In these times when few people have time for religion in their busy lives, it comes as welcome news that one of our local churches is thriving and celebrating a very special anniversary this year.
St Peter’s Church, on Harper’s Lane, Chorley, is planning a weekend of events to mark its 160th anniversary this month.
Back in the early part of the 19th century the population on the outskirts of Chorley was expanding rapidly.
There had been a Sunday School held in Botany Bay for some time, but as the numbers attending services continued to increase, the lack of a suitable church building became a real problem.
The Rector of Chorley, Rev James Streynsham Master MA and Rev M Sewell (later to become the first Vicar of St Peter’s) were encouraged to consider the prospect of building a new church.
The land where the church was to be sited was donated by Lady Susannah Hoghton of Astley Hall, who also donated the stone for the church from her quarry at ‘The Nab’.
The services of Mr Charles Reed of Liverpool were enlisted to design the building. Mr Reed was already known in the area for his work at Shaw Hill and the market at Lytham.
His design was in the early English style, with seating for 450 people.
The plans showed the church to have a nave, clerestory, two aisles, a chancel, north porch, vestry and a belfry turret at the west end of the north aisle.
In Charles Reed’s own words, he explained “The general effect is expected to be quaint and beautiful, while its elevated situation will make it a landmark from every side.”
The stone from the quarry was transported to the site by local farmers who charged nothing for their efforts and the final cost of the building was £2131-17s-10d!
The foundation stone was laid on 5th September 1849 and the project finished 18 months later.
The new church was formally consecrated on St Mark’s Day, April 25, 1851.
The ceremony began at 11.30am when the Right Rev James Prince Lee, the first Bishop of Manchester, was met at the door of the church by the Rector.
There was a procession around the church and graveyard before they entered the building for the formal proceedings.
The Rector’s wife presented some of the altar silver to the church which is still in use today, along with a silver gilt home communion set presented by Lady Hoghton.
To celebrate St Peter’s 150th Anniversary in 2001 a new organ was built for the church by David Wood of Huddersfield.
This year’s celebrations will take place over the weekend of May 7-8.
On Saturday afternoon there will be a children’s party held in the school hall from 3pm-5pm.
This will be followed in the evening, at 7.30pm, by a concert given by Rivington and Adlington Brass Band in the church.
Admission to both these events is by ticket only.
On Sunday at 10am there will be a Special Parade Service followed by a Jacob’s Join.
Tickets and further information about all these events are available from Anne Forrest on 01257 262334.