Lancaster nostalgia: Holy Trinity Church, Wray

Church Sunday School singers 1947. The girls had been singing in church at a special service possibly Whit Sunday. Back row (left to right): Maureen Farmery, Judy Bevins, Margaret Huddleston, Margaret Hewitson. Middle row (left to right): Marjorie Bowman, Margaret Wilson, Hilary Robinson, Doreen Clarkson, Mary Harrison. Front row (left to right): Rita Singleton, Winnie Stephenson, Norma Travis, Jean Fox.
Church Sunday School singers 1947. The girls had been singing in church at a special service possibly Whit Sunday. Back row (left to right): Maureen Farmery, Judy Bevins, Margaret Huddleston, Margaret Hewitson. Middle row (left to right): Marjorie Bowman, Margaret Wilson, Hilary Robinson, Doreen Clarkson, Mary Harrison. Front row (left to right): Rita Singleton, Winnie Stephenson, Norma Travis, Jean Fox.
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In the next few weeks historian David Kenyon takes a look at the history of places of worship in the village of Wray. This week David looks at Holy Trinity Church.

Holy Trinity Church, Main Street, Wray. The land on which Holy Trinity Church now stands was given by the Reverend W E Hoskins of Canterbury, who had inherited a large number of farms and other land in Wray from his uncle, Mr Smith.

Wray Church. In 1992-93 the lime trees in this attractive avenue, leading from the church gate to the church entrance, were cut down, being considered in too dangerous a condition to remain. This work was undertaken by Mr Bert Stephenson of Wennington Road, Wray. Mr Stephenson was the last timber merchant in the village.

Wray Church. In 1992-93 the lime trees in this attractive avenue, leading from the church gate to the church entrance, were cut down, being considered in too dangerous a condition to remain. This work was undertaken by Mr Bert Stephenson of Wennington Road, Wray. Mr Stephenson was the last timber merchant in the village.

Construction of the church, in the early English style of architecture, commenced in 1839 when the foundation stone was laid by Pudsey Dawson on behalf of his uncle, Admiral Tatham, Lord of the Manor of Hornby. The church was finally completed in 1840, at a cost of £700, and was consecrated by the Bishop of Chester on July 1 1841.

Various improvements have been made to the church since its initial construction. In 1844 the stone slates were removed from the roof and replaced with lighter Burlington blue slates to reduce the weight on the roof timbers.

In 1879 the gallery was removed and the church enlarged by the addition of a chancel, organ chamber, vestry, porch and bell turret. These were designed by the office of the famous North West church architects Paley and Austin.

The following extract, which describes the 1879 building work, is taken from an edition of Wray Parochial Magazine of the same year.

Wray Church Room and Church. The Church Room was built in 1926 and officially opened in March 1927 by the local vicar, Reverend T Redfern, and the Reverend C L Reynolds, former vicar of the parish for 43 years. The building, voluntarily designed by Mr G L Salkeld of Ferry Hill, was constructed of brick, cavity wall, cement rendered with a pebble-dashed finish and asbestos slate roof, with a large oak cross over the main entrance gable. The room provided seating for 150 people. The cost of the Church Room, including the site and furniture, was �525. The Church Room was demolished in 1985 when a new vicarage was built on the site.

Wray Church Room and Church. The Church Room was built in 1926 and officially opened in March 1927 by the local vicar, Reverend T Redfern, and the Reverend C L Reynolds, former vicar of the parish for 43 years. The building, voluntarily designed by Mr G L Salkeld of Ferry Hill, was constructed of brick, cavity wall, cement rendered with a pebble-dashed finish and asbestos slate roof, with a large oak cross over the main entrance gable. The room provided seating for 150 people. The cost of the Church Room, including the site and furniture, was �525. The Church Room was demolished in 1985 when a new vicarage was built on the site.

“During this work the church was closed for 10 weeks.

“The old pews have been removed together with the floors upon which they rested, and which were in an advanced stage of dry rot.

“New floors have been laid and at some future time, when funds are forthcoming, are to be fixed new pitch pine seats. For the present, however, wood seat chairs and kneeling pads will have to suffice.”

Ten years later, in 1889, the new pitch pine seats were made in the village by two local joiners, Messrs Parker and Burrow.

Improvements to the church continued at regular intervals throughout the first half of the 20th century. In 1901 a new east window of stained glass was placed in the chancel as a memorial to the late Queen Victoria and another window of stained glass was gifted by Mr Thomas Scambler and his sister in memory of their parents.

In 1908 wooden panelling was erected behind the altar in memory of Caroline Reynolds, mother of the vicar, Reverend C L Reynolds. This elaborate carved oak reredos was designed by Messrs Paley and Austin of Lancaster and the work carried out by James Hatch and Sons of Lancaster, builders and contractors, quarry owners, church furniture makers and wood carvers.

In 1926 a church room was built behind the church. This was used as a Sunday school and for church social events.

In 1936 a carved wooden screen was fitted between the chancel and the nave. This was dedicated to the memory of Charles Lavinson Reynolds, vicar of Wray for 43 years and made by the renowned Gillow furniture workshop of Lancaster, founded in the 18th century.

The following article is taken from the Lancaster Guardian dated 1888.

“It is rather singular that Wray, the largest village in the parish, should have remained for so many centuries during the Christian era without a church. Since the new church was erected it has undergone considerable alterations, some of which were done by the munificence of the late Dr Marshall and Mr Hardcastle.

“The church is well attended and its large Sunday school is efficiently worked by a good staff of teachers.

“The vicar the Rev Mr Reynolds is a model village parson, who by his kindness and liberal spirit wins the respect of his nonconformist parishioners as well as the members of his own church.

“He is not only a teetotal abstainer but on many occasions he provides eminent and useful lectures at his own expense.

“To the credit of his Christian large heartedness he is not afraid of being tainted by mixing up with dissenters, radicals or anybody else to promote the spiritual and moral welfare of the people amongst who he dwells.

“He has also shown his Christian spirit and charity by joining the dissenters in their annual camp meetings. If all clergymen would show a similar spirit the Church of England would need no other defence association and the liberation clock could be put back one half of its figures.

“The Rev Charles Levinson Reynolds could be quite stern with his parishioners when he found an excess of farthings and halfpennies in the church collection plate. He was well liked by the young people of Wray, always having a pocketful of toffees to give out to the village children.”

The Reverend Reynolds also wrote and printed the village magazine initially called Wray Home Visitor, later to become the Wray Parochial Magazine.

He was vicar of Wray from 1877-1920.