St Mary of the Assumption
FROM T0WNELEY TO ST. MARY OF THE ASSUMPTION
Some of the Priests recorded as having celebrated Mass at Towneley between 1650-1819:
Rev. William Richmond Rev. Edmond Kendal
Rev. Peter Gifford Rev. John Harrison
Rev. John Howse Rev. Thomas Caton
Rev. Thomas Anderton Rev. Louis Merlin
Rev. Charles Lupton
Priests who served at Burnley Wood Catholic Chapel:
1819 Rev. Charles Lupton
1823 Rev. Richard Hodgson
Parish Priests' Pen Portraits (NB only dearly departed priests' pen portraits are featured)
Priests who served at St. Mary of the Assumption:
1849 Rev. John Worthy (sorry, no information as yet)
1849 - 1852 Rev. James Boardman
I’m informed this sketch of Fr Boardman appeared in the Burnley Express (date unknown).
Born 18 May 1811 in Ashton in Makerfield, James Boardman was ordained December 1837 and served curacies at St Mary, Mulberry Street, and at Salford Cathedral. In 1849 he was appointed Rector at St Mary, Burnley where he served for 3 years, in 1852 he was appointed to St Marie, Bury and appointed to the first Cathedral Chapter, he died there 28 years later.
1852 - 1861 Rev. John Rimmer
Canon John Rimmer was born in Hutton, Liverpool in 1816, he was educated at Sedgley Park, Ushaw and in Rome, he was ordained in 1842, he served at St Augustine's, Granby Row (1842-50), at St Marie, Bury (1850-52), he was appointed a Canon in the first diocesan Chapter in 1852, he was then sent to St Mary, Burnley as Missionary Rector, but following a breakdown in health in 1861 he moved first to St Mary, Chipping (1861-66), then to St Mary, Ashton under Lyne (1866-68), and finally to Ribchester (1868-71). In 1871 he returned to his Missionary Rectorship at Burnley, this time staying until ill health again forced his resignation in 1889. He then retired to Huyton where he died 20 April 1891.
Atticus described Canon Rimmer in 1872 as thus : "He is a robust, sharp spirited, middle-aged gentleman; looks well, as if this world agreed with him; is straight, tall as a Lifeguards man, dignified, shiny headed, serious; has a fondness for cochin china poultry, large pears, mahogany furniture, and the Lives of the Saints; is much respected; has a lasting love for a fine oak tree facing his house, can preach well, eat well, walk well, and work energetically"
In 1860, Canon Rimmer commissioned Edward Welby Pugin to remodel the sanctuary at St Mary's Church, Burnley. The work was paid for by the noble Townley family of nearby Townley Hall.
The new sanctuary was formally blessed on the 30 May 1861 and was described in the national newspapers of the time as "the finest chancel and the most magnificent altar in the country". The re-opening Mass was performed by Bishop Roskell of Nottingham and Bishop Turner of Salford.
The work included a new pulpit, new brass altar rails, but the centre piece was the exquisite high altar and reredos, hand carved from Caen stone by Farmer of London, to Pugin's designs, the carved panels, depicted on one side The Last Supper, and on the other The Sermon on the Mount, flanked by statues of St John the Evangelist, on one side, and St Hubert on the other.
1861 - 1871 Rev. Thomas J. Flanagan
Father Thomas Joseph Flanagan was curate of St. Mary's from 1853-61 and Parish Priest from 1861-71. That’s all we know, but it’s a great photo!
1871 - 1891 Rev. John Rimmer
No, it's not deja vu, this was his second stint at St Mary's.
For information please see first entry, 1852 - 1861 above.
1891 - 1903 Rev. James Morrissey
Born 6 November 1852, he was ordained 21 December 1875 and spent his entire ministry at St Mary, Burnley, first as curate to Canon Rimmer, then as Rector from 1891, he was appointed Canon in 1897 and died 22 March 1903. He must have been a popular and well-loved man - see the photos of his funeral procession on the St Mary's photos page.
1903 - 1905 Rev. Thomas Corbishley
Thomas Corbishley was born in Hackney 8 March 1846, two of his brothers were also ordained Priests, these were Fr Robert Corbishley and Monsignor Charles Corbishley (Rector of Ushaw). Thomas was trained at Ushaw and ordained 15 August 1874 at Salford Cathedral.
Fr Corbishley served as curate at the Cathedral 1874-1882, then as Professor at St Bede's College 1882-1884, he was on the staff at the Salford Seminary from 1884 to 1892 then took over the charge of Salford Cathedral in 1892, he was appointed Canon Penitentiary in 1893. In 1903 Canon Corbishley was sent to take over as Rector at St Mary's, Burnley where he also served as Dean, the move was clearly not good for him and he died of pneumonia 1 January 1905 at the age of 58.
