St John the Evangelist, Crawshawbooth - Centenary Booklet 1892 - 1992


Originally cattle dealers from Whalley, the Brooks settled in Crawshawbooth at the turn of the 18th century, first acquiring Sunnyside House and then adding Crawshaw Hall in 1831.

Despite the establishment of several non-conformist chapels, some very large, the Anglican community was still dependent on Goodshaw, which had had its mid 18th century church, holding 243 seats, upgraded by the Church Commissioners in 1828 to one with a further 424 places. After serving as a chapel to Haslingden Parish Church for many years, Goodshaw at last became a parish in 1849, and by the 1880s there were over 50 applicants for every pew vacancy.

Meanwhile, the Brooks family were rising in prestige. Thomas Brooks became High Sheriff of Lancashire in 1884 and was created Baron Crawshaw in 1892. Connections were established through marriage with many of the leading families in Lancashire, and into the hierarchy of the Conservative party. They had houses at Tarporley in Cheshire, and Long Whatton, Leicestershire, where the fourth Lord Crawshaw still lives today. In the 1890s their reputation and power was at its height; it was time for munificent gesture.

THE BUILDING

"For which of you intending to build a tower sitteth not down first and counteth the cost, . . . lest haply . . . all that behold it begin to mock him saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish'." Luke 14 v 28-30

In 1888, Thomas Brooks donated the land and 3,000 towards building a church in Crawshawbooth and a further 1,000 towards the endowment. The remainder was to be raised by public subscription and efforts in the district. This was not meanness on behalf of the Brooks, but in keeping with the policy of the age that things given were not appreciated as much as those worked for.

The foundation stones were laid with great ceremony on August 2nd, 1890, when 'an imposing procession of Masons in regalia, school children, neighbouring clergymen and visitors including the Marquis of Hartinglon (Rossendale's M.P.) made their way from the Assembly Rooms' after a sumptuous luncheon which included salmon, roast beef, chicken, duckling and stewed pigeon.

Lord Crawshaw laid one stone and Col. Le Gendre N. Starkie of Huntroyde, Padiham, laid a second with full Masonic Honours. In a cavity was laid a bottle containing copies of the Goodshaw Parish Almanac for 1890, the current edition of the 'Rossendale Free Press', other papers and coins of the realm. Predictably, rain began to fall before the ceremony was over.

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Reproduced by kind permission of St John's P.C.C. 1992