Saint Stephen on the Cliffs

Parish Clergy: Vicar, Canon Andrew Sage

Inside St Stephens


The interior of the church is constructed from the same red sandstone as Liverpool Cathedral. On the walls around the nave are 14 carvings depicting the last journey of Jesus, known as the Stations of the Cross.

A prominent feature is the Hanging Rood - a crucifixion scene of Christ with Mary his mother and John, based on an anchor, a symbol of hope, eminently suited to a seaside church.

The rood
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The Font

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The Baptistry

The Baptistry was consecrated on 18th May 2002 by the Archbishop of York to mark the 75th anniversary of the original consecration of the church.

The Font has marble pillars and the inscriptions "Be strong", "Quit ye like men" and "Manners makyth man", the motto of Winchester School, with which the donor, Myles Kenyon, was associated.

The Chapel of All Souls and the Columbarium

Risen Christ

The Risen Christ

The window showing the hands of St Stephen is above the golden gateway that leads to the Chapel of All Souls and Columbarium. This is where the ashes of former parishioners are interred. A small window in the entrance "The trumpet shall sound " shows an angel with a trumpet and another window shows the Risen Christ with worshipping angels.


The hands of St Stephen


The trumpet shall sound

The altar is a memorial to Canon Freshwater and his wife, Barbara. Incorporated into it is a MORSE, a badge of office of a canon of Blackburn cathedral. The silver and blue altar frontal was used in Westminster Abbey at the Coronation of King George VI in 1937. It draped the gallery in front of Queen Mary the Queen Mother. The design includes the special representation of the crown devised for the "new" George VI shillings, which was copied for our own first Rose Queen crown of 1938. Above the altar is a modern cross depicting the Risen Christ as conqueror of death. It was dedicated on the Feast of the Holy Cross 1996. The sanctuary Lamp is inscribed to the memory of Tom Waller, a former curate who died at a young age. There are two modern stained glass windows either side of the altar.

Chap of All Souls

The Chapel of all souls

The north side of the Nave

The Huddlestone window was given in memory of Freida Huddlestone, a lady of French extraction. On the left it depicts Joan of Arc in thanksgiving with the people of Rheims, in front of the cathedral. On the right is St George slaying the dragon, with St George's chapel at Windsor in the background. The arms of St Joan and France, St George and England are below. Above are the Diocesan arms of Manchester and Blackburn.


The statue of Our Lady of Walsingham was given by parishioners, following a pilgrimage to Walsingham.


The Pulpit

The Pulpit has carvings of St Peter with the keys of heaven, and St John with a book of the gospels.

North arch

The north ambulatory arch


Clerestory window

The north ambulatory arch has the arms of the Diocese of Blackburn and the first Bishop of Blackburn. Also the oak leaf of strength, the red rose of Lancashire and the white rose of York.

The clerestory window on the north of the nave shows St Thomas of York and Christ blessing a child.

The Actors' Chapel

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The Actors' Chapel

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 Character from the Actors' Chapel


Characters from the Actors' Chapel

Actors' list

The Actors' Chapel is the only one in the world and it was dedicated to the theatrical profession in September 1928. The reredos has a double procession of carved singers, dancers and musicians above the marble altar. The side panels bear the names of theatrical benefactors, and many famous names can be seen, such as Noel Coward, George Formby, Arthur Askey and Ivor Novello. The additional panel, which bears the names of donors who were members of the theatrical profession, was unveiled by Gracie Fields in May 1929.

The marble floor is a memorial to Mrs Jenny Tiller, founder and teacher of the high-kicking Tiller Girls.

Abide with me

The Pauline Rivers window

This high window commemorates Pauline Rivers and the Tower Children's Ballet. It represents her favourite hymn "Abide with me".

