A humble community church built immediately before Catholic worship was legalised in anticipation of a change in the law.
St. Benet’s Chapel was opened in 1793 and is a rare survival of a Catholic church built for a poor community. The chapel is small and of limited architectural ambition but is poignant evidence of the troubled history of Roman Catholicism in this part of England. Erected after the Catholic Relief Acts of 1778 and 1791 when Catholics were at last allowed to worship openly, a low profile was still considered appropriate.
The chapel is mostly hidden behind the attached presbytery. After ups and downs over 180 years it finally became redundant when the new and much larger St Benet’s church was built in the 1960s. Sold off, and put to a succession of uses, the building was a semi-derelict builder’s store when taken into the care of the Historic Chapels Trust. Some of the interior furnishings have been lost and others stored for restoration. Important survivals including the gallery, the early 19th-century altar and a “pilastered and pedimented altarpiece which has winged cherub heads, a gloria of rays and Adamesque urns and garlands of the type that many churches of the Establishment could boast before the zealous efforts of ‘ecclesiological’ restorers”.
HCT has raised grants and donations of over £250,000 so far to repair the structure of the chapel and the presbytery. A third phase of repair works to the exterior and parts of the interior was completed in Spring 2012.
The chapel stands diagonally opposite the new Roman Catholic Church in Netherton which is at the northern edge of the Liverpool conurbation, close to the A5207 near Sefton.
There are no toilet facilities on site. The Presbytery is now in private occupation and the residents do not hold keys.
Unfortunately, St Benet’s is currently not available for hire. HCT would like to recruit a local keyholder to facilitate visits. If you might be interested in serving as keyholder please contact us.