All Saints' is a good substantial-looking church. It is built in the Ionic style of Greek architecture; has a massive pillared front; is railed round, has an easy and respectable entrance, and—getting worse as it gets higher—is surmounted with a small bell turret and a chimney. Other things may be put upon the roof after a while, for space is abundant there. The church has a square, respectable, capacious interior—is roomy, airy, light; doesn't seem thrown together in a dim foggy labrynth like some places, and you feel as if you could breathe freely on taking a seat in it. It is well- galleried, and will accommodate altogether about 1,500 human beings. The pews are good, and whilst it is impossible for them to hold more people than can get into them, they are charged for as if one additional person could take a seat in each after being full! This is odd but quite true. In the case of pews which will just accommodate five persons, six sittings are charged for; those holding four are put down in the rent book for five; and this scale of charges is kept up in respect to all the pews, whether big or little. The rents go into the pocket of the incumbent. At the southern end there is a small chancel, which was erected at the expense of the late J. Bairstow, Esq. It is ornamented with several stained glass windows, and has an inlaid wooden canopy, but there is nothing startling nor remarkable about the work. Beneath the windows there is painted in large, letters the word "Emmanuel;" but the position of it is very inconvenient. People sitting above may see the name fairly; but many below have a difficulty in grasping it, and those sitting in the centre will never be able to get hold of more letters than those which makeup the mild name of "Emma." Names- -particularly great ones—should never be put up anywhere unless they can be seen. On each side of the chancel arch then is a small tablet; one being to the memory of the Rev. W. Walling, and the other to that of the late W. Tuson, Esq., who was one of the original wardens. The church is clean and in good condition; but the windows would stand re-painting. There are about 400 free seats in the building, and they are pretty well patronised. The general attendance is tolerably large; between 700 and 800 people frequent the church on the average; but the congregation seems to be of a floating character, is constantly changing, and embraces few "old stagers." Formerly, many who had been at the church from the first might be seen at it; numerous persons recognised as "fixtures" were there; but they have either gone to other churches or died off, and there is now a strong ebb and flow of new material at the place.
The congregation is of a complex description; you may see in it the "Grecian bend" and the coal scuttle hood, the buff waistcoat and the dark moleskin coat; but in the main the worshippers are of a quiet well-assorted character—partly working class, partly middle-class, with a sprinkling of folk above and below both. The humble minded and the ancient appear to have a liking for the left side range of seats; the swellishly-young and the substantially-middle class take up a central position; people of a fair habilimental stamp occupy the bulk of the seats on the other side; whilst the select and the specially virtuous approximate the pulpit—one or two in the excelsior category get even beyond it, and like both the quietude and the dignity of the position. The galleries are used by a promiscuous company of worshippers, who keep good order and make no undue noises. The tale-tellers and the gossips—for they exist here as in the generality of sacred places—are distributed in various directions. It would be advantageous if they were all put in one separate part; for then their influence would not be so ramified, and they might in the end get up a small Kilkenny affair and mutually finish off one another. Late attendance does not seem to be so fashionable at All Saints' as at some churches; still it exists; things would look as if they were getting wrong if somebody didn't come late and make everybody turn their heads. When we visited the church, the great mass were present at the right time; but a few dropped in after the stipulated period; one put in an appearance 30 minutes late; and another sauntered serenely into the region of the ancient people just 65 minutes after the proceedings had commenced. At a distance, the reading desk and the pulpit look oddly mixed up; but a close inspection shows that they are but fairly associated, stand closely together, the pulpit, which is the higher, being in the rear. There is no decoration of any sort in the body of the church; everything appears tranquil, serious, straightforward, and respectable. The singing is of a very poor character,—is slow, weak, and calculated at times to make you ill. Pope, in his Essay on Criticism, says—
Some to church repair, Not for the doctrine, but the music there.
Probably they do; but nobody goes to All Saints' for that purpose. No genuine hearty interest seems to be taken in the singing by anybody particularly. The choir move through their notes as if some of them were either fastened up hopelessly in barrels, or in a state of musical syncope; the organist works his hands and feet as well as he can with a poor organ; the members of the congregation follow, lowly and contentedly, doing their best against long odds and the parson sits still, all in one grand piece, and looks on. The importance and influence of good music should be recognised by every church; and we trust in time there will be a decided improvement at All Saints'. A church like it—a building of its size and with its congregation—ought to have something superior and effective in the matter of music.
We have already said that the Rev. George Beardsell is the minister of All Saints'. He has been at the church, as its incumbent, about five years. Originally Mr. Beardsell was a Methodist;—a Methodist preacher, too, we believe; but in time he changed his notions; and eventually flung himself, in a direct line, into the arms of "Mother Church." Mr. Beardsell made his first appearance in Preston as curate of Trinity Church. He worked hard in this capacity, stirred up the district at times with that peculiar energy which poor curates longing for good incumbencies, wherein they may settle down into security and ease, can only manifest, and with many he was a favourite. From Trinity Church he went to St. Saviour's, and here he slackened none of his powers. Enthusiasm, combined with earnest plodding, enabled him to improve the district considerably. He drew many poor people around him; he repeatedly charmed the "unwashed" with his strong rough-hewn orgasms; the place seemed to have been specially reserved for some man having just the perseverance and vigorous volubility which he possessed; he had ostensibly a "mission" in the locality; the people of the district liked him, he reciprocated the feeling, and more than once intimated that he would make one or two spots, including the wild region of Lark-hill, "Blossom as the rose." But the period of efflorescence has not yet arrived; a "call" came in due season, and this carried the ministerial florist to another "sphere of action." Mr. Beardsell was translated to the incumbency of All Saints', and he still holds it. When Mr. Walling was at this church the income was about 260 pounds a year; taking everything into account, it is now worth upwards of 400 pounds.
Mr. Beardsell is not a beautiful, but a stout, well-made, strong- looking man, close upon 40, with a growing tendency towards adiposity. He has a healthy, bulky, English look; is not a man of profound education, but, makes up by weight what he may lack in depth; thinks it a good thing to carry a walking-stick, to keep his coat well buttoned, and to arrange his hair in the high-front, full- whig style; has a powerful, roughly eloquent voice; is rather sensational in the construction of some of his sentences; bellows a little at times; welters pathetically often; is somewhat monotonous in tone; ululates too heavily; behaves harshly to the letter "r"— sounds it with a violent vigour, and makes it fairly spin round his tongue end occasionally; can sustain himself well as a speaker; is never at a loss for words; has a forcible way of arranging his subjects; is systematic in his style of treatment; and can throw into his elucidation of questions well-coined and emphatic expressions. He likes perorations—used to imitate Punshon a little. He has a good analogical faculty; takes many of his illustrations from nature, and works them out exceedingly well; is a capital explainer of biblical difficulties; is peculiarly fond of the travels of St. Paul; piles up the agony easily and effectively; many times gets into a groove of high-beating, fierce-burning enthusiasm, as if he were going to take a distinct leap out of his "pent-up Utica," and revel in the "whole boundless continent" of thought and sacred sensation; is a thorough believer in the "My brethren" phrase—we recently heard him use it nineteen times in twenty minutes, and regretted that he didn't make the numbers equal; delights in decking out his discourses with couplets and snatches of hymns; has a full-blown determined style of speaking; reads with his gloves on, and preaches with them off, like one or two other parsons we have seen; makes his sermons too long; is a good platform man, and would make a fair travelling lecturer; has a great predilection for open-air preaching, and has spells of it to the Orchard; might with advantage work more in and less out of his own district; wouldn't commit a sin if he studied the question of personal visiting; shouldn't think that his scripture reader—a really good, hard-working man—can perform miracles, and do nearly everything; can talk genuine common sense if he likes, and make himself either very agreeable or pugnacious; is an Orangeman, with a holy horror of Popery; can give deliciously passionate lectures about the Reformation; considers money a very important article, and is inclined to believe that all people, particularly parsons, should stick to it very firmly; will have his own way in church matters; likes to fight with a warden; has had many a lively little brush over sacrament money; might have got on better with many of the officials if he had been more conciliatory; is a man of moderate ability, of fair metal, of strong endurance, but would be more relished if he were less dogmatic, were given less to wandering preaching, and threw himself heart, soul, purse, and clothes into his own district. Near the church, and occupying good relative positions on each side of a beerhouse, called "The Rising Sun," are All Saints' schools. One of them—that now occupied by the boys— was, according to a tablet at the outside, erected several years ago by our old friend Captain German "as an affectionate tribute to the memory of Thomas German, Esq." About five years since, two class- rooms were attached to it, at the expense of J. Bairstow, J. Horrocks, R. Newsham, and T. Miller, Esqrs. The other school, set apart for the girls, was erected after that built by Captain German. Both of the schools are very good ones—are large, lofty, and commodious. That used for the boys is, scholastically, in a superior condition. The master is sharp, fully up to his duties; and, according to a report by the government inspector, his school is one of the best in the district. The average day attendance at the boys' school is 150; whilst at the girls school the regular attendance may be set down at 330. The schools are used on Sundays, and their average attendance then is 800. Much might be written concerning them; but we must close; we have said enough; and can only add that if all are not saints who go to All Saints' they are about as good as the rest of people.
