founder was, of course, responsible, as were others of his large and
generous family, for founding more than one other church in the
Liverpool Diocese. Possibly the most splendid of these is the great
church of St Agnes, Ullet Road, Sefton Park in Liverpool. The article
reproduced below, kindly provided by Mr Frank Cranmer, tells the story
of Horsfall's long connection with that place, as well as providing
information about other churches, existing or long gone, with which he
was connected. The paragraphs about St Faith's contain one minor
inaccuracy in the reproduction of the wording of the stone engraving in
our chancel. The vigilant are invited to track this down!
The Church Times: January 18th, 1935
A MUNIFICENT BENEFACTOR
Mr. Douglas Horsfall's Unique
On January 21, 1885, the beautiful church of St.Agnes, Ullet Road,
Liverpool, was consecrated by the first Bishop of Liverpool, Dr Ryle.
The fiftieth anniversary is at hand, and it is an occasion which is
unique in the annals of the Church of England. For, while in
every generation of the long history of the Church there have arisen
devout sons and daughters who have given munificently to the
furtherance of Christ's work, it can be asserted with confidence that
no other instance exists where a man has given a church and has lived
to see its fiftieth anniversary. Mr. Douglas Horsfall offered to build
St. Agnes' Church in 1885 as a young man of twenty-six. It was
consecrated in 1885, and on January 21 next he will return thanks to
Almighty God on the fiftieth anniversary of its consecration.
The Horsfall family have been notable church builders. They were
settled in Yorkshire from the fourteenth century, and came to Liverpool
in the eighteenth century. Charles Horsfall, of Mere-bank, Everton, was
Mayor of Liverpool in 1832. When he died, his thirteen children built
Christ Church, Everton, in his memory. His second son, Robert Horsfall,
the father of the subject of. this article, built St. Margaret's,
Princes Road, the first ''High" church to be built in Liverpool. At its
consecration there were formidable riots, and subsequently its famous
vicar, Mr. Bell Cox, was one of those priests who went to prison for
the Faith. Another son of Horsfall built Chrtist Church, Linnet Lane.
The history of the Horsfall family is part of the history of
Liverpool.Their coat-of-arms, along with those of other Liverpool
families, can be seen in St. Luke's Church, Bold Street.
The Orange temper had not cooled when Douglas Horsfall set his hand to
build his first church, which was to be a memorial to his father. St.
Agnes' Church is erected on land given by Lord Sefton. Its designer was
Pearson, the architect of Truro Cathedral. With its
groined roof and dog-tooth ornament, it is generally conceded to be the
most beautiful modern church in the diocese. But, before it could be
consecrated, a multitude of difficulties had to be
overcome. The Bishop took a very uncertain line, and
was embarrassed by resolutions, petitions, and the like. When he
finally consented to consecrate it, the Orange, element was frantic and
the Protestant Standard published a paragraph surrounded; by a
mourning border, and headed, â€˜Mournful Death of Bishop
Evangelical and Protestant Principles," and
ending with the quotation, â€œHe sold his birthright
mess of pottage"! During the week of the
consecration, among the preachers were the Bishop of Durham
(Lightfoot), the Bishop of Chester (Stubbs), Archdeacon
Denison, Canon Carter, Canon Hole, and Canon Knox-Little.
It was under these auspices; that the first vicar, the Rev. C. C.
Elcum, began his long incumbency of more than forty-two years.
Faithful priest and faithful pastor, he laboured in the
teeth of' prejudice and misunderstanding, such as
we in our day can hardly realize, and left behind him
a memory honoured far beyond the confines of. his congregation.
A little before this, Horsfall had acquired by purchase the advowson of
St. Paul's Church, Liverpool. This church rejoiced (or otherwise)
in the curious arrangement of two incumbents. The issue of
the Church Times of May 9, 1884, contains an article on this church,
and it is there recorded that on a recent Sunday, at Mattins,
there were twenty-two adults present and
about the same number of children. The choir consisted of four
small girls, two small boys, and the clerk. The joint incumbents had a
united age of one hundred and fifty. The place was, in fact, derelict.
Five years later both incumbencies had fallen in, and new life for the
parish, began. Eventually, however, changed conditions made the closing
of the church desirable. The site was sold to the Lancashire and
Yorkshire Railway, and, with the large sum received, Horsfall built the
magnificent church of St. Paul, Stoneycroft, to the designs of Sir
Gilbert Scott. This was consecrated in 1910.
