Hidden away on a winding lane in Lathom is the quaint, exquisitely beautiful and simple Chapel of St John the Divine where the Ormskirk and Bootle Group Carol Service is now regularly held. Built in 1500 by the first Earl of Derby, Thomas Stanley, as a chantry for the repose of his soul by 11 beadsmen both during his lifetime and beyond.
Its simple internal decoration survived Cromwell’s local sieges due to the congregation hiding the internal decorative woodwork until the restoration of King Charles II to the throne in 1660. In 1810 the chapel and lodgings were restored into the current almshouses for the benefit of distressed locals, again by the Stanley family at a cost of £1,200, many of whom are interred in their nearby burial vault.
The celebration of Christ’s birth was well attended with alternate lessons and carols reminiscent of infant school days consisting of beautiful renditions of; Once in Royal David’s City, In the Bleak Midwinter, Away in a Manger, While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks by Night, Oh Little Town of Bethlehem and Hark the Herald Angels Sing, which the congregation all sang out loud.
In between each song was the nine lessons read by: Frank Umbers, Graham Chambers, Mrs Diane Hampson, Malcolm Alexander, Richard Jones, Christopher German, Ann Chambers, Stephen Dunn and The Reverend Jeanette Griffiths
There was a singing of the closing ode and a collection which was divided equally for the benefit of both the Tithebarn Nursing home and Lathom Chapel. The service ended with raised spirits and lively conversation over generous servings of wine and mince pies.