Plans to renovate historical chantry

St Helens Star: The chantry has a rich history (Pic courtesy Robbob) The chantry has a rich history (Pic courtesy Robbob)

A REVISED bid for funding to restore one of the most fascinating buildings in the town’s history is to be made.

The Windleshaw Chantry, commonly referred to as the ‘Abbey’, was built in 1435 and is believed to be the oldest structure in St Helens.

Tireless attempts to secure funding to help renovate the grounds into a monument worthy of its rich history have been made over the past five years without success.

An initial joint bid between the Guardians of Windleshaw Chantry and The Friends of St Helens Cemetery, which included plans to transform the nearby mortuary chapel into a visitor centre, failed.

The new bid, backed by St Helens Council, will focus on redeveloping the chantry, with the plans for transforming the chapel now having been dropped.

A council spokesman said: “We will be submitting a revised funding application to the Heritage Lottery Fund in the near future, focusing substantially on the chantry, rather than a larger bid for both the nearby chapel and the chantry.

“Some funding has already been pre-approved by Natural England.”

The chantry’s history, which stretches back for nearly six centuries, includes Roundhead troops making use of its grounds in 1644 during the Civil War and secret night-time burials during the persecutions of the post-Reformation period.

To this day, there are many unmarked graves at the site.

And the grounds also feature the tomb of Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Francois Graux de la Bruyere, the man who was responsible for bringing glass making to the town and who became the first manager of Ravenhead glassworks.

In 2008, mass was celebrated at the Chantry for the first time in more than 350 years by Father Tom Gagie, of St Thomas of Canterbury, with several masses having been heard there since.

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