Merseyside has been one of the few parts of England where
a majority of the population are Roman Catholic.
The area was rural with sparse population
in the 16th century when the Reformation converted most of
the rest of the country to Protestantism. Poor communications
meant that the new ideas were taken up predominantly in the
population centres and "backwaters" such as this
area was left behind. The persecution of Catholics in the
urban areas led to a backlash against Protestantism in the
more rural parts, and local gentry in particular, took great
risks to remain loyal to the Catholic faith. The story of
how the Blundell family of Little Crosby suffered for their
faith is told in the excellent Squire's
This Catholic tradition was reinforced in
the late 19th century by an influx of Irish immigrants escaping
the potato famine.
Ss Peter and Paul was the first Catholic
Church in Crosby, and was built in 1826, 3 years before Catholic
emancipation. This church was quickly followed by others in
all parts of the borough - particularly worthy of note are
St Mary's in Little Crosby, the village where until recently
every inhabitant was Catholic; and St Helen's in Crosby town
centre which was rebuilt in 1973 and is probably the most
popular church in the area.