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Saint John the Baptist, Tuebrook
St John the Baptist, Tuebrook 201705-1.jpg
Saint John the Baptist, Tuebrook
OS grid reference SJ 382 924
Location Tuebrook, Liverpool
Country England
Denomination Anglican
Churchmanship Anglo-Catholic
History
Status Parish church
Dedication St John the Baptist
Consecrated 20 May 1871
Architecture
Functional status Active
Heritage designation Grade I
Designated 28 June 1958
Architect(s) George Frederick Bodley
Architectural type Church
Style Gothic Revival
Groundbreaking 1867
Completed 1870
Construction cost £25,000
Specifications
Materials Red and buff stone
Tile and slate roofs
Administration
Deanery West Derby
Archdeaconry Liverpool
Diocese Liverpool
Province York

The Church of Saint John the Baptist is on the corner of West Derby Road and Green Lane, in Tuebrook, Liverpool, England. It is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade I listed building, and an active Anglican parish church in the Diocese of Liverpool, the archdeaconry of Liverpool and the deanery of West Derby.

History

The church was built between 1867 and 1870, its cost of £25,000 (equivalent to £1,714,252 in 2018),2018 being totally met by the wife of Revd J. C. Reade. The architect was George Frederick Bodley. The interior was redecorated in 1910 by Henry Hare to Bodley's design. This was restored in 1968–71 by Stephen Dykes Bower.

There was controversy before the church was consecrated because Bodley intended to use an early 16th-century altarpiece from Antwerp which had carved tableaux of the Passion as the reredos. However the Bishop of Chester considered it to be too "Popish" and he refused to consecrate the church until it was removed. The altarpiece is now in St Michael's Church, Brighton.

The Beatles

Thanks to the research by Gerry Murphy, a Beatles historian and graduate of Liverpool Hope University’s Popular Music and Society it can be confirmed that The Beatles played at the Brockman Hall Tuebrook a dozen times in 1961. He also maintains that Brian Epstein discovered them at the Brockman Hall and not at the Cavern as has always been believed. Epstein was identified by several members of the audience who recognised him from Nems music store.

The bookings were made by Mona Best, mother of Pete, who decided to follow the lead of other bands who were widening their profile by playing in local Halls. Their first appearance was on 17 February when the band played with Gene Day and the Jango Beats. The audience was 200 strong, drawing teenagers from all over Tuebrook, Stoneycroft and Old Swan. The cost of entry for fans was 3s 6d and doors opened at 8.15 pm. The Beatles were paid £20.00. They played again in March on three occasions and four times in July. Their final appearance was on 31 August.

Present day

The parish continues in the Anglo-Catholic tradition that it was founded. The parish is very vibrant, with many activities talking place through the week. The restrictions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic forced the church to reduce the number of services and events which take place. At the time of writing, there are currently two masses during the week (Sunday at 11am, and Tuesday at 10:30am). St John's hosts a foodbank in the church hall every Saturday from 10:30-12noon. The church has an active Sunday School, choir, band of bellringers and altar servers. The parish has always had a good social life and this still continues, giving the congregation the opportunity to offer Christian hospitality. The church has an active online presence, with a new website launched in 2020, and accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram which are regularly updated. St John's began live streaming Mass on Sunday when public worship was suspended in March 2020, and this has continued, reaching a high number of people from the parish, city and beyond.

Architecture

Exterior

The church is built in red and buff stone, which is irregularly banded. The main roof is tiled, while the roofs of the aisles are of slate. Its plan consists of a five-bay nave with a clerestory, north and south aisles under lean-to roofs, a west tower, a north porch, a chancel with a chapel to the north, the organ loft to the south and a detached vestry connected to the chancel by a short passage. The tower has angled buttresses and a west entrance above which is a three-light window. The top stage has two-light louvred bell-openings and a panelled parapet with pinnacles at the corners. The spire is recessed on an octagonal base containing gabled two-light openings and it is attached to the pinnacles by flying buttresses. At the south east corner of the tower is a lean-to stair turret. The porch has a flat roof with a parapet and a niche over the entrance containing a statue.

Interior

Pollard and Pevsner describe the interior as being "glorious" and "richly coloured" due to the "resplendent display of Bodley fittings and the vibrant decoration". The citation in the National Heritage List for England states it is "one of the finest examples of Victorian polychromy". The walls and the roofs are all richly stencilled, and in addition there is a wall painting on the east wall of the nave by C. E. Kempe. The gilt reredos dates from 1871 and has panels painted by Kempe.

