St John the Evangelist’s Church (also known as The Willows) is on Ribby Road, Kirkham, Lancashire, England. It is an active Roman Catholic Parish Church in the diocese of Lancaster. The church was designed by A. W. N. Pugin, and is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade II listed building.
In 1809 the first Roman Catholic chapel was built in Kirkham. It was dedicated to the Holy Cross, and was known as “The Willows” because it was in an area surrounded by willow trees. This name is still associated with the present church. The chapel was replaced by the present church, which was built between 1842 and 1845, and was designed by A. W. N. Pugin. Said to have cost £10,000 (equivalent to £890,000 in 2015), the church was designed to hold 500–600 people and was heated by underfloor hot air provided by a furnace. The only lighting, however, was by hand-held candles.
The church was consecrated on 22 April 1845 by Rt Revd George Brown, the bishop of Liverpool. The ceremony lasted from 7am until noon, after which the Bishop said Mass. The following day, St George’s Day, the formal opening took place with four bishops in attendance and a host of other clergy. A special train was provided from Preston to bring about 200 guests. After a grand procession from the old chapel, the terce was sung by the priests and a choir from St. Augustine’s, Preston then sang a High Mass with music from Mozart and Haydn. The sermon was by Scottish Bishop Murdock after which was a Te Deum. Afterwards there was a meal, followed by toasts and speeches.
From 1895 the parish priest was Fr Francis John Gillow and in 1895-6 a number of alterations were made by him to the interior of the church. The floor was lowered by about 2 feet (61 cm) and the steps at the west entrance were removed. At the same time Pugin’s altar was moved to a side chapel and the rood screen was relocated to the west end of the church and altered to fit. In 1906 Gillow installed a new main altar, a pulpit, benches, and Stations of the Cross.
In 2011 the parish was linked with that of St Joseph, Wesham, and in 2013 the two joined to become the Parish of the Holy Cross.
In the 1930s the church social club had its own successful snooker team which won a couple of trophies. The church website maintains links to a number of documents of historical interest.
Above text taken from Wikipedia