The Galahad window is an attempt to express elements of the Stage in their relation to the spiritual life of humanity. The subject is taken from the whole legend of the Quest of the Holy Grail, the Cup used by Our Lord at the Last Supper, and later by Joseph of Arimathia to catch the Blood which streamed from the Sacred Body.
The Holy Grail only appears to the pure in heart, hence Galahad, the English Knight of Purity, occupies the central light. Above him appears the Holy Grail, revealed by angels drawing aside two curtains. Two singing angels kneel in the lower portion, expressing the union of music with the spiritual world.
In the lower left light, Parsifal, representing Opera, kneels in adoration of the vision, whilst above him kneeling angels symbolise the union between earth and Heaven. In the lower right light, Everyman, representing Drama, kneels in worship. Above him kneels an angel, whose lap is filled with flowers, indicating how good deeds on earth blossom in spiritual realms.

Comm rail
choir stalls

The Communion rails are supported by the outstretched wings of angels. They have shields showing emblems of Christ's Passion.

The Choir Stalls bear carvings of angels, each one playing a different musical instrument. There are also saints at the end of each stall.


St David

Nich ship

St Nicholas

St W

St Werburgh

S Christopher

St Christopher

The north choir stalls have St George and the dragon, St Cecilia with an organ, St David with a harp and St Nicholas in a ship.

The south choir stalls have St Martin giving his cloak away, St Christopher carrying the Christ child, St Francis preaching to the birds and St Werburgh, Abbess of Chester. She wears the coronet and robe of a princess of Mercia (which she relinquished) and carries a goose which, in legend, she restored to life.

The north clergy stall shows St Stephen. It is surmounted by doves (symbolising the Holy Spirit), each on a pile of stones - to remind us of Stephen's death by stoning.


North clergy stall


South clergy stall


The south clergy stall shows Michael the Archangel with a flaming sword. Above it are two angels at prayer.


The armrests on the north side are the symbols of St Mark (a lion) and St John (an eagle). On the south side they are the symbols of St Luke (an ox) and St Matthew (a winged man).

The High Altar is oak, carved with symbols of the passion, but this is rarely seen because it is normally covered with an altar frontal, which changes according to the Christian calendar. The Sanctuary furniture was donated at the consecration. On the left wall is an Aumbry, covered by a purple hanging. It is used to house the Holy oils, used for anointing the sick and at Baptism and Confimation. Below the Aumbry a bronze floriated cross marks where the ashes of canon Freshwater are interred, with the lettering "F B F 1878 - 1950". Nearby on a column behind the north choir stalls, a tablet records his life and work, and incorporates his MORSE (the badge of office of a canon of Blackburn cathedral). The credence table and the piscina are to the south of the altar, and above the sedilia (clergy seats) is a large carved stone panel recording the consecration ceremony of 17th May 1927. Above the Sanctuary can be seen the crimson glow of the everlasting light, which has for over 85 years symbolised the presence of God in this Holy place.

Oak altar

The oak altar


The Dedicatory Tablet

The organ gallery bears the Royal Arms, the arms of Brazenose College, Oxford, and the emblem of St Stephen.

Christ the K

Christ the King window

The Dedicatory Tablet, above the arch from the Chancel to the north vestry, is an abstract carving representing the stoning of Stephen. His praying hands are outlined by a halo, and his persecutor's hand is about to throw a stone.

The window high up at the clerestory level on the north side of the chancel shows Christ the King, with angels and cherubim.

East L
east R

  The East Windows of the Sanctuary

They depict Christ's earthly life and are an inspiration for prayer and meditation.

The windows on the left depict the Annunciation, Nativity, Jesus in the Temple, and His Baptism. Those on the right depict the Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension, and the Last Supper.

High up in the tracery are the Greek letters alpha and omega - "the beginning and the end".

 Further details of the Sanctuary windows can be found in Windows 3

The Lady Chapel

Lady Chap

The Lady Chapel

Lady altar

The Lady Chapel Altar

The altar is made from rose marble and has ornaments, now silver-plated but originally brass. The oak communion rails bear carvings of the Virgin Mary and her mother St Ann. The picture above the altar is a reproduction of Raphael's Madonna in the Sistine Chapel.

The circular window above it shows the Madonna in prayer surrounded by flying angels.

Our Lady

The statue of the Virgin and Child was given by the entertainer Tessie O'Shea.

Mary MOJ

Inscription "Mary the Mother of Jesus"


On the south wall is an Italian "Della Robbia" terracotta panel of the Virgin and Child.

