St Barnabas Parish Church Penny Lane Liverpool
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Who was St Barnabas
St Barnabas Parish Church Mossley Hill viewed from Allerton Road in 1914
St Barnabas Parish Church
was designed by the well known Liverpool architect James Francis Doyle who unfortunately died before construction work had commenced. The work was carried on by his brother and fellow architect, Sidney W Doyle.
The following had been adapted from the extensive 1914 account, "An illustrated record of the new Church of St Barnabas, Mossley Hill in the Diocese of Liverpool" written by George Harford, MA, Vicar of St Matthew and James, Mossley Hill and Hon Canon of Liverpool:
The church is built in a freely treated 14th C Perpendicular Gothic style with a West Tower, aisles and transepts. Externally the building is of brick with red sandstone being used for copings, battlements and tracery. The bricks were specially moulded, many in great blocks of varying sizes, giving the look of stonework with their roughed "rustic" surfaces. Internally to match the light grey Storeton stone of columns in the aisle and chancel arcades, the walls have been covered in a form of artificial stone called French "stuc". It was been permanently scored with embedded lines of cement which link onto the actual joints of the masonry.
The church was constructed by Messrs Thornton & Sons at a building cost of £14,000 with Messrs Hems of Exeter being responsible for most of the internal fittings. The pulpit. of a novel and effective rectangular shape with an admirably carved cornice, is all of one piece with a solid chancel wall of polished Hoptonwood stone. The choir stalls, prayer desks and altar rails are of carved oak. The overall cost was some £25,000.
The carved wooden reredos is perhaps the most striking feature in the Church. In the centre, Christ is breaking the bread at a low, rustic table which two disciples gaze upon him with the rapt air of awestruck recognition. On the left St Barnabas bears a traveller's staff, and lifts his hand in blessing. On the right, his kinswoman, Mary the mother of Mark as the hostess of the Church ( Acts xii, 12 ), has the keys at her girdle and holds out welcoming hands. Curtains, represented( like the cloth on the table) with remarkable skill, isolate the central group from the side figures. A rich cresting of grapes and vine leaves crowns the reredos.
A particular feature of St Barnabas Parish Church, Mossley Hill is the detailed stone carvings of faces and figures executed under the direction of Mr Joseph Phillips, the carver employed on Liverpool Cathedral and its Lady Chapel. It is difficult to refrain from exaggeration in speaking of the calm, austere spiritual beauty of the stone angel figures at the intersections of the arches in the nave and chancel arcades, of the grace of the cherubs that peep out of the corners, of the strength and character of the men's faces on many bosses, of the vigour of the grotesque masks on the Tower, the issuing dragons outside the chapel door, and lastly of the deeply cut, finely shaped, groups of flowers and foliage.
The other feature of the Church is somewhat unusual, the prominence given to the Creed, the Lord's Prayer , and Ten Commandments. They are the gift of Mr Sidney Doyle, the Church's architect. The brass eagle lectern was the gift of a party of ladies who met in each other's home each week producing items of work for sale raising finally the £55 cost of the lectern.
The handsome font ewer, Alms dish and 8 alms plates, all beaten out of copper, were the gift of Rev. Dr. Diggle, Lord Bishop of Carlisle. All these copper vases as well as the side and centre vases for the Holy table were made by the Keswick School of Industrial Art.
The Font is octagonal in shape, and of Hoptonwood stone, having carved emblems on four sides: the ship, the three fishes, the Dove and the Cross. Both Font and Lectern were made by Messrs Hems of Exeter.
The following images are a selection of professional photographs taken at the time of completion of St Barnabas in 1914. They are of interest as they should how the church was originally designed and used. The main differences seen today are that many pews have been removed to create a more open space to reflect both changed liturgical practice and the need for space for parish use following the closure of St Barnabas Hall, Penny Lane.
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