The church's activities, history and buildings

Parish Boundary Map

After School Club

At the After School Club we provide facilities for children to play pool, engage in art and craft activities, role-play, construction or watch DVDs. We meet in the Parish Centre on weekdays. For further details, contact Bridget Sayer.

Bereavement Group

The group meets on the last Friday of every month 10.00 am to 11.30 am.

We are here to listen and for you to share. People can feel a great relief as they talk about their loss and their feelings within a group of people who may be experiencing similar feelings.

Our group provides a safe environment for you to come along for a cup of tea and be in the company of others who understand grief. Grief can leave us feeling isolated, angry, confused and experience feelings that we haven’t felt before. In our group, you can just be with people who care and understand what you may be going through.

Cath Ide 07494 773406.

Bible Reading Fellowship

In the wilderness, Jesus meditated on the Hebrew Scriptures which he had learned from childhood. The devil attacked where Jesus was strong, quoting the scriptures and applying them falsely. Jesus drew deeply on his memory and countered with other passages which kept his faith from failing.

There is a lesson here for us. Knowledge of the Bible is a good and holy thing. But knowledge of the scriptures must go hand in hand with a sensitive interpretation and an obedient heart.

The Bible Reading Fellowship offers a fresh devotional approach to Bible reading. The regular team of contributors is drawn from a wide range of backgrounds. New Daylight contains a Bible passage, a comment and a short prayer or reflection for each day. New Daylight notes the Sundays and special festivals from the Church Calendar to help readers appreciate the riches of the Christian year. Also included is the BRF magazine, with articles and book extracts reflecting BRF's core ministries: prayer and spirituality, discipleship and exploring the Bible.

If you would like to join and become a subscriber or sample the reading material, contact our representative here at St Thomas's: Maurice Unsworth (01253) 711335.

You can visit the BRF website here.


The BRF Prayer

Almighty God,
You have taught us that your word is a lamp for our feet
And a light for our path. Help us, and all who prayerfully
Read your word, to deepen our fellowship with each other
Through your love. And in so doing, may we come to know you
More fully, love you more truly, and follow more faithfully in
The steps of your son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with
You and the Holy Spirit, one God for evermore. Amen.

Blanket Knitters

Pictures courtesy of Rod Boyce.

Over the years, we have made over 1,900 blankets, both single and double size. There is a small group at Ashton Gardens' View apartments who get together to knit. One of our ladies, who is 96 years old, is making double blankets which comprise 80 knitted squares. Other items being knitted are woolly hats, children's cardigans and jumpers.

Finished batches are taken to International Aid Trust in Much Hoole. This is a Christian-based organisation which has agents in all parts of the world, and who request items such as blankets to alleviate need in their area of operation.

The blankets are transported abroad in lorries in large containers along with other items for distribution.

The recipients are in many situations: hospital wards, maternity clinics, children's homes, schools, holiday homes, nursing and rest homes, wherever a blanket is a welcome means of making life a little more bearable. Many of our own contributions we understand go to Kiev and the rest of the Ukraine, Belarus and other troubled countries in Eastern Europe.

Your thoughts and prayers for this work will assist, and if you want to join in, contact Mary Davidson.

Brownies

St Anne's Brownies (St Thomas's) is one section of Girl Guiding UK, with an aim to provide activities for girls aged 7-10 and have fun with games, crafts and community projects. Any girl 7 - 10 years can join with no restriction of faith, culture or nationality. Trained volunteers are cleared by Criminal Records Bureau checks.

Brownies meet weekly in the Parish Centre, term time only. For further details, contact Sue Allen (01253) 789718 or (01253) 720195.

Choir

At St Thomas's, the choir aims to encourage singing in church, to learn new material and enhance and enliven our services. We meet weekly in the Parish Centre to rehearse the hymns and anthems for the regular Sunday services, and occasionally, new material.

The choir consists of a dedicated group of adults and young people who enjoy singing. The ability to read music is not essential, though it does help. New recruits are very welcome, as are extra singers to form an augmented choir on special occasions and festivals. Please come and join us! For further details, contact our Music Director and Organist, Kevin Morgan (01253) 723370 .

Guides

4th St Anne's Guides (St Thomas's) is for girls aged 10 - 14 and is part of Girl Guiding UK - one of 600,000 members worldwide. There are activities indoors and outdoors which challenge Guides and often planned and delivered by the girls. These activities include games, crafts, cooking, challenges and community projects. Guides will also have opportunities to attend residential events both in the UK and abroad. Trained volunteers are cleared by Criminal Records Bureau checks.

