|The ancient chapel of St. Mary, now destroyed, was
known as Douglas Chapel was situated in Parbold, a large commuter
village and civil parish in the county of Lancashire, England. Parbold
lies in the valley of the River Douglas, at the bottom of Parbold Hill.
The River Douglas, also known as the River Asland or Astland, is a river
that flows through Lancashire and Greater Manchester in the north-west
of England. It is a tributary of the River Ribble and has itself two
tributaries, the River Tawd and the River Yarrow.
was probably built by the Hospitallers for the use of their tenants, but
in later times the Lathoms of Parbold were considered the patrons.
There is a tradition that it was originally built to commemorate a
victory or victories, of the Saxons over the Danes, and there is
probability in its Saxon origin, for local tradition is quite clear and
distinct as to the fact that the Danes and Saxon met in conflict on the
banks of the Douglas.
The earliest confirmed record about the
Douglas Chapel was a passage written in 1240 about John, priest of
The Douglas Chapel was considered to have been built in
1420, a large aisle added on the north side about forty years later and
some rebuilding taking place in 1821. The Chapel was finally demolished
when its replacement, Christ Church, was consecrated in 1875.
William Frederick Price, the son of Rev. W. Price who was the vicar of
Douglas chapel in the 1870's, carried out considerable research work
into the history and origin of the Douglas Chapel. William discovered
that the history of the Lathom family, of Lathom and Parbold, is
interwoven, with that of the Chapel for frequent entries occur in the
Douglas Chapel registers of the Lathoms of Parbold from I700 to 1800.
In the course of some historical notes on the Chapel, Mr. Price
said: "It had externally a mean and somewhat barn-like appearance,being
blocked on the north side by an Inn known as the ' Chapel House' which
judging from its title may possibly occupy the site of the residence of
the chantry priests."
Like most other old churches in Lancashire,
Douglas Chapel is said to have received ill usage at the hands of the
Parliamentarian forces who are said to have used it for stabling their
horses during the seige of Lathom in February, 1643. Since the Douglas
Chapel lay on their route from Wigan via Standish to Lathom and within
easy distance of the latter the story is likely to be true.
Price noted that - 'The Chapel was absolutely devoid of any coats of
arms, tablets, brasses or monuments relating to the founders of any
local families and the inference is that at the time of the reformation
anything of this sort which may have existed was destroyed and
ruthlessly swept away.
The chapel as it stood at the time of its
demolition consisted of a plain rectangular nave without any chancel. It
served as a place of worship for the inhabitants of the village of
Newburgh, the hamlet of Parbold and other more distant outlying
districts.' Below is a photograph of the interior.
Looking at the
interior of the old Douglas Chapel, in the photograph above, the stolen
chair and communion table are visible in the centre.
interesting to note the enclosed pews. Apparently, when the chapel was
in use, rich families would pay to reserve a walled off pew for the
exclusive use of their family.
Before the reformation in the 16th
century (when the Church of England broke away from the authority of the
Pope and the Catholic Church) the Douglas Chapel was a Roman Catholic
Chapel and was called the chapel of Our Blessed Lady in Parbold, or St.
There is no apparent connection with the Douglas family.