IT is one of only two Grade One listed buildings in the borough of Blackburn and next month it will celebrate its 200th anniversary.

The church of St Mary and St John the Baptist to give it its full title was opened on August 24, 1819 and 200 years later to the day, a special celebratory Mass will be held followed by a buffet lunch at St Bede’s School.

The story of one of East Lancashire’s most recognisable buildings has been told in A History of Pleasington Priory by Stephen Martin Child which was published in 2010 but which is still available to buy.

The foundation stone for the priory was laid on June 6, 1816. It was the gift of the then squire of Pleasington Hall, John Francis Butler.

He had a serious accident falling from his horse and by way of thanks for his survival he resolved to erect a church on the site of the accident.

Architect John Palmer was commissioned to build the church at a cost of around £20,000. Within his design he managed to incorporate every form of architecture from Early English to Regency Gothic.

Compared to modern building projects, the number of people involved in constructing the church was remarkably small - just one sculptor (Thomas Owen), three stone workers, four builders, two labourers and two carters to complete an ornate building 115 feet long, 48 feet wide and 86 feet high.

The magnificent stained glass windows, which are a main feature of the church, were donated in 1913 by Canon John A Burke, parish priest of St Mary’s Church, Islington, Blackburn.

In 1961, the Priory was in need of major repairs which would cost around £30,000. The parish priest at the time said it was too much money to spend on a church when the majority of people attended Mass in nearby Cherry Tree or Feniscowles.

Initially facing demolition, a protection order was put on the building, and in 1990 the re-ordering of the Priory began with the original stonework being exposed after faulty plaster was removed, a central column at the back of the church was taken out and a new altar was constructed creating the Priory as we know it today.