St Clare's History and Architechture

St Clares, its site and location within Toxteth Park

Description taken from document prepared for St Clare's Diamond Jubilee 1890-1950

The church of St Clare stands within the boundaries of the Ancient Park of Toxteth, once forest land and a sporting estate of King John. It is interesting to note that, subsequently, when Toxteth passed into the possession of  the Earls of Lancaster, a deed was executed granting the park to the Abbott of Whalley, with a licence to remove the abbey from Whalley and reconstruct it in Toxteth. The project, however, for some reason, was never carried through, and the Park passed into the hands of  the Molyneux family, the Stanleys, and again the Molyneuxes. In 1591 Toxteth was finally disparked; in 1604 it was disafforested; and from then on it began to be split up into small farms. Many of the early settlers seem to have been Puritan in their leanings and imparted a distinctive character to the district. The local place names "David's Throne", Adam's Butterly, "The River Jordan" and "Jerrico" form a direct connecting link with the days of the Commonwealth and were responsible for the district becoming popularly known as the" Holy Land". The first farm was broken up for building land in 1770 and since then , apart from the areas reserved as Prince's Park and Sefton Park, the Ancient Park of Toxteth has gradually become more and more thickly populated and industrialised. In 1885 it was absorbed into Greater Liverpool. 

The parish of St Clare was founded in 1890.

Dating from 1888-90, St Clare's is an early work of the architect Leonard Stokes, and is Grade 1 listed. It has been described as “one of his masterpieces” and shows him breaking away from Gothic conventions towards his own forthright and individual style.

The interior of Stoke's church is fairly large and will accommodate c.600.The plan of the interior comprises a long nave with aisles, which are merely passageways, and these aisles seperate the nave from the two side chapels. The sanctuary is quite shallow.

The tall long 9 bay nave has deep internal buttresses which are pierced to form these passageways.

The nave arcade of round headed arches rests on lozenge shaped stone piers placed traverse to the nave, and above the passages there are continuous galleries. Above the galleries there are the large nave windows.

West Elevation

The west front of St Clare's is simply treated. The large 7 light west window dominates the facade. It is set into a deep splay. The style of the window's tracery could be classed as 'Late Decorated' or Reticulated. Many commentators seem to liken the style of windows of St Clare's to the style as used by the architect  G.F. Bodley.

The three central lights of this west window are divided from the outer lights by sharply chamfered King mullions, and the lower panel of each of the seven lights has a carved stone shield. Above the window is a cross of Storeton stone set into the brickwork at the top of the gable.

There is one gabled porch off the north side of the west end, which has a small niche above the doorway for a carved stone statue of St Clare, and the other similar porch off the west end of the south side has a niche above its doorway containing a statue of St Francis.

Nativity scene - Lady Chapel

East Window


Rectors & Parish Priests

Parish of St Clare & St Hugh, Liverpool (established 2012)

Canon Aidan Prescott VG                             2012 -                             Vicar General 2021-

St Clare, Sefton Park (established 1890)

Fr William Spencer                                          1890 – 1892

Fr (later Canon) John Crook                         1892 – 1922

Bishop Robert Dobson                                    1922 – 1928                  Auxiliary Bishop of Liverpool 1922-1942

Canon Arthur McCurdy                                   1928 – 1944

Monsignor Canon Thomas Adamson        1945 – 1987                 Vicar General 1956-1966

Canon Peter Wilkinson                                   1987 – 2001

Fr (later Canon) Aidan Prescott                   2001 – 2012


St Hugh of Lincoln, Wavertree (established 1904, church closed 2012)

Fr James Hughes                                               1904 - 1922

Fr Richard Bilsborrow                                     1922 - 1927                

Fr William Westhead                                       1927 – 1946

Fr Thomas Healey                                             1946 - 1947

Fr (later Canon) Paul Montgomery            1947 - 1961

Fr Edward Quigley                                             1961 - 1964

Fr J. Gerard Mitchell                                         1964 - 1973

Fr Michael O’Donohue                                    1973 - 1976

Fr James Purcell                                                 1976 - 1982

Fr (later Canon) Roger Daley                        1982 - 1988                

Fr John Dale                                                         1988 - 1996

Fr Dunstan Harrington                                   1996 – 2002

Fr (later Canon) Aidan Prescott                   2002 – 2012