Recent History

The area served by the church was gradually reduced from 1788 when St John’s, Bacup was built followed by St Mary’s, Rawtenstall in 1838, Holy Trinity, Tunstead in 1840 and St Michael’s Lumb, in 1846, and Christ Church, Bacup in 1854. St James’s Church in Waterfoot which was built in 1863 and consecrated in 1865, also took a portion of the parish of Newchurch and the parish of Waterfoot came into being. Further parts were lost to the parish of St Anne, Edgeside by Order in Council 31st Dec 1886 and to St John, Cloughfold by Order in Council 25th March 1887.

The parishes of St Nicholas and St John merged by Order in Council 24th May 1973. On the 24th February 1985, the Right Reverend Stanley, Bishop of Manchester consented to St John’s, Cloughfold, merging with St Nicholas to form a new benefice belonging to the archdeaconry of Bolton, whose first incumbent was the Rev’d Alan Trevor Toombs. Her Majesty gave permission for this to occur on the 20th March 1985.

St Michael’s Church, Lumb, was also incorporated into the parish of St Nicholas and St John in 1985. It was made redundant on December 1st. 2001. The nearby church of St James, Waterfoot, closed on 22nd. November 1998 and parts of the parish were incorporated into St Nicholas, Newchurch and St Anne’s, Edgeside. The stations of the cross, the sanctuary bell and six high altar candlesticks were relocated from St James to St Nicholas.  The bells from St James's Church were relocated to the belfry of St Barnabus Church in Penny Lane, Liverpool in 2008.  Most of the stained glass from St John's Church at Cloughfold was relocated to Vancouver Cathedral in Canada.[no date is available for this]

A Narthex was created in the church in 1973 to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the building of the present church, and the font was relocated at the same time at the West end. On July 8th 1976 it was proposed to erect a Flagstaff to the side of the main entrance in memory of one Susan Holmes. Only the base fitting now remains.

By Order of Council on the 17th May 2000 the benefice of St Anne’s, Edgeside and that of the benefice of Newchurch were united to create a new benefice called “The Benefice of Rossendale Middle Valley”, belonging to the archdeaconry of Bolton and the deanery of Rossendale. It was at this time that the present team ministry was established with a team Rector and a team Vicar.

 The present day church underwent extensive repairs under the supervision of the architect Graham D Holland of Knutsford, Cheshire in 1986, to remove the ravages of dry rot and render the church weatherproof. A new architect, Mr John Pritchard of Lloyd, Evans and Pritchard of Manchester, was engaged on the 19th September 1999 to oversee the releading of the tower roof and reroofing of the nave.  In 2009 the church narthex was extended to create a larger community space and a new kitchen was installed, through the generosity of the Laura Jane Moore bequest and the giving of the congregation.  The balconies and organ casing were given an oak grained finish and a new floor was created over the narthex.

 On the 9th May 2003 the church was granted Listed Building 2* status. [ Ref: SD83422233 : 255/6/174 : 7/6/71 ] It was informed by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, having consulted with the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England, on the 14th May. The building is recognized to be of special architectural and historic interest having a ‘Special atmosphere enhanced by rich fittings especially in the later chancel.’

Parish Church records of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials are available from 1653 although many are now located in the Manchester Central Library Archives Department where they were relocated in the Diocesan Record Section in January 1982. by the Rev. A Toombs.


Parish Registers

There are several places where access to the parish registers can be obtained. The Church holds all of the most recent registers from about 1850 which are fairly easy to read. There is a standard charge of £19.00 levied by the Church of England for access to the registers and the location of graves. Unmarked graves can take a couple of hours to locate and even then it might prove impossible to locate as the very old grave yard was grassed over some years ago and many of the gravestones were relocated.

 Photocopies of any entry can be produced within the church. Researchers are advised to note the opening times of the Church as someone will always be available before / after each service. All the year round, the Church is open every Sunday from 9.30am - 12.15pm. and Wednesday from 9.45 –11.30pm. Outside these hours contact needs to be made with the Vicar.  The church is also open when it is running activities such as Jolly Tots and Monday Club - see calendar for dates and times.

 The Lancashire Online Parish Clerk Project will have copies of most of the records and some of the early ones: 1653-1723 which were written on parchment, have been transcribed and are now on computer disc—this is probably the best way of quickly identifying a record, as they are difficult to read from the original parchment. They can be contacted via the link below. The Church has a record of all the monument inscriptions in the church and the churchyard.

 The local library in Rawtenstall have microfiche copies of most if not all of the original registers and these can be viewed free of charge at the library. The very old original parchment copies of the church records can be viewed on request in the Diocesan section of Manchester Central Library but many will require the use of UV light and a magnifying glass to read.

 Rawtenstall library has parish registers on microfiche

with the following dates:

1606-8; 1616; 1618; 1621-23; 1624; 1626-27; 1629-31; 1633-36; 1638; 1640-41; 1658-61; 1663; 1665-75; 1677; 1678-88; 1690-96; 1700-20; 1721-35; 1736-39; 1745-47; 1748-49; 1750-51; 1753-59; 1761-75; 1753-59; 1761-75; 1776-90; 1791-1803.

 Other reels cover baptisms, marriage and burials from 1723. Records are also available for St Michael’s Church—Lumb, St James Church –Waterfoot and St John’s Church-Lower Cloughfold.

A large number of the records have been checked and published by The Lancashire Parish Register Society through the work of Dr Craig W Thornber, BSc, PhD, C.Chem. FRSC, particularly the years 1606-1722.  This is a valuable work and particularly well done, and is to be recommended. 

ISBN: 978-1-85445-167-5

Further Enquiries to the aforementioned society.

Most of the records for the church and others in the area, can also be obtained FREE ON LINE from the Lancashire On Line Parish Clerk Project.

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