St John the Evangelist, Crawshawbooth - Centenary Booklet 1892 - 1992


It needed additional horses to bring it the last few hundred yards up the hill to the church. The inscription reads 'Come weary souls for Jesus bids you come, The music of the Gospel leads us home'. It has a rich, mellow tone, which echoes for a considerable distance through the valley, most effectively on a still, summer evening.

Inside the church, the scene is set by red Rainhill sandstone, said to be chosen because of the connection, through Tarporley, with Chester Cathedral, but again, a popular material of the time. (It was used for the Anglican Cathedral at Liverpool, for which Paley and Austin were design competition finalists.) The pillars in the nave are alternately round and octagonal, with plain moulded capitals, which with the 'Decorated' style tracery in the aisle windows would be unremarkable were it not for the carefully controlled transition to the more 'Perpendicular' chancel, and the square headed windows of the clerestory.

The shafted pillars of the chancel arch, and that carrying the tower over the north transept, are the most decorative stonework in the building itself. Round the moulding is carved in Latin quotations from Psalm 148; 'Praise the Lord from the heavens', 'Praise the Lord all peoples' and 'Young men and maidens, old men and children, praise the name of the Lord'. These are particularly apt in their context with the choir and the organ, which is tucked under the tower.

At one point during the planning stage, the organ was sited in the south transept, the adjoining chapel serving as choir and clergy vestries. In practice, the opposite happened; organ and vestries moved north, replacing the proposed 'Morning Chapel', and the south side of the chancel opened up to take more pews and let in more light through archways giving a view to the altar.

The original organ was hand-pumped, a job delegated to the choir boys, but was replaced in 1924 by the best available at that time. The makers were Rushworth and Dreaper of Liverpool; it is electrically blown and has pneumatic action, costing 2,000 when new.

Having said that the building itself has very little elaborate decoration, it must now be added that the furnishings, mainly provided as memorials to the Brooks family in the first part of the 20th century, do more than compensate. The first of these, the Reredos, is mainly of alabaster, its framework picking up the trefoil headed panels from the chancel, topped by a pierced frieze and canopies over the figures of the Evangelists. This was given by William, 2nd Baron Crawshaw, and his brother Marshall Jones Brooks in memory of their father Thomas who died in 1908.

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Reproduced by kind permission of St John's P.C.C. 1992