history for St John's as the first ordinand from the parish. At the beginning of Lent, 1938, 'picture' Stations of the Cross were placed in church and 'Stations of the Cross' was introduced on Saturday evenings.

 

In his New Year message of 1939 Fr Tayler said 'One of the greatest blessings is that we are not permitted to see into the future...' His words had particular significance that
autumn when war broke out. The parish (in common with most of Liverpool) suffered disruptions, which must have been disheartening to Fr Tayler: most of the school children
in the parish were evacuated to South Wales. A side effect of this mass exodus was the loss of boys from the choir. It was a loss from which St John's and many other churches were never able to recover.

 

In the June of 1940 Fr Tayler issued a warning about the possibility of air raids, and gave some useful directives about material and spiritual preparation for such contingencies - providentially, as it proved, because a stick of enemy bombs fell on 18 September, straddling the parish, killing eight people (including Fr Morris, curate of St Paul's, Stoneycroft, and his wife), and demolishing most of the Brockman Hall. The church and the vicarage escaped with superficial damage. The grim realities of war were now very close to home.

 

The 'May Blitz' laid waste to most of central Liverpool and killed thousands of people. Locally, the casualties were not heavy, but an ammunition train blew up on the line between Tuebrook and Anfield, and caused a good deal of damage including some to the Day Schools. A local man, Jack Guinan, received a commendation for helping to move the train away from the populated area.

 

The Holy Week preacher that year was Fr Trevor Huddleston C.R., who in later years was to become famous as a very outspoken opponent of apartheid in South Africa. Later that
year the curate of St Columba's, Anfield, Fr Sampson, was asked to preach on the occasion of the Dedication Festival, when the Asperges (sprinkling with Holy Water) were introduced for the first time before the principal Sunday Mass.

 

During the summer of 1943 there was much concern, in church circles, about proposed schemes for Christian re­union and about the proposed Education Bill (Butler Education Act 1944) and its effect on Church Schools. A Council for the Defence of Church Principles had been formed and the response from priests (in Liverpool) had been most encouraging.

 

In March of 1944, Bishop David announced his forthcoming retirement. Fr Tayler praised the Bishop for his kindness to Fr Brockman in his latter years and for his courage in attending a Liverpool Anglo-Catholic Conference, but hoped (in vain as it transpired) that, before leaving Liverpool, the Bishop would lift the 'ban', which still operated against St Margaret's Princes Road and St Stephen's Grove Street.

 

When Fr Sampson was appointed as Vicar in 1946 he regarded it as not so much a new experience but more of a homecoming. He had visited St John's a number of times when he was curate at St Columba's. Part of his charge there had been an area around Townsend Lane, which was part of St John's parish. He was responsible for most of the services at the Mission Church of St Michael - it was the old Church of the Advent under a new name.

 

Dr Martin, the Bishop of Liverpool, who had not been able, through illness, to induct Fr Sampson in August had offered to come instead on the Sunday after Christmas. His coming attracted the attentions of the National Union of Protestants, and a part of thirty or so attempted to disrupt the High Mass and made it impossible for the Bishop to preach.

 

Mr Conalty, the Church Warden, constructed a new altar dedicated to St John the Baptist. It incorporated the organ-screen facing into the nave and a carved front from discarded choir stalls. In the spring of 1949 work began on the rebuilding of the Brockman Hall and it was completed early in the new year of 1950. At the same time war-damage repairs were made to the roof and walls of the south aisle. In addition a permanent set of Stations of the Cross were commissioned and carried out by M. Anton Dapre of London.

 

There was a successful Children's Mission in 1950 that centred on a mysterious character called Gooly Gann Gilly much to the delight of the children involved. In the December of 1951 a long serving member of the congregation retired to Bath. It was Miss Drummond who was the founder and head of Holly Lodge Girls' School.

 

The following year a memorial to the fallen in the Second World War, which would take the form of a new statue of St John the Baptist with a canopy, was designed and executed by Sir Ninian Comper. The carved name panels under the statue were the last pieces of work to be carried out by Mr Conalty.

 

Following the Papal revisions of 1954, evening Masses were introduced on Holy Days of Obligation in 1956 and in 1958 the strict use of the Western Rite was modified to that of the Interim Rite for the 9.45 Parish Mass as it was deemed to be more easily understood by newcomers. The Second Vatican Council of 1962 heralded cataclysmic changes to such an extent that some people thought that Anglo-Catholicism would become outdated.

