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


The decline of the congregation in the 1970s caused a re-organisation of space and facilities within the church, but thankfully not as drastic as in some. In 1978, the fittings in the Lady Chapel were dismantled and re-erected in the nave. The altar was placed in front of the chancel steps, and the screen that separated the chapel from the transept used as a rood screen, a role it fitted surprisingly well. The choir stalls were 'swopped' for the front rows of pews, and the ceremony of the service brought forward into the midst of the congregation.

The Lady Chapel temporarily became a Parish Room, but has recently had a small altar and its dignity restored, the vestry on the north side now being the Sunday School and Choir Vestry.

The Reredos from the Lady Chapel, with the Archangels Michael, Raphael, Gabriel and Uriel, stands behind the font under the west window, but the poppy-headed pews brought by Marshall Brooks from Manchester Cathedral and referred to in older articles on St. John's were sold at this period to help finance the alterations.

Changes took place outside too. Water, no longer needed for industrial purposes, was released into the old culvert which became blocked and led to flooding at the west end of the church, as it found its way into the former mill lodge site. A new, open channel was constructed to take the stream directly to the river. About the same time, a drive-way was put in at the south east corner of the site, where the block-shop had once stood, allowing vehicular access to the church for the first time, and eliminating the problem of parking on the increasingly busy main road. It was the problems of policing traffic through the village in the 1970s that finally ended the Walking Days.

The 1980s brought difficult times. An outbreak of dry rot was discovered in the north of the chancel roof, and 16,000 was needed to treat it. Tribute must be paid to the members and friends of the church, some by that time living many miles away or becoming advanced in years, who helped to raise the money and eliminate the problem.

At the same time, the possibility arose of re-unification with the mother church at Goodshaw. The background to this lay in another link with the past. Sunnyside House, after passing from the Brooks family into the hands of other local businessmen, was bought by the Diocese of Manchester for a Conference House. Its superb setting, and an architecturally sympathetic extension, have helped it to fulfil its purpose admirably ever since its opening in 1965. Although it has its own small chapel, St. John's is always ready for use if required, and the church in return has access to the facilities at the house, thus keeping the historical connection very much alive and appreciated.

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