History of the Church
St. James' Church was consecrated by the Bishop of Chester on 19th August 1851. It was, and is still, the only church in Westhead and Lathom.
Originally known as St. James' Lathom the parish is now called St. James' Westhead to avoid confusion with Lathom Park Chapel.
St James’ Church was consecrated by the Bishop of Chester on 19th August 1851 and for the first time there was a church in Lathom.
(Lathom Park Chapel was connected to Lathom House. For further details of Lathom Park Chapel see -->)
Prior to the building of the church, Westhead and the surrounding area was part of the extensive parish of Ormskirk. To attend church was often difficult, inconvenient and for the elderly, infirm and sick, it was an impossible journey.
The efforts of the Rev. E. J. Hornby, vicar of Ormskirk, the support of Lord Derby, the social conditions of the time, the growth of nonconformism and the building of Roman Catholic Churches finally enabled the building of a new and much needed Anglican church here in Lathom.
The land for the church was given by Lord Skelmersdale (Edward Bootle-Wilbraham, 1st Baron Skelmersdale), the occupant of Lathom House. The sandstone for the building was given by Edward Stanley of Cross Hall who owned the quarry in Ruff Wood whilst the entire cost for the building of the church, estimated at £3000, was defrayed by the Earl of Derby. He also gave £1000 for an endowment fund.
Only the best would do for the Earl of Derby so the famous and well respected architect Sydney Smirke was chosen to design the church. He was instructed that the church was to have a steeple and a side aisle and the windows were to be in the early 14th century style.