".....PEAL OF 8 MUSICAL BELLS....."

...the said 'Willm. Dobson....shall and will on or before the 30th day of Aug next cast manufacture and provide for the said church of Newton a new Peal of 8 musical Bells which shall weigh in the aggregate 66 hundred (weight) and a half of which the tenor bell shall weight fifteen hundred weight.

 

And shall and will convey the same carriage free and hang the same in the Tower of the St. Church of Newton with new Stocks and with 8 new wheels 8 new sets of bolts spikes and other iron work and with proper Brafes Gudgeons Clappers Screws Rollers Stays & Ropes.  And shall and will furnish and put up new frames wherein to fix the said Bells made of the best sound oak....

St Luke's Church, Bold Place, Liverpool, is passed by hundreds of people everyday. Sometimes without a second glance to the reason why it is still there, nor the reasons of its elaborate history, nor knowing that the tower still contains the first ever metal bell frame in the world, still in situ.

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Gone are the Brides, gone are the bells that rang out from the tower, and in its place is an empty shell. A bombed and burnt out building lacking in roof and windows, but growing in history each day.  This website brings you the full story of the Church, from the laying of the foundation stone, the long and varied story of the bells that were destined for another Church in Liverpool. Also the night of the bombing when the bells came crashing down in the tower and amazing stories of people who remembered the night of the bombing. See unique pictures of the interior of the Church how it was. Rare views of the exterior and shots of the all-metal bell frame, hanging in the tower by 'luck' or 'Luke' alone....The site of St Luke's had been granted to the town by Lord Derby in 1791, and it was a condition of his gift that the land should never be devoted to any other purpose than the site of a Church. It is also noted that no burials have ever taken place in or out of the building or within its grounds.

 

Previous to this event, however, much time and labour had been expended in excavating the hill side and forming the level plateau on which the Church was to be built. Some progress was also made in sinking the foundations, and the entire space was surrounded by a wall of solid masonry, six feet in height, and in the Gothic style of architecture, with monastic entrances or gateways. In this condition things remained for some time, and two or three years afterwards, when the walls of the Church were well up, a dispute arose as to a strip of land on the Bold Place side.

 

This led to a lawsuit and the works were in consequence immediately stopped.

 

The order to ‘cease working’ is said to have been so sudden and abrupt that the workmen gathered up their tools, and at once departed, leaving the building materials in various forms of picturesque and chaotic confusion.

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One large stone, en route to its final resting-place in the structure, is said to have been left attached to a crane and suspended like Mahomet’s coffin, between heaven and earth, where it remained with other disjointed fragments, till the legal dispute had come to an end, and the works were resumed.

 

This, however, did not take place for several years, and during that period the unfinished Church must have presented a sorry spectacle to the passers-by, lying in its helpless and deserted confusion. In 1826, the building operations were again commenced, and pushed rapidly forward, so that in 1829 the Church was ready to be opened, and this ceremony was performed by Sir Geo. Drinkwater, Mayor at the time, and son of the James Drinkwater, who laid the foundation stone in 1811.

 

The Church, however, was not fully completed externally till a later of the steps forming the flights in front, were removed by the corporation in order to admit of the street being widened.  

We will be describing the History of St Luke's Church via the eyes of Thomas Henry Bankier, who wrote the history of St Luke's in the 1900's.  It has been suggested that a sketch of history of St Luke's, from its beginning to the present time, would not be unacceptable to the congregation at large, and might present some features of interest for the public.  

 

Placed in a commanding position, visible from the river and from many parts of the city, and not devoid of something imposing in its external appearance, St Luke's is more to engage the attention of strangers in the city. Regarded also from within, there is a lightness and certain degree of elegance in its internal aspect, which does not disappoint the spectator who is attracted within its portals.  Its history too, has been somewhat eventful, marked by several pauses some of long duration in the gradual progress towards completion.  

In looking back upon the circumstances narrated in the foregoing sketch, and the changes which have taken place in the localities mentioned, we must be struck by the varieties brought about by the ‘whirligig of time’ and the widely differing uses to which the same localities have been applied in the lapse of years. Where meditative kine once reposed in peaceful security and the daisy and heath-bell spread their blossoms to the sun, we now see the flare of gas lamps, the hurrying crowds and swift electric cars, as in other instances, when the picture is reversed, gallant ships sail over, what were once the busy haunts of men.

