top of page
Welcome to All Saints Church, Childwall. It is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade I listed building and is the only medieval church remaining in the Metropolitan borough of Liverpool.
The chancel dates from the 14th century, and the south aisle and porch are probably from the 15th century. Additions were made in the 18th century and the tower and spire date from 1810–11. The north aisle dates from 1833 and it was partly rebuilt between 1900 and 1905. There are two chapels; the Plumbe's Chapel on the north side is dated 1716 and on the south side the Salisbury pew (formerly Isaac Green's Chapel) dates from 1739–40
The church is built in red sandstone. Its plan consists of a west tower, a nave with a clerestory, a chancel, a south aisle and a much wider north aisle which extends to the north of the chancel, and a south porch. A chapel projects from the north aisle and another from the south aisle. The tower has a large two-light window, a clock on three faces and two-light bell-openings. The spire is recessed behind an openwork parapet with gargoyles.
There are no plans before the fourteenth century, though there are fragments of earlier work built into the masonry of later date. Of these, the most obvious are some Saxon carved stones in the West Wall of the Porch and a fragment of Norman work preserved in a niche in the North Chancel Aisle.
The earliest date, which can be given to any part of the present building, is the fourteenth century. The Chancel has on the South Side, a square headed two light windows, which is probably of this date. The East Window is modern but constructed in fourteenth century style. A part of the old North Wall of the Chapel remains between the Chancel and the North Chancel Aisle. This was originally the outer wall of the Chapel.
The fifteenth century saw the main part of the Church completed, and by 1571 the building consisted of a West Tower (with Spire), Chancel, Nave, North and South Aisles, South Porch and North Door. There are also references in North and South Chapels in existence at this date to lead us to believe that there were two chantry chapels in the Church, one at the East End of the South Aisle and the other probably in a corresponding position on the North Side, though the exact position is unknown. In 1716, Plumbes Chapel was erected. A plain building of size twenty feet square jutting out from the old North West of the Church. Soon after, in 1739, what is now used as the choir vestry, was constructed. This was originally the chapel of Isaac Greene, and passed to the Gascoyne family and then to the Salisbury family, before being taken over for its present purpose.
The church was enlarged considerably in 1834 by the addition of a North Aisle, an extension westwards of the Plumbe's Chapel and in 1851-53 the church was repewed. The present vestry built and the North wall of the Chancel opened to convert the old vestry in to additional pew space. The entire North Aisle was rebuilt in 1906, and this is the most modern part of the present building. The foundation stone was laid on 17th October 1903 which full records enclosed. The inscribed stone may be seen in the outer wall of the North Aisle, just North of the West Door. The orientation of the Church is 10 degrees 42' north of east. Walking towards the main door from the interior of the church, one will find the old Churchwardens Pew behind the open door.
The carved wooden board at the back of the Pew records that the sum of ten guineas was given by The Dowager Lady Gerard, part thereof for erecting this Seat for the user of the Churchwardens, and "ye overplus towards five new Bells in the Steeple of this Church".
The board also bears the names of William Wood and William Lake, the first Churchwardens to use the pew. Behind the Churchwardens Pew is what is thought by many to be the Lepers Window (but is only a natural light low level window).
The Nave belongs to that part of the Church which was built in the fifteenth century. The floor of the aisle will be seen to slope eastwards, a rarity in church architecture. The Church is built on the side of a hill, and the ancient architect seems to have intended that the floor should fall with the ground.
Until 1851 the line was continued as far as the sanctuary, there being three or four steps down to the Chancel, making the altar stand at a level some four or five feet lower than the base of the west tower. In 1851, however, the chancel was raised three feet bringing it level with the nave.
Referring to the raising of the Chancel floor, it has been said that in doing this a very great alteration was for the worse was made in the interior of the Church. It would be a most laudable work if some rich person would restore the chancel level and make Childwall once more one of the rare examples (Halsall is another) of churches whose east end is considerably lower than its west.
At the junction of the nave and sanctuary stands the lectern, the pulpit and the priests prayer desk.
The pulpit dates from 1853, the last date at which extensive alterations were made in the arrangement of the furnishings. Before this time, the old pulpit stood against the pillar on the North Side of the Aisle, a few yards west of the Chancel Arch.
