Take me to church: Glimpse at the history of the Actors’ Chapel

Actors chapel
St Stephens On The Cliffs Church, North Shore, Blackpool
Actors chapel St Stephens On The Cliffs Church, North Shore, Blackpool

George Formby, Arthur Askey and Ivor Novello aren’t names you’d expect to see inscribed in a Blackpool church.

But they feature on panels in the Actors’ Chapel, at St Stephens on the Cliffs Church, North Shore. There will be Heritage Open Days tours of the chapel, on September 9 and 10.

The Bishop of Manchester lays the foundatin stone, of the new church of St Stephens, in July 1925

The Bishop of Manchester lays the foundatin stone, of the new church of St Stephens, in July 1925

St Stephens’ origins are in 1908, when informal worship and singing hymns began on Sunday evenings.

A mission church was built in 1910, but with a growing parish, by 1925 a new building was needed and the first sod was cut by the Mayor of Blackpool.

In 1927, the Bishop of Blackburn consecrated the new church.

St Stephen’s connection with the entertainment world was solidified when actors and artistes subscribed to create the Actors’ Chapel in 1928. It features a reredos with a double procession of carved singers, dancers and musicians above a marble altar. The side panels bear the names of theatrical benefactors. An additional panel, with names of donors who were members of the theatrical profession, was unveiled by Gracie Fields in May 1929.

St Stephen's On The Cliffs, in
 May 1987

St Stephen's On The Cliffs, in May 1987

St Stephens On The Cliffs Church

St Stephens On The Cliffs Church