The Church St Leonard’s is a Grade II* listed building. A chapel belonging to the church at Blackburn is mentioned in the deed of Henry de Lacey of c1166, and in 1228 was among the lands in Blackburn parish transferred to the Cistercian monks of Stanlaw Abbey. Walton church was already dedicated to St Leonard, possesses it’s own churchyard, lands and tithes, although it was only to be created as an independent parish in 1837. It is steeped in local history as captured by Dr David Hunt, local historian, in his book “St Leonard Walton le Dale”. Little of the pre-reformation building survives away from the chancel and the tower. The nave has been rebuilt on a number of occasions. As early as 1503 Ralph Langton bequeathed 20 marks towards its rebuilding. In 1798 it was pulled down, transepts were added in 1816, with further work in 1855, before an extensive rebuild in 1904-06. It is probable that the chancel contains burials of the early Lords of Walton and there is a gravestone in memory of Samuel Crook, who was killed in a fight cum duel, which can still be seen.

The North Transept has now been developed into a more usable area to encourage families with children to join our services and generally improve our facilities as part of our Mission. This has been designed to keep families part of our worship whilst being located in a more child friendly and relaxed space for all the family. Although it still needs some finer touches, it is used regularly by families. We have also created a robing area for our choir, which is more accessible for them, and a cupboard designed specifically to store the altar cloths.

The tower has a peal of bells, which are rung on Sundays and can be requested for weddings. We have a group learning to ring the chimes and one person, who can not only ring the chimes but is learning to ring the bells, which more of us hope to do later in the year. The tower also houses our church clock. A new mechanism was fitted to the clock in June 2018 and it now adjusts itself in the Spring and Autumn when the clocks go forward and back respectively. We were plagued by birds nesting in the tower and causing a lot of damage, however, in April 2019, netting was fitted to deter and prevent further nesting, which appears to have been successful.

In October 2017, we had to replace the central heating boilers. We held various fund raising events. The most successful was a ‘talents’ scheme whereby everyone in church was given £10. They could keep it, return it or ‘grow’ it. The response was amazing and we raised more money than was needed.

The previous Quinquennial Report of May 2015, mentioned that 17 of the 22 stained glass windows were in need of repair. The PCC decided to repair and protect them or at least those most exposed to the elements. The electrical consumer units were replaced in early 2023. The wiring was inspected at the same time.

There is evidence of water ingress and there have been attempted break ins. It was estimated that we would need to raise a substantial sum, c£79,000. In order to raise this we need to engage with the community therefore, it was agreed to form the Friends of the Church of St Leonard (FOCSL). FOCSL have organised various events such as musical concerts with local bands and musicians, guest speakers, local historical walks and talks and plays by a local theatrical company. The work was stalled by Covid, however, the windows in the south transept, where the water ingress was severe were repaired and protected in 2023. Whilst undertaking this work it became evident that the water ingress was not only due to the windows, but the entire elevation needed repointing. The next phase is the windows in the Chancel and this work has been started.

All Health and Safety measures have been put in place. The church is inspected on a regular basis. We have two mobile ramps from the car park to the path, and from the path to the church in order to provide access for people with disabilities. We have a team of 6 volunteers who clean weekly. The church is open Monday to Friday, all day for private prayer or just to look around.

St Leonard’s Building

The large Old School is also a Grade 11 listed building. Unfortunately, the building was in very poor condition partly due to being the subject of criminal activity, such as break-ins and lead theft, which caused severe damage, and partly due to general wear and tear. The PCC took the decision to sell the building and a buyer has been found and the sale went through earlier this year. This does mean that we have lost our meeting area, therefore it was suggested to create an area within the church by replacing the pews in the south transept and installing a more practical form of seating. However, this has not been progressed as yet.

St Leonard’s Churchyard

The ‘old’ churchyard is closed and responsibility for the maintenance now falls to the Local Council. They come twice a year to mow the grass and tend the area. However, our team of groundsmen also maintain this area weekly during the summer months. The perimeter wall had fallen down in part and was bulging. In addition to this the pathways around the church were uneven, cracked and a health and safety risk. The Local Council accepted their responsibility to rebuild the perimeter wall to the south and west of the church and this work together with replacing the pathways was completed in 2016. The ‘new’ churchyard, including the Garden of Remembrance, is the responsibility of the PCC. As it is reaching capacity, we have approached the Diocese for additional land in order to extend the Garden of Remembrance.