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Pilgrimage to
Fernyhalgh and Ladyewell

28th May 2004

The new church of St Mary's, Fernyhalgh was begun in 1794 by the Rev Anthony Lund who had inherited a large sum of money from his father. He also made a large donation to the building of Ushaw College. St Mary's was finished and consecrated in 1795.
A visit to the church for a prayer before going on to the well.

The Rev. Anthony Lund died on 23 Sep 1811 and was buried in front of the altar. The plaque on his grave can be seen here.

It is said that those buried at Ladyewell were re-buried here when the new church was built. The graveyard has certainly been in use since then but there is no evidence for this story or for the legend that the old cross, also transferred, was found again at Ladyewell the next day.

(left) St Joseph's window

(right) The Rosary window

These two windows in the church are too detailed to be able to give more than an impression here. They were added, one each side of the altar, during the time when the Rev Richard Gillow was in charge of the mission from 1823 to 1864, perhaps to celebrate the restoration of the hierarchy in 1851.

The house next to the well at Ladyewell dates from about 1687. It was built roughly on the site of the original chapel, destroyed at the Reformation, and was designed to look like an ordinary dwelling. A group of local Catholic gentry obtained a thousand year lease with the nominal rent of a peppercorn, intending it to serve as a chapel for the Catholics of the area. Its situation was then well hidden and provided an easy means of escape in case of danger from pursuivants. The priest lived on the ground floor and the upper floor was used for the chapel until the opening of St Mary's.

After the opening of St Mary's, Dame Alice's school, run by her in the early 18th century, but possibly much older, was transferred to the house. The boys until then had boarded in the local cottages. The school was so famous locally that even many Protestants were said to have sent their children to her to be educated. Dame Alice herself died in 1760.
Part of the new chapel built in the garden The garden is all around, a haven of peace
Those who died for their beliefs in penal times are commemorated in a frieze around the walls.
The grotto at Ladyewell. The house was taken over by the Holy Child nuns of Winckley Square in 1905 at the request of the Archbishop of Liverpool and they remained for 80 years. The nuns renovated the well, adding paving stones as it was dangerous and a wooden statue of Our Lady of Lourdes with a wooden arch behind. The statue was replaced by one of Our Lady with the child Jesus in 1935, and a stone arch replaced the wooden one in 1954

The Diocesan Vocations Director lived here for two years, then in 1987 the diocese appointed a resident priest to look after the well to make it once again a place for regular pilgrimage.

Websites of interest

Ladyewell More - Wells and springs around Preston
Springs and wells in and around Preston Historic Houses and Halls around Preston