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St James' Church, Haslingden
St John's Church, Bacup
St Mary's, Church Rawtenstall
St Nicholas Parish Church, Newchurch
St Nicholas Parish Church
Church Lane, Newchurch

In a decree of the Chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster dated 1550 there refers to the Church and people of Newchurch the following passage:

"Forasmuch as the Castle and Church of Clitheroe, being their parish Church, is twelve miles from the said forest, and the way leading between the said parish Church and the Forest is very foul, painful and hillous, and the country in the winter season is so extremely and vehemently cold, that the children and young infants in that time of the year, being borne to the church to be christened are in great peril of their lives, and almost starved with cold: the aged and impotent persons, and women great with child are not able to travel so far to hear the word of God, &c. and the dead corpses there are like to lie and remain unburied for lack of carriage….. the inhabitants of the Forest, about thirty-eight years past, or thereabouts , at their own proper cost and charges, made a chapel of ease in the Forest of Rossendale."

In the beginning

In 1507 King Henry VII decreed that the Royal hunting forest of Rossendale should be deforested (opened up for habitation and cultivation). And as the population of the area started to increase the inhabitants soon required a church of their own rather than travel to Clitheroe, which was the main church for the vast parish of Whalley. So in 1511 a site was selected at Mitchell Field Nook but according to legend the stone collected there on three successive nights was mysteriously removed to the present site on the slopes of Seat Naze by unseen hands. This was seen as supernatural intervention and the site of the Church was altered accordingly. There were also settlers at Higher Tunstead and it was also proposed to build the Church there. It is probably nearer the truth that the best building stone was at Seat Naze, and the cost of transport would be less if the Church was built on that spot. Little is known of the original Church though it was probably a temporary one and was rebuilt in 1561. This church, with an enlargement in 1753 served until the present church was built in 1826.

The present Church

The old Church was showing the ravages of time by the early eighteen hundreds and in 1821 the roof of the Church was in serious danger of collapse. At this time the parish of Newchurch covered all of Rawtenstall, apart from the parish of Goodshaw, and had a population of over five and a half thousand people. With the Church only able to seat eight hundred and fifty persons it was decided build a new structure. The old Church ceased to be used in March 1824 when a licence was issued to hold Divine Services at the old Grammar School in Turnpike. The old building was pulled down and on November the 11th 1825 the foundation stone for the new Church was laid. The new Church, which had cost £2,500 inclusive of the new organ and capable of holding 1350 persons, was ready for use by March 1826 and the first service was held on Easter Day. The consecration took place on Tuesday the 12th of September 1826 and the Church, which had previously been know as the Chapel of our Saviour or Holy Trinity was dedicated to St Nicholas, doubtless to perpetuate the memory of the Rev. Nicholas Rigbye Baldwin who was incumbent of Newchurch until his death in 1824.

Parish registers The following registers are held at Manchester Diocese Archives, Manchester Central Library, and at Rawtenstall Library, Local Studies Department.

 
Format type at Rawtenstall Library
 
 Baptisms 1653 - 1723 Lancashire Parish Register Society transcript Vol. 45  
 Marriages 1653 - 1723 Lancashire Parish Register Society transcript Vol. 45 
 
The above volume has been re-issued by the Lancashire Parish Register Society as Vol 45a (published 2010) covering the years 1606 to 1722 and now includes Baptisms, Marriages and Burials - not yet available at Rawtenstall Library.
 
 Baptisms 1723 - 1950 Microfilm 
 Burials 1723 - 1970 Microfilm 
 Marriages 1723 - 1973 Microfilm 

The Vicars of Newchurch

 1511Rev. James Roberts1833Rev. Edward Burrow 
 1515Rev. Edward Tattersall1850Rev. J.B.Phillips 
 1521Rev. Stephen Smith1891Rev. Herbert Bury 
 1532Rev. George Gregory1896Rev. John Bennett 
 1548Rev. Henry Ramsbottom1906Rev. J.S.Addison 
 1548Rev. Lawrance Ashworth1920Rev. G.E.Knapp-Fisher 
 1592Rev. James Kershaw1928Rev. Maxwell Young 
 1622Rev. William Horrocks1942Rev. Stanley Lane 
 1646Rev. Robert Dewhurst1956Rev. G.Hamilton Richards 
 1662Rev. Thomas Sanders1957Rev. Francis Bennett 
 1695Rev. Thomas Leigh1961Rev. Frank Robinson 
 1726Rev. John Welsh1972Rev. John Titterington 
 1767Rev. John Shorrock1981Rev. Alan Toombs 
 1802Rev. Nicholas Baldwin1999Rev. Charles Ellis 
 1811Rev. David Rathbone2005Rev. Sue Davies 
 1825Rev. Philip Abbot2014Rev. Rosie Bowers 
   2016Rev. Penny King 
      
St Nicholas Church, Newchurch
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War Memorial