UNITED METHODIST FREE CHURCH AND POLE-STREET BAPTIST CHAPEL.
We have two places of worship to struggle with "on the present occasion," and shall take the freest yet most methodistical of them first. The United Methodist Free Church—that is a rather long and imposing name—is generally called "Orchard Chapel." The "poetry of the thing" may suffer somewhat by this deviation; but the building appears to smell as sweetly under the shorter as the longer name, so that we shall not enter into any Criticism condemnatory of the change. This chapel is the successor, in a direct line, of the first building ever erected in the Orchard. Its ancestor was placed on precisely the same spot, in 1831. Those who raised it seceded from the Wesleyan community, in sympathy with the individuals who retired from the "old body" at Leeds, in 1828, and who adopted the name of "Protestant Methodists." For a short time the Preston branch of these Methodists worshipped in that mystic nursery of germinating "isms" called Vauxhall-road Chapel; and in the year named they erected in the Orchard a building for their own spiritual improvement. It was a plain chapel outside, and mortally ugly within. Amongst the preaching confraternity in the connexion it used to be known as "the ugliest Chapel in Great Britain and Ireland." In 1834 a further secession of upwards of 20,000 from the Wesleyans took place, under the leadership of the late Dr. Warren, of Manchester. These secessionists called themselves the "Wesleyan Association," and with them the "Protestant Methodists," including those meeting in the Orchard Chapel, Preston, amalgamated. They also adopted the name of their new companions. In 1857 the "Wesleyan Association" coalesced with another large body of persons, who seceded from the original Wesleyans in 1849, under the leadership of the Rev. James Everett and others, and the two conjoined sections termed themselves the "United Methodist Free Church." None of the separations recorded were occasioned by any theological difference with the parent society, but through disagreement on matters of "government."
The ministers of the United Methodist Free Church body move about somewhat after the fashion of the Wesleyan preachers. They first go to a place for twelve months, and if they stay longer it has to be through "invitation" from one of the quarterly meetings. As a rule, they stop three or four years at one church, and then move off to some new circuit, where old sermons come in, at times, conveniently for new hearers. The various churches are ruled by "leaders"—men of a deaconly frame of mind, invested with power sufficient to enable them to rule the roost in ministerial matters, to say who shall preach and who shall not, and to work sundry other wonders in the high atmosphere of church government. The "members" support their churches, financially, in accordance with their means. There is no fixed payment. Those who are better off, and not stingy, give liberally; the less opulent contribute moderately; those who can't give anything don't. After an existence of about 30 years, the old chapel in the Orchard was pulled down, in order to make way for a larger and a better looking building. During the work of reconstruction Sunday services were held in the school at the rear, which was built some time before, at a cost of 1,700 pounds. The new chapel, which cost 2,600 pounds, was opened on the 22nd of May, 1862. It has a rather ornamental front—looks piquant and seriously nobby. There is nothing of the "great" or the "grand" in any part of it. The building is diminutive, cheerful, well-made, and inclined, in its stone work, to be fantastical.
Internally, it is clean, ornate, and substantial. Its gallery has stronger supports than can be found in any other Preston chapel. If every person sitting in it weighed just a ton it would remain firm. There are two front entrances to the building, and at each end red curtains are fixed. On pushing one pair aside, the other Sunday, we cogitated considerably as to what we should see inside. We always associate mystery with curtains, "caudle lectures" with curtains, shows, and wax-work, and big women, and dwarfs with curtains; but as we slowly, yet determinedly, undid these United Methodist Free Church curtains, and presented our "mould of form" before the full and absolute interior, we beheld nothing special: there were only a child, two devotional women, and a young man playing a slow and death-like tune on a well-made harmonium, present. But the "plot thickened," the place was soon moderately filled, and whilst in our seat, before the service commenced, we calmly pondered over many matters, including the difficulty we had in reaching the building. Yes, and it was a difficulty. We took the most direct cut, as we thought, to the place, from the southern side—passed along the Market-place, into that narrowly-beautiful thoroughfare called New- street, then through a yet newer road made by the pulling down of old buildings in Lord-street, and reminding one by its sides of the ruins of Petra, and afterwards merged into the Orchard. To neither the right nor the left did we swerve, but moved on, the chapel being directly is front of us; but in a few moments afterwards we found ourselves surrounded by myriads of pots and a mighty cordon of crates—it was the pot fair. Thinking that the Orchard was public ground, and seeing the chapel so very near, we pursued the even tenour of our way, but just as we were about sliding between two crates, so as to pass on into the chapel, a strong man, top-coated, muffled up, and with a small bludgeon in his hand, moved forward and said "Can't go." "Why?" said we; "Folks isn't allowed in this here place now," said he. "Well, but this is the town's property and we pay rates," was our rejoinder, and his was "Don't matter a cuss, if you were Lord Derby I should send you back." We accused him of rudeness, and threatened to go to the police station, close by; but the fellow was obstinate; his labours were concentred in the virtuous guardianship of pots, he defied the police and "everybody;" and feeling that amid all this mass of crockery we had, for once, unfortunately, "gone to pot," we quietly walked round to the bottom of the ground, for the crates and the pots swamped the whole _place, came up to the chapel door, within four yards of the Lord-Derby- defying individual, and quietly went into the building.
There are about 300 "members" of the church. In the Preston circuit, which until recently included Croston, Cuerden, Brinscall, Chorley, and Blackpool, and which now only embraces, Cuerden and Croston—the other places being thought sufficiently strong to look after themselves—there are about 400 "members." What are termed "Churches" have been established at all the places named; Preston being the "parent" of them. A branch of the body exists at Southport, and it was "brought up" under the care of the Preston party. Orchard Chapel will accommodate between 700 and 800 persons; but, like other places of worship, it is never full except upon special occasions; and the average attendance may be put down at about 400. In the old chapel the father of the late Alderman G. Smith preached for a time. The first minister of the chapel, when rebuilt, was the Rev. J. Guttridge—an energetic, impetuous, eloquent, earnest man. He had two spells at the place; was at it altogether about six years; and left the last time about a year ago. Mr. Guttridge, who is one of the smartest ministers in the body, is now residing at Manchester, connected regularly with no place of worship, on account of ill health, but doing what he can amongst the different churches. The congregation of Orchard Chapel consists principally of well-dressed working people—a quiet, sincere-looking class of individuals, given in no way to devotional hysteria, and taking all things smoothly and seriously. They are a liberal class, too. During the past two years they have raised amongst themselves about 800 pounds towards the chapel, upon which there is still a debt, but which would have been clear of all monetary encumbrances long since if certain old scores needing liquidation had not stood in the way. The members of the choir sit near the pulpit, the females on one side and the males on the other. They are young, good-looking, and often glance at each other kindly. A female who plays the harmonium occupies the centre. The music is vigorous and, considering the place, commendable. On Sundays there are two services at the chapel—morning and evening; and during the week meetings of a religious character are held in either the chapel or the adjoining rooms.
The present minister of the chapel is the Rev. Richard Abercrombie. He has only just arrived, and may in one sense be termed the "greatest" minister in Preston, for he is at least six feet high in his stocking feet. He is an elderly gentleman,—must be getting near 70; but he is almost as straight as a wand, has a dignified look, wears a venerable grey beard, and has quite a military precision in his form and walk. And he may well have, for he has been a soldier, Mr. Abercrombie served in the British army upwards of twenty years. He followed Wellington, after Waterloo, and was in Paris as a British soldier when the famous treaty of peace was signed. His grandfather was cousin of the celebrated Sir Ralph Abercrombie, who defeated Napoleon's forces in Egypt, and his ancestors held commissions in our army for upwards of four generations. Tired of military life, Mr. Abercrombie eventually laid down his arms, and for 33 years he has been a minister in the body he is now connected with. It is worthy of remark that, before leaving the army, he occasionally sermonised in his uniform, and 35 years ago he preached in his red jacket, &c., in the old Orchard Chapel. Mr. Abercrombie is a genial, smooth-natured, quiet man—talks easily yet carefully, preaches earnestly yet evenly; there is no froth in either his prayers or sermons; he never gets into fits of uncontrollable passion, never rides the high horse of personal ambition, nor the low ass of religious vulgarity—keeps cool, behaves himself, and looks after his work midly and well. He has two or three sons in the United Methodist Free Church ministry, and one of them, called after the general who defeated the Napoleonic forces, is the only man belonging the body who has a university M.A. after his name.
