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


Progress was not entirely smooth. A number of former workshops, used for block printing, woollen bleaching and a tannery, the 'Old Bark House' and a tall structure known as the 'Tottering Temple' had occupied the site, served by a small lodge which became the actual site of the church. Filling the lodge after draining included the sinking of bales of cotton to assist stability. Even so, the foundations went down to a considerable depth. During the work, in June 1890, a builder got into difficulties in the soft ground and was hurt by a falling bucket of cement. The week after the foundation stones were laid, a wooden crane collapsed, injuring three workmen but none seriously.

The cost inevitably rose above its original estimate, which in August 1890 had been 6,800. Just before completion, this was between 8,348 and 12,000. There was some doubt as to whether the building of the tower would be possible. A grand 'Italian Market and Bazaar' was held at the National School in July 1891 with the object of raising 2,000, and a further effort in June 1892 brought in 1,668 17s. 6d. Both in June and September, 1892, the Brooks opened up the grounds, and for a further fee their houses, at Sunnyside and Crawshaw Hall. Such events were a part of the life of many churches and chapels with ambitious building programmes, but St. John's must have been the envy of most, with its debts reduced to 451 16s. Od. at the time of completion. As a gesture of goodwill, the tower was completed by the generosity of Lady Crawshaw (in retrospect it seems unlikely that the Brooks could have failed to see it through) and by the time it was opened, the outside was exactly as we see it today.

THE ARCHITECTURE

"Have you not yet seen the new church, gentle reader? Then do so at once. It is a model of beauty..."
"A more picturesque site for a church does not exist in Rossendale."
Rossendale Free Press, Oct. 18th 1892

The church of St. John the Evangelist was consecrated by the Bishop of Manchester, Dr. Moorhouse, on October 25th, 1892, once more with all due pomp and ceremony, processions round the building and a celebration tea in the National School, which was itself later to form an important attribute to St. John's.

The local Press reported the event in contemporary rich Victorian prose, but the description of this impressive building set as it is amongst the trees does not, even by today's standards, seem excessive. From the moment plans were drawn up, it was clear that the result was to be well above average.

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