History

The Church

The congregation soon outgrew the chapel so, in 1857, the building was carefully taken to pieces. Several portions were incorporated into the present building, notably a number of the windows, under the guidance of Edward Welby Pugin. The formal opening took place on 15th July 1858, the Title Feast of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.

Since then the main lines of the church, of red sandstone, 96ft in length by 57ft in width, have remained unaltered, though a number of internal changes and additions have been made. Perhaps the most notable of these followed a fire in 1973 in which the gallery and organ and the entire roof with its honeycomb slating were destroyed: the sanctuary was re-roofed without its octagonal lantern, which previously had given much light. The marble High Altar and reredos were designed by John Francis Bentley and erected in 1865.

phoca_thumb_l_g_floorThese were separated in 1973, when the altar was brought forward and the predella was extended. The jewelled, enamelled and copper-gilt tabernacle, and the pulpit (lowered by two steps in 1980) were added in 1866, also to Bentley's design.

The chapel to the northeast of the sanctuary is now the shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour where a copy of the original icon, which hangs above the High Altar of the Church of Sant' Alfonso in Rome, was placed in 1869. The chapel had been dedicated to St. Alphonsus, who is depicted in the rose window over the altar. He is bearing a monstrance, a tribute to his devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. A fine statue of the saint stands just inside the sanctuary. The Lady Altar is flanked with a pair of silver gilt hanging lamps. These are made in galleon form. The east window of the earlier chapel, representing 'Our Lady of the Annunciation,' is now in the north wall of this chapel. The lowest panels of each light were added at the move. Two decorated statues, of Mary and Joseph, from the earlier chapel possibly, flank the window.

Other windows preserved from the Bishops' chapel are: one of St. Edward the Confessor in the first bay of the north aisle; one of St. Oswald in the opposite bay of the south aisle; and a third, of rather Moorish design, at the west end of the north wall. Beneath this there is a stone altar and reredos in honour of Our Lady of Sorrows. The altar and reredos have marble columns and the reredos has a Pieta in an arched reredos. The West window itself, by J. Kempe of London, completed in 1920, represents the Last Judgement. Like the Calvary outside, facing the gateway, it is part of a First World War memorial. A smaller window in the west wall, in memory of G.O. Sharples, shows St. George and St. Frances of Rome. The other windows of the south aisle depict the Sacred Heart and Our Lady of the Rosary. The former also shows two Redemptorists: St. Gerard Majella, known as 'The Wonder Worker' and much invoked by expectant mothers, and St. Clement Hofbauer, Patron of Vienna. These were introduced just before World War I, after the saints were canonised by St Pius X in 1904 and 1909. The former South porch is now a chapel with a wooden statue of St Gerard. The southwest window is leaded. Panelled and glazed doors beneath the south facing windows give access to three confessionals.

On the north side of the church, the third bay contains a Millennium Window - inserted in 2000 - illustrating Liverpool Church life and work, by Pendle Stained Glass of Padiham. The second panel is to be glazed with depictions of three more recent Redemptorist saints and scenes of their varied apostolates, to mark the 150th anniversary of the church, in 2008. The outermost of the five lancet windows in the apse were given simple, bordered glazing in 2007, echoing the northwestern window.

The three central lancets, partly obscured by Bentley's reredos, represent Our Holy Redeemer, Our Blessed Lady and St. Joseph. All the stained glass, other than that in the Millennium and West windows, is the work of John Hardman and Sons of Birmingham.

The decorated wood panels lining the sanctuary were taken from the earlier chapel. The raised sanctuary floor is a mixture of marble and tiling. Above the south transept is the domestic oratory of the Redemptorist community. The label stop heads between the hood mouldings of the triforium represent St. Alphonsus and

Pope Pius IX. The oratory itself contains the first copy of the Icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour to come to Britain. One further detail: on marble panels in the Lady Chapel are inscribed the names of Redemptorists who are buried in the vault beneath. Among them is Fr. Edmund Vaughan, translator of St. Alphonsus' hymns.

A. E. Hodgetts C.Ss.R

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SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL

Our Gothic church, which is an outstanding example of the work of Victorian architect E.W.Pugin, seats only three hundred, requiring us to celebrate four Sunday Masses so that we can worship compactly but comfortably.

While we can't all meet together in worship, we can choose the time and the kind of worship we find most helpful, from a 'low' (said) Mass, through Masses with music groups and modern songs, to a more solemn Mass with organ and choir.

We can also have two Masses most weekdays, the first being 7 am. See our Mass timetable for further information.

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The church, opened in 1858, is a fine Gothic building with notable stained glass windows, the largest of which is "Doom", erected in 1923, depicting the Last Judgement. In 2000 we added a "Jubilee" window of outstanding design. Parishioners and friends donated over £16,000, enabling us to give £8,000 to five charities depicted in it. 2008 marked the 150th Anniversary of the Church's opening. To commemorate this a new window was commissioned. This window celebrates the life and work of three Redemptorists Saint John Neumann, The Blessed Kaspar Stanggassinger  and the Blessed Peter Donders. 

For over one hundred years our church was a devotional chapel with a congregation of local residents and pilgrims from the city who came to visit the shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour which had been established in 1866. However, in 1961 with homes having swallowed up the farms and fields around us, Archbishop (later Cardinal) Heenan, asked us to become a parish with all its responsibilities, and since then our numbers have increased threefold.

