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Church of St Mark

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

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Latitude: 53.7439 / 53°44'38"N

Longitude: -2.5082 / 2°30'29"W

OS Eastings: 366582

OS Northings: 427627

OS Grid: SD665276

Mapcode National: GBR BTX4.SM

Mapcode Global: WH971.F5W4

Plus Code: 9C5VPFVR+HP

Entry Name: Church of St Mark

Listing Date: 19 April 1974

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1239292

English Heritage Legacy ID: 416898

Location: Wensley Fold, Blackburn with Darwen, BB2

County: Blackburn with Darwen

Electoral Ward/Division: Wensley Fold

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Blackburn

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lancashire

Church of England Parish: Blackburn St Luke, St Mark and St Philip

Church of England Diocese: Blackburn

Tagged with: Church building

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796/5/48 BUNCER LANE


Church sited close to Witton Park on the outskirts of Blackburn and associated with C20 housing. 1836-8 in Romanesque style to the designs of Sharpe (almost certainly Edmund Sharpe). Transepts and NE vestry added later (c.1880) in a matching style. Rusticated ashlar with hammer-dressed ashlar dressings, slate roofs. Unusual plan of nave with W porch; asymmetrical transepts, the S transept with a W porch; tower over the chancel; shallow sanctuary with 3-sided apse.

EXTERIOR: characterised by pilasters, Lombardic friezes and round-headed openings. Wide W end with shallow-pitched gable and clasping pilaster buttresses. The W end is divided into bays and 2 tiers below the gable by pilasters and a string course and decorated with Lombardic friezes. 4 round-headed lower tier windows; 6 to the upper tier; roundel in the gable. Gabled W porch in a matching style with a roll-moulded outer doorway with nook shafts with waterleaf capitals. The N and S sides of the church are divided into tiers by a string course. The lower tier has round-headed windows to each bay, the upper tier with round-headed arcading, each bay with a small, central round-headed window. The tower has a square base decorated with pilasters and Lombardic friezes. The upper stage is octagonal with 2 tiers of gabled round-headed windows to each face of the octagon. Short stone spire. There is a shallow bay E of the tower and then the lower-roofed apsidal sanctuary with large lancet windows. The S transept has lancet windows and a gabled S end. The N transept has a 3-sided N end and all its faces are gabled. A NE vestry abuts the tower and is roofed on a W/E axis.

INTERIOR: tall, narrow round-headed E and W tower arches with plain imposts. Roll-moulded arches to the transepts with semi-circular responds with volute capitals. Flat nave ceiling divided into panels with one large ornamental plaster roundel to a ventilator. The transept roofs have plaster vaults with timber ribs. W gallery on cast iron columns has been screened off from the body of the church. Pretty timber Gothic style chancel screen is a World War I memorial. Polygonal timber pulpit with pierced friezes on a stone stem; conical timber font cover. Font with cylindrical stone bowl decorated with blind arcading on a cylindrical stem. Nave benches with concave shouldered ends and frontal with blind round-headed arcading. Benches in the S transept are also Romanesque in style. Encaustic tiles to the chancel floor. The sanctuary has an E window of 1838 by Willement. Good later Victorian stained glass in the transepts.

HISTORICAL NOTE: a photograph kept in the vestry shows the S side of the church before the S transept was added.

Edmund Sharpe was a pupil of Thomas Rickman, who was a prolific architect designing many churches and country houses. Rickman designed a number of churches in Lancs. including advice in 1831 on the restoration of St.Mary's Blackburn (now the Cathedral) after a fire. Probably through this connection Sharpe was able to get Willement, an outstanding stained glass artist of the period, to do the east window of St.Mark's. Sharpe was an authority on Gothic architecture and in 1838 designed another church in Romanesque style (Christ Church, Chatburn (q.v.), altered). Sharpe designed churches and country houses and went into partnership in 1845 with E.G. Paley who had become his pupil in 1838. Sharpe retired in 1851.

A remarkably early and unusual example of a Romanesque style church with a quirky plan and fine tower. Pevsner considers it 'one of the most interesting churches in Blackburn'. Later additions and fittings are sympathetic to the style of the original.

Pevsner, Lancashire 2: The Rural North, 1969, 67.
Colvin, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1978, 688 for Rickman.
Girouard, The Victorian Country House, 1979, 441 for Sharpe.

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