ST LUKE'S CHURCH - LIVERPOOL
(The Bombed Out Church)
The two world wars became horrific episodes in the worlds history claiming the lives of millions of people, maiming and injuring many more, and depriving families of their loved ones.
The city of Liverpool with its suburbs and its neighbours across the river Mersey played its part in both conflicts, its sons went to war where they faced dangerous times in foreign lands and waters, witnessed terrible events, and fought in some of the bloodiest battles ever known.
This site is dedicated to all the Merseyside people who gave such a huge sacrifice during the two world wars.
To their undying spirit and their ability to carry on against all odds, be it here at home or on foreign sea or soil.
".....PEAL OF 8 MUSICAL BELLS....."
St Luke's Church, Bold Place, Liverpool, is passed by hundreds of people everyday. Sometimes without a second glance to the reason why it is still there, nor the reasons of its elaborate history, nor knowing that the tower still contains the first ever metal bell frame in the world, still in situ.
Gone are the Brides, gone are the bells that rang out from the tower, and in its place is an empty shell. A bombed and burnt out building lacking in roof and windows, but growing in history each day.
This website brings you the full story of the Church, from the laying of the foundation stone, the long and varied story of the bells that were destined for another Church in Liverpool. Also the night of the bombing when the bells came crashing down in the tower and amazing stories of people who remembered the night of the bombing. See unique pictures of the interior of the Church how it was. Rare views of the exterior and shots of the all-metal bell frame, hanging in the tower by 'luck' or 'Luke' alone....
The site of St Luke's had been granted to the town by Lord Derby in 1791, and it was a condition of his gift that the land should never be devoted to any other purpose than the site of a Church. It is also noted that no burials have ever taken place in or out of the building or within its grounds.
The foundation stone was laid on the 9th of April 1811 by James Drinkwater Esq, who was the Chief Magistrate of Liverpool. (James Drinkwater's grave can be found in St James Cemetery). It became known as the 'Doctors Church' because of the large number of Rodney Street Surgeons resident within its parish. However progress was soon halted when a dispute occurred regarding land ownership. A lawsuit followed and building operations were halted for over ten years before it was finally settled and work commenced. The design of the church had been drawn up by John Foster Snr and the church was built by his son, John Foster Junior, who was the Corporation architect and surveyor.
A Strangers Guide to Liverpool describes the Church:
The Church is built of free stone and is one of the finest specimens of florid Gothic architecture in the Kingdom. On each side there are ten handsome lofty windows, with beautifully pointed heads, decorated with tracery, the arches of which rest on neatly sculptured corbel heads. Between the windows rise well-proportioned buttresses, bearing a canopy and terminate by an elaborately carved pinnacle.
A BRIEF DESCRIPTION
ST LUKE'S ON BBC NORTHWEST
EXTERIOR OF ST LUKE'S CHURCH
On the sides and end of the chancel the pinnacles rise not higher than the top of the parapet, and a small distance behind these rises a beautiful range of octagonal pinnacles. A magnificent window occupies the east end, and the body of the building is finished by a parapet, crowned with an embrasure. At the west end rises a square tower, which has a most stately appearance, and in the higher part is adorned with perpendicular panel work. The principal entrance is from the tower, on three sides of which are placed richly ornamented doors.
The belfry is lighted by four elegant windows, surmounted by neat carved work, with compliments for the clock dials; above which rise four sound windows, with foliage decorated heads, and the whole is finished by a parapet, with octagonal turrets at each angle. A spacious and lofty flight of steps adds much to the general appearance of this structure.
The interior is adorned with noble columns, from which spring a number of gothic arches, dividing the nave from the aisles, and supporting by a groined ceiling, the whole of which is remarkably beautiful. In consequence of there being only one small gallery, at the west end, the entire inside has a superb effect. The upper parts of the windows are decorated with stained glass, and the large one in the chancel is intended to be embellished with a fine painting. The ceiling is richly ornamented, and when viewed from the east end of the chancel offers an uncommonly grand coup d' ail. This Church, is filled up with pews and the whole was erected from the design by Mr Foster. A large and powerful Organ, built by Flight and Robson, of London, is placed in the left of the church.
This website was an idea that I (Jonathon Wild) had thought about for many months. That I could promote a small website with pictures of the interior of the Church on how it looks like now. Not everyone has been in St Luke's during its open days (Please check the USL page) and I wanted to present a well-constructed website. During my research on the Church, I contacted a local Church Bell-ringer, Bryan McCahey. Bryan is the author of Peace and Good Neighbourhood, (the book that you can purchase on the 'Buy the Book' page) and I requested to use very small items from the book in my site, as well as to promote rare stock of the first edition of the book.
Bryan has done sterling work on the history and research for this Church, going back many years. It is thanks to Bryan that I was able to ever attempt such a website. He has spent many hours in the Record Office, many hours in research and written many letters to many contacts in his quest to find additional information on the Church and to piece together the history of the bells and the world's first all-metal bell frame within the tower.
During my conversations with Bryan, I was given the very rare glimpse of copies of the stunning 1931 pictures and like many of the readers to this website, could not believe my eyes. During his research on the Church, Bryan left no stone unturned. He had access to the files in Church house and went through them but there was very little available, just various accounts and expenditures, mostly for fuel, he seems to recall. He also met with the daughter of one of the Vicar's. She gave him an oil painting of the Church interior and several photos of the interior pre-blitz. It is via Jean Parry (the daughter of the Vicar of St Luke's in 1931) that these pictures came to light after months of correspondence with Jean Parry and months of very determined research and hard work by Bryan!
I am very grateful for Bryan's permission to reproduce these pictures on the site - it is simply down to his many years of hard research on the Church that he was rewarded with such pictures, and I am indebted to him for his kind offer to reproduce them on this website, which without, would have been a standard view of the Church as you see today.
...the said 'Willm. Dobson....shall and will on or before the 30th day of Aug next cast manufacture and provide for the said church of Newton a new Peal of 8 musical Bells which shall weigh in the aggregate 66 hundred (weight) and a half of which the tenor bell shall weight fifteen hundred weight.
And shall and will convey the same carriage free and hang the same in the Tower of the St. Church of Newton with new Stocks and with 8 new wheels 8 new sets of bolts spikes and other iron work and with proper Brafes Gudgeons Clappers Screws Rollers Stays & Ropes.
And shall and will furnish and put up new frames wherein to fix the said Bells made of the best sound oak....