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Church of St Silas

A Grade II* Listed Building in Blackburn, Blackburn with Darwen

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Latitude: 53.7516 / 53°45'5"N

Longitude: -2.5073 / 2°30'26"W

OS Eastings: 366648

OS Northings: 428482

OS Grid: SD666284

Mapcode National: GBR BTX1.ZW

Mapcode Global: WH96V.GY9T

Plus Code: 9C5VQF2V+M3

Entry Name: Church of St Silas

Listing Date: 19 April 1974

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1239161

English Heritage Legacy ID: 416923

Location: Billinge and Beardwood, Blackburn with Darwen, BB2

County: Blackburn with Darwen

Electoral Ward/Division: Corporation Park

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Blackburn

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lancashire

Church of England Parish: Blackburn St Silas

Church of England Diocese: Blackburn

Tagged with: Church building

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Parish church of 1894-1900 by Paley & Austin, with tower added in 1913-14.

MATERIALS: Snecked and ashlar sandstone, with freestone dressings, slate roof.

PLAN: Aisled nave, south-west porch, west tower, chancel with north transept organ chamber, south transept chapel, south vestry in angle of aisle and transept, north vestry and boiler room.

EXTERIOR: Parish church in free-Perpendicular style, of long but imposing proportions. The three-stage west tower has angle buttresses and south-west polygonal stair turret, crowned with pierced battlements and pinnacles. The west doorway is under a triangular head, with strap hinges to original doors, and above is a five-light west window. In the second stage are pairs of small cusped ogee-headed lights, above which is a clock and frieze of raised shields below the string course. In the upper stage are pairs of two-light openings with louvres, except the south side where there is only space for one opening on account of the turret. The six-bay buttressed aisles have large four-light windows and gabled buttresses every second bay. The tall embattled porch is canted at the angles, with diagonal buttresses and has a richly moulded entrance arch, with iron gates, under a statue of St Silas in a niche, surmounted by a pinnacle. The inner doorway has a foliage frieze in the arch. Transepts have embattled parapets, and pairs of square-headed two-light windows. The lower canted south vestry, its roof concealed by a freestone parapet, has square-headed windows incorporating round-headed blind lights and cusped glazed lights. The doorway has a continuous moulding and ribbed doors with strap hinges. The chancel has a parapet of blind quatrefoils, south window similar to the transepts, and seven-light east window. An asymmetrical accent is provided by a south-east polygonal turret under a spirelet.

INTERIOR: The interior has lofty proportions. It has a triple-chamfered tower arch, double-chamfered chancel arch, and double-chamfered nave arches on Perpendicular square piers set diagonally. Transepts have similar arches. Nave and chancel have open arched-brace roofs on corbels, except for a boarded ceilure over the sanctuary. There are round-headed sedilia and piscina with continuous mouldings. Screens conceal service rooms inserted at the west end in the 1990s. Walls are exposed red-sandstone ashlar, contrasting with the yellow exterior stone. The floor is stone-paved, except for wood-block floors below pews, and glazed relief tiles in the sanctuary.

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: The church is richly furnished in a high-church fashion. The font, dated 1896, is a single octagonal piece with buttresses and blind tracery, with early C20 tall Gothic wooden canopy. Benches have moulded ends with arms rests and panelled backs. Churchwardens' pews have ends with blind tracery and finials. The Runcorn stone pulpit, dated 1896 by Dent & Marshall of Blackburn, is square with blind tracery, statue niche at the angle, on a square pedestal with attached shafts. There are screens at the west end of the nave (1918) and to the south chapel (1950) in late-medieval style. The chancel has choir and priest's stalls with blind tracery ends and diamond and circle finials, and frontals with blind tracery. Communion rails have brass balusters and iron gates, as well as a wooden rail and posts with Gothic detail. The alabaster reredos was imported from Italy in 1915. It has figure panels in relief, below canopies, and outer canopied niches incorporating superimposed statues. The reredos is flanked by alabaster blind arcading. Stained-glass windows include two by Morris & Co, one of which is by J.H. Dearle (1908), and one by Henry Holiday (1921-23).

HISTORY: The church was built mainly in 1894-1900 to a design drawn up in 1878 by Paley & Austin, architects of Lancaster, except for the tower which was added in 1913-14. Hubert Austin (1841-1915) and Edward Paley (1823-95) formed the most successful C19 church-building architectural practice in north-west England. Their buildings are noted for creative handling of space and line and often, as here at St Silas, they are in a Perpendicular style. The church of St Silas is estimated to have cost £9,584. The church developed from a Sunday School built in 1834 to serve a village community outside of Blackburn, and in which services were held from 1846. A new school was built in 1884-85 where services were held until the parish church was built alongside.

Hartwell, C. and Pevsner, N., The Buildings of England: Lancashire North (2009), 122.
Whalley M & R., The Parish Church of St Silas, Blackburn: A short history (1990).

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The church of St Silas, Preston New Road, Blackburn, is designated Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* It is a well-preserved church by one of the leading architectural practices active in north-west England, and has an interior notable for its spaciousness, nobility and grandeur, imparted from careful handling of proportions.
* The church is especially notable for its complete range of high-church fittings, including the fine alabaster reredos, seating, font and pulpit.
* It has stained-glass windows by Morris & Co and Henry Holiday, 2 of the leading glass manufacturers of the early C20.

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