Very good schools are connected with Orchard Chapel. The average day attendance is 140; and on Sundays the average is about 350, In the last place, we may observe that the people belonging Orchard Chapel are, generally, getting along comfortably in all their departments. Formerly they had feuds, and fights, and church meetings, at which odd pieces of scandal were bandied about—they may have morsels of unpleasantness yet to encounter; but taking them all in all they are moving on serenely and well.
Passing not "from pole to pole," but from the Orchard to Pole- street, we come to the Baptist Chapel in that, thoroughfare—a rather dull, strongly-railed-off place, which seems to be receding from public sight altogether. About 45 years ago, a small parcel of Preston people, enamoured of the Calvinistic Methodism which the Countess of Huntingdon recognised, worshipped in a building in Cannon-street. In 1825 they built, or had raised for them, a chapel in Pole-street, which was dedicated to St. Mark. At this time, probably on account of its novelty, the creed drew many followers— the new chapel was patronised by a somewhat numerous congregation, which kept increasing for a period. But it gradually dwindled down, and a total collapse finally ensued. In 1855 a number of General Baptists, who split from their brethren worshipping in the old Leeming-street chapel, struck a bargain with the expiring Lady Huntingdon section for their building in Pole-street, gave about 700 pounds for it, forthwith shifted thereto, and continue to hold the place. There is nothing at all calling for comment as to the exterior of the chapel; and not much as to the interior. It will accommodate about 900 persons. The pews are high, awkward to sit in, and have a grim cold appearance. The building is pretty lofty, and is well galleried. The pulpit is at the far end, and the singers sit on a railed platform before it. The congregation seems both thin and poor. Very lately we were in it, and estimated the number present at 84—rather a small party for a chapel capable of holding 900.
The building possesses about the best acoustical properties of any place of worship in Preston. The late Mr. Samuel Grimshaw, of Preston, who, amongst many other things, had a special taste for music, used to occupy it at times, with his band, for the purposes of "practising." He liked it on account of its excellent sounding qualities. Once, after some practice in it, Mr. Grimshaw offered a "return"—said he would give the brethren a musical lift with his band during some anniversary services to be held in the chapel. His promise was accepted, and when the day came there was a complete musical flood. The orchestra, including the singers, numbered about 50, and the melodious din they created was something tremendous. "Sam" had the arrangement of it. There were tenors, baritones, bass men, trebles, alto-singers, in the fullest feather; there were trumpeters, tromboners, bassooners, ophicleideans, cornet-a-piston players, and many others, all instrumentally armed to the very teeth, and the sensation they made, fairly shook and unnerved the more pious members of the congregation, who protested against the chapel being turned into a "concert-hall," &c. The music after all, was good, and if it were as excellent now there would be a better attendance at the place. The present orchestra consists of perhaps a dozen singers, including a central gentleman who is about the best shouter we ever heard; and they are helped out of any difficulties they may get into by a rather awkwardly-played harmonium.
The Rev. W. J. Stuart is the minister of the chapel, and he receives from 70 to 80 pounds a year for his duties. He has a gentlemanly appearance; looks pretty well considering the nature of his salary; is getting into the grey epoch of life; is not very erudite; but seems well up in scriptural subjects; is sincere, mild, primitive in his notions; has fits of cautiousness and boldness; is precise and earnest in expression; has an "interpretational" tendency in his sacred utterances; is disposed to explain mysteries; likes homilising the people; can talk much; and can be very earnest over it all. He has fair action, and sometimes gets up to 212 degrees in his preaching. We won't say that he is in any sense a wearying preacher; but this we may state, that if his sermons were shorter they would not be quite so long. And from this he may take the hint. We are told that the attendance at the chapel is slightly increasing; but as compared with the past it is still very slender. The admission to either the platform or pulpit of the chapel, not very long ago, of a wandering "Indian chief," and a number of Revivalists, who told strange tales and talked wildly, has operated, we believe, against the place—annoyed and offended some, and caused them to leave. The minister, no doubt, admitted these men with an honest intention; but everybody can't stand the war-whooping of itinerant Indians, nor the sincere ferociousness of Revivalists; and awkward feelings were consequently generated in some quarters by them. In the main, Mr. Stuart is a kindly, quiet, gentlemanly person, and barring the little interruption caused by the dubious Indian and the untamed Revivalists, has got on with a small congregation and a bad salary better than many parsons would have been able to do.
CHURCH OF THE ENGLISH MARTYRS.
To this church a name which is general property has been given. Each of our religious sects can number its martyrs. In the good old times cruelty was a reciprocal thing amongst professing Christians; it was a pre-eminently mutual affair amongst the two great religious parties in the land—the Protestants and the Catholics,—for when one side got into power they slaughtered their opponents, and when the other became paramount the compliment was returned. The church we have here to describe is dedicated to those English Catholics who, in the stormy days of persecution, were martyred. It is situated on the northern side of the town, in a new and rapidly increasing part of Preston, at the extreme south-western corner of what used to be called Preston Moor, and on the very spot where men used to be hanged often, and get their heads cut off occasionally. "Gallows Hill" is the exact site of the Church of the English Martyrs. And this "hill" is associated with a movement constituting one of the rugged points in our history. The rebellion of 1715 virtually collapsed at Preston; many fights and skirmishes were indulged in, one or two breezy passages of arms even took place within a good stone-throw of the ground occupied by the Church of the English Martyrs; but the King's troops finally prevailed. According to an old book before us there were "taken at Preston"— amongst the rebels—"seven lords, besides 1,490 other, including the several gentlemen, officers, and private men, and two clergymen." And the book further says, in a humorously sarcastic mood, "There was a Popish priest called Littleton among them; but having a great deal of the Jesuit he contrived a most excellent disguise, for he put on a blue apron, went behind an apothecary's counter, and passed for an assistant or journeyman to the apothecary, and so took an opportunity of getting off." But all the captured rebels did not escape so adroitly as our Jesuitical friend Littleton; for several of them were either hanged or beheaded, and the fate of many was sealed on the site of the Church of the English Martyrs. On the 5th of January, 1715, we are told that sixteen rebels "were hanged upon Gallows Hill, for high treason and conspiracy." In the following year "42 condemned prisoners of all religions were hanged and decapitated at Preston;" and amongst them were five belonging Preston and the neighbourhood. They were "Richard Shuttleworth, of Preston, Esq.; Roger Moncaster, of Garstang, attorney; Thomas Cowpe, of Walton-le-Dale; William Butler, of Myerscough, Esq.; William Arkwright, of Preston, gentleman;" and all of them were put to death on Gallows Hill the cost being for "materialls, hurdle, fire, cart, &c.," and for "setting up" Shuttleworth's head, &c., 12 pounds 0s 4d. There can be no doubt that Gallows Hill derives its name directly from the transactions of 1715-16. Prior to that time it was a simple mound; after that period it became associated with hangings and beheadings, and received the name of "Gallows Hill," which was peculiarly appropriate.
In May, 1817, "Gallows Hill" was cut through, so that "the great north road to Lancaster" might be improved. Whilst this was being done two coffins were found, and in them there were discovered two headless bodies. Local historians think they were the remains of "two rebel chieftains;" they may have been; but there is no proof of this, although the fair supposition is that they were the decapitated remnants of two somebodies, who had assumed a rebellious attitude in 1715. It is probable that the heads of these parties were "exposed on poles in front of our Town-hall," for that was an olden practice, and was considered very legitimate 154 years ago. We have spoken of the "discoveries" of 1817, and in continuing our remarks it may be said that "near the spot" some timber, supposed to have been the gallows, was once found, and that a brass hand-axe was dug up not far from it, at the same time. The Moor, which amongst other things embraced the "hill" we have mentioned, was a rough wildish place—a rude looking common; but it seems to have been well liked by the people, for upon it they used to hold trade meetings, political demonstrations, &c.; and for 65 years—from 1726 to 1791— horse races were annually run upon it. The Corporation and the freemen of the borough once had a great dispute as to their respective claims to the Moor, and the latter by way of asserting their rights, put upon it an old white horse; but the Corporation were not to be cajoled out of their ownership by an argument so very "horsey" as this; they ordered the animal off; and Mr. J. Dearden, who still obeys their injunctions with courteous precision, put it into a pinfold hard by.
