St Mark’s Church of England, Upper Duke St 1803 – 1908
What was one of Liverpool’s largest churches, and lasted over a century before closure and demolition, did not get off to the most auspicious of starts:-
Rev Jones first petitioned on 6th August 1800 -‘praying for the liberty for himself and friends to build a Church at the top of Upper Duke St if the Corporation and Rector should be pleased to give their countenance to the same’
For reasons not evident this was rejected by the Corporation and referred to the Select Committee of 22nd Aug 1800, apparently again without success. It appears however the Rev Jones and friends were unperturbed and went ahead regardless with building commencing on 6th Oct 1802, at a cost of £18,000.
The Select Committee were clearly still not impressed stating:
‘the building was extremely defective in its internal accommodation and external appearance’.
They again refused to sanction the building at a meeting on 2nd March 1803, but regardless the Church opened on 6th March 1803
‘plain brick……. It could not claim even to a small place in Liverpool’s architectural adornments’ – James Touzeau
In 1803 the following officers are listed:
Chaplin: Rev. Robert Blacow, West Derby
Wardens: Mr. Robert Diggles, Bedford St, Harrington
: Mr. William Dutton, Gilbert St, Kent St
Clerk: Mr. Davis, Lumber St, Tythebarn Street
By 1804 they are joined by an organist, Mr. Bayley
It would appear this wrangle with the Corporation went on for some years as it would not be until 22nd Dec 1815 that St Mark’s was finally consecrated. Although not pretty it was certainly big and in 1853 is shown to have seating for 2400 people.
(The Rise and Progress of Liverpool from 1551 to 1835 Vol.2 – Touzeau, James (Town Clerk’s Office Liverpool) pgs. 715 – 717)
Liverpool was a very different place back in 1803 with a population of just 79,000, rich merchants still reaping their ‘rewards’ from involvement in the lamentable slave trade, and Everton still a rural village. Princes Dock had not yet been started, St James Cemetery was coming to the end of its early life as a quarry, the Oratory would not open for another 22 years and there was still a windmill in its spot! The following 1796 map shows Upper Duke St still named ‘Duke St’. The 1835 map shows it renamed and St Mark’s in situ:
The city was expanding though, Rodney St had been laid out c1784 and grand houses where being built, Great George Square was laid out 1803 and would become one of Liverpool’s most sought after addresses, the prestigious Lyceum had just opened in Bold St, and the first Exchange Flags was about to rise from the ground.
St Mark’s 1830 – Showing the tower
The 1830 picture above shows the original building with its steeple and this is referred to in an interesting letter in the Liverpool Mercury, of 1828:
However the ‘defective’ building claims referred to earlier seem to be borne out by the tower reportedly being taken down c1830 ‘on account of real or supposed danger’ (J.A. Picton ‘Memorials of Liverpool’ 1903)
Although the church did have a graveyard (see map below) it does not appear to have actually been used as such, as no records are evident. Furthermore the following clip from the Liverpool Mercury in 1849 seems to back this up:
5th Oct 1849 – Health Committee; No burials in St Mark’s?
As was common with churches of the time there were also schools associated with the Church and these were situated in Back Knight St/Roscoe St, clearly seen on the 1849 map below, and listed in Gores at 64 Roscoe Street (did they expand after this map?).
They are also referred to here: Liverpool Mercury 3rd March 1854 – Town Council, Finance Committee
The current No.3 Upper Duke St (Yuet Ben Restaurant) was built c1873 and is thought to be by renowned architect Peter Ellis. It can be seen below with St Marks just in view to its immediate right.
The business immediately to the right of the church in the above 1910 picture is listed as ‘Buglas, William, boot-maker’ – No.1 St Mark’s Terrace (see 1849 map) in Gores 1908 directory. By this time the Church had actually closed.
At the time of its’ opening back in 1803 St Mark’s would no doubt have been patronised by wealthy merchants living up above the growing port and town. These same wealthy merchants would have paid to rent pews and fund the church.