The Blackwell family, who lived on Queens Promenade, was that of the Crosse and Blackwell firm who made preserves and jam. The left hand panel shows Our Lady as a girl being taught by her mother St Anne, and bears the text "Behold the handmaiden of the Lord". Next we see the Madonna and Child with lilies and the text "the child grew filled with wisdom". Thirdly we have "this woman was full of good works" - Dorcas giving clothes to a child.
The small panels below show the Angel Gabriel appearing to Mary, then the Holy family, and finally Dorcas handing clothing to a woman. Above are two small panels, one of lilies and the other of the Paschal Lamb and flag. At the very top is the Holy Dove.

L C right

The Mapplebeck window

The south side of the church

Above the Vestry door is the Memorial Window to the fallen of both wars, showing a British soldier at a wayside shrine in France.


The Memorial window

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Memorial window over the Vestry door

Above the south ambulatory arch are the arms of the Manchester Diocese and Dr William Temple. There are also the oak leaf of strength and red and white roses of Lancashire and Yorkshire.

South arch

The south ambulatory arch

The Crown of Thorns window, over the South door, was given by the architects, Austin and Paley in 1927.


Nearby, at the foot of a column, is the Foundation Stone, laid in 1925 by Dr William Temple, who was later to become Archbishop of Canterbury.


The Lectern was given in memory of a boy of twelve, David Harbottle. It is in the form of an eagle, which represents the flight heavenwards of the words of the bible, which are read from it.

  The South Windows


The prominent figure in the Tustin Window is St Stephen, portrayed in the robe of a Deacon. He is holding a palm branch which identifies him as a martyr, and a stone which indicates the means of his death. Next to him is a panel showing people of all nations, including a Bishop. The left hand panel pictures Our Lord's Baptism with the text "This is my Beloved Son", and below it is a scene of an infant baptism with people in 20th century dress. On the right we see the Risen Lord breaking bread with the two disciples who met him on the road to Emmaus. The text reads "Did not our heart burn within us". Below is a scene of a priest and communicants in 20th century dress.
The upper parts of the window are filled with a multitude of saints and angels.

The Ship Window shows Christ teaching. It has a background of a "Blackpool sunset" over the Sea of Galilee. It is unusual because the scene takes up all
the space in the tracery.

Org pipes

The Organ Case is above the main entrance. On the left hand side are the arms of Brasenose College, where Archdeacon Geoffrey graduated from. On the right are the arms of the Dugdale family, who first donated the organ to St Phillip's church in Blackburn.


The Narthex is our new entrance vestibule, built between 2000 and 2002. This is where worshippers are greeted and where we enjoy a sherry after Mass on Sundays.

 Further details of the church features and furnishings, particularly origins and donors.

The Foundation Stone was laid by Dr William Temple, Bishop of Manchester on 25th July 1925. AMDG, Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam, translates as "for the greater glory of God".

The Lady Altar was given by Mrs Doris Bannister in 1961 in memory of John Bannister, Church Warden. Before it is the plaque marking the resting place of Father Geoffrey's ashes, inscribed "I was the King's cup bearer".

The Lady Altar Ornaments
The Cross was presented to the old church by E G Parker in 1915. The candlesticks were given in memory of Captain John Gay in 1916. The Sanctus Bell, dated 1924, is from the old church. The Sanctuary Lamp was the gift of our first curate, Father Gilbert MacDuff Cooper, and his wife, to commemorate their wedding in 1937.

The Lady Chapel furnishings
The replica of Raphael's Madonna was given and unveiled by Master Stanley Hilton, aged nine, grandson of Mark and Hannah Jackson (formerly of Oldham) in 1927. The communion rails were given by Canon Freshwater and Major A J C Freshwater in memory of their mother, Judith Freshwater, in 1929.The statue of the Virgin and Child was given by Tessie O'Shea, who once lived on Warbreck Drive, in memory of her mother. The tapestries were embroidered by ladies of the congregation for the Jubilee year in 1977, and the materials were the gift of Reg Pickup, Church Warden. The "Della Robbia" panel of the Virgin and Child was donated in May 1943 by Major Carrington Pierce.
Two oak benches were given by Maurice Rhodes, who was a server from 1925.

