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THE PARISH OF ST BRIDGET
It is hard to determine specifically how old St Bridget’s Church is, as it has been altered and extended many times
over the centuries. We do know that Christians worshipped here at the time of the first Millennium which gives us
an approximation of when it was first in use.  The earliest parts of the building surviving and visible are the Vestry
Doorway and some of the masonry on the North wall of the Lady Chapel which are of the early 14th century.  The
church tower is mainly 16th century, although built around an earlier core the date of which is unknown.  

The church has a ring of 8 bells, 4 of them are over 200 years old.  The bells are still in use and a skilled team ring
for Sunday morning services as well as weddings and other special occasions.  Much of the East wall of the chancel
and chapel is of 15th and 16th  century construction date, although the window tracery (the stone divisions within
the window) is a Victorian renewal of old work.  There was a major restoration of the church in 1869 / 1870 by the
architects Kelly and Edwards of Chester. They rebuilt the aisle walls and replaced the arcades (the arches) which
had been removed in the 18th century.  At the same time, and in the years afterwards, a number of very fine
fittings were added, including the stained glass and ironwork.  The church also contains the famous "Hogback"
stone, which is of Anglo-Norse origin and dates from the early eleventh century from the Norse (or "Viking")
settlement of Wirrals past.  It represents evidence of Christian burial and the use of this site for Christian worship
at the last Millennium.  The tracery of the East Window behind the High Altar is almost identical to that at Shifnal
Church in Shropshire, but otherwise unique in design.  The font which dates from the restoration of the Church, is
based on a Norman design and is wide and deep, allowing in theory for baptism of children by total immersion (and
for adults to sit in it and have the baptismal water poured over them ! ).  The Stained Glass is almost all to the
design of Charles Kempe, thought by many to be the premier Victorian designer. It spans almost his whole career,
from the Chapel east window of 1870 through to the dormer windows in the roof of 1906 / 7.  Inside the church
there is a plaque to Johannes Van Zoelen who died while embarking with William of Orange's army which sailed
from Hoylake to attach Ireland in 1689.

St Bridget (or Brigid, Bride) was a  contemporary of St Patrick, born about the year 455, traditionally to a pagan
father and a Christian mother.  She founded a religious community at  Kildare, and became Abbess.  Religious
communities in the Celtic Church were often centres of study and evangelism, and Bridget is thus one of those
responsible for the spread of the Gospel in Ireland.  God's grace in Bridget was remembered throughout the Celtic
world, hence the dedication of this church.
St Bridgets East Side
St Bridgets West Side
The Parish of St Bridgets also houses the "Charles Dawson Brown Museum" which is in the old school building,
adjacent to St Bridget’s Church Centre, and contains exhibits showing the history of the fabric of St Bridget’s Church
over the last thousand years.  In addition to Sundays,St Bridget’s Church is open on Wednesday, Thursday and
Friday afternoons from 2:00 to 4:00.  The service times for the church and further information can be found on their
website:
www.stbridgetschurch.org.uk
A church has stood on the site for over 1000 years providing a focus for the West Kirby community.  Across the
churchyard lies the Community Centre incorporating the old school rooms built in 1825.  Over the years the centre
has continued to serve the Church and community.  The pyramidal roofed building was later added to house the
Charles Dawson Brown Museum and in 1969 the centre was extended to provide more accommodation for the
Church and community.  Uses are varied and include Church and community groups of all ages.  In addition the
museum contains artefacts providing a history of life in West Kirby.  The current Church Centre lies within the
attractive West Kirby Old Village Conservation Area including the Church, the Churchyard, the old school rooms, the
Rectory and Rectory Field.  The centre is housed in sound sandstone-faced old school rooms and a less attractive
1960s extension which lies behind the old school rooms.  The design and materials of the extension means that its
life span is limited.  The Church has been extensively renovated in the past and is in good condition,  hence the focus
has moved to the Centre anticipating the deterioration that can be expected in a building of this age and design.  
Additionally there is an urgent need to bring the building up to date to meet modern standards.  In recent years the
congregation and the extent of children’s work has expanded,more space is required for both the work of the
ministry and the community role.  In doing this the aim is to complement the traditional appearance of the old school
and museum buildings with a well-designed sandstone-faced building and enhance the feel of the conservation area.

Why Do They Need To Rebuild and Extend?

  • The attractive and historic school building is currently leased by St Bridget’s School.  It is in good condition but
    needs refurbishment.

  • The museum, although in good condition, is inaccessible and cramped.

  • The extension was built in 1969 and has a limited life.  It will need work sooner rather than later and it is out
    of keeping with the setting in the Churchyard and Conservation Area.

  • The layout and facilities are now unsuited to their use both as a community and Church centre and as school
    facilities.

  • We feel the right approach is total rebuilding of the extension rather than piecemeal alterations.

  • The Barton Room is too small, suffers from condensation and has no servery or direct link with the kitchen.

  • The use of the old school room for Sunday refreshments is too cramped.

  • The toilets fail below modern standards and lack facilities for the mobility-impaired and baby changing.

  • The lack of a corridor linking all parts of the centre hinders easy access between facilities, the museum,
    storage and the school grounds, compromising security for children.

  • Access for the mobility-impaired is poor both within and outside the centre.

  • Heating systems are ageing, inefficient and expensive to run and lighting is poor.

  • The different uses conflict at times - particularly school and community activities in the small corridors and coat
    hanging space - all within a difficult layout.

  • Storage arrangements are poorly sited and inadequate leading to clutter.



Further information can be found on their website:
http://www.stbridgetschurch.org.uk/Appeal/page10appeal.htm