The present Church of St. Helen is a relatively modern structure, built between 1916 and 1926. It is presumed to be situated somewhere near the site of the early church.
Other religious buildings exist in the form of Windleshaw Chantry, known locally as the “abbey”, being a tiny chantry chapel founded about 1453 by Sir Thomas Gerard to provide a place to celebrate mass for the souls of the Gerard family.
Nearer the centre of the town is the supposedly seventeenth century listed building of the Society of Friends Meeting House, described as being the oldest meeting house still in use in the historic county of Lancashire. Modern research however may suggest that this building is of even greater antiquity.
St. Helens remained a small village until the Industrial Revolution radically altered its nature. Coal was first documented as being mined in Sutton in the sixteenth century though there is a possibility that pits had been dug in the area many years previously.
During the seventeenth century the plentiful supplies of coal were transported by pack-horse to provide fuel for the refining processes of the Cheshire rock salt industry and also other trades in Liverpool.
The nineteenth century also saw the arrival of “railway mania” and 1829 saw the “Rocket” win the famous Rainhill Trials in the south of the modern borough.
The twentieth century brought many changes especially with the loss of most of the town’s heavy industry and the closure of all the coal mines. Local government boundaries were also radically changed in 1974 when the old borough was enlarged and became St. Helens Metropolitan Borough .
This article copyright St Helens Council
More information is available on the history of the borough in St Helens Local History and Archives Library