The Church Today
The present church was largely built 1830-4 for the Rev Miles Formby to the designs of J W Casson. It was built in a stripped Early English style of the “Commissioners” type located a little to the north of the original church known as Melling Chapel. The new building’s plan was similar to that of today except that the tower was open on the ground floor and the Chancel was smaller. The Church was designed to accommodate as large a congregation as possible with a balcony and flat ceiling. Several monuments of the Molyneux and Bootle families from the earlier church were incorporated into the structure. The Rev Miles Formby is also commemorated in a memorial on the North wall following his death in1849.
In 1872 it was decided to improve the church and make it more convenient and comfortable. The flat ceiling in the nave was removed and replaced by the present open timbered roof. A new organ chamber was built together with a new vestry, the chancel was extended, the old south doorway was replaced with a porch and the lower open part of the tower was enclosed and a better access made to the remaining rear balcony. The works included new pine pews and a heating system which must have been a real benefit on winter mornings! The building remained in this form until the 1980’s when a small kitchen, toilet and social area known as the Gore Room were created under the balcony.
This was a building of medieval origin and dedicated to the Holy Rood (Holy Cross).The earliest records date from about 1190. It consisted of a chancel with side chapel and a central tower with a short nave It was located to the south of the present building at the highest point in the churchyard close to the fluted Tuscan column. It was similar in appearance to the Old Church at Maghull in the grounds of St Andrews Damfield Lane. The Churchyard was originally much smaller and was probably more circular It is thought that there is the base to an ancient cross which may have been a preaching cross in the burial ground before the chapel was built and dedicated to the Holy Rood. It is likely that the churchyard was a pre-Christian site and would have been in use for many centuries before Christianity came to the area.
200 yards away on Tithebarn Lane is the former Victorian vicarage built by Rev Miles Formby and the earlier tithe barn which was used by the vicar as a stables and coach house.
Prior to 1830 part of the vicar’s income would have been made from a local tax on crops known as tithes and these would have been stored in the “tithe barn” The Tithebarn was converted into a parish hall at the end of the 1914-18 War and was later extended to its present form in the late 1970’s. An even earlier “vicarage” remains as a private house 150 yards to the west of the Church in Rock Lane and is known as Rock House.
300 yards away on School Lane is the former Melling School built by Miles Formby in 1844 in local stone in a Tudor Gothic style. The pebbled ashed houses on Tithebarn Lane close to the junction with School Lane are the buildings forming the earlier school built by around 1720. This is a very brief history. If you would like to find out more you may care to explore the British History Online website here. We hope to include more items of interest relating to the history of the church later.