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Church with no tower 1904
Image 1 - The Parish Church in 1904 with the tower incomplete.
Image 2 - Another early picture of the Church looking from Harwood Road.

In 1389 the parish church of Great Harwood was built and dedicated to Saint Bartholomew. It was rebuilt in 1507. The first protestant curate was “Sir” Richard Dean â€" the title being commonly given by courtesy to the clergy at that time.

In the 18th and early part of the 19th century, Rishton being an outlying part of the parish of Great Harwood, it was to the church of St. Bartholomew that the farmers and cottagers went on Sabbath days for religious services, and, before the time of cheap newspapers, to hear public announcements and learn something of the doings of the outer world. Here also they went for funerals, christenings and weddings. Carriages were not commonly used in these early times, and mourners and wedding guests walked in procession with, in the latter case, a fiddler, who was always a welcome figure on festive occasions, leading the way. “Harrod Oratory” was a great day. From hill and dale for miles round streams of people converged on Harwood Old Church and, after the service, partook of the hospitality of their Harwood friends. It was from the sale of refreshments in the churchyards to worshippers who came long distances to service on the day of the Patron Saint of their church that fairs originated. St. Bartholomew’s Day, the 24th of August, and Harwood fair fall, if not exactly on, near the same date.

Tower complete
Image 1 - A more modern look at the Church from Harwood Road.
Image 2 - (Used courtesy of Ron Grenier in Carolina) The back of the postcard reads: "Episcopal Church in Rishton. I was never in it"

(From 1819 to 1861 the Rev Robert Dobson was vicar of Great Harwood. His death was preceded by a long illness, during which the Rev Blamyre had charge of the parish. He was succeeded by the Rev W. M. Hazlewood, who was remembered by many of the older residents of Great Harwood and Rishton for some time after, and whose son was Coroner for N. E. Lancashire.

The Harwood clergy, with local help, kept alive Church work in Rishton. We hear of Sunday Schools, in which were taught reading and writing, being held in a room at the Flats â€" a group of cottages in a hollow formed by the Spaw Brook below Parker Street perhaps in the Card Hole, which was behind Rishton Mill, and in a room over a smithy near the junction of Blackburn and Harwood Roads. A temporary building was erected at the rear of the Harwood Road school, both men and women, so we are told, to save expense, acting as carriers of building materials.

Christmas BookmarkServices were held and addresses given in cottages, notably in that of Mr Charles Greenwood, and in one at Norden, which was recently pulled down because of its dangerous condition. Prominent among the lay helpers were Mssrs. Wm Riley and Thos Edmundson. Mr Hazlewood frequently took an evening service when the service at Harwood was held in the afternoon.

In 1861 the population reached 1,196, and though the cotton famine was casting its gloom over Lancashire, it was decided in 1863 to build a school church on the east side of Harwood Road. A committee was formed consisting of the Rev W M Hazlewood, Messrs C Parker, Ed Duckworth, John Anderson, Jas Haworth, Richard Grimshaw, John Duckworth, Thos Edmondson, Wm Riley, Jos Haydock, Lawrence Noble, and Dr Pilkington.

Inside the church 1906
 Inside the Church in 1906.

The instrumental part of the music was supplied by Mr Chris Boardman (cello), whose son and grandson became choirmaster and organist and Mr John Riding (violin). When a harmonium was installed the accompanist was Miss Grimshaw, who afterwards married the Rev Robert Whitehead MA, for many years the vicar of Ince. Mr John Heys, a cotton manufacturer at Spring mill, took great interest in the choir for many years, and was untiring in his efforts to maintain its efficiency.

What are now known as the boys rooms were built later by the voluntary labour of members of the Sunday School and Congregation. In Connection with this, the Rev George Steele, His Majesties Inspector of Schools, reports in 1870:-

“I am bound to mention the great zealous liberality which the inhabitants of the parish continue to show towards the school. New rooms for girls and infants are nearly completed. There are no rich people in the Parish, and the contributions in many instances have been time and labour given by stone masons and other workmen.”

In 1863 Mr Allott succeeded Mr Stocks, and efforts were soon set on foot for the building of a new church, for which a site had been secured. Mr Allott raised over £3,000, which included £1,000 given by F W Grafton of Broadoak Print works, Accrington, and of Heysham Hall, and at one time MP for the NE Division of Lancashire. The building committee consisted of Mssrs John Heys, Jas Hanson, Robert Bateson, John Bradley, Ed Eccles, Rich Grimshaw, John Mercer, and Robert Whitehead.

