St Michael's originated as a chapel of ease to nearby St Andrew's, to cope with the rising population in the area.
St Walburge’s was designed by the architect Joseph Hansom and completed in 1854. It is one of the finest examples of a large mid 19th century urban Catholic church and was designated in 1950 as a Grade I listed building.
Designed in the revived 13th century French Gothic style, St Walburge’s is exceptionally rich in detail and of very fine architectural quality. Massive in scale, it is the largest (capacity: 1000) non cathedral Catholic church in the country. The elevation of St Walburge’s to a Shrine Church for Eucharistic devotion by the Bishop of Lancaster followed the 2014 arrival of the Canons of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (ICKSP).
St Walburge's was described as ‘one of the most extraordinary churches in Britain’ in The Faber Guide to Victorian Churches, 1990.
The symbolic, historic and artistic importance of this magnificent church cannot be overstated. There are finely carved altars, a colossal hammer beam roof with twentyfour carved wood and polychrome life sized statues of various saints. The spire, rising to 314 feet, is a major, unique attraction for visitors who can climb the 173 spiral steps to obtain a magnificent 360 degree view over Preston city and westwards to Blackpool and the Irish Sea coast. This view is even more dramatic on darker winter evenings with the myriad of lights below. An added attraction in the spire is the heaviest Swing Bell in Lancashire, which is still rung here three times a day to signal the start of services .
The Rose window in the church is an amazing 22 feet wide and still has the original Victorian stained glass. Similarly the War Memorial altar is a popular focus in our heritage tours. It commemorates 150 members of the parish who gave their lives in the Great War and is an important part of local history. Overall, St Walburge's is a nationally significant landmark Catholic church and a remarkable feat of 19th century design and construction, which is attracting an ever growing number of visitors, allowing our heritage to become better known and appreciated by the nation.