The original chapel of 1180 forms the central section of the church. To this were added a North Aisle between 1280 -1300, and then a South Aisle and Tower in1300-80. The Bold Chantry was founded in 1406, but was rebuilt in 1855 at the expense of Henry Houghton Esq., a descendant of the Bold family who were the main benefactors of the church over many years.
The next addition to the church was Cuerdley Chapel in 1500. This was founded by William Smyth, Bishop of Lincoln, who was born in Farnworth (possibly in Peel House, the site of which is where the Territorial Army Barracks now stands in Peel House Lane) for the sole use of his tenants. Bishop Smyth was also the co- founder of Brasenose College, Oxford, in addition to establishing Farnworth Grammar School in 1507 – the first such school in the North West of England.
The next addition to the church was the South Door Porch, added during the 14th century. In the medieval period, services such as weddings often took place in the porch instead of the main church. The Chancel was extended in the 15th century, and during the restoration of 1894-5 the Vestry was added.
The church has some fine stained glass windows – The Old Baptistry Window is by William Morris & Co. The Tower Window,unfortunately partially obscured by the tower screen, is by Shrigley and Hunt of London and Lancaster. This company, although much reduced in size, was still in existence in 1982, when it ceased trading upon the death of owner Joseph Fisher. The Chancel Window is by the London firm of Messrs. Burlinson and Grylls.
The church of St. Luke was founded in 1180 as one of four chapels of ease for the parish of Prescot. Its original dedication was to the Anglo-Saxon saint, Wilfred. It has seen many changes and additions over the centuries. St. Luke’s is now surrounded by houses, but until the early 1960’s it was still in a semi-rural position with the churchyard backing onto fields where the Grosvenor Park estate now stands. The church is situated at the crossroads of three ancient routes: Coroner’s Lane, Pit Lane, and Farnworth Street (formerly Church Street).
In 1291, an attempt was made to sever the dependency of Farnworth Chapel from Prescot because the parishioners of Farnworth objected to paying for the repairs and maintenance of the church at Prescot as well as their own. Farnworth was first referred to as a “church” in 1323 and seem to have enjoyed almost full parochial rights. By 1431, the church was under the dependency of Halton Castle – we have documentary evidence of repair work carried out at this time. Oak from the forest of Northwood Park, Lower Whitley was used to repair the roof of the nave, the north and south aisles, and the tower. This roof was unfortunately removed during the refurbishment work of 1855 when a deal (fir or pine timber) roof was erected in its place.
The townships of Bold, Cronton, Appleton, Cuerdley, Ditton, and Penketh have all, at some stage, been included in the parish boundaries. The town of Widnes as we know it today did not exist until the 19th century. St. Luke’s for many years was the only place of worship in the area, and originally belonged to the Mercian Diocese of Lichfield. Following the Reformation, Farnworth became part of the newly-formed Diocese of Chester (1541). The church was re-dedicated to St. Luke in 1859, and in 1880 the parish moved to the care of the Diocese of Liverpool.
Farnworth’s registers of births, marriages and deaths are believed to be some of the earliest and most complete in the North of England.