The Church of the English Martyrs was erected not long ago upon that part of the Moor we have described. Originally the promoters of the church treated for a plot of land about 20 yards above the present site; but the negotiations were broken off, and afterwards they bought Wren Cottage and a stable adjoining, situated about a quarter of a mile northwards. The house was made available for the priest; the stable was converted into a church; and mass was said in it for the first time on Christmas morning, 1864. On the 21st of January, 1865, it was formally "opened;" the Revs. Canon Walker, T. Walton, and F. Soden taking part in the services of the day. During 1865 preparations were made for erecting a new church upon the same site; but some of the gentlemen living in the immediate neighbourhood took offence at the movement, and insisted upon certain stipulations contained in the covenants, which barred out the construction of such a building as a church or a chapel, being carried out. There was a considerable amount of Corporation discussion in respect to the question, and eventually the idea of erecting a church upon the land was abandoned. Directly afterwards, "Gallows Hill," in which both the Corporation and Mr. Samuel Pole Shaw had rights, was purchased as a site for it. Operations, involving the removal of an immense quantity of earth—for the place was nothing more than a high, rough, sandy hillock,—were commenced on the 26th of March, 1866. On the 26th of May, in the same year, the foundation-stone was laid, with great ceremony, by Dr. Goss, and on the 12th of December, 1867, the church was opened. Mr. E. W. Pugin designed the building, which externally does not look very wonderful at present; but, when completed, it will be a handsome place. The original design includes a beautiful steeple, surmounted with pinnacles; but want of funds precludes its erection.
The church is a high double-roofed edifice—looks like two buildings, one placed above the other; and, owing to the absence of a steeple, it seems very tall and bald. It has a pretty western gable, which can only be fully appreciated by close inspection. The centre of this gable is occupied by a fine eight-light window, and the general work is surmounted by pinnacles and ornamental masonry. Two angels, cut in stone, originally formed part of the ornamentation; but during a strong gale, early in 1868, they were blown down. These "fallen angels" have never regained their first estate; and as they might only tumble down if re-fixed, and perhaps kill somebody, which would not be a very angelic proceeding, we suppose they will not be interfered with.
The church has an imposing, a noble interior. It is wide, lofty, has a fine calm majestic look, and is excellently arranged. The nave, which is 69 feet high, is supported by 14 stone pillars. From nearly any point every part of the building may be seen; the nave pillars, do not, as is the case in some churches, obstruct the vision; and everything seems easy, clear, and open. In the daytime a rich shadowy light is thrown into the church by the excellent disposition of its windows; at eventide the sheen of the setting sun, caught by the western window, falls like a bright flood down the nave, and makes the scene beautiful. The high altar is a fine piece of workmanship; is of Gothic design, is richly carved, is ornamented with marbles, has a canopy of most elaborate construction, and is in good harmony with the general architecture. Two small altars are near it. One of them, dedicated to St. Joseph, and given by Mr. J. Pyke, of this town, is particularly handsome; the other, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, is of a less costly, though very pretty, character. Near one of the pillars on the north-eastern side there stands a square wooden frame, which is called the pulpit. It is a deliciously primitive and remarkably common-place concern; but it is strong enough, and will have to stop where it is until money for something better is raised. There are sittings in the church for 850 persons. On Sundays there are masses at eight, and half-past nine; a regular service at eleven, and another at half-past six in the evening. The aggregate attendance during the day is about 1,350. The assemblage at the first mass is thin; at the second it is good— better than at any other time; at eleven it is pretty numerous; and in the evening it is fair. Adults and children from the union workhouse, of the Catholic persuasion, attend the eleven o'clock service; and they come in tolerable force—sometimes they number 100.
The general congregation consists nearly altogether of working class people, and it includes some of the best sleepers we have seen. The members of the choir sit in a gallery at the western end. Their performances are of a curious description. Sometimes they sing very well—are quite exact in their renderings and decidedly harmonious; at other times they torture the music somewhat. But then they are young at the business, haven't had so much experience, and have nothing to rely upon in the shape of instrumental music except the hard tones of an ordinary harmonium. Organ accompaniments help up good choirs and materially drown the defects of bad ones. With better instrumental assistance, the singers at the Church of the English Martyrs would acquit themselves more satisfactorily, and with additional practice they would still further improve matters.
There are two priests stationed at the church—the Rev. James Taylor and the Rev. Joseph Pyke. Father Taylor, the principal, is a blooming, healthy, full-spirited gentleman. He is a "Fylde man;" has in him much strong straight-forwardness; looks as if he had never ailed anything in his life; doesn't appear to have mortified the flesh very acutely; seems to have taken things comfortably and well since the day of his birth; has not allowed his creed to spoil his face—a trick which some professors of religion are guilty of; and is, on the whole, a genuine specimen of the true John Bull type. Father Taylor's first mission was at Lancaster, under the late Dean Brown; afterwards he came to St. Augustine's, Preston, where he remained four and a half years; then he was appointed Catholic chaplain at the House of Correction; and subsequently he took charge of his present mission. He is an active man, and works very hard in his district. As a preacher he is energetic, impetuous, and practical—speaks plainly and straight out, minces nothing, and tries to drive what he considers to be the truth right home. He has very little rhetorical action, hardly moves at all in the pulpit, stirs neither head nor hand except upon special occasions; but he has a powerful voice, he pours out his words in a strong, full volume, and the force he has in this respect compensates for the general immobility he displays during his discourses.
His colleague—the Rev. J. Pyke—is a small, mild gentleman, unassuming in manner, cautious, careful, quiet, precise, and, whilst attending to his duties regularly, he makes no bluster about them. He was ordained at the Church of the English Martyrs, in September, 1868. In the pulpit he is earnest, clear, and regular in his remarks. He makes no repetitions, flings himself into no attitudes, assumes no airs, but proceeds on to the end steadily and calmly. Both the priests named live close to the church, in a building which forms part of the property of the mission. It is intended some time to have a proper presbytery, near the church: one is included in the original plan; but shortness of funds bars its erection. The work thus far executed—the church, vestries, &c.—has cost about 8,000 pounds, and there still remains upon the buildings a debt of about 4,000 pounds. There are no schools in connection with the church; but it is expected that there will be by and bye. The land formerly used as the cattle market, and situated near the church, has been bought for this purpose, and collectors are now engaged in raising money towards the erection of the schools. The church has two or three "guilds," the female members thereof numbering about 200, and the males 100. In the "district" there are about 3,000 Catholics, including 700 children under 10 years of age; so that the priests in charge of it have quite enough on hand for the present. A mission in debt to the tune of 4,000 pounds; a church to internally complete—for much yet remains to be finished in the one described; a church tower which will cost 2,000 pounds to raise; a presbytery to begin of; schools, which are primarily essential, to erect; and 7,000 human beings to look after, constitute what may fairly be termed "no joke."
ST. SAVIOUR'S CHURCH.
Few districts are more thoroughly vitiated, more distinctly poverty- struck, more entirely at enmity with soap and water than that in which this church stands. Physically, mentally, and spiritually, it is in a state of squash and mildew. Heathenism seethes in it, and something even more potent than a forty-parson power of virtue will be required to bring it to healthy consciousness and legitimate action. You needn't go to the low slums of London, needn't smuggle yourself round with detectives into the back dens of big cities if you want to see "sights" of poverty and depravity; you can have them nearer home—at home—in the murky streets, sinister courts, crowded houses, dim cellars, and noisy drinking dens of St. Saviour's district. Pass through it, move quietly along its parapets—leaving a tour through its internal institutions for some future occasion— and you will see enough to convince you that many missionaries, with numerous Bibles and piles of blankets, are yet wanted at home before being despatched to either farthest land or the plains of Timbuctoo. The general scene may be thus condensed and described: Myriads of children, ragged, sore-headed, bare-legged, dirty, and amazingly alive amid all of it; wretched-looking matrons, hugging saucy, screaming infants to their breasts, and sending senior youngsters for either herring, or beer, or very small loaves; strong, idle young men hanging about street corners with either dogs at their feet, or pigeon-baskets in their hands; little shops driving a brisk "booking" business with either females wearing shawls over their heads or children wearing nothing at all on their feet; bevies of brazen-faced hussies looking out of grim doorways for more victims and more drink; stray soldiers struggling about beer or dram shops entrances, with dissolute, brawny-armed females; and wandering old hags with black eyes and dishevelled hair, closing up the career of shame and ruin they have so long and so wretchedly run.