In 1880, the advowson of St. Catherine's, Abercromby Square, was sold
by public auction. Horsfall bought it. The Protestant Standard of
February 20, 1886, was clear as to the condition of the parish. " We
cannot say that St. Catherine's, by falling into Mr. Horsfall's hands,
will lose one particle of spiritual power, and that for the very simple
reason, that we know not of one particle of spiritual power that it has
to lose." Here was another derelict. The episcopal residence being
within the parochial boundaries, both Bishop Ryle and Bishop Chavasse
were parishioners. So dire was the state of this church, that about
this time the cleaner, not being able to get her wage of one shilling
and sixpence a week, sued the vicar and wardens for it, and at the
hearing a bankrupt condition was disclosed. A few years later, the
Liverpool Mercury representative attended the morning service, and
found twelve adults and eighteen children in a church holding twelve
hundred. In 1891, a vacancy in the benefice occurred, and Horsfall
nominated the Rev. P. H. Leary, later Preb. Leary of St. Augustine's,
Kilburn. A memorable ministry then began, and St. Catherine's has ever
since been a church throbbing with life, and a centre of Catholic
In 1898, Horsfall offered yet another church. St Faithâ€™s, Great
is a cathedral-like structure situated in a suburban district. It
was consecrated by Archbishop Maclagan in April,1900. Its purpose was
made plain, for on the chancel walls is cut this inscription: "The
Church of Saint Faith is dedicated to the Honour and Glory of Almighty
God as a thank-offering for the Revival of Catholic Faith and Doctrine
in the Church of England during the sixty years' reign of Her Most
Gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria." In the meantime,
St. Agnes' had been equipped with a vicarage, parish hall, and
daughter church, St. Pancras, by the generosity of Horsfall and
his mother, Mrs. Robert Horsfall.
So much for Douglas Horsfall as church builder. It is a noble record,
but it does not touch on some of the main points of his activities.
Perhaps his greatest work is the founding of St. Chad's College,
Durham. Realizing that there were many men with the true vocation for
Holy Orders, who were prevented from entering the ministry by their
inability to pay for their training, he founded a theological college
in the little village of Hlooton Pagnell, in Yorkshire.
The venture thus begun ultimately resulted in the great work that is
being done at St. Chad's College, to which institution the founder, in
the course of the years, has been a most consistent and generous
friend. Horsfall placed the charge of this work in the hands of the
Rev. S. R. P. Moulsdale, who, when this project was launched, was a
young curate working in Everton. The choice was soon amply justified.
From relatively small beginnings, the work was built up, till now, in
St. Chad's College the University of Durham has one of its chief
assets. The Governing Body of the College contains many famous names,
and its chairman is he Bishop of Lichfield, to whose fostering care St.
Chad's owes so much. Mr. Moulsdale at present, holds the high position
of Vice-Chancellor of the University, a well-deserved honour to the man
himself and to the College over which he presides. To found a College
in an ancient University is not given to most men. That it only stands
as one of many great benefactions in Horsfall's life is a tribute to
the greatness of his many activities. Through St. Child's, and other
channels, Douglas Horsfall has made it possible, financially, for
hundreds of men to test their vocation. In England and overseas .there
arc priests, many of them holding high and responsible posts, who
recognize,with affectionate gratitude, what has been wrought for them
and for the Church they serve by this, great Churchman.
The diocese of Liverpool fifty years ago was predominantly Orange. It
still presents problems-owing to this factor that are unknown
elsewhere. For the whole of this long span of time every priest, who
has striven to uphold the Catholic position of the Church of England,
has known that in Horsfall he had a friend who would never let him
down, no matter what the forces were that were arrayed against him.
When from time to time there are rejoicings over the changed aspect of
Liverpool Churchmanship, remembrance should he had of that man, who
more than any other has been the human instrument of that change.
Almost as soon as St. Agnes' was consecrated, Horsfall built a house
for himself nearly opposite the church. He was in his forty-eighth year
as people's warden when, some two years ago, he resigned office. For
more than thirty years, every Sunday he conducted a Bible class for
lads, and the influence, of this on the lives of generations of youths
cannot be estimated. For a still longer period he identified himself
with the athletic side of the boysâ€™ lives, .and he founded and
conducted a gymnasium which was a pattern of what such things should
be. Of his private generosity it is not possible to speak. Some of his
many almoners may have a faint perception of the full facts. All that
own be said with certainty is that there exist very many families and
individuals who have every reason to know the depth of Horsfall's
sympathy and the greatness of his heart. But while this is a subject
that can be but barely touched upon, there is a kindred activity that
has never been able to be concealed. No man has taken more pains to
help men, and especially young men, to obtain employment. Men in great
and influential posts to-day owe their first chance to his kindly
interest and to the influence that his commanding position in the
business life of Liverpool was able to bear.
In 1907, the University of Durham recognized his munificence by
conferring upon him the honorary degree of Master of Arts. But such
recognition, acceptable as it; was, is a small recompense beside that
which comes to him from the grateful hearts of those many whom he has
helped. The Church has had no greater benefactor in this generation.
And as the venerable Churchman makes his thanksgiving on January 21, he
will be surrounded by the prayers, affection, and good wishes of an
innumerable company, whose courage has been strengthened and whose
minds have been inspired by their friendship with Douglas Horsfall.'
this writer, a few of the comments above are of particular interest.
Although St Faith's never suffered for the faith to the extent of the
riots and imprisonment visited upon St Margaret's, Prince's Road, I can
remember the pickets of the Protestant Truth Society at our doors when
the first Roman Catholic preacher visited us. And our official history
(available online at this site) records other attempts to disrupt our
worship and the regular cries of the bus-conductors (remember them?)
passing St Faith's: 'Change here for Rome!'
A further ironic
reflection: the church of St Paul, as mentioned above, was considered
'derelict' in 1881 when, despite its two ancient incumbents, it had
only some forty or so present at Mattins. Many a city church today
would be glad to have that many attending, perhaps....
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