Lancashire's Oldest Church: St Helen's, Overton

St Helen’s, Overton, claims and probably is, the oldest church building in the county. Its closest competitor is St Peter’s at Heysham, just a few miles down the coast. It has one Saxon wall which is over a millennium old, and its list of vicars begins in 1215 with ‘Roger’. There were so few folk and Rogers about back then that surnames were considered an unnecessary luxury. The church has a wonderful Norman carved doorway and is built in a strange T shape, so everyone can see (and hear) the eighteenth-century pulpit. I like that. It must be gratifying to those who attend that they tread the well-worn footsteps of their medieval forbears. By that place stood Saxon missionaries, reformers and puritans.


I like old churches. They remind us that godliness is not something new; it's as much a part of human experience as wanting food or retiring to bed. Whether a worshipping people gather in an ancient parish church, a Georgian chapel, a modern community centre or someone’s front room- it matters not. The Greek word for church is ecclesia, and means a gathering or assembly, rather than a building or hallowed space

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Hebrews 10:25