The Ancient Chapelry of St Peter, Formby
St Peter's

Drawing of St Peter's Church by James Eden
Box-pews in the west gallery; the pulpit; and roof trusses of unusual design.
The chancel; chancel arch; and nave
newcaseside.jpg (99867 bytes)
The new organ (2002)
The Church is not the first Church dedicated to St Peter to stand in Formby. The title 'The Ancient Chapelry of Formby, St Peter' reminds us that a chapel existed in Formby from early times - in what was a detached part of the ancient parish of St Mary, Walton. The Rector of Walton is to this day Patron of the living.

The ancient chapel stood close to the sea (on the site of the present St Luke's Church) and was destroyed in 1739 by a storm. The decision was made to build a new church on a site further inland and there is evidence from a parish in Oxfordshire that a nation-wide levy - by order of 'Letters Pattents' of the King - was made for this purpose. The total amount collected by this levy was 1154 pence.

So it is that we have a Georgian Church, with characteristic and very elegant clear glass windows, dating from 1746. At different times side galleries were added (the line of which can still be seen in the plasterwork). Box pews and a pulpit on the south side of the Church (between the windows) are revealed in a seating plan of 1767.

The building itself is listed. Its fine Georgian nave was completed in 1746. An 18th century "Singers Gallery" with box pews adorns the west end of the nave which is lined with large, clear, wood traceried windows. Unique semicircular wooden beam trusses support the roof. A  Victorian chancel was added in 1869.

The styles of nave and chancel complement each other in a most satisfactory way. John Betjeman once visited the church and remarked on the effective use of glass.

The major change to the building took place in the 1870's. The old apsidal east end was removed and the present chancel, sanctuary and side chapel (The Formby Chapel) added. The style chosen was neo-Gothic so much in at the time. As a result, the Church has its contrasting, not to say competing, halves. To stand at the chancel steps and look first west and then east makes this point.

The main Altar and the sanctuary panelling were given in memory of old boys of St Peter's School and members of the choir who had died in the Great War. The present organ, installed in 2002, includes pipe work from the War Memorial instrument of 1949.

Two members of the Formby family of Formby Hall were incumbents of St Peter's for the major part of the 19th century and monuments to them are on the west wall of the Formby Chapel.

The above (slightly contradictory) information is borrowed from the church's web site at, which in 2014 has now disappeared ...
However,  provides us with the following:

Reaching wall to wall across the west end of the nave is the Singers' Gallery, so named when it was built in 1746 because it housed the "Singers" who, accompanied by a small village orchestra, sang the services and led the singing until the addition of the chancel in 1869. The construction of the gallery may even have interrupted the building schedule, such was the new enthusiasm for congregational singing generated by the evangelical revival. (Who would design a gallery across a window?).

During the 250th Anniversary of the Consecration of the church in 1997 a replica group of singers and instrumentalists, sited there, sang psalms and hymns to music of the period.

The present day choir sings on occasions from the Singers' Gallery - their ancestral home - from where the sound pervades the whole building most effectively.

Music is an important expression of delight and devotional feeling within the worship at St Peters, where, along with most of Christendom, we also sing the words of our faith. 

The English Hymnal and Hymns Ancient & Modern New Standard form the staple diet of our sung prayer and praise, alongside Plainsong, Taize chant, Worship Songs and those popular hymns from the past we affectionately call 'Golden Oldies'. 

The congregation sing the liturgy at the Parish Eucharist, and Choral Evensong is a happy mix of music for all.

Instrumentalists from our church family and friends enliven major festivals, and the informal Christmas Orchestra is a feature at our annual Festival of Lessons & Carols.

St Peter's, Freshfield 
The oldest in this area, this church
 was built in 1746 to replace a chapel
 which had been abandoned because of
 the encroachment of the sea. It has an
 average Sunday morning family service
 congregation of 220. There are 188
 people on its Electoral Roll, 156 of
 whom live within the parish. The
 present incumbent is Canon Norman
 Carter. He has no full-time assistants
 but is helped by one other priest and 
 two lay-readers.
 St.Peter's is quiet and peaceful,
 You want to whisper there.
 A stained glass window towers above the altar.
 A gold cross stands proudly in front.
 The lectern is a carved eagle.
 Banners hang silently round the church
 A star light glitters in the chapel of rest.
Louise and Sandra (aged 10)in 1984


The information below was supplied by Philip Lowe,  choir master and one time church warden

I believe the FORMBY church to which you refer is St. Peter's in Green Lane, Formby, otherwise known as the Ancient Chapelry of St. Peter, Formby.

[ . . . ] The old building which it replaced stood on the site stood on the site of the present St Luke's chirch and dated back to ca.1200.

was built by or connected with the monks of Cockersand Abbey on the Ribble estuary.  From some old accounts I know it had bells and box pews which were rented, including a gallery.  No information about the design of the church has yet been found by present members of the congregation.

A previous church stood on the site of St Luke's but was overcome by a sandstorm.  The congregation took some of the stone and the sundial and coat of arms and went inland away from the storms to build St Peter's.

St. Luke's was provided for the increasing  population and for the anticipated visitors to the seaside resort, a  hotel and promenade having been recently built. The resort, however, never "took  off" but the church is thriving.


I believe that the previous site of St Peter's was reused at a later date upon which to build St Luke's, St Peter's having been rebuilt further inland, presumably to reduce the risk of a similar occurrence of flooding, or worse. This would seem to follow from what you said about St Luke's being built to accommodate increased numbers of worshippers, rather than initially being a private chapel.


St. Luke's have a website


Map reference

The church is located at OS grid reference SD2992708273 (Lat/Lon 53.566364,-3.059528). You can see this on maps provided by:

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This site has been constructed by, and remains the copyright of, its authors,
Edwin and Sheila Macadam,

Shelwin, 30, Eynsham Road, Botley,
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