Guides meet in the Parish Centre, weekly during school term time. For further details, contact Sue Allen (01253) 789718 or (01253) 720195.

House Group

The aims of the house group are to encourage each other in the faith, deepen our understanding of the Bible, help us to progress in discipleship and to enjoy each other's company.

We meet at the home of David Bennett, 39 Rossall Road, Ansdell, usually on the first Wednesday of the month.

We are currently basing our discussions on Bishop Jill's book "Lighting the Beacons" and looking at one chapter in each session with members reading that chapter prior to the meeting.

Parish Centre

The facilities consist of:

  • A large hall with a stage and a hatch to a fully fitted kitchen.

  • A small hall and a meeting room, also with a hatch to the kitchen.

  • Ladies' and Gents' toilets.

  • A toilet with facilities for the disabled.

  • Baby changing facilities.

  • Additional space upstairs.


Access is by steps and ramps and there is a large car park.

The running and maintenance of the Centre is the responsibility of a management committee.

A Parish Centre Booking Form and our Facilities and Terms and Conditions of Hire document are available to download from our Downloads page.

Parish History

Based on "A History and Description of St Thomas's Church, St Anne's-on-the-Sea," by A.J. Cave (Assistant Priest 1965 to 1968).

Additional material by Peter Watson (01253) 729725 .

Painting of St Thomas's Church by Tom Eccles, 2000

The Town of St Anne's-on-the-Sea

St Anne's-on-the-Sea is a 19th century planned town, officially founded on 31st March 1875. It was one of the first English towns to be built on a grid pattern. St Anne's absorbed the village of Kilgrimol, which is believed to have been founded by Vikings in around 900AD.

The Parish of St Thomas is the southern part of St Anne's and stretches from the sea front right back to Lytham Moss.

The Formation of the Parish

The Mission Church

Mission Church on 1911 map

The history of St Thomas Parish began in 1893. In that year, a Mission Church was built to serve as a Chapel of ease within the Parish of Heyhouses-on-the-Sea. That parish, in its turn had been formed out of the ancient Parish of Lytham in 1875, and from the dedication of its Parish Church to St Anne, the modern town of St Anne's takes its name.

The Mission Church was constructed of corrugated iron and wood and stood in Orchard Road, on the site now occupied by St Anne's Synagogue.

At Easter 1898 the Revd C.H. Ellison became Curate-in-charge and the present church was begun in 1900. Two years later, on 12th August, 1902, the Parish of St Thomas was formed and on 21st November in that year, the Revd C.H. Ellison was instituted and inducted as the first vicar.

The Building of the Church

Under construction

Plans were prepared by Messrs. Austin and Paley of Lancaster and a site was given by John Talbot Clifton, the Squire of Lytham.

The whole of the immediate area of the site was in those days covered by sand dunes, none of the houses in St Thomas's Road having been built. Work was begun in clearing and levelling the sand in 1898 and on 5th April, 1899 the foundation stone was laid.

Before the tower was added

It had been decided to build only part of the church consisting of chancel, vestries and as much of the nave as would accommodate about 400 people. So successful were the efforts to raise money for the Building Fund that it was decided to build rather more of the nave and increase the accommodation from 400 to 670. As the building now stands, this represents the first four bays of the nave. A careful observer will be able to detect marks on the top of the pillars of the fourth arches from the front of the church where a metal "stay" was fixed across these arches to take the strain during the time that a temporary west wall ran across the church at this point.

This part of the building was consecrated by the Rt Revd James Moorhouse, Bishop of Manchester, in whose diocese St Anne's then was, on June 22nd, 1900.

In October 1904 the completion of the rest of the building was undertaken. The two westward bays were added to the nave and the present west-end and the tower were built. These additions were dedicated a year later, in November 1905, by the Rt Revd E.A. Knox, Bishop of Manchester.

The 1904 extensions under construction

A Description of the Church

The church is built of red stock brick with window stonework in cream Yorkshire stone. The major arches, arcades and pillars are in red sandstone.

The main internal fittings are in oak whilst the pews are made from an unusually attractive brown pine.

