A Brief History of
The Ancient Chapel of Maghull
This is a Grade 2* Listed Building
No records survive of the building of the Chapel which, therefore has to tell its own early history. It was probably built at the beginning of the thirteenth century, possibly during or just before the reign of Henry III, in which there was a renewal of piety and church building in England. This followed the Lateran Council of 1215 and the wise leadership of the Cardinal Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton.
We know the approximate date the Chapel was built because the arches between the two parts of the Chapel are “transitional", that is to say the columns are Norman/Romanesque, but the two arches are pointed, or Early English.
At one time there was a Nave. What is now left is only the chancel and the north-aisle chapel or Lady Chapel. It must have been quite poor and low, as witnessed by the sloping line of stonework, on the outside wall at the north side of the porch, which marks the position of the former north aisle roof.
The Latin Mass would have been celebrated in the Chapel, probably according to the Sarum Rite. This would have been replaced by the Services of the First Prayer Book of Edward IV in 1549.
In 1755, the medieval nave was pulled down as being too poor and small, and a new brick nave was built. This was enlarged in 1830, after which time the Chapel looked as in the painting by the door.
The extension of 1830 was paid for partly by levying a church rate of 6d in the pound for two years, and partly from a grant from the Incorporated Society for promoting the Enlargement, Building and Repairing of Churches and Chapels. A board on the south wall of the Chapel commemorates the grant.
Shortly after this the Chapel was made a Parish Church. Previously it had been a Chapel of Ease in the Parish of Halsall. However, even when enlarged, the Chapel proved to be too small and inconvenient for the growing population of Maghull, and between 1878 and 1880 the present Parish Church was built.
In 1883 the ‘modern’ part of the Chapel, the 130 years old brick nave, to the south and west and the western extension to the north aisle, along with the gallery were demolished.
The Porch was built of stone from parts of the demolished building. The west and south walls were rebuilt, and the Chapel as we see it today, was re-roofed with the original slates.
The earliest known record of the Chapel is dated 1367 when Thomas de Maghull stated that “He dare not go to Church or visit anyone in the town without protection” this followed an attack on him, with bow and arrow, by John the Mercer and others. The earliest known priest for the Chapel is recorded as “John, Capellanus de Mayle” in 1461.