The history of Christ Church
The parish of Christ Church, Aughton forms the south part of the ancient market town of Ormskirk, at the centre of the West Lancashire plain. Since 1880 we have been part of the diocese of Liverpool, with our Cathedral some 13 miles to the south in Liverpool itself.
The ecclesiastical (i.e. church) parish of Aughton, centred on the original parish church of St Michael’s, goes way back, well before 1066. In fact, our present northern boundary cuts right through part of the graveyard of our neighbouring parish church of Ormskirk!
Christ Church is founded
Christ Church did not come into existence until 1867, when the Rector of Aughton, Rev W H Boulton, decided that another church was needed with the population at the northern of the parish beginning to grow, following the opening of the new railway station at Town Green in 1848.
A one-acre site at the highest point of the road to Ormskirk was purchased.
So, on 26 March 1867, the foundation stone for Christ Church was laid by the Lord Bishop of Chester. In those days Aughton was still in the Diocese of Chester.
However, it was another 10 years – 4 May 1877 – before the church building was consecrated. The delay was caused by a funding crisis. In fact, a local poet wrote a satirical verse entitled St Long Lane. There was some local controversy with the Ormskirk Advertiser suggesting the mediation of Lord Derby. You can read the story here.
Meanwhile in July 1874 Christ Church School was built on the half acre alongside the church.
The new church, known as a chapel of ease, was generally made the responsibility of one of the curates at St Michael’s.
The first peal of bells sounded on 19 September 1878.
Christ Church becomes a parish
Christ Church only became a parish in 1929 with the ancient parish of Aughton being divided between St Michael’s and Christ Church.
However, the Rector of St Michael’s continues to be the patron of the parish of Christ Church, giving him an input into the appointment of any new vicar. Incidentally, in this context there is no difference between the titles of Rector and Vicar – it is simply an historical anomaly on how they used to receive their income.
Christ Church clergy over the years
Since becoming a separate parish there have only been four vicars for Christ Church: Rev J P Hobson (serving 1929 – 1956), Rev Gwynn Rhys (1957 – 1974), |Rev Eric Bramhall (1975-1992) and Canon Ross Moughtin (1992 – April 2018).
The present vicarage in Long Lane was built soon after Christ Church became a parish in its own right, in 1934.
The curate is a training appointment before moving on to become vicar of another parish. This was originally for three years upto 1987 but now for four years,
Recent curates are
Rev Mark Geldard 1975-78
Rev Geoff Gillard 1978-81
Rev Chris Bray 1981-84
Rev Peter Thorn 1984-87
Rev Frank Cain 1988-92
Rev Janet Roberts 1992- 1998
Rev Mark Stanford 1998-2002
Rev Michael Follin 2002 – 2006
Rev Jeremy Thomas 2006-2010
Rev Phil Weston 2010-2014
Rev Sarah O’Donoghue 2015 –
Janet Roberts was appointed as assistant minister in 1991. She was in the first group of women to be ordained priest in 1993.
The 1st Aughton Scout Group was formed in 1919 while the Mothers’ Union was launched in 1929. The Girl Guides had to wait until 1945.
Today the uniformed organizations are an important part of Christ Church.
Today the 9th Ormskirk scout group consists of Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Nomad Explorers. Our Girl guiding groups, Rainbows, Brownies and Guide groups, are part of the Sefton County team.
In 2001 the new Scout and Guide Headquarters Building was opened by the Bishop of Warrington following the destruction by fire of its original wooden building.
Building of the Ministry Centre
This Old School Building was used by the school until 1994 – although the new school was opened in Long Lane in 1970 just 100m from the church.
In 1999 the Church Council finally bought the Old School Building site to be developed for serving the local community. Finally, after extensive problems with planning, the foundation stone was laid in November 2009 by Rt Rev Richard Blackburn on his first day of ministry as a Bishop.
The centre was opened in 2010 by the Bishops of Liverpool and Virginia.