05 September 2011

Ormskirk, Lancashire

Ormskirk is not the most wildly attractive of places - charity shops are a great source of books, but one can have too much of a good thing - yet has some interesting corners. Principal amongst these is the parish church of St Peter and St Paul, on the site of the original church reputedly founded by Viking Ormr, from whence the town's name - Ormr's church. 

Only three churches in England have both a spire and a tower; the other two are both near Swindon. The spire dates from the early 15th century, rebuilt between 1790 and 1832. The tower was added circa 1548, its massiveness accounted for by the fact that it was built to house the bells from nearby Burscough Priory, dissolved by Henry VIII.

A second unusual feature of the church is the late 19th-century cast iron pissoir that stands to one side of the porch. Manufactured by McDowall Steven & Co at the Milton Ironworks in Glasgow, this is in excellent condition. As the verger ruefully observed, it is no longer in use due to 'health and safety' - for which, as usual, read laziness on the part of a public body.

From the perspective of those interested in architectural details, shabby towns have one major advantage: not all the old shop frontages have been ripped out. There is some excellent tile and terracotta work to be seen, especially above first floor level.

1 comment:

YMGW said...

McDowall Steven & Co, of Glasgow, were one of the five foundries that cast the famous K6 red telephone boxes.