 

St Luke’s Church was built after the design of the late Mr John Foster, who was at the time the Corporation Architect, and it is said to have cost between forty and fifty thousand pounds. Mr J Grindrod and Mr Heatherington were the building contractors. The style of architecture is Gothic; and although a composition; it has considerable unity and merit. The conjunction of architectural forms of different periods is very conspicuous in the tower where we have the late perpendicular style with rectilinear panelling; combined with the flowing tracery of the fourteenth century which overlaps the belfry windows.

 

The external aspect of the building is no doubt open to criticism, and has its defects as well as its merits, like all other sublunary things; but upon the whole, we may safely aver that, except to the practiced eye of the architect, due in great measure to the height and vaulted form of the ceiling, and the slender proportions of the columns which support it. Some critics are of opinion that this effect would have been still further enhanced, if the ceiling of the centre aisle had been raised considerably above; instead of being nearly on a level with, that of the side aisles; but others think that this elevation would have interfered with the acoustic properties of the Church.  The gallery, which occupies the west end, though no doubt useful as affording additional seat room, is by no means ornamental, and interferes with the clear vista, which would otherwise be obtained from the chancel to the choir vestry door.

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The internal arrangements have also undergone sundry and decisive changes at various periods, and a succession of incumbents with their attendant train of wardens and other officials, have arisen, appeared for a little time, and passed away, since the Church was solemnly dedicated to the worship of God, and first joyous peal of bells rang from its lofty tower.

 

The following details regarding the locality and surroundings of what is now the site of St Luke’s Church, were gathered from the recollections of a Liverpool octogenarian, who had stepped back in memory sixty or seventy years to enlighten old members of the congregation, regarding what was familiar to his eyes in the days of his youth.

The plot of land on which St Luke’s Church now stands was granted by Lord Derby to the town about the year 1791, and it was a condition of the gift that the land should never be devoted to any other purpose than the site of a Church, or graves opened for the like purpose in the surrounding space.

 

The environs of the Church, at this period, presented a widely different aspect from what they now exhibit; green fields and quiet lanes being the prevailing features of the landscape. On the north side, what is now Leece Street, was a narrow lane, leading up to the hill to fields and meadows, transformed at the present day into Rodney, Hardman, and Hope Streets. Bold Street, now the Bond Street of Liverpool, was then a narrow sandy lane, with a hedge on one side and fields and rope-walks on the other, little dreaming, in the rustic simplicity of its youth, of the bustle and fashion which were to wait upon its mature age.

 

Where Renshaw Street now runs its course was then a path through fields and ropewalks, with a style at the end. Berry Street was a narrow lane leading to the moorlands and pastures of Toxteth, and the waterworks soon after occupied the site of what is now Roscoe Lane and Knight Street.

The green hillside on which St Luke’s was afterwards to rear its Gothic structure, and point its sculptured pinnacles to the skies, was then a field for cattle, with sheds for their housing on the Leece Street side.

 

The future site of the Church seems to have remained in much the same condition as described till the 9th April 1811, when the foundation stone of the edifice was laid. The following account of the proceedings is obtained from Billinge’s Liverpool Advertiser of the 15th April of the above year:

 

“The first stone of a new Church intended to be built in Berry Street, facing the top of Bold Street, was laid on Tuesday last about one o’clock by James Drinkwater Esq, our present worthy chief magistrate. On this occasion several of the Aldermen and Common Council, with most of the Clergy of the Established Church and a great number of other Gentlemen, preceded by the Mayor and Corporation Officers, walked to the ground in procession, when the ceremony of laying the first stone was performed with all due solemnity. The Church is intended to be a spacious and handsome structure, in the best style of Gothic architecture, and will be dedicated to St Luke. The town has long wanted an ornament of this kind, and the inhabitants have equally wanted the additional accommodation of a new Church.”

It is said that the interior narrowly escaped being utterly ruined in appearance by the gallery being carried entirely around the Church. The Chancel, unusually large in proportion to the main body of the Church, is a copy of the Beauchamp Chapel in the Parish Church at Warwick and is certainly of sufficient dimensions to be a small Church in itself. Various changes were effected in the internal arrangements of the Church, chiefly during the incumbency of the Rev. Arthur Gore, who kindly favoured us with a description of these alterations, of which he was an eye-witness, and mainly instrumental himself in bringing about.