The Screed in the church in 2001.
Image 1 - The screed inside the Church in 2001.
The Church as seen from Station Road. (This picture is used courtesy of R. Grenier, Carolina) and the back of the card reads: "The Episcopal Church in Rishton cousin Martha lives quite near it"

The foundation stone was laid on the 16th May, 1864, by Mr W H Taylor of Clayton Le Moors. The school was licensed for divine service in 1866, and the Rev Wm Stocks was the first curate in charge.

(conflicting information found at this point, see next paragraph as well).

The Parish church foundation stone was laid on 24th May 1873 by F. W. Grafton, and was built by William Ramsbottom of Accrington, and designed by Taylor and Froggett, architects of Blackburn. The church was consecrated on the 14th June 1877, by Bishop Fraser, and dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul. Other sources seem to indicate that the contractors were Christopher Parker and Christopher Boardman, both of Rishton.

The church was built with 574 seats, costing £8,000, which were all donated to the church.

In 1866 the Church was licensed for divine worship. Stone from the local quarries was used to build the church but much of the labour involved was voluntary.

The Church roof was finished 9ft short of the intended height, giving the nave a stunted look. After 4 years the building was consecrated, and dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul on the 14th June 1877.

The tower at this time was only 45 ft tall. The final piece of the tower was added in 1904. This has taken it to its existing height of about 100ft.

1905 Postcard
Church Postcard from 1905.
The back of the postcard with the stamp franked "Rishton 1905".

Meanwhile Mr Allott had been succeeded by the Rev T. G. Horwood MA. In 1879 the Rev AS Prior B. D., became vicar, and during his residence a new infant school and vicarage were erected â€" the vicarage till this time being the house adjoining the school in Harwood Road.

Rishton Parish Church Damatic Society
Rishton Parish Church Dramatic Society, date unknown. (Picture supplied by Vivian Downing via email January 2010).

Mr Prior resigned, and the Rev Henry West B. A., became vicar in 1885. Mr West gave to the Church the new communion plate now in use, and on another occasion a handsome brass eagle lectern.

In 1888 an excellent three manual organ was built by Foster and Andrews, of Hull, at a cost of £600.00. The large East window was put in in memory of Thomas Haworth, of Manor House Farm, Tottleworth, whose brother, James Haworth, left money for this purpose. The church was also beautified throughout. Services during the alterations were held in Harwood Road school. Other stained windows have since been put in place in the church; one in memory of Richard and Alice Grimshaw, was given by their daughters, the subject of the design being the resurrection. Another window was given in memory of Henry and Grace Parker, and their daughter Ann, by their daughter Margaret, the subject being Christ blessing little children.

The Church bells
Image 1 - The peel of bells before fitting in 1905.
Image 2 - Inside the Church around 1970.

During Mr West’s vicariate the tower was completed at a cost of £1,400, IN 1905 but not in accordance with the original design. A fine peal of bells was hung and a clock placed in the tower. The clock has 3 faces, which can be lighted, and besides striking the hours, chimes the quarters with the Westminster chimes. It occupies an excellent position for public usefulness, and has proved an excellent timekeeper. It was given by Mr Robert Clayton J. P., C. C., to commemorate the coming of age of his son, Lieu Jonathon Maurice Clayton.

The bells were given by Miss Anderson, Mr James Hanson, Mr Thomas Haworth, Mr John Mawdsley (to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his marriage), the children of Mr Charles Bracewell (in his memory), Mrs J. E. Haworth (in memory of her brother, Mr Peter Wright Pickup), and Mr George Riley gave two in memory of his brothers. Mr Riley also left in his will £530.00 to be invested for the payment of the bell ringers. The bells and clock were dedicated on the 9th December 1905, by the Right Reverend Samuel Thornton, D. D., Assistant Bishop to the Diocese.

Mr West resigned the living in October 1906?, owing to the infirmities of age, after 21 years strenuous methodical work. On the 19th April, 1906, the Reverend Henry West retired after 50 years service, 21 of them at Rishton.

Completed Tower
Image 1 - The Church tower complete in 1904.
Image 2 - Another picture of the Church with the tower incomplete.

He was succeeded by the Rev Charles Harpur M. A., who was inducted on the 5th January 1907. In 1908 the church was beautifully redecorated by Mssrs. Cunliffe, of Blackburn. A “Girls Society” was formed by Mrs. Harpur, and a mothers class was instituted, in which are many earnest workers for the church, and to which we are indebted for the beautiful brass communion rail.

In 1911, Mr Robert Clayton gave a hydraulic engine, to make the organ independent of band blowing.

In 1913 the hand of death removed from among its many prominent members of our congregation â€"

  • Mr. H. Halstead (choirmaster),
  • Mrs. Harpur,
  • Mr. Wm. Haworth,
  • Mr. W. H. Parker (choirmaster),
  • Mr. W. T. Croft,
  • and others.

