A Short History of St Mary's

Little Crosby

by Frank Tyrer, M.A., B.SC.
(First Revised in 1983 by Mgr. S.F.Breen, and again in 2003 by Mr B.M. Whitlock Blundell))


"The story of St Mary's Church, Little Crosby, does not begin with the actual building of it in 1847, but rather with the days of Queen Elizabeth I. The real foundation stone is to be found in the faith and courage of the Lords of the Manor, the Blundells of Crosby, and the villagers in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, a faith and courage tested by bitter sacrifices, imprisonment and even death. And so, we must therefore begin the story of St Mary's. not in the 19th but in the 16th century."

Thus reads the opening paragraph of this interesting little booklet which gives a brief history of the Blundell's of Crosby, and a detailed description of the interior of St Mary's Church. The following is an extract from this booklet relating to the building of the church :

"With the passing of the Catholic Relief Act in 1791, by which Roman Catholic chapels were legally recognised, and the Catholic Emancipation Act in 1829, Catholics were allowed to build places of worship. William Blundell, the great-grandson of Nicholas Blundell "The Diarist", began in 1839 to make plans for a new church in Little Crosby, and in 1844 engaged one of the best 19th century architects, Matthew Ellison Hadfield of the firm Weightman and Hadfield, to design it. Mr Hadfield had contributed very largely on the revival of mediaeval and Gothic styles of architecture and was responsible for designing a number of churches and fine public buildings.

Work began on the church on the 10th April 1845 and in September 1847 it was ready for consecration. On the 7th September 1847 the Right Reverend Dr Brown, Vicar Apostolic of the Lancashire District, solemnly consecrated the church and dedicated it to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The next day High Mass was sung for the first time and on the 9th September the churchyard was also solemnly consecrated.

Much of the decorative work inside the church was done by Colonel Nicholas Blundell, the son of the founder, William Blundell, and he was also responsible for adding the Martyrs' Chapel on the south side in 1885/86.

For nearly 300 years the Blundell of Crosby family and the villagers of Little Crosby have fought a valiant fight for their faith, for the Mass and for their traditions, and out of the sacrifices made, the imprisonments, banishments and outlawry suffered, there has arisen a proud monument, the Roman Catholic Church of St Mary's, Little Crosby"

The booklet is available from the church, price £2.00 (click here to go to order page), Click on any of the links below to see more of the history of St Mary's :

Monsignor Sidney Francis Breen
1914 - 2007

Our much loved friend and past Parish Priest Monsignor Breen died in the early hours of Sunday 4th February. He was our Parish Priest from 1975 until his retirement in 1997, and during that time he endeared himself to all. His sermons were remarkable for both their intellect and their ability to reach out to everyone. In his later years up to his death he devoted his life to looking after his two sisters, Norah & Phyllis, the latter dying only a few months ago.

He was born on 31st January 1914 in Liverpool, the son of Philip and Ann Breen. His early education was at Mount Pleasant Convent. He studied for the priesthood at Upholland and Ushaw Colleges, and was ordained to the priesthood on 18th May 1940 at Upholland.

His first appointment was to St Oswald's, Ashton in Makerfield and from September 1942 to July 1972 he held various positions at Upholland culminating in being rector. On leaving Upholland in 1972, he was appointed Parish Priest of St Paul's, West Derby. In 1975 the Archbishop thought he should have a less stressful life, and to our good fortune, appointed him to Little Crosby where he became our rock and friend.

May He Rest in Peace




The Harkirk Chapel
The Ceiling
The following sections will be added shortly :
Early History - Before 1847
St Mary's Church - Interior
The Stained Glass Windows
Side Chapel of Our Lady and The English Martyrs



The Friends of St Mary's, Little Crosby.

Copyright, Frank Tyrer

Website E Mail : Friends of St Mary's Little Crosby