Anybody may see the sights we have just described. We mention this not because there is anything pleasing in it, but because it is something which exists daily in the heart of our town—in the centre of St. Saviour's district. No locality we know of stands more in need of general redemption than this, and any Christian church, no matter whatever may be its denominational peculiarities, which may exist in it, deserves encouragement and support. The district is so supremely poor, and so absolutely bad, that anything calculated to improve or enlighten it in any way is worthy of assistance. A Baptist chapel was built in the quarter we are now describing—it was erected in Leeming-street, at the corner of Queen-street—in 1783. Fifty years afterwards it was enlarged; subsequently the Baptists couldn't agree amongst themselves; the parties to the quarrel then separated, some going to Pole-street Chapel, others forming a new "church"—that now in Fishergate; and on the 10th of August, 1859, the old building was bought by certain gentlemen connected with the Church of England. A young man, named William Dent Thompson, strong in constitution, greatly enamoured of Reformation principles, keenly polemical, and brought up under the aegis of the Rev. Geo. Alker, was appointed superintendent of the place. He stayed awhile, then went away, and was succeeded by the Rev. Geo. Donaldson, who in turn left for Blackburn, and was followed by the Rev. Geo. Beardsell, the present incumbent of All Saints' in this town. Mr. Beardsell did an excellent business in the district—worked it up well and most praiseworthily; but he, in time, left.
For seven months after this, there was no regular minister at the place; still it didn't go down; several energetic, zealous laymen looked after it and the schools established in connection with it, and, considering their calibre, they did a good work. But they couldn't keep up a full and continuous fire; a properly stationed minister was needed; and Mr. Thompson, who had in the meantime entered holy orders, was summoned from Blackenall, in Staffordshire, to take charge of the church and district. In 1863 he came; under his ministrations the congregation soon augmented; and in a short time a movement was started for a new church; the old building being a ricketty, inconvenient, rudely-dismal place, quite insufficient for the requirements of the locality. The principal friends of the new movement were R. Newsham, the late J. Bairstow, J. Horrocks, and T. Miller, Esqrs., and what they subscribed constituted a substantial nucleus guaranteeing the commencement of operations. In 1866, the old edifice was pulled down to make way for a new church, and during the work of re-construction divine service was performed in Vauxhall-road schools, which were, sometime after Mr. Thompson's appointment, transferred by the Rev. Canon Parr from the Parish Church's to St. Saviour's district. R. Newsham, Esq., laid the corner-stone of St. Saviour's Church on the 26th of November, 1866; the building was consecrated by the Bishop of Manchester, on the 29th of October, 1868; on the 9th of December in that year, the Rev. W. D. Thompson was licensed to its incumbency; and on the 16th of April, 1869, the district was "legally assigned" by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.
St. Saviour's—designed by Mr. Hibbert, architect, of this town—is one of the handsomest and best finished churches we have seen. It almost seems too good for the district in which it is situated. The style of it is Gothic. Externally its most striking feature is the tower. We thought at one time, when the tower had been run up a considerable distance, that it was positively "going to the dogs." At each of its angles there is a strange arrangement of dogs; they bristle out on all sides, and are not over good looking—are thin, hungry, weird-looking animals, appear to have had a hard time of it somewhere, and to be doing their best to escape from the stone whence they are protruding. But the pinnacles placed above have completely taken away their grotesqueness, their malicious, suspicious appearance, and the tower now looks beautiful. There are three entrances to the church—one at the back, another at the north-western corner, and the third beneath the tower on the south- western side. If you please we will enter by the door on the last- named side.
We are within the building—just within; and here we have on the right a glass screen, on the left a multiplicity of warm water pipes, and in the centre of the spot a handsome substantial baptismal font, the gift of Sir T. G. Fermor-Hesketh, M.P. This font can't be too highly praised; its workmanship is excellent; its material is most durable; and with care it will last for at least four thousand years. Behind it are two stained glass windows; one being in memory of the father of the incumbent's wife; the other in remembrance of the architect's mother. Adjoining is a plain window which will shortly be filled in with stained glass, at the expense of Mr. W. B. Roper, in memory of a relative. Leaving the font, and the water pipes, and the windows, we move forward, and are at once struck with the capaciousness, the excellent disposition, and the handsome finish of the interior. Directly in front there is a magnificent five-light chancel window—beautifully coloured, well arranged, containing in the centre a representation of our Saviour, and flanked by figures of the four evangelists. We have seldom seen a more exquisite, a more elegantly artistic window than this. Edward Swainson, Esq., whose works are in the district, presented it. Still looking eastward, but taking a nearer view and one of less altitude, we notice the pulpit—a piece of fine carved oak-work, resting upon a circular column of stone, and given by Mrs. Newsham; then we have a lectern, of the eagle pattern, presented by the Rev. R. Brown; and to the left of this there is a most excellently finished, carved- oak, reading desk, given by R. Newsham, Esq. The communion plate— most choice and elaborate in design—was, we may observe, given by the same gentleman. Turning round, we notice a pretty four-light window in the western gable. This was also presented by R. Newsham, Esq., in memory of the late J. Bairstow, Esq. The church consists of a nave and a northern aisle. If an aisle could be constructed on the southern side the building would assume proportions at once most complete and imposing. But space will not permit of this. Land constitutes a difficulty on that side; and the general building is considerably deteriorated in appearance at present through "associations" in this part. At the south-eastern end there is a small wretched-looking beershop, and near it a dingy used-up cottage. These two buildings are a nuisance to the church; they spoil the appearance of the building at one end completely, and they ought to be pulled down and carted off forthwith.
Reverting to the interior of St. Saviour's, we observe that the northern side is supported by four arches, the central one depending upon double columns of polished granite, and all of them having highly ornamented capitals. A couple of stone angels support the primary principal of the chancel roof, and they bear the weight put upon them very complacently. The northern aisle is occupied below with free seats; and above, in a gallery, with ditto. At the western end there is a continuation of the gallery, filled with free seats. The church will hold 800 people, and more than half the seats are free. All the pews are strong, open, and good to sit in. The central ones on the ground floor are very lengthy—perhaps thirty feet in extent.
The congregation, considering the capacity of the church, is large, and consists almost absolutely of working people. We noticed during our visit to this place what we have seen at no other church or chapel in the town, namely, that many of the worshippers put in an early appearance—several were in their seats at least a quarter of an hour before the service commenced. We further noticed that the congregation is a pre-eminently quiet and orderly one. At some places you are tormented to death with stirring feet, shuffling, rustling clothes, coughing, sneezing, &c.; here, however, you have little of these things, and at times, a positive dead calm prevails. It may also be worthy of mention that we saw fewer sleepers at St. Saviour's than in any other place of worship yet visited by us. Only one gentleman got fairly into a state of slumber during the whole service; a stout girl tried to "drop over" several times, and an old man made two or three quiet efforts to get his eyes properly closed, but both failed. All the other members of the congregation appeared to be wide awake and amazingly attentive. The free seats are well patronised by poor people, and it is to such a class as this that the place seems really advantageous.
The music at the church is simple, hearty, and quite congregational. The tunes are plain, and the worshippers, instead of looking on whilst the choir perform, join in the music, and get up a very full volume of respectable melody. The regular singers have their quarters at the north-eastern end, on the ground floor, and they acquit themselves with a very good grace. Near them is a small, poor-looking organ; it is played well, but its music is not very consolatory, and its tame, infantile appearance throws it quite out of keeping with the general excellence of the church. Some money has, we believe, been promised towards a new organ, and if somebody else would promise some more, a seemly-looking instrument might be obtained.