The old three-decker pulpit was sold and is said to be in a church or chapel near Abergele. The new one, in carved oak, with prayer desk to match, was purchased from George Shaw for the price of 73 10s 0d.
Although there is known to have been stained glass in the Church from very early times, there is no early glass left there now. All is of nineteenth and twentieth century date. The oldest glass there is to be found in the South Aisle in the memorial window to the Barclay Walker family dating from 1839; and also in the East Window, a memorial to the Lace family which was placed there in 1856.
Other nineteenth century glass may be seen in the North Window of the Chancel Aisle. All the stained glass in the North Aisle is of twentieth century date and much of the glass suffered damage during the war and was renovated in 1948-49.
It is interesting to examine closely some of the stained glass as much of the detail is not appreciated at a glance. The artists responsible for the designing of the windows seem to have taken a delight in putting in the little details, and some have exercised their sense of humour as they did so. In to the borders of the panes of the East Window are worked some delightful grinning lions, and in a similar position in the North Window of the Chancel Aisle are the heads of some pigs wearing most lugubrious expressions.
The window of Plumbe's Chapel represents men and women of God whose acts are recorded in the Old and New Testaments. The theme of the window as a whole is taken from St. Johns Gospel, chapter fifteen verse five, the words written above the head of Christ in the centre panel of the window; "I am the vine, ye are the branches". The whole design is set against a background of vine leaves and branches, springing from the centre panel.
The other windows in the North Aisle, proceeding westwards, represent the ascension of Christ, the adoration of Christ by the Shepherds and the Magi, three worshiping Angels and, on the West Wall, the supper at the house of Clopas in Emmaus (Luke ch. 24 v. 30). Although it is to be regretted that none of the ancient glass remains, the beauty of much of the modern glass cannot be denied. It is well worthwhile to watch the windows of the North side as the light outside fades in the evening.
The earliest record of an organ at Childwall was in 1856 when the firm of Gray and Davison built a two manual organ. This was moved to the chancel in 1877 presumably from the West gallery. The present organ was built by the "Rolls-Royce" of organ builders. Henry Willis and Co. Henry Willis II built the organ in 1907 and placed it on the west gallery which is the best position an organ can be in for egress of sound, encased in oak and given by Walter L Gladstone, Esq., of Court Hey, which was erected with a new gallery front. The organ bears an inscription that it commemorates his father, Robertson Gladstone, his mother, Mary Ellen, and his uncle, William Ewart Gladstone M.P.
(Other organs built by Henry Willis II at this time are St Barnabas Penny Lane, Liverpool Cathedral Lady Chapel, and St Anne's Aigburth.) In 1948, Rushworth and Dreaper rebuilt the organ at a cost of £3000 dedicated as a war memorial to people of the parish. The organ remains basically as it was in 1907 apart from the action was renewed from pneumatic to electro-pneumatic in 1992, and the Great Mixture was added in 1998 by David Wells organ builders. The organ case looks quite impressive from the church with the case pipe being guilded. The console is 'en fenetre' which means it is attached to the organ case. The specification of the organ is as follows:
Department Stop name Pitch
Great 15 Contra Gamba 16
16 Open Diapason I 8
17 Open Diapason II 8
18 Claribel 8
19 Salcional 8 1992, sic
20 Principal 4
21 Harmonique Flute 4 sic
22 Twelfth 2 2/3
23 Fifteenth 2
24 Mixture III 1998, 22.26.29
25 Tromba 8
Department Stop name Pitch
Choir 8 Claribel Flute 8
9 Dulciana 8
10 Harmonique Flute 4 sic
11 Piccolo 2
12 Clarinet 8
14 Tromba 8
Department Stop name Pitch
Pedal 1 Acoustic Bass 32
2 Open Diapason 16
3 Bourdon 16
4 Octave 8
5 Violoncello 8
6 Bass Flute 8
7 Trombone 16
Department Stop name Pitch
Swell 26 Lieblich Bourdon 16
27 Open Diapason 8
28 Lieblich Gedackt 8
29 Echo Gamba 8
30 Voix Celeste 8
31 Gemshorn 4
32 Mixture III 15.19.22
33 Trumpet 8
34 Oboe 8
THE HISTORY OF CHILDWALL
bottom of page