History of St Augustine's Preston

The Foundations

The first stone of St Augustine of Canterbury RC Church, Preston, was laid on 13th November 1838, and within two years the church doors were open from morning until night 365 days a year.

The Early Days

The congregation was "almost entirely made up of working people. A few middle class and wealthy persons attend(ed) the place--some sitting in the gallery, and others at the higher end of the church--but the general body consist(ed) of toiling every-day folk.”*

Over the course of four consecutive Sundays in early 1869 "upwards of 13,100 heard mass within the walls of the church.” *

Parishioners had the choice of attending Sunday mass at 7.30am, 8.30am, 9.30am, or 11.00am, or attending vesper, a sermon and benediction at 6.30pm. Children were instructed at 3.00pm.

More Recently

100 years later, the clergy at St Augustine’s were just as busy - with 5 masses and Benediction every Sunday.

Attendance at mass began to fall, however, in the seventies and when dry rot was discovered in the Church in 1984 it was closed immediately and stood empty until 2004 when it was demolished.

From 1984 until November 2014, a steadily dwindling congregation attended Mass in the nearby school hall until, in November 2014, 174 years after its formation, the Parish of St Augustine’s was combined with St Joseph’s, St Theresa’s, St Ignatius' and English Martyrs, to form the Parish of St John XXIII, Preston.

And Finally

In February 2015, when St Augustine’s Parish House was finally closed to parishioners, a small number of photographs and memorabilia were retrieved and this website was created to share them with former parishioners, old and young; and to capture memories.

Taken from Our Churches and Chapels by Atticus (A Hewitson) Published 1869

Quarant Ore - As Remembered by Rosa Harrison (Malloy)

On Holy Saturday, the purple curtains covering the sanctuary pictures fell down as the bells rang the Gloria, signalling the end of Lent - and revealing green curtains. These became the backdrop for flowers and candles reaching to the very top of the Sanctuary on wooden scaffolding.

Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament lasting for 40 continuous hours (Quarant Ore) followed, beginning with a joyous sung procession of men and children.

The first communicant infant boys - in brown velvet pants and cream shantung shirts, ringing small bells, preceded the Blessed Sacrament carried in the large gold monstrance under a canopy. A small group of junior girls in white dresses, gold cloaks, and white and gold caps strewed petals from baskets decorated with flowers.

All day people watched and prayed in church - and at night the men watched. Quarant Ore ended with a procession of children on Easter Tuesday morning, after which every child received a large orange - a rare treat.

In wartime the church could not be lit at night and so a smaller celebration was held in the Confraternity Chapel.

After the war, the church was once again used, with just the altar area decorated. The infant boys at this time wore white shirts, red ties and grey shorts. The first year there was a dearth of flowers and so the Brothers of Charity sent buckets of wild daffodils from their place at Runshaw Hall - the scent of which was wonderful.

After Vatican 2 - when Easter celebrations were at night, Solemn Exposition was moved to September, and watching took place only in the daytime

The Clergy


Click image to view a partial list of the Clergy from the 1800s to 2015 and a list of parishioners who entered the Priesthood

Altar Servers


Click image to view a partial list of altar servers

Parishioners Who Became Mayor Of Preston


1946-47 William Beckett

1963-64 Cyril Evan Molyneux

1964-65 Joseph Lund

1965-66 William Beckett

1966-67 Joseph Holden

1982-83 Joseph Saul Pownall

1991-92 Mary Rawcliffe

2014-15 Nicholas Pomfrett

Photo of Mayor, Councillor Joe Lund and Mayoress Mrs Lund

with Prime Minister Harold Wilson: 1964