The area under the tower has made into the Chapel of the Holy Rood and contains a reredos, an altar and a credence table which were adapted in 1978 from a rood screen of 1890 by Bodley which was taken from Dunstable Priory. The pulpit and the octagonal font were both designed by Bodley, as were the richly painted screens (again with panels by Kempe). The stained glass in the east window and the south window in the chancel is by Morris & Co.; some of the windows elsewhere are by Burne-Jones. In the church is a brass memorial dating from 1926 by Hare which consists of a life-size figure of Rev. Ralph Brockman. The memorial to the First World War is a statue of Mary, also by Hare; that to the Second World War is a statue of John the Baptist by Sir Ninian Comper. The statue commissioned by Canon Sampson might never have been sculpted, for Comper was initially reluctant to undertake this commission, only relenting at the behest of his son, whom Comper then used as the model.

There is a ring of eight bells which were cast in 1869 by John Warner & Sons, two service bells and a dumb (practice) bell. The bells have been retuned and rehung in a new bell frame constructed by voluntary labour. They were rung for the first time on Easter Sunday 2003 after a silence of ten years.

Incumbents

  • 1871–1880 Rev J.C.Reade
  • 1880–1884 Rev J.Lindsay
  • 1884–1892 Fr F.H.Chevenix Trench
  • 1892–1895 Fr P.N. Clark
  • 1895–1896 Fr H.N.Thompson
  • 1896–1925 Fr Ralph T.Brockman
  • 1925–1937 Fr Thomas Brancker
  • 1937–1946 Fr W.H.Tayler
  • 1946–1994 Rev Canon Frank Sampson MA
  • 1994–2010 Rev Dr Canon Paul Nener BM BCh FRCS
  • 2010 – 2020 Rev Canon Simon J.P. Fisher MA

St John's is currently in interregnum, after Canon Fisher left the parish in January 2020 to take up the post of Archdeacon of St Helen's and Warrington.

Music

Organists

  • Claude Ridley 1871–1882
  • William Faulkes (organist-composer) 1882 – 1886
  • R.Cooper ARCO 1896–1900
  • Ernest Welsh ARCO 1900–1903
  • Mr Tubb (senior) 1903–1933
  • C.F. Holt 1935–1953
  • Edward Tubb 1953–1956
  • C.F. Holt 1956–1966
  • David James (Assistant Organist 1966 then Organist from 1973 to 1982)
  • Keith Simpson BA (Hons) Dip HE 1982-1996
  • David Scott-Thomas 1996-1998
  • Clive Arnold 2000–2009
  • John Peace BA LRAM ARCO 2009–2017
  • Nathaniel Hood BA 2017-2019
  • Daniel Mansfield BA(Hons), HonFTCSM, MISM 2019-

The Organ

The fine instrument at St John's was built by William Hill and Son of London, and installed in 1867 and was installed in St John's in time for the consecration in 1871. Hill organs have a distinctive voice, perhaps due to William Hill's study of continental organ styles, characterised by a bright, singing tone, with fiery reeds and brilliant upper work.

in 1895, some additions were made: the Bassoon on the Choir organ, and string tone pipes on the Swell organ, installed in a miniature swell box behind the main box. The tubular-pneumatic key and stop actions would also appear to date from 1895. There is evidence that for a certain period, a detached console was installed in the Lady Chapel. However, in 1905, it was decided revert to the original (and current) position within the organ case, possibly due to mechanical problems.

Essential releathering work was carried out by David Wells Organ Builders of Liverpool between 1991 and 2009. The organ case was designed by G.F. Bodley, who often commissioned work from Hill.

The Organ at St. John's is one of the few organs by Hill which remain more or less unaltered, a factor which led to the granting of an Historic Organ Certificate in 2009.

Vicarage

The original vicarage, (until 2007 - then entrance to the Brockman Hall became the ‘new’ vicarage in 2007 - 2010. Vicarage is now off site: opposite Peter Lloyd's sports centre) was completed in 1890, was also designed by Bodley. It is a Grade II listed building in grey brick with red brick bands and red sandstone dressings. It has three storeys and a tile roof.

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