 

In the same year, Fr Diamond came to serve in the parish as a curate. His charismatic personality soon attracted teenagers to him. His coming marked the beginning of a long-lasting Mission to the unchurched youth in the parish. At first he held Sunday night dances in the Brockman Hall that followed a special evening Mass for teenagers. It was here that the embryonic Beatles once performed. The dances became so popular that an alternative venue had to be found. In 1963 St John's acquired the old Methodist Hall in Marlborough Road and Fr Diamond was appointed as full-time Warden of the Youth Centre. The Youth Centre increased in popularity and well over 200 teenagers regularly attended the Sunday evening Mass and dance, as did a number of Bishops. There were regular holidays in the Isle of Man where over seventy teenagers would sleep rough in the church hall of St Matthew's Douglas. Fr Diamond did not neglect the elderly and the Youth Centre sponsored a number of pensioners' outings including one which catered for 500. During the Tuebrook festival, in 1969, history was made in Tuebrook on Sunday 18 May when the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Liverpool, the Most Rev. George Andrew Beck, conducted a joint service with the Lord Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Rev. Stuart Blanch, together with a Methodist Minister, the Rev. D. Bullen and Fr Sampson. The Salvation Army provided the music.

 

In 1965 Fr Hope, who was later to become Archbishop of York, came to St John's as curate. He and Fr Diamond proved to be a dynamic duo and catalyst for many happenings in the parish. When Fr Hope was priested in 1966 Bishop Blanch, the Bishop of Liverpool, asked Fr Sampson to conduct the Deacons' Ordination Retreat and preach at the Cathedral for the Ordination. The occasion also marked the start of a major fund-raising scheme for the restoration of the church for its Centenary. All the monies were raised from within the parish and from the congregation of St John's. In 1970 Fr Sampson was made Canon Diocesan of the Cathedral and Bishop Blanch agreed to pontificate at the Centenary Celebrations.

 

Fr Sampson deeply appreciated the Bishop's gesture and regarded it as a vindication of the work of faithful priests here in the past, and all that St John's had stood for in the century of its existence. On a lighter note, Fr Sampson had a keen interest in amateur dramatics. He wrote and produced many plays in his time here. His work was of such a high standard many people thought that he could have easily made his mark in this world as a producer in a theatrical company. In typical modesty Fr Sampson said 'I can hardly claim to have been a new broom at St John's: inheriting an established Catholic tradition, the liturgical changes I made were minimal'. Fr Sampson's ministry at St John's is crowned with an aura of deep spirituality. His influence had spread far and wide and became almost legendary within the Church of England. Bishop David Sheppard of Liverpool, and Bishop David Hope of London attended his funeral, in 1994.

 

Fr Sampson's incumbency lasted forty-eight years. One of the major achievements of the time was the complete restoration of the interior in 1970 by Mr Stephen Dykes-Bower, for which the Church received a Heritage award.  However, changes in society and spiritual life diminished the previously vibrant life of the parish. Since the 1970 restoration the Church was showing all the signs of age, with deterioration of the fabric.

 

The next incumbent, Fr Paul Nener, came from St James' Haydock in 1995. Interestingly the first Vicar of Haydock and the first Vicar of Tuebrook ran a plainsong society in Liverpool. Fr Nener was a doctor, trained in Liverpool. Before his ordination he worked as a mission surgeon in South Africa.

 

Over the years since 1995 St John's has began to reflect something of the modern Liturgical Movement with more lay involvement, although it is still somewhat old fashioned 'High-Church'.

 

At the time of writing the upper half of the exterior fabric has been restored and the parish awaits further works to the building. The interior decorations will require work once the building is free from damp. The tower contains a peal of eight bells, two service bells and a dumb (practice) bell. The bells have been retuned and rehung in a new bell frame constructed by voluntary labour. They were rung for the first time on Easter Sunday 2003 after a silence of ten years. The Brockman Hall has been fully established as a Community 'Healthy Living Centre', and the Church and the Centre are fully accessible to all; there is also an enclosed Church Garden. It is planned to build a new Vicarage in the Vicarage Garden and develop the old house appropriately.

 

The parish has always had a good social life and this still continues, giving the congregation the opportunity to offer Christian hospitality. The nearest the Vicar comes to his old job is cutting into celebration cakes - at one time with the Lord Lieutenant's sword!!

 

A church building is a Sacramental presence in the world and St John the Baptist, Tuebrook expresses this in every way. This important, Grade 1 listed building is part of England's architectural and spiritual heritage, and one of the finest examples of high-Victorian gothic architecture. It stands in the midst of a busy thoroughfare still calling people to the worship of God in the beauty of holiness. Thank God for the inspiration of its architect and benefactress.

 

Behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world.

 

The Parochial Church Council is grateful for the support given to the building by English Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Historic Churches Preservation Trust and the Millennium Bell Fund, as well as many other generous donors.

 

© John G Read

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