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

The death of his wife, Catherine, in 1917, prompted the family's gift of the font cover, one man's work over three years, illustrating Ephesians Chapter 6; 'Put on the whole armour of God'.

William Brooks lived at Long Whatton, but Marshall and his wife Florence stayed in Crawshawbooth. Marshall donated the pulpit, and, after William's death in 1929, set about the creation of the Lady Chapel to replace the rows of pews south of the chancel. He was most exacting in his require­ments, being well informed in the arts of wood and stone carving. Stories were told of his instructions to the craftsmen to give more roundness to the grapes on the altar rail, and, when the model of the Archangel Michael was produced for the Reredos, demanding that it should be less 'shut up'. Michael was a warrior; how could he fight in that attitude? "Give him space", said Brooks. A delicate screen in light oak divided the chapel from the transept, bearing the dedication to William. Consecration was on February 12th 1933 by the Bishops of Manchester (Dr. Warman) and Leicester (Dr. Bardsley).

Marshall's wife Florence died shortly afterwards, and in her memory he donated the canopied choir stalls, her nephews and nieces adding the organ screen and completing the overall design at the east end of the church. The detailed carving is again in light oak, in the early perpendicular style, the nine angels, although brightly painted, being also carved in oak. The Girls' Friendly Society, of which Florence Brooks had been the founder, donated the book cupboard, and it is worth noting that the east window at Goodshaw Parish Church too was jointly donated by Marshall Brooks and the Girls' Friendly Society in memory of this much loved lady. "To bring beauty to God's place of worship and her name to those who knew her not", were the words spoken at the dedication at St. John's in October 1935, the first service at which an Archbishop, Dr. William Temple of York, had officiated at a Rossendale church.

Both the Lady Chapel and the work in the choir were overseen by Austin and Paley, as the architects had been known since 1895, thus keeping the continuity of style. The church has been the recipient of many more gifts from its parishioners, all of which have blended with or been specially designed for its carefully supervised interior.

"After seeing St. John's", wrote Arthur Mee in his book on Lancashire, "we must agree with those who say our best museums are our parish churches, where art is still in use and living".

But the days of great gifts ended with the second world war, and after a brief revival in the 1950s, St. John's congregation, along with many others,

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