Externally the noble tower provides a landmark to be seen for a considerable distance in this generally flat area. The tower is also unusually placed, being set away from the main building of the church to which it is joined by a short covered arcade.

The stone font was presented by the children of the parish in 1905. The fine carved oak and counter-balanced cover was added in 1930. The font stands in a noble setting with the great west window behind it, and is backed by a series of carved oak panels. On either side are the Wardens' stalls, also in carved oak.

The Chancel and Sanctuary

The Chancel

The chancel is divided from the nave by a wrought-iron screen erected in 1903 in the memory of Jean Watson Bagley. The floor of both the chancel and the sanctuary is covered by a very fine marble pavement laid out in 1930 in memory of Margaret Ada Mather. The furniture of the choir and the reredos are carved in oak. In the reredos, which in 1911 replaced the curtain that formerly hung behind the communion table, are eight figures of the northern saints. In the centre is a canopy containing angels. The whole is set upon an alabaster base.

The eight carved saints may be identified in the following order:

St Kentigern St Cuthbert St Columba St Chad
St Hilda St Etheldreda St Oswald St Aidan

The great east window was dedicated in July 1920 in memory of the men of the parish who fell in the Great War of 1914-1918. Their names are recorded on a tablet in the south aisle. The theme of the window is the Benedicite and study of the many features in it will reveal the symbols of earth and heaven, sea and sky, which that canticle calls upon to praise, and magnify the Lord. It is sometimes thought that the upper pinnacles of the reredos obscure the lower part of the window. That the designers of the window Messrs. James Powell and Sons allowed for this, will be seen during a walk round to the outside of the east end of the church, where a panel of plain glass moulded to the shape of the top of the reredos will be observed.

Other furniture in the sanctuary includes the Bishop's chair and also two oak standard candlesticks which were given in 1967 in memory of James John Upton, priest.

The Side Chapel

The Side Chapel

The small chapel at the east-end of the south aisle is dedicated in honour of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and is used for week-day services, prayer groups and other services when only a small number of people are present.

The chapel was originally dedicated in 1906, but was extended eastwards in 1911.

At either side of the east window are two pillars. They were originally candle holders which stood further forwards, to support riddel curtains, and were anchored by struts to the east wall, for greater stability.

Near this chapel stands an oak case containing the Book of Remembrance. In this book are recorded the names of those whose ashes are interred in the Garden of Remembrance on the south side of the church.

Also near here stands a splendid model of the church, constructed by the first Vicar, Canon C.H. Ellison. It is an accurate portrayal in every detail, both externally and internally of the church as it was before 1911.

The Organ

Built in the year 1905 by Hill and Sons, the instrument in St Thomas's church is a product of a period when this firm were producing instruments of unsurpassed tonal design, blend and balance. It is a well balanced three manual organ with an attractive oak case and possesses thirty-one stops and couplers and is equally satisfactory for service accompaniment and for recital purposes. The tonal resources available to the player make this a really outstanding instrument.

The Windows

In addition to the east window mentioned in an earlier paragraph, the church contains a great wealth of modern stained glass. The great west window has as its theme The Creation. It will be observed that in each of the six lower panels is an angel supporting a circle containing a symbol for each of the six days of God's creative work. This window comes aflame with brilliant colours as the sun is setting on a summer's evening. These colours are repeated in the two smaller windows which flank it on either side. The west window itself was given in memory of Robert Slater Boddington, a founder of St Thomas's Church and Churchwarden from 1900 to 1919, and of his wife Maud who died in 1931, whilst the two flanking windows commemorate members of the Neild family.

The remaining windows form part of a unified scheme and depict scenes from our Lord's life. Several of these windows have been given in memory of former parishioners, including the first window on the south side which commemorates those who gave their lives in the first World War, and the window immediately to the right of the tower entrance on the north side which is in memory of the first Vicar, Canon C.H. Ellison.

One other small window remains to be noted. This is the Music Window which can be found tucked away high up beside the organ loft. Among other musical symbols in this little window will be seen St Cecilia.

We have a booklet about the Stained Glass Windows. It costs £2 and can be bought inside the church when open for services.

The Parish Centre

The foundation stone of the Parish Centre was laid on 3rd July 1984 and it was officially opened on 17th March 1985. It replaced a wooden Church Hall which had been burnt down. Although in a modern style, its brick construction and tiled pitched roof blend in with the Church building to which it is attached. The architect who designed the Parish Centre was the late Derek Buckler, who was a Licensed Lay Minister at St Thomas's and a member of the Parochial Church Council for nearly 50 years. As part of the ceremonies connected with the opening of the Centre, each of the Sunday School children put something into a time capsule which was buried outside the main entrance.