The Chapel of All Souls
The Praying Hands of St Stephen window was given in gratitude for the ministry of Archdeacon Geoffrey Gower-Jones and was dedicated on the Feast of Epiphany 1995.
The golden gates were given by Arthur Haslam in memory of his wife.
"The trumpet shall sound" window was the gift of the Bullough family in 1949.
The Risen Christ window was given in memory of William Halton (of the Cliffs Hotel) in 1947.
The silver and blue altar frontal was given to St Stephen's by a retired canon of a southern cathedral, who received the draperies in a distribution of perquisites after the Coronation.
The silver cross and candlesticks were presented by Dorothy Dugdale.

The Sanctuary and Chancel
The High Altar was given in 1972 in memory of James and Margaret Cross.
The brass cross and six candlesticks were donated by Mrs Beatrice Taylor at the consecration on 17th May 1927. A pair of tall pedestal candlesticks was presented on the same day by William Woodward, then a server, later to be a Churchwarden. The bunch of four small Sanctus bells was given by Leslie Hatton (a theatrical personality) in 1929.
The south Sanctuary communion rail was given by Annie Garside (formerly of Oldham) in 1941. The north rail was given by her sisters Edith Garside and May Guy also in 1941.
The north choir stalls were given by Margaret Wilde and dedicated in 1939.
The south choir stalls were given by Richard Dixon and dedicated in 1940.
The north side clergy stall was the gift of Hanah and Richard Dixon in 1938.
The south side clergy stall was given by Mr and Mrs Cockcroft in 1935.

The Actors' Chapel
It was dedicated by Percy Mark Herbert, Bishop of Blackburn on 2nd September 1928. The reredos and inner panels of marble were unveiled by Mr Owen Nares (a matinee idol at the time) and Miss Gwladys Stanley. Herman Darewski and his band accompanied the service. One of the characters in the reredos is said to resemble Canon Freshwater. The additional side panel was unveiled by Miss Gracie Fields on 3rd May 1929. The Sanctuary Lamp is the gift of Frank Hatton, a member of the theatrical profession. The prayer desk is a memorial to Thomas Moore, with a carving of St Thomas and the arms of Blackburn cathedral. The ancient oak chair was given by a "well wisher", said to be Mr Turnbull, the photographer. It is used as a Bishop's chair and for the Rose Queen crowning.

The Windows
The Galahad window was given in memory of John Huddlestone and John Tiller by their widows. John Huddlestone was "Nana ging" director of the Winter Gardens company for 40 years and John Tiller was the founder of the Tiller dancing schools. It was dedicated on 26th January 1930.
The Huddlestone window, dedicated in March 1934, is a memorial to Freida Huddlestone, wife of an executive of the Winter Gardens.
The East Windows in the Sanctuary were installed at the time of the dedication, 17th May 1927. They are in memory of Travis Evans, formerly of Royton, donated by his widow and his son Robert.
The Christ the King window was given by Mr and Mrs Whiteley in 1944.
The Pauline Rivers window was given in 1941.
The circular window above the Lady Altar was presented by Vernon Holt of Oldham in 1927.
The Blackwell window dates from 1939, being designed and made by Shrigley and Hunt of Lancaster. The inscription reads "In the memory of Annie Maud Babington Blackwell, born 21/02/1895 and died 28/11/1938 whose ashes rest beneath this window - the gift of her husband Harold Alexander Blackwell and her children.
The Mappleback window is in memory of the three "Miss Mappleback" sisters.
The Crown of Thorns window was donated by the architects Shrigley and Hunt of Lancaster in 1927 at the time of the dedication.
The Memorial window was given by relatives of those who died in the First World War. The names of casualties from the Second World War were added later.
The Ship window was given by Miss Mary Fielding (formerly of Oldham) in 1939.
The Tustin window commemorates the well loved Mrs Tustin, founder and Head of Langdale School, the only school in our parish.
Windows in the Chapel of All Souls - a gift of Mrs Newton.
The Clerestory window on the north side shows St Thomas of York and Christ blessing a child. Donated by Hilda Thomas in 1938.

The Hanging Rood was the gift of Robert Dewhurst in 1945.

The organ case was dedicated on 7th September 1975.