Preston’s first recorded place of worship was St Wilfrid’s, on the site of the current Preston Minster. During the 17th century the town played an important role in the development of non-conformist beliefs.
Despite anti-Catholic laws, Catholic worship continued in Preston and the locality. When anti-Catholic laws were repealed in the 18th century, Preston quickly became the predominant Catholic town in the North West. This was demonstrated in the triumphant Grade 1 listed St Walburge’s church, which has the third largest spire in the country – after Salisbury and Norwich’s cathedrals - and the tallest spire for a parish church. It also houses the Talbot Library.
Over the last 200 years, many new faiths have become established, making Preston one of the most diverse religious communities in the region. Key to that is the Avenham area, including not only St Wilfrid’s, but also the area’s first Hindu community, first mosque (Jamea) and first Sikh Gurdwara – the latter side by side on Clarendon Street.
Preston is also world famous as the home of Britain’s first Mormon Mission and Church, with nearby Chorley’s new centre named the Preston Temple to honour that, while the Gujarat Hindu Temple is the region’s largest Hindu temple.
Image: Lithograph of the former church, demolished in 1853, on the site of the current Preston Minster