The House

The House was built in 1776 with a two storied, nine-windowed front, facing north, surmounted by a pediment spanning the upper five central windows, and with a single-width porch with pilasters and a small pediment, traces of which are still visible. The upper pediment disappeared when a third storey with a hipped roof was added in the nineteenth century.

A keystone over a former garden door in the south front is dated 1776, with the letters H.K. These stand for Hezekiah Kirkpatrick, a Unitarian minister and schoolmaster for whom the house was built as a boarding school for boys by 'Nicholas Aston Esq. of Woolton, and a few other gentlemen.' Their high hopes that Eton House School would rival the College at Windsor failed. After ten years the Rev. Hezekiah left Liverpool for Wigan. In 1786, Eton House was bought by Lord George Murray. His interests were with horses and hounds, perhaps at Aintree and Altcar. He built spacious stables to the west of the house. Despite marrying a Liverpool heiress, Lord George also disposed of the property, after ten years. The house came back into Unitarian ownership. Dr. Crompton, whose name survives in Crompton's Lane on the east side of the property, and his family lived in Eton Hall (sic) from 1797 to 1843. Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his family were regular visitors, and Robert Southey came in 1801.

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When Dr. Crompton died, Eton House and the land bounded by Crompton's, Green and Cinder Lanes came into Catholic hands. Henry Sharples, a timber merchant of Liverpool, divided the property with his cousin, Bishop James Sharples, the coadjutor to Bishop George Brown, Vicar Apostolic of the Lancashire District from 1840. Henry Sharples built the fine stone house, now St. Joseph's Home, to the west of Eton House, calling it 'Oswaldcroft,' and lived in it till 1874. The altar in honour of St. Joseph in the church is a memorial to him. The Bishops made Eton House their official residence, which came to be known as Bishop(s') Eton, the name retained to this day. Bishop Sharples, with the future Cardinal Wiseman, was much engaged in negotiations with Rome to restore the English hierarchy and was possibly the bishop-elect for the new See of Nottingham when he died in 1850. Bishop Brown moved to the city centre, nearer to St. Nicholas pro-Cathedral, in 1850. He encouraged the Redemptorists to acquire the house and chapel.

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During the 1840s, The Bishops, aided by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, (who also designed Oswaldcroft,) had erected a small private chapel, more or less on the site of the present church, with a separate slender bell-tower situated near the south side of the sanctuary.

The chapel bore the name of 'Our Lady of the Annunciation,' a title kept in 1858 by the Redemptorists for their church. Also built in the 1840s were the lodge and the stone gateway, now lacking its gates, leading into the property from Woolton Road. On the arch of this gateway may be seen the initials, surmounted by mitres, of the two Bishops, Brown and Sharples. Nearly a century later (1932) a stone statue of another Bishop, St. Alphonsus Liguori, the Founder of the Redemptorists, was placed in the niche of this gateway to commemorate the bicentenary of the foundation of his Congregation.

With the restoration of the English hierarchy in 1850 Bishop Brown moved to Catherine Street. Active in England since June 1843, the Redemptorists were seeking a northern base for their parochial mission work. On the advice of Father (later Monsignor) James Nugent, the famous apostle of street children, whose statue stands in St. John's Gardens, Liverpool, Bishop Brown invited the Redemptorists into his diocese. On June 10th 1851, the house of Bishop Eton was theirs. The chapel was opened for public worship on June 29th, 1851, a few days after the first three missioners arrived. By the end of 1851 the community had grown: five priests and three brothers were in residence.

Between 1862 and 1912 various wings, to the east, the south and in parallel with the church were built. These were for students, juvanists, and retreatants as well as for a library and for a larger community with its guests. Except for the retreat house chapel, added in 1965 - now the freestanding Parish Fisher-More Hall, these were all demolished and the original house modernised during major re-structuring in 1984. A double storey, double width, bay window and roof balcony from the library block of 1892 remain at the southeast, facing the garden.

A. E. Hodgetts C.Ss.R

phoca_thumb_l_g_houseBishop Eton

This Georgian house, built in 1776, has been the home of the Redemptorist Fathers and Brothers since 1851.

We Redemptorists are a worldwide congregation of men committed to living and preaching the Gospel in ways that are meaningful to the place and culture in which we live.

OUR HOUSE
Originally called Eton House, it was built by Hezekiah Kirkpatrick, a Unitarian Minister, who wished to establish a school for boys. He was followed by a former teacher of Eton College, Mr. Fitzpatrick, who wanted to make it the "Eton of the North".

Hphoca_thumb_l_g_cross_farowever, he too had departed by the turn of the century, and the house had several occupants before becoming, in 1843, the residence of the Roman Catholic Bishops, Brown and Sharples. From then on, the house came to be known as "Bishop Eton".

With the re-establishment of the Catholic hierarchy in 1850, Bishop Brown became Bishop of Liverpool (Bishop Sharples died that year) and the house became vacant. Thousands of refugees from the Irish potato famine had flooded into Liverpool and were living in material and spiritual squalor. Many Catholic Religious Congregations of men and women were invited to the city to provide for their spiritual, material and educational needs.

At the special request of Liverpool's champion of the poor, Canon Nugent, the Redemptorists were invited to occupy Bishop Eton in 1851.

Since 1851 Bishop Eton has been a base for mission preaching in the city and beyond; a college for aspirants to the Redemptorists; a retreat centre for clergy and lay people; and more recently a parish house and comfortable home for retired Redemptorist priests and brothers.

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