1905 - 1913 Rev. John B. Cooke
John Bromley Cooke was born in Macclesfield 25 June 1859, he was educated at the Salford Catholic Grammar School, and at Ushaw being ordained 28 July 1889 at Salford Cathedral. After ordination Fr Cooke was appointed to the staff at the Salford Catholic Grammar School (SCGS), which was at that point the Diocesan Junior Seminary, in January 1890 following the death of Mgr de Clerc, Fr Cooke was appointed Rector and Headmaster of the SCGS, the school was thriving and oversubscribed but was being hampered by its inadequate buildings, housed as it was in two converted houses on The Crescent. In 1891 following the institutional collapse of St Bede's College, Bishop Vaughan decided to merge the two schools utilising the St Bede's buildings in Alexandra Park, and in September 1891 the SCGS repopened under the title of St Bede's College (confusing I know)... Father Cooke moved over with many of his staff, taking the position of Vice Rector under Fr Casartelli. In 1894 Fr Cooke was committed to hospital for a serious and life threatening operation and it would be two years before he could return to active ministry.
In 1896 Fr Cooke was sent to St Mary's, Burnley as curate to ease him gently back into work, a year later he was made Rector at St Mary's, Oldham, moving in 1903 as Administrator (Dean) of Salford Cathedral, where he was appointed Monsignor in 1904, before finally returning to St Mary's, Burnley in 1905 as Rector. In 1913 with his health once more in collapse, Mgr Cooke retired to live with his sister in Victoria Park, Manchester where he died 7 August 1913.
1913 - 1939 Rev. Joseph Tynan
Monsignor Provost Tynan was once a great power in the diocese and was tipped as a potential Bishop on more than one occasion.
Joseph Tynan was born 1862 in Camross, Queens County, Ireland, he was educated at Kilkenny and matriculated at the Old Royal University of Ireland in 1879, where he caught the eye of Bishop Herbert Vaughan who was on one of his clergy trawling missions in Ireland. Having agreed to join the Diocese of Salford, Tynan was sent to the Gregorian University, Rome, where he obtained a Bachelor of Divinity, a Licentiate, and then a Doctorate of Divinity, while simultaneously studying for a Bachelor of Canon Law. Ordained 1885 at the age of 23 he was returned to England was appointed curate to Canon Lynch at St Wilfrid's, Hulme.
In 1887 Fr Tynan was appointed to St Michael's Church, Ancoats where he became chaplain to Manchester's Italian colony, becoming the first priest to offer Mass in their native language, and founded the Manchester Italian Society. In 1895 he was sent to St Gregory's Church, Farnworth to succeed Monsignor Boulaye as Rector, during his 18 years there he built the presbytery, enlarged the schools, extended the church, and left the parish almost completely debt free. In 1913 he was asked to move to St Mary's Church, Burnley where he cleared the parish debts and established the new mission of Christ the King to serve the Manchester Road district.
Bishop Billsborrow also appointed Tynan as his Canonist; a post he served in for 30 years, conducting all diocesan Roman correspondence, and running the Marriage tribunal, he was appointed a Canon of the Chapter in 1902, and Domestic Prelate to His Holiness in 1904 with the title Monsignor, in 1926 he succeeded as Canon Theologian later becoming Provost, he was also Synodal Examiner of the clergy, and examiner of the junior clergy. When asked about his hobby he stated that it was 'the noble subject of Canon Law'.
Provost Tynan suffered from diabetes and in the mid 1930s his health began to fail, he died in his Presbytery in Burnley 12 August 1939. On the day of his requiem the town shut down with all shops, works and factories closing their doors so that that employers and employees could line the streets to pay their respects to one of Burnley's greatest citizens.
1939 - 1954 Rev. John J. Ingram (seen here resplendent in his lace and his Chapter furs)
John J. Ingram was born 11 October 1888 in Portsmouth, the son of James and Alice Ingham, his father was an interesting character who had served 18 years with the British army and during the 1880 Anglo-Afghan War had been on the 300 mile march to Kandahar with Lord Roberts. After leaving the army James Ingram had joined the Prison Service and risen through the ranks to be Chief Warden of Wormwood Scrubs. John Ingram was educated at St Bede's College (his father being stationed at Strangeways c1900), then training at Ushaw before undertaking an MA at Cambridge, living at St Edmund's Hall, he was ordained 18 July 1915 at Salford Cathedral.
In 1915 the new Fr Ingram was appointed to St Bede's College as Professor of Mathematics, a post in which he would serve for 18 years, during this time he was known at the College by the nickname Pug Ingram. In 1933 he was appointed Parish Priest at St Robert, Longsight, six years later he removed to Burnley as PP at St Mary's where he would spend 15 years, he was elevated to the Cathedral Chapter in 1946, but retired in 1954 due to increasing ill health, he died 1 August 1955 at the age of 66.
