Friday, 22 October 2010

St Paul, Caton

St Paul
Caton-with-Littledale
Lancashire

Caton is quite a large village situated on the A683 between Lancaster a few miles to the West and Hornby to the North East. There is documentary evidence of a church on or near to this site from as early as 1230. An intriguing architectural fragment of this original building still exists today, built into the West wall, just to the left of the tower as you enter the church yard through the iron gates from Brookhouse Road. It is a 12th century doorway, three and a half feet wide and around six feet tall and very richly carved.

Above. The church from the South.

The doorway photos have been included in a separate post along with the windows and other items of interest from the church.

There may have been a number of periods of repair and rebuilding here at St Pauls after the church's foundation, but we know that the church was rebuilt either at the end of the 15th century or the beginning of the 16th century. The tower dates from this period of rebuilding.

Above. The West tower from Brookhouse Road.

It stands to an impressive fifty five feet high and is twelve feet square. The nave at this time was a much lower building. The marks of eves can still be seen on the East wall of the interior wall of the tower, probably around eight feet lower than the current ceiling height.

Above. The church from the North, Caton Green Road.

The 1865 to 1867 Paley (of Paley and Austin of Lancaster) rebuild, created a higher and more spacious building, but unfortunately did away with much of the original medieval church. There are a couple of interesting sketches and paintings in the church that serve to give a good indication of how this pre-19th century church would have looked.

Above. Looking along the South of the church towards the porch.

The church possesses a peel of five bells. The original peel of three bells were stamped with the dates of 1605, 1617 and 1724. When these bells became unusable, they were replaced, in 1953, with two ships bells...one for chiming the hour, and the other for tolling.

Above. Looking down the nave into the chancel.

This arrangement was in place until 1964, when the three original bells were re-cast into a peel of five bells. The badges from the original three bells were retained, and were added to the new bells.

Above. Looking down the North aisle.

Above. Looking down the South aisle.

Above. Looking West towards the tower.

Above. Looking into the richly decorated chancel.

The above photo shows the chancel with the richly painted version of the Annunciation by Miss M.Gregg of Escowbeck House in Caton. The original painting, was painted by Filippo Lippi between 1455 and 1450, and shows the Virgin Mary receiving a divine message from god, delivered by an angel.

Above. A close up of the version of The Annunciation by Miss M.Gregg of Caton.

Photos of the many windows and the doorway will appear in following posts. The church is part of the Open Churches group in Lancashire, and is open most week days between 9am and 4pm.

My thanks to the Rev Graham Pollitt for showing me around this beautiful church!

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