On the 21st December a beautiful stained window, in memory of Mrs Harpur, and subscribed for by the congregation, was unveiled by Mrs. T. Clayton. It is a representation of Dorcas, the woman who was full of good deeds and almsgiving.

On the same occasion a brass tablet, the gift of the clergy, Church officials, and past and present members of the choir, in memory of Mr. Halstead, who had been choirmaster for 18 years, was unveiled by the vicar.

Bell Chamber and Church
Image 1 - The church from Station Road.
Image 2 - The bell chamber in the Church.

A Surpliced choir which has added to the reverence and impressiveness of the service, was introduced on the 17th August 1913, and has made necessary the building of a choir vestry, which may also be used for the smaller meetings in connection with parish work, and towards which a considerable sum has already been promised, so that the work of erection will commence early this year (1914).

After the first World War, the South Transept was transformed into a memorial Chapel to commemorate the loss of those who gave their lives for the freedom of mankind.

The Council resolved that a letter should be addressed to the Parochial Church Council requesting the trimming of the trees around the Church tower which at present obscure the clock, on the 12th August 1943.

On the 17th November 1944, Rev W. I. Brown died age 60. He was the vicar at Rishton till 1943.

The proportion of the account rendered to the Parish Church Council, amounting to £7 7s. 0d., be written off, on the 22nd February 1945, as this sum refers to the felling of the tree which had obscured the Church clock and concerning which representations had been made by this Council in September 1943. Councillor Bridge was to inspect the timber which was removed in connection with the above work, in view of the apparently high cost.

The Church in 1909.

After the Second World War, a second memorial Tablet was dedicated in the Church.

The Council Clerk was instructed to write to the Parochial Church Council intimating that a tender had been received from Mr. J. A. Dobson for the electrical installation at the Parish Church Clock, which had been accepted by the Council on the 9th October 1947, for the sum of £21 10s. 0d., and requesting permission to proceed with the installation.

It was decided to consider the installation of additional lights behind the clock face on the 10th December 1953, by the Urban District Council, when the Estimates for 1954/5 are being prepared.

A tender of £7 7s. 0d. from the North Western Electricity Board for the installation of additional lighting was accepted on the 11th March 1954, the work to be proceeded with in the ensuing financial year.

On the 6th June 1972, Canon Ernest Southcott was appointed vicar of the church. Canon Southcott was the pioneer of the house/church system of worship. Those who remember Canon Southcott will remember his loud booming voice! A voice that once heard, is not easily forgotten, and he was very capable of being able to get any message across. He was a familiar figure on the streets on Rishton, always prepared to stop and talk to anyone from any demoniation.

In 1980 the vestry was extended to create a parish hall on the East Side of the church.

THE sound of bells rang out from the church for the first time in a decade on Sunday 4th October 1998.

Text for Newspaper cutting

The bell tower at St Peter and St Paul's Church on Blackburn Road, which was condemned as unsafe in 1988, was restored following a £18,000 fund-raising appeal.

Now the church, commonly known as Rishton Parish Church, started searching for people to form a regular band of bell ringers.

Church and Organ
Image 1 - The Church Organ in 2001.
Image 2 - The Church from Station Road.

The bells were silenced in 1988 after an inspection revealed the framework which supported them was unsafe and a new roof was needed on the bell tower.

The church was keen to repair the tower - but was forced to delay the work after dry rot was found in another part of the building.

An appeal for the bell work was launched in February 1997 and over 12 months the £18,000 was raised through donations and sponsored events, including a walk from Blackpool Tower to the church tower.

The vicar, Rev Paul Smith, said: "We got a firm in to do the professional work but quite a lot of people have done the donkey work which reduced the cost considerably." He added that without the efforts of parishioners the project would not have been possible.

"A group of people have put a great deal of enthusiasm and effort into it and it is because of that we have been able to do it. I would like to congratulate them for all they have done."

On the Sunday 5th October, the Bishop of Blackburn attended a special service to celebrate the restoration of the bells and members of the Lancashire Association of Change Ringers rang the bells afterwards.

The next step was for the church to build a bell-ringing team of its own.

Mr Smith said: "We really need our own regular band of ringers. It is an art and it needs practice and they need to be getting going now if they are to be ready for the millennium celebrations, when church bells across the country will be rung."

The Clock has also been restored to its former glory, and the tones can be heard throughout Rishton once more.

Church Interior 1924
The Church Interior from 1924.

Curates in Charge

TitleForenameSurnameServed FromServed ToDiedNotes
CurateW. R.Jones, L. D.    
Mr. ThompsonThursday, April 24, 1856