1954 - 1972 Rev. Louis A. Maxwell
Louis Anthony Maxwell was born 1 January 1895 in Chorlton cum Hardy, his brother Alfred was also a priest of the diocese, he was educated at St Bede's College, and was ordained at the English Martyrs, Whalley Range 29 April 1921. Fr Maxwell then served 15 years as curate at St Joseph, Audley, moving in 1936 to St James the Less, Rawtenstall, before given his first parish in 1940 when he was appointed to the charge of The Sacred Heart, Gorton, after ten years in Gorton Fr Maxwell moved to Moston as PP at St Dunstan's, then four years later he was sent to Burnley as PP at St Mary of the Assumption and would remain there until his death 18 years later.
1972 - 1995 Rev. Francis Deeney
Canon Frank Deeney - who had the title of the Father of the Salford Diocese, i.e. the oldest and longest serving Priest in the Diocese.
Francis Deeney was born 25 April 1930 in Derry, he trained at All Hallows, Dublin and was ordained 20 June 1954. He began his ministry as Curate at St Anne, Blackburn where he spent ten years, moving then to St Boniface, Lower Broughton as Curate to Fr Horgan, however a year later when Fr Horgan moved to St Bernard's, Burnage, Fr Deeney went with him, remaining there until 1972.
In 1972 Father Deeney was appointed Parish Priest and Rural Dean at St Mary's, Burnley, being elevated to the Chapter in 1975. While at Burnley he undertook extensive renovations of the historic church and presbytery, cleaning and pointing the stonework, installing new heating, building a new infants school, then amalgamating the Junior and Infants schools together in 1981, he also oversaw the reordering of the church sanctuary.
In 1995 Canon Deeney moved to the quieter rural parish of Ss Peter & Paul, Ribchester where he remained then until 2011 before finally retiring to the Larmenier Retirement Village in Blackburn. He died on 18th July 2021 at the age of 91, completing 67 years of sacred ministry.
1996 -2010 Rev. David Lannon
2010 - 2018 Rev. Peter Hopkinson
2018 - Rev. David J. Featherstone
(with thanks to archivist Lawrence Gregory for supplying the information & photos used in the pen portraits)
The Church Building:
The Church of St Mary of the Assumption is in Yorkshire Street, Burnley, Lancashire, England. It is an active Roman Catholic parish church in the diocese of Salford. The church is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade II listed building. It was built between 1846 and 1849 to replace a smaller chapel on a different site. The church was designed by Weightman and Hadfield in Decorated style, and a chapel was added to it in 1879.
Until the 19th century the Roman Catholics in the Burnley area worshipped in a chapel in Towneley Hall. St Mary's parish was founded in 1819 when a chapel known as Burnley Wood Chapel, or St Mary's Chapel, was built near the entrance lodge to Towneley Hall. The present church was built between 1846 and 1849, and was designed by Weightman and Hadfield. It was opened in August 1849, the sermon being preached by Cardinal Wiseman. In 1879 a north chapel, known as the Towneley Chapel, was added to the church.
The church is constructed in sandstone with slate roofs, and is in Decorated style. Its plan consists of a five-bay nave with a clerestory, north and south aisles, north and south transepts, a chancel with a north and south chapels, and a west tower. The tower is uncompleted, and has two stages. It stands on a moulded plinth with angle buttresses and a northeast canted stair turret. There is a west doorway, above which is a large five-light window. At the top of the window is a canopied niche containing a statue. In the clerestory are two-light windows, and along the sides of the aisles are buttresses and three-light windows. In the second bay of each aisle is a gabled porch. The transepts are also buttressed, and they contain windows with varied tracery; the south transept also has a circular window. The east window in the chancel has five lights, above which is a tripartite niche with a crocketed surround, containing a statue of the Virgin Mary.
Inside the church, the aisle arcades are carried on alternate round and octagonal piers. The richly carved altar dating from the 1860s is by E. W. Pugin. The Towneley Chapel contains dark panelling and painting on a gold surround, and has ironwork gates. In the nave is a scheme of stained glass windows from the late 19th century by Mayer of Munich. The two-manual pipe organ was built by Gray and Davidson in 1855, and has been awarded a Historic Organ Certificate.
Attached to the north and south sides of the church are cast iron railings, divided by standards with fleur-de-lis heads. On the north side is a gateway with stone piers in Gothic style between which are elaborate cast iron gates. To the east of the church are a Franciscan convent containing a chapel, and a presbytery.
St Mary's Church was designated as a Grade II listed building on 29 September 1977. Grade II is the lowest of the three grades of listing and is applied to buildings that are "nationally important and of special interest". The railings and gate piers are included in this listing. The Franciscan convent and the presbytery were also designed as Grade II listed buildings on the same date.
For a more detailed & comprehensive history of St Mary's
(written to celebrate the church's first centenary in 1949)