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


With the second World War, austerity prevailed, and worse. In the parish magazine for November 1943 the Rev. Stanley Mitchell wrote; "The death ... of one associated with our church, brings home to us the realities of war. Day after day, relatives and friends are being informed of casualties ... we ought to remember them in our prayers".

The magazine also records that 50 baskets of fruit and flowers, taken by the children, were distributed to the sick and elderly after the Harvest Festival; the Mothers' Union was meeting regularly and the Girls' Friendly Society, Youth Fellowship and Church Fellowship all met with a full programme of events including film shows, record evenings and play readings. The church fulfilled a major social and morale-boosting role in the village as well as continuing its duty to the Diocese and Missionary work.

In 1949 a further nine names were added to the war memorial in the grounds, and an inscription carved into the stonework inside the church was dedicated to the fallen of both wars. It was unveiled by the Mayor of Rawtenstall, Councillor Alfred Peel, on Remembrance Sunday 1949, an event which must have been of great personal significance to him, as a life-long and active member of the church. As a youth, he had been the 'Bailiff of the Forest' in the 1921 Pageant, and in 1931 was Secretary of the Parochial Church Council, as well as leader in the Church Lads Brigade. It is from his notes on St. John's, and Crawshawbooth, that much of the village's history still survives.

Alfred Peel and his contemporaries were the 'younger lot' referred to in 1935. They did indeed take their responsibility seriously and the 1950s were the last of the 'good old days'. The 'young', by then the 'old' lot, were themselves sadly depleted by the 1960s.

A late reminder of the days of the war came on October 19th, 1958, with the 'Laying Up' of the flag of the Rawtenstall Branch of the British Legion at St. John's, both the Revs. St. John Smith and his successor A. Edwards having acted as their Padre.

Times were changing, and the activities of various church groups no longer held attraction. Competition from outside sources took its toll on St. John's along with many other churches. A further loss to the church was that of the school, which had been the centre of so many important events. It ceased to be 'Aided' and became 'Controlled' by Lancashire County Education Department in October 1962 and finally closed in 1972.

On October 28th, 1972, the 80th anniversary of the church was marked by the return, for the last time, of Canon Paton-Williams, who joked that on such an occasion it must be very rare for the preacher to be older than the church! It is a curious fact that many of St. John's vicars have lived to a respectable age. Paton-Williams was then 88.

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