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History of Westby
In the 1740s as the religious climate was beginning to ease, Squire Thomas Clifton commenced building a chapel immediately to the south of Westby Hall. This was formally opened on May 1st 1742. Like nearly all the chapels in the Fylde, it was of two storeys, the upper floor comprising the chapel and priests accommodation, the ground floor being used for farm purposes. This was probably known as St Anne's Chapel. On September 21st 1784, Bishop Matthew Gibson made a visitation to the chapel, he confirmed 78 members of the congregation, the number of communicants being 360.
In 1831, the then Lord of the Manor, Thomas Clifton, despite the long family tradition of catholicity became a Protestant. In 1845 he closed the chapel at Westby Hall to the Catholics, stating that the faithful could travel either to The Willows, Kirkham or to St. Peters, Lytham for their religious services. This unsatisfactory situation prevailed for many years until the Rev. Dean Hines of the Willows, mindful of the inconvenience of part of his flock, and of the increasing overcrowding of his own church, began to promote the idea of building a new church for the Westby and Plumpton Catholics.
On October 14th 1858, two acres of land was purchased at Westby Mills from John Talbot Clifton and James Fair (the Clifton land agent) by the Rt Rev Alex Goss, Bishop of Liverpool, Thomas Cookson and James Fisher, with the intention of building a church, prestbytery and a school. The price was £160. (Note: The Fylde was part of the Diocese of Liverpool unitl 1924).
The foundation stone of the church, dedicated to St Anne, was
laid by the Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev Goss on May 31st
1859. The Bishop formally opened the church on August 26th
1860 and on December 4th 1860 he consecrated the altar. The
church was consecrated by Bishop Whiteside on November 8th
1900. The reason for the long delay could be connected with
the clearing of the parish debt arising from the building of not
only the church and presbytery, but also the school and
The cemetary was approved for burials on April 18th 1864, the first burial recorded is that of Catherine Whiteside on May 24th 1868.
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