Two or three "classes" meet every Sunday for instruction in the church. Formerly, owing to defective accomodation, the members of them had to assemble in two public-house rooms, where the education was in one sense of the "mixed" kind, for whilst virtue was being inculcated above, where the members met, the elegant war-whooping of pagans below, given over to beer, tobacco, and blasphemy, could be heard. This wasn't a thing to be desired, and as soon as ever the church was ready, a removal to it was effected. Educational business in connection with St. Saviour's is carried on in various parts of the district. In Vauxhall-road there are day schools with an average attendance of 220. On Sundays, the work of education is carried on here; also at the Parsonage-house (which adjoins Lark-hill convent), where a mother's class is taught by Mrs. Thompson; in Shepherd- street, where a number of poor ragged children meet; and likewise, as before stated, in the church; the aggregate attendance being about 900. The Parsonage-house was purchased and presented to St. Saviour's by the late J. Bairstow, Esq. Handsome new schools are being built (entirely at the expense of R. Newsham, Esq., who has been a most admirable friend to St. Saviour's) near the church. They will accommodate about 400 scholars, and will, it is expected, be ready by the end of the present year. The entire cost of the church, parsonage house, &c., has been about 10,000 pounds; and not more than 50 pounds will be required to clear off all the liabilities thus far incurred.
The incumbent of St. Saviour's is plain, unpoetical, strong-looking, and practical. He was reared under the shadow of Ingleborough. We have known him for 30 years. On coming to Preston he was for sometime a mechanic; then he became missioner in connection with the Protestant Reformation Society, first at St. Peter's in this town,— and next at St. Mary's. Afterwards he left, studied for the ministry, and six years since, as already intimated, came to St. Saviour's as its incumbent. For a time after the church was erected, he had nothing to depend upon but the pew rents, which realised about 70 pounds a year: but fortune favours parsons: the Ecclesiastical Commissioners subsequently increased his stipend, then 1,000 pounds was left by J. Bairstow, Esq., and the income is now equal to about 300 pounds per annum. Mr. Thompson is not a brilliant man, and never will be. He is close-shaven, full-featured, heavily-set, slow is his mental processes, but earnest, pushing, and enduring. He is an industrious parson, a striving, persevering, roughly-hewn, hard-working man—a good visitor, a willing worker, free and kindly disposed towards poor people, and the exact man for such a district as that in which he is located. If a smart, highly- drawn, classical gentleman were fixed as minister in the region of St. Saviour's, the people would neither understand him nor care for him. If he talked learnedly, discussed old cosmogonies, worked out subtle theories of divinity, and chopped logic; if he spiced up big homilies with Plato and Virgil, or wandered into the domain of Hebrew roots and Greek iambics, his congregation would put him down as insane, and would be driven crazy themselves. But Mr. Thompson avoids these things, primarily because he doesn't know much about them, and generally because plain words and practical work are the sole things required in his district.
The gentleman under review used to be a tremendous anti-Popery speaker, and more than once thought well of the Reformation perorations of Henry Vincent; but he has toned down much in this respect, like Panjandrum the Grand, under whose feathers he originally nestled. He is still, and has a right to be, if that way inclined, a strong believer in the triumph achieved at Boyne Water; only he doesn't make so much stir about it as formerly. Mr. Thompson is a determined and aspiring man; is earnest, windy, and clerically "large;" knows he is a parson without being told of it; has a somewhat ponderous and flatulent style of articulation; has not the faculty of originality much developed, but can imitate excellently; could sooner quote than coin a great thought; believes in stray polemical struggles with outsiders; used to have a Byronic notion that getting hold of other people's thoughts, and passing them off for those of somebody else, was not a very great sin; is a better anecdote teller than reasoner; can be very solemn and most virtuously combative; could yet, though he seems to have settled down, get up, on the shortest notice, any amount of "immortal William" steam, and throw every ounce of it into a good ninth-rate jeremiad. Still he has many capital points; he is a most indefatigable toiler in his own district, and that covers all his defects; he is not too proud nor too idle to visit everybody, however wretched or vile, requiring his advice and assistance; he is homely, sincere, and devoted to the cause he has in hand, and the locality he has charge of; he does his best to improve it; he has not laboured unsuccessfully; and no better minister could be found for such a place. He can adapt himself to its requirements; can level himself to its social and spiritual necessities; does more good in it every day than a more polished, or brilliant, or namby- pamby parson would be able to accomplish in a year; has an excellent wife, who takes her share of the district's work; attends to the varied wants of the locality—and there are many in a godless district like his, with its 5,000 souls—in a most praiseworthy manner. He is the right man is the right place, and it is a good job that he is not too learned, for that would have interfered with his utility, would have dumfounded those in his keeping, and operated against his success. Mr. Thompson, adieu, and good luck to you.
CHRISTIAN BRETHREN AND BROOK-STREET PRIMITIVE METHODISTS.
All over, there are many who consider themselves Christian brethren; but the number taking up the name specifically, with a determination to stick to it denominationally, is small. In all large towns a few of this complexion may be found; and in Preston odd ones exist whose shibboleth is "Christian Brethren." We had a spell with them, rather unexpectedly, on a recent "first day"—"Christian Brethren" always call Sunday the first day. And it came about in this way: we were on the point of entering a Dissenting place of worship, when a kindly-natured somewhat originally-constituted "pillar of the Church" intercepted our movements, and said, "You mustn't come here today." "Why?" we asked, and his reply was, that a fiftieth-rate stray parson, whom "the Church doesn't care for" would be in the pulpit that day, and that if we wished for "a fair sample" we must "come next Sunday." We didn't want to be hard, and therefore said that if "another place" could be found for us, we would take it instead. Violent cogitation for five minutes ensued, and at last our friend, more zealous than erudite, conjured up what he termed, "them here new lot, called Christians."
We had heard of this section before, and at our request he accompanied us to a small, curiously-constructed building in Meadow- street. At the side of the doorway we observed a strangely-written, badly-spelled sign, referring to the different periods when the "Christian Brethren" met for worship, &c.; and above it another sign appeared, small and dim, and making some allusion to certain academical business. Hurrying up fourteen steps we reached a dark, time-worn door, and after pausing for a moment—listening to some singing within—our guide, philosopher, &c., opened it, and we entered the place with him. The room was not "crowded to suffocation;" its windows were not gathering carbon drops through the density of human breathing; there were just fourteen persons in the place—four men, three women, two youths, a girl, and four children. A Bible and a hymn book—the latter, according to its preface, being intended for none but the righteous—were handed to us, and our friend want through the singing in a delightfully- dreadful style. He appeared to have a way of his own in the business of psalmody—sang whatever came into his head first, got into all manner of keys, and considering that he was doing quite enough for both of us, we remained silent, listening to the general melody, and drinking in its raptures as placidly as possible.
Prior to describing either the service we witnessed, or the principles of those participating in it, we must say a word in reference to the building. It stands on the northern side of Meadow- street, between sundry cottage houses, retiring a little from the general frontage, and by its architecture seems to be a cross between a small school and a minute country meeting-house. It was originally built in 1844 by Mr. John Todd of this town. He started it as a chapel on his own account—for at that time he had special theological notions; and probably considered that he had as much right to have a place of worship as anybody else. We have been unable to ascertain the primal denominational character of the building; the founder of it is unable to tell us; all that we have been able to get out of him is, that the place "had no name," and all that we can, therefore, fairly say is, that he built it, and did either something or nothing in it. Mr. Todd did not occupy it very long; he struck his colours in about a year; and afterwards it was used by different Dissenting bodies, including some Scotch Baptists, on whose behalf the building was altered. Originally it was only one story high; but when the Baptists went to it a second story was added, and, having either aspiring notions or considering that they would be better accommodated in the higher than the lower portion of the building, they went aloft, leaving the ground floor for individuals of more earthly proclivities. Two years ago Mr. Todd sold the building, and about six months since certain Christian Brethren hired the top room for "first day" purposes, week day work being carried on in it by an industrious schoolmaster.
Like the Quakers, Christian Brethren are a "peculiar people." They believe more in being good and doing good than in professing goodness formally. They recognise some forms and a few ceremonies; but vital inherent excellence—simple Christianity, plain, unadorned, and earnest—is their pole-star. They claim to be guided in all their religious acts solely by the Scriptures; consider that as "the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch," their followers have no right to assume any other name; think, baptismally speaking, that whilst there may be some virtue in sprinkling and pouring, there can be no mistake about absolute immersion, inasmuch as that will include everything; think baby baptism unnecessary, and hold that none except penitent believers, with brains fairly solidified, should be admitted to the ordinance; maintain that, as under the apostolic regime, "the disciples came together on the first day of the week to break bread," Christians should partake of the sacrament every Sunday; call their ministers "evangelists;" hold that at general meetings for worship there should be full liberty of speech; that worship should be perfectly free; and that everything should be supported on the voluntary principle. Those now worshipping in Meadow-street are the first "Christian Brethren" we have had, regularly organised, in Preston. How they will go on we cannot tell; but if present appearances are any criterion, we are afraid they will not make very rapid progress. They have about ten "members" at present; when the "baker's dozen" will be reached is a mystery.