St Thomas

Saint Thomas

Thomas, also called Judas Thomas Didymus or Jude Thomas Didymus, was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. The Gospels and Acts list this "twin" (Thomas means twin in Aramaic, as does Didymus in Greek) among the apostles. He is often known as "Doubting Thomas" because at first he refused to believe when the other apostles told him about the resurrection of Jesus. However, when Jesus appeared to Thomas he declared "My Lord and my God" and on this account, he is called Thomas the Believer. Thomas in St John's Gospel is portrayed as a loyal and thoughtful apostle. There is a tradition that he later founded a Christian church in India.

Parish Prayer Diary

Pastoral Care

Our Pastoral Care group meet regularly to pray and discuss the needs of our housebound and sick parishioners. Together we look after and care for members of our congregation who can no longer join us at regular services in church. Our Licensed Lay Ministers regularly take Communion to them at home.

Debbie Wood 07962 175263 is a member of the lay chaplaincy service at Blackpool Victoria Hospital where she visits both our own parishioners and others who are ill.

The Pastoral Care Co-ordinator is ; the Assistant Pastoral Care Co-ordinator is Peter Watson (01253) 729725, either of whom may be contacted about any Church members who are in need of visiting or home communion due to illness, hospitalisation or infirmity.

The Pastoral Care Team have produced our Pastoral Care Policy, which may be obtained from our Downloads page.

Pilates

Come and join us for Chair Fitness or Fitness Pilates. For dates and times see our Events page or phone 07962 175263.

Prayer Group

A time of prayer for the work of the church, held in the side chapel each month. See our Events page for forthcoming meetings.

Peter Watson (01253) 729725

Services We Hold

Our Sunday morning service is live-streamed on YouTube and is available there as a conventional video afterwards.

Sunday Morning Service on Sunday at 10.30 am

This is usually, though not always, a Holy Communion Service using material from the service book entitled Common Worship, with hymns and a sermon. The service lasts just over an hour. Coffee is served in the Parish Centre after the morning service.

Morning Service

All those who have been confirmed in the Church of England or who normally receive the bread and wine in their own church, of whatever denomination, are welcome to receive Communion. All others are welcome to come to the communion rail for a blessing. Those who are infirm may have Communion brought to them in their places.

We have a Noah's Ark Corner at the back of church containing books and jigsaws. Parents can sit here with very young children if they become restless during the service.

Holy Communion (said) on Thursday at 10.30 am

Celebrated using the same order as on Sunday mornings, but a quiet, shorter service.

Compline on Second and fourth Sunday at 7.00 pm

A short said service for the evening which lasts about 15 to 20 mins. It provides a time for quite reflection to round off the day.

Brick Church

Brick Church is held on an occasional basis to share the Good News of Jesus using story, prayer and brick building with plenty of time to talk with each other and have some fun.

Refreshments: Drinks and biscuits provided.

For further details, contact Joy Swarbrick .

Nursery Praise

This is a short service with stories and action songs aimed at pre-school nursery children. It is held usually on the second Wednesday of each half term. We invite and welcome our local nurseries and all parents, grandparents and carers with pre-school children. This service was set up by members of the congregation and is led by them. For further details contact Kath Asquith (01253) 367768.

Youth Group

Youth Group takes place on the last Friday of every month, 7.00 pm to 9.00 pm for Y6, Y7 and Y8 children. See our Events page for forthcoming meetings.

The activities are very ably run by our more senior young people, but of course we do also need plenty of adults around now that numbers are increasing, so if you feel you could help in any way do get in touch. It has been encouraging to see some of the parents offering to help out and clearly starting to feel a part of our church family by doing so. Please pray for this very important aspect of our church life and, as always, any ideas, suggestions or offers of help are very welcome!

The youth group is for members only. Please complete this form if your child is new to Youth Club and wants to attend. Alternatively, get in touch with Cath Ide 07876 681334

The side chapel inside the church is open for private prayer most days between 11.00 am and 5.00 pm. Access is via the small door facing Clifton Drive South.

Our Sunday morning service is live-streamed on YouTube and is available there as a conventional video afterwards.