The Priory Parish – the largest parish in Lancashire… in the 1860s! - 22/11/14

Memories at Lancaster Priory go back a very long way, and several parishioners can remember a good number of those who have, in recent years, carried the ancient title “Vicar of Lancaster”, going back as far as Benjamin Pollard, Vicar from 1922-55, and who was also Archdeacon and Bishop of Lancaster before moving on to be Bishop of Sodor and Man.

But it would take a life of extraordinary longevity to remember Joseph Turner, who was Vicar in the middle of the nineteenth century. But it was this particular Vicar of Lancaster who, in 1861, received a request from the “township” of Fulwood in Preston to provide a curate to have the cure of souls there. Fulwood was then – though it is hard to believe now, still a part of our parish of St Mary’s Lancaster – it was the largest parish in the county at the time. The Vicar gave permission for this new parish to be formed, with the usual caveat that he should have the right to appoint successive vicars of the new parish, hence the patronage (or advowson) – was vested in the Vicar of Lancaster and his successors.  The petitioners were soon able raise the necessary funds to build a church. It took them just two years to raise the required sum (£3,700) and the foundation stone was laid in 1864, and the dedication of this new parish of Christ Church, Fulwood by the Bishop of Manchester took place in 1865, which began a long association between Lancaster Priory and the new ecclesiastical parish, designed to cater for the growing population of wealthy Prestonians moving into the Forest of Fulwood as the Industrial Revolution gathered pace. And so today’s Vicar of Lancaster still has the patronage of that (and many other parishes in Lancashire and beyond).

It is in this capacity that the Revd Chris Newlands was invited to Fulwood to preach at the start of twelve months of the 150th anniversary celebrations at Christ Church, a vibrant church, though the original parish has subsequently been divided into two, with the new parish of St Cuthbert’s carved out of the original Fulwood parish. The present Vicar of Fulwood, The Revd Brian McKonkey was appointed by Canon Peter Cavanagh and is well known to many in Lancaster as he had previously worked in the Parish of St Thomas, Lancaster