The building of 600 Church of England (C of E) churches during
the 19th century was a unique phenomenon. Initiated by the
Church’s pressure on government ministers, this led to the
Church Building Acts of 1818 and of 1824, Government grants were
then administered by the Church Building Commission, hence the
term Commissioners’ Churches.
The aims of Orthodox Anglicans
and High Anglicans were;
1. Build more churches in order
to improve the masses’ moral education
2. Provide sufficient
church seats to allow Dissenters to return to the C of E
St George’s Church Chorley
The C of E wanted to assert itself in
areas where there was a strong presence of Dissenters, such as
Roman Catholics, Methodists, Baptists and Congregationalists.
Lancashire, with its growing towns and cities, was one such
Built in 1825 at a cost of £12,387, St George’s was one
such church. It had 2,012 seats, of which 1,593 were free. Much
larger than St Laurence’s, the parish church, with just 300
seats. Its architect was Thomas Rickman, a colourful character
who, although not a trained architect, went on to design many
buildings, including churches.
It has a high visible
presence, a good representation of the architectural style of
these churches. This, however, did not receive a universal good
St George’s, though, went from strength to strength,
first becoming a district church in 1835, enabling it to perform
baptisms, marriages and burials. In 1847 it was given
responsibility for National School. More children meant more
adherents in the future. Then, in 1856, it became its own
It continued to thrive throughout the rest of the
19th and early 20th centuries.
‘Churchy’ Chorley was lucky to
get a Commissioners’, indeed it received more than one, as
larger towns, such as Rochdale, received none.
illuminating talk shed light on the history of one of Chorley’s
fine churches and, as a result, all present were better