Monday, 13 October 2014
St Michael's Church Dalton
The story of the church begins in 1870 when Dalton Tithe Barn was converted for use as a church. The Wigan Observer of 12th August 1870 reported that "the Tithe Barn of Dalton has been made as much like a church as the rudeness of the structure permits". The barn held 130 worshippers.
It soon became clear that the Tithe Barn was too small for the requirements of the parish. The foundation stone for the present church was laid by Lady Skelmersdale on St Michael and All Angel's Day, 29th September 1875. It was sited adjacent to the Tithe Barn on ground which had originally been the orchard of Ashurst Hall.
It was built from sandstone taken from the local "Round O" quarry owned by Lord Skelmersdale and was consecrated on 29th September 1877.
Two years later, a new school was built close to the church using materials taken from the old Tithe Barn Church. It replaced a National School which had been condemned by H.M Inspectors in 1877.The new school was inaugurated on 5th May 1879.
Between 1903 and 1921 the church was served by two members of an unusual family, Rev William Henry Skene and Rev Samuel Warren Skene. They were the sons of the Reverend S.S. Skene, a Linconshire vicar. The family comprised of seven boys all of whom were beneficed clergymen in the church of England.
William Skene was appointed Military Chaplain to the remount department stationed at nearby Lathom House during the First World War.
The parish boundaries were extended in 1982 to take in the northern part of Skelmersdale New Town. This increased the population to about 7,000. A new vicarage was provided for the incumbent in Ashurst, Skelmersdale where the new population lived.
In July 1988, the interior of the church was devastated by a fire. Eventually, the chancel roof was replaced and the interior of the church was re-ordered and new furniture was made in limed oak. The church was re-wired and a new organ and heating system provided at the same time.
In 2002 the new owners of Ashurst Hall acquired the field on the north side of the church and converted it for use as a local amenity. This has provided a car park and green space and is used by the many visitors to the church and school.
The new owners also donated a strip of land to extend the existing graveyard on the north side. Today, the church is a busy place and a significant landmark in the local area known as "The Church on The Hill"
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