The first Church, built in 1835, was a simple box-like construction. Later a tower was added. This Church and Tower stood between the Font and Chancel steps, between the present pillars of the Nave. The remains of this Church are in fact buried beneath the present Church.
The old Church was made of hand-baked brick, which soaked up water like a sponge. It had no foundations, nor any cavity walls. Had we not demolished it, it would have fallen down. In addition, it was far too small for the parish of today, to say nothing of the future. The population of the area will rise to over 40,000.
Originally Thornton Church served what is now Fleetwood, Cleveleys and Little Thornton. So we have three Daughter Parishes to date, St. Peter’s Fleetwood (which also has two daughter Churches); St. Andrew’s, Cleveleys, and St. John’s Little Thornton.
A former Vicar of Thornton (The Reverend St. Vincent Beechley, 1841-`846) founded Rossall School. Of the former Vicars of Thornton, two had long imcumbences. The Reverend Thomas Meadows, 1870 to 1908; the Reverend C. N. Sargeant, 1908 to 1936. The present Vicar, The Reverend Canon G. L. Wheeler, has been Vicar since 1941, and is now in his 30th year as Vicar; but, as will be seen, this is by no means a record.
During this time the Parish has changed almost beyond recognition. though the present Parish is half the size it was less than 30 years ago, it has more than double the population. — where once fields and farms, are now dense housing estates.
When the new main road, from Skippool Bridge to Fleetwood is completed, it will pass close to our Churchyard (and in fact takes some of the ground of the new Churchyard). This will put our Church right by the main thoroughfare of the District.
The Churchyard, which has served the whole District, since 1835, is still the one and only burial ground. It serves as a public cemetery, and is used by all denominations.
The New Church was built in two stages. The Chancel was consecrated in 1914, and the Nave and Tower–with the new forecourt and car park, was completed in 1963.
Ancient and Modern
Architecturally, the Church is a skilful blend of an older and more stereotyped style of architecture (the Chancel) with modern architecture, the Nave, Campanile Tower, and the new stained glass and other furnishings.
The mural in the Baptistry is of modern design. The lettering is similar to the earliest known Christian inscriptions. It can be read easily by very young children. The basic requirements of Christian education are depicted: The Creed, the Lord’s Prayer. the Ten Commandments and the Summary of the Law. The small symbols included in the design are again among the earliest known Christian symbols.
The Dove about the font is a life-sized carving and appears, when viewed from the east, to be flying through the large clear west windown, through which the trees can be seen. Our Church used to be known as the Church in the Trees. More large trees, mainly wyche elms, have been planted in order to maintain this setting.
The windows in the Lady Chapel are in the best tradition of modern stained glass. To those who understand the meaning of colours and the design of modern windows, they convey great truth; and one can always find more and more in them.
The Altar in the Lady Chapel, which a typical Anglican Holy Table, was the old original one in the small village Church of 1835. Caved plaques on the Nave wall, above the doors, show the Church as it was before 1963, and also the windmill as it was in 1835.