The executive business of Christian Brethren is managed by deacons; but the diaconal stage has not yet been reached in Preston. There are branches of the body in Blackburn, Southport, Bolton, &c.; but none exist in Lancashire north of Preston. The brethren here have no Sunday-school; but the establishment of one is contemplated, and it may be in time fairly attended. What the number of attendants will be we can't tell, but this may be fairly said—that if each of the ten members happens, in the lapse of time, to have 12 children, and if all are sent to school, 120 scholars will be raised, and that this would constitute a very good muster for a small denomination. But we must return to the subject.
After the singing, which our friend so improved—and he continued "in the werry same tone of voice," as poor Sam Cowell used to say in his "Station Porter's" song, through every hymn—a bearded, mustached, and energetic young man (Mr. W. Hindle), originally a Methodist town missionary, at one time connected with Shepherd- street Ragged School, Preston, and now an "Evangelist" belonging the Christian Brethren, labouring at Southport, Blackburn, &c., but generally engaged for Sunday service at Preston, read several verses from the Bible; then be prayed, his orison being of a free and wide- spreading type; and afterwards he asked if any "brother" would read from Holy Writ. A pause followed, doubt and bashfulness apparently supervening; but at length a calm, thoughtful gentleman got up, and went through sundry passages in Isaiah. The singing of a hymn succeeded, and Mr. Hindle then asked if "another brother" would read. A gentleman, spectacled, with his hair well thrown back, and very earnest, here rose, and having put a small Bible upon a little table in front, and taken up a larger volume which the minister had been perusing, diced into Corinthians, and gave a tolerably satisfactory reading. The minister then commenced discussing certain antithetical points in St. Paul's writings, and next asked if "two or three brethren" would engage in prayer. Thirty seconds elapsed, and then one of the brethren made a prayer. The sacrament—bread and wine—directly followed, and after a purse, suddenly pulled out from some place by the minister, had been sharply handed round for contributions, a serious young man gave out a hymn, which the company genially sung. More speaking ensued: but the minister had it all to himself. He said—"Will any brother speak; now is the time; if you have anything to state utter it; lose no time, but say on." Never a brother spoke; eye-squeezing and thumb-turning, and deep introspection followed; and in the end the minister rose, took his text from three or four parts of the Bible, and gave a lengthy discourse, relieved at intervals with genuine outbursts of eloquence, relative to Christian action and general duty. He seemed to have a poor notion of many Christians, and somewhat fantastically illustrated their position by saying that they were, spiritually troubled with consumption and apparently with diabetes!—were continually devouring good things, constantly wasting away, and doing no particular good amongst it at all. We felt the force of this; but we didn't ejaculate; quietness, except on very excited occasions, being the rule here. His discourse lasted about 30 minutes, and it was well and forcibly delivered. At the conclusion two or three of the Brethren came out of their circle—they were all round a table before the parson—and shook hands with us.
We shortly afterwards retired, leaving our "musical" friend engaged in a hot discussion with the parson as to the propriety of certain observations he had made in his sermon. How the matter was fought out we cannot tell. The Brethren assemble every Sunday morning and evening in the building; sometimes they have a Bible class meeting on a Sunday afternoon; and occasionally a week night service. They are a calm, devout, forlorn-looking class; are distinctly sincere; have strong liberal notions of Christianity; seem to love one another considerably, and may at times greet each other with a holy kiss; but they don't thrive much in Preston. In time they may become a "great people," but at present their status is small. Ten Christian Brethren up 14 steps may grow potent eventually; but they may, figuratively speaking, fall down the steps in the meantime, and so injure the cause as to defy the influence of theraputics.
A few words now as to Brook-street Primitive Methodist Chapel, which we visited the same day. This is a tiny building, and appears to stand in a dangerous region. On one side all the windows are continually shuttered, so as to prevent the mischievous action of stones, and in front the door is railed in closely so as to frustrate the efforts of those who might be inclined to kick it. The chapel, which is also used for Sunday school purposes, was built in 1856. It is a very humble, plain-looking edifice externally; and internally it is equally unassuming. You get to it collaterally, through a pair of narrow doors, which bang about very much in stormy weather. The roof is supported by two iron pillars, with which a tall stove pipe keeps company. In the centre there are 16 pews, each capable of holding three persons, and a large pew which will accommodate six. Rows of small forms run down each side. Those on the left are used by men and boys; those on the other side are principally patronised by women and little children, some of whom are too young to engage in anything but lactary pursuits. Green is a favourite colour here. The inside of the pews are green; portions of the walls are green; some of the windows are similarly coloured at the base; the music stands in the orchestra are green; and there is a fine semi-circular display of green at the back of the pulpit. At the south-eastern corner there are sundry pieces of old timber piled up; at the opposite side there is a cupboard; and over the entrance numerous forms, colour poles, and a ladder are placed. These constitute all the loose ornaments in the chapel. About 150 persons can be accommodated in the place. When we visited it—the time was rather unfavourable, owing to the roughness of the weather—sixty- six persons, exclusive of the choir and the parson, were in it.
The congregation is a very poor one, but it is singularly sincere and orderly—is not refined but devout, is comparatively unlettered but honest. There is neither silk, nor satin, nor diamond rings, nor lavender kids, in the place; a hard working-day plainness, mingled with poverty, pervades it; but there is no sham seen: if the people are poor, commonly dressed, noisy—if they effervesce sometimes, and shout "Hallelujah" with a fiery joyfulness, and pray right out, as if they were being ship-wrecked or frightened to death, why let them have their way, for they are happy amongst it. Their convictions are strong, and when they are at it they go in for a good thing—for something roughly exquisite, hilariously pious, and consumingly good. They don't mince matters; are neither dainty nor given to cant, but shout out what they feel at the moment whatever may become of it afterwards. Sunday services, prayer meetings, and class meetings are held in the chapel regularly. The pulpit is occupied by various persons.
The minister stationed at the place is the Rev. J. Hall—colleague of the pastor at Saul-street Chapel—but he only takes his turn in it. A strong-built man, plainly attired, earnest, and not so given to flights of violent fancy as some preachers, had charge of the pulpit during our visit. His style was homely, and in his easier periods he had a knack of putting his left hand into his breeches pocket, and talking in a semi-conversational Lancashire dialect style. He dilated for thirty minutes upon the horn-blowing at Jericho, the siege, the wall-falling, and the sin of Achan; and then wound up by telling his hearers—drawing the moral from Achan's fate—that if they did wrong they would be sure to be found out. The sermon was quite equal to the bulk of homilies given in Primitive Methodist Chapels, and it seemed to go right home to the congregation. The plundering of Achan was well told, and when it was announced that he was stoned with stones, and then burned, the congregation sent up a mild, half-sighing groan, shaking their heads a little, and apparently determining to do right as long as ever they lived.
The music at the chapel was strong, and, remembering the nature of the place, satisfactory. Three men, three young women, and a boy managed it. The women sometimes drowned the men; the boy often got into a shrill mood; but the men finally reached the surface, the women quietly subsided, the boy toned down his forces somewhat; and on the whole the singing was well done. After the sermon there came a prayer meeting. We determined to see it out, preserving that quietude and respect which one ought always to evince towards those believing in the great cardinal points of Christanity, however peculiar may be, the modes of their expression. Only about twenty- five, who assembled on the southern side of the chapel, joined the prayer meeting. The proceedings were of a most enthusiastic, virtuous, hot, and bewildering character. Singing, feet-beating, praying, hand-clapping, and reciprocal shouting constituted the programme. One elderly man went fairly wild during the business. He shook his head, doubled his fists, threw his arms about, ejaculated with terrible rapidity and force, and appeared to be entirely set on fire by his feelings. A thorough craze—a wild, beating, electrifying passion—got completely hold of him for a few minutes, and he enjoyed the stormy pulsations of it exceedingly. At the end somebody said, "Now, will some of the women pray?" Instantly a little old man said, "God bless the women;" "Aye," said another, while several gave vent to sympathetic sighs. But the women were not to be drawn out in this style; none of them were in the humour for praying; they didn't even return the benediction of the little old man by saying "God bless the men;" they kept quiet, then got up, and then all walked out; the last words we remember being from a woman, who, addressing us, said, "Now, draw it mild!"
ST. THOMAS'S CHURCH.
