St Leonard Middleton



Restoration work in the 1920s - with little consideration for health and safety!

Seen on the coloured image, the newly carved stone today looks as though it's been there forever.


Heritage Lottery Fund

St Leonard's Parish Church received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) of £249,000. This included development funding of £37,753, towards urgent repair work and a programme of activities to engage with the local community. More details can be found here.


Thanks to the generous funding received from the charities, great progress has been made to rid much of the church of its cement mortar pointing and to replace it with lime mortar, and stone that has failed has been replaced with new stone quarried at Longridge, Preston. Following the reconfiguration of the north entrance, an accessible toilet and a new kitchen have been installed. Whilst scaffolding has been on the tower, the flagged roof has been stripped, refelted and the tiles refitted or replaced. The valley flashings have been renewed, the gable finials leaded and the weathercock and compass points repaired and gilded.

Our architects, Buttress of Manchester, and our main contractors, Heritage Conservation of Ashton, have managed to do all the work in ten months.


Let photographs taken before, during and after the work completed since October 2018 show you what has been achieved:

THE ASSHETON INSCRIPTION commemorating the enlarging of the church in 1524.

RIC ASSHETON & ANNA UXOR ANNO DNI MDXXIIII. The "pierced mullet" (heraldic star) in from the Assheton coat of arms. 






The Assheton inscription on the south aisle wall. The design and lettering of the new stone was derived from a 1930s image. The deterioration from then to the present day can clearly be seen on the third image. 



THE "HOPWOOD" INSCRIPTION. The newly carved inscription has been made possible from the drawing in the book by  C S Macdonald, Hopwood Hall 1250-1963. Macdonald offers two interpretations for the inscription; though neither is now thought to be correct, we can't yet offer an alternative.The third photograph, taken in 2019,  shows the barely legible inscription.



THE BELFRY AND WEATHERCOCK. The first four images relate to the 1940s belfry restoration, when some of the strucural timbers were renewed.after it was discovered to be leaning. During the current restoration, the finials were also renewed; these were still sound though a little weathered, so they have now been wrapped in lead.

The coloured view of the tower (2009) shows the weathercock and missing compass points. The 1880 view shows a previous weathercock which, we have been informed, was blown off its pedestal during a gale and landed in Bardsley Street!





                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Left: The newly flagged roof repaired weathercock and leaded finial and eaves.

MiddleThe repaired weathercock, the reflagged roof and one of the four newly leaded finials.

Right. A length of timber acts as a prop following the removal of stone.


The roof was stripped of its stone tiles, some of which were damaged and beyond repair and the roofing felt was replaced. The valleys were releaded and new rainwater shoots were fitted to them. The timber cladding, much of which was replaced or repaired in the 1970s, was in perfect condition, though some of the nails were renewed. 

Badly weathered stonework was removed and replaced with new stone; every joint was scraped out and repointed using lime mortar. The clock faces were covered during the stone repairs, when the protection was removed, the wooden surround was found to have decayed so it was removed and replaced with suitable timber. This was then protected on the top edges with lead flashing. 

The top of the lower tower window was replaced and the tiny spiral staircase windows were renewed.

The topmost NW and SW buttress caps were repaired as they had become unstable.



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