The changing demographics of the area by the mid-19th century would see a poorer congregation, and numbers gradually falling. This heart-felt letter from February 1888 illustrates the plight of many:
Eventually in 1908 the parish would be absorbed in to the adjacent parishes of St Luke’s, St Brides, and St Michael Upper Pitt St. This was also the time when St Thomas’s Park Lane finally closed under the same ‘Liverpool and Wigan Churches Act, 1904’
The move to the new St Marks – Edge Lane:
This started life as a temporary iron missionary church in 1904 named ‘St Andrew’s Mission Church’ and was then renamed upon the closure of the Upper Duke St church.
A permanent church was not started until 1925 (architect Frank Rimmington) with the laying of the foundation stone on 3rd Oct – ‘low and cottagey…..brick with much timber and a fleche on the big roof’ – Pevsner. It was consecrated on 3rd March 1927. Part of the cost of this new building being paid for by the sale of the old Upper Duke St church.
Closed 1973 – ‘the neighbouring church of St Mark, Edge Lane was closed, with the final service on 28th Sept. The Altar from St Mark’s was placed in the Lady Chapel of St Anne Stanley’ The church has since been demolished. (Do please get in touch if you have any pictures of St Mark’s Edge Lane)
- 6th Aug 1800 – Petition read by Rev Jones and friends for permission to erect Church are rejected by the Corporation and referred to Select Committee
- Without consent building commences 6th Oct 1802
- Opens 6th March 1803 – cost of build £18,000
- Re-opening Dec 1810
- Finally consecrated on 22nd Dec 1815 (J. Touzeau)
- Acts and Bills (Parliamentary) 1816: St. Mark’s Church Act
- c1830 – tower pulled down (J.A. Picton)
- 4th July 1839 – An Act for altering and amending certain Acts relating to the churches of St Mark, St Luke and St Michael, in the borough of Liverpool. 4th July, 1839.
- 22nd Sept 1856 – L’pool Mercury reports re-opening after being closed for some time
- Feb 1857 – Rev. Drummon Anderson replaces Rev. William Pollock
- Re-opening 10th Aug 1866 after ‘cleaning and renovation’
- 14th May 1868 – L’pool Mercury reports Town Council repairs to St Mark’s cost £390
- 1887 – Change of vicar….. Rev Henry Coulson Lory leaving, Rev S Rogers coming in
- Sept 1888: a ‘feud’ is fought out in the Liverpool Mercury between Rev. Rogers and some parishioners
- 1904 – ‘Liverpool & Wigan Churches Act’
- 16th Sept 1908: meeting held with Rev E. W. Dicks in Chair – unanimously agreed move to St Andrews, and establishing of costs to build a new church on the site:
- Finally closed 27th Dec 1908 due to lack of congregation (Gores)
- 1909 – discussion take place on sale of furniture of the old St Marks:
- 1923 – old St Mark’s finally demolished
- c1925 Upper Duke St site becomes a warehouse for H. J. Heinz – then for Lewis’s c1930 – 1970
- It is now occupied by a Chinese supermarket
1924 O.S. map showing warehouses: St Marks Terrace still present to the right
The site of original St Mark’s as it is today (via Google Earth):
Not such a postcard view as was……
Over the years the Liverpool Mercury painted an interesting picture of the church and parish, with one interesting story connected with the infamous ‘Leveson Street Masacre’ of 1849…..funerals brought forward, and a less than impressed Reverend….. (click on to read)
Central Library, Liverpool Records Office: –
726 BRO – St Mark’s Church, Upper Duke south view, Street, sepia wash drawing by J. Brierley, 1830 in: How Gothic Came Back to Liverpool, plate VI 1937
770 ROB/21/43 – photograph – 1830
942.721 TOU (page 715 -717): The Rise and Progress of Liverpool from 1551 to 1835; Vol.2
Touzeau, James (Town Clerk’s Office, Liverpool)
283 MRK – St. Mark’s Church, Upper Duke Street, later Edge Lane. MRK/10 and MRK/15
Micro-film 050 LIV – Liverpool Review 28th April, 1888:
A Big row in the parish; and, A rebel in church [account of a feud between the Rev. Samuel Rogers and his parishioners, and of a disturbance in the church occasioned by the feud]
Signatures of Peter Ellis – 2014 Graham Jones and the Liverpool History Society