We have made no inquiry as to the original predecessors of those attending this church. They may have been links in the chain of those men who, ages ago, planted themselves on the coast of Malabar, rejoicing in the name of "Christians of St. Thomas," and struggling curiously with Nestorians, Franciscans, Dominicans, and Jesuits; they may have constituted a remnant of the good people whom Cosmas Indicopleustes saw in the East twelve hundred years since; they may have only had a Preston connection, knowing nothing of the Apostle of India—St. Thomas—beyond what anybody knows, and caring more for his creed than his title. Whatever may have been their history and fate, it is certain their successors believe in that most apostolical of unbelievers just mentioned—so far, at least, as the name is concerned. The church they respect is situated at the northern end of Preston, near the junction of Moor-lane and Lancaster-road. It is a small, strong, hard-looking building; seems as if it would stand any amount of rain and never get wet through, any quantity of heat and never have a sunstroke; it is stoical, cold, firm, and very stony; has a bodkin-pointed spire, ornamented with round holes and circular places into which penetration has not yet been effected; and its "tout ensemble" is in no way edifying. It is neither ornate nor colossal. Strength, plainness, and smallness, with a strong dash of general rigidity, are its outward characteristics.
St. Thomas's is one of the local churches erected through the exertions of the late Rev. R. Carus Wilson; and, like all those churches, it is built in the Norman style of architecture—a massive, severe style, which will never be popularly pleasing, but will always secure endurance for the edifices constructed on its principles. The first stone of this church was laid in August, 1837. The building stands upon a hill, is surrounded by a powerful stone wall, can be approached two ways, and has its front entrance opposite a small street, which has not yet received any name at all. To a stranger, ingress to the building is rather perplexing. A gateway in Lancaster-road, leading to a footpath, fringed with rockery, would appear to be the front way, but it is only a rear road, and when you get fairly upon it you wonder where it will end— whether you will be able to get to the interior by it, or only to some rails on one side and a wall on the other. It, however, eventuates round a corner, at the main entrance. We recommend this back way, for the legitimate front road is much more intricate and harassing; you can only become acquainted with it, if topographically unenlightened, and bashful as to making inquiries, by hovering about an ancient windmill, moving up narrow hilly streets, flanked by angular bye-paths, and then following either the first woman you see with a prayer book in her hand, or the first man you catch a sight of with a good coat on his back. The main entrance is ornamental but diminutive in many respects. There are three doorways here, the collateral ones, which are very low, and quite calculated to prevent people from entering the building with their hats on, being patronised the most—not because there is an offertory box in the central passage, but because the side roads are the handiest. During a second visit to the church we went in by the middle door, the medium course, as the proverb hath it, being the safest, and seeing the offertory box—a remarkably strong, iron- cornered article, fastened to the wall—we remarked to an official, in his shirt sleeves, who was with us, "This will stand a deal of money before falling." The official replied "It will so," and the look, he gave us superinduced the conclusion that the offertory box was not going to fall for some time.
We have seen no more deceptive-looking church than that we are now at. Viewed externally, you would say that scarcely a good handful of people could be accommodated in it; it seems so narrow, so entirely made up of and filled in with stone, that one infers at first sight it will hardly hold the parson and the sacrament-loving "old woman" who invariably exists as a permanent arrangement at all our places of worship; but this is a fallacy, for the building will accommodate about 1,100 people. The interior consists of a nave, two aisles, and a chancel. Everything in the building seems strong, clean, and good; and considering the ponderous character of its architecture a fair share of light is admitted to it. At the entrance, there is a glass screen, ornamentally got up and surmounted with a small lion and unicorn design. Just within this screen there is a curtained pew, and sitting within its enclosure must be a very snug and select thing. It is occupied by Mr. Hermon, M.P., and when he draws the curtains all round—"he sometimes does," said the official accompanying us—no one can see a morsel of him whilst he can see never a one in the building, not even the parson, without a special effort. The nave is broad and quadrangular, is supported by immensely strong pillars, and has a fine high roof, looking clean and spacious, but considerably spoiled by several commonplace awkwardly fashioned beams. The roof of each aisle is similarily marred. The seats are disposed in six parallel ranges, and the generality are quite good enough for anybody. Along each side there is a row of free seats—about 50 altogether—capable of accommodating upwards of 300 persons. There are also many free seats in the gallery.
The present incumbent has an idea that he has made some addition to this accomodation; but people who have known the church ever since it was built say that the extra "free pews" appropriated for the poor by him were never charged for. At the end of each aisle there is a neat stained glass window; that to the right bearing this inscription—"To the memory of W. P. Jones, M.A., ob. January 29, 1864, aged 77 years," and that on the left these words "To the memory of Mrs. Fanny Jones, ob. January 27, 1864, aged 75 years." Mr. Jones was a former incumbent of St. Thomas's. He was a quiet, mild-minded man, devoid of bombast, neither cynical nor meddlesome, and was well liked by all. His wife died just two days before him, and both were interred in one grave in St. Peter's church yard. The pulpit and reading desk at St. Thomas's are good-looking and substantial, but both are rather bad to get into and out of—the steps are narrow and angular, with a sudden descent, which might cause a stranger to miss his footing and fall, if he had not firm hold of the side rail. Right above, perhaps 20 feet high, and surmounting the chancel arch, there is a small ornamental projection, like a balcony. It would make a capital stand for the minister; or might be turned into a conspicuous place of Sunday resort for the wardens; but, then, they would have to be hoisted to it, for there is no road up, and that would not be seemly. Formerly, we believe, this balcony was used by the singers, but they were subsequently transplanted to the western gallery. The passage to the balcony front is now shut off. A considerable effort at ornamentation has been made on the walls flanking the balcony described. But we don't care much for it. Little pillars, quaint window models, and other architectural devices, are heaped upon each other in curious profusion, and it is difficult to get at their real meaning. They relieve the walls a little, but they do the work whimsically, and you can neither get a smile nor a tear from them. The chancel arch is strong and ornamental; within it there is another arch, the intervening roof being neatly groined and coloured; and beyond there is the chancel—a small, somewhat cimmerian, yet pretty-looking place. There are five windows in it; three having sacred figures painted upon them, and the remaining two being filled in with fancy designs, which don't look over well, owing to the decay of the colours.
The congregation is tolerably numerous, has in it the high, the fair-middling, and the humble—the good-looking, the well-dressed, the rubicund, the mildly mahogany-featured, the simply-dressed, the attenuated, and the indigent. But there is a clear halo of respectability about the place; superior habiliments are distinctly in the ascendant; and orderly behaviour reigns throughout each section of worshippers. The free seats are very fairly patronised, and sometimes very oddly. In one part of them we saw nine persons all near each other, and out of that number five wore spectacles, whilst three could only see with one eye. At the western end of the church there is a beautiful circular window, but it has not met with very good treatment. It has been broken in one part, and every morsel of it is covered up from general view by the organ occupying the gallery. Only the organ blower can see it properly, and having the whole of it to himself, it is to be expected he will derive some consolation from his special position. If he doesn't, then he neither gets up the wind nor looks through the window properly. The organ is a good one, and it is played with average ability, but it is too big for the place it occupies, and entirely swamps what was once considered a fine gallery. The singers are rather afraid of giving vent to their feelings. They discourse the music tastefully, but they are too quiet, and don't get into a temper, as they ought to do occasionally, over it. Prior to the advent of the present incumbent, the choir, considering its numbers, was, perhaps, as good as any in the town or neighbourhood; but one Sunday morning the gentleman referred to, having apparently been fiercely stung by a Ritualistic wasp, blew the trumpet of his indignation very strongly- -got into a whirlwind of denunciation all at once and without the aid of a text, regarding Ritualism; and the organist and singers, whose musical services embraced chants, &c., fancying that the rev. gentleman was either tired of their presence or performances, many of which were voluntary, sent in their resignations. Since then the music has not been very brilliant.
There are religious services every Sunday morning and evening at St. Thomas's, and on Thursday night a small gathering of the faithful takes place in the building. The trustees of the church are—Miss Margaret Ann Beckles, St. Leonard's; Samuel Husband Beckles, Esq., of the Middle Temple; the Rev. Edward Auriol, St. Dunstans; the Rev. Charles F. Close, St. Ann's, Blackfriars; the Rev. W. Cadman, Marylebone; and Sir Hugh Hill. The Rev. L. W. Jeffrey was the first incumbent of the church; then came the Rev. W. P. Jones, who died, as before stated, in 1884; afterwards the Rev. J. T. Becher was appointed to the incumbency, but he died from typhus fever in five weeks and was succeeded by the Rev. J. P. Shepperd who still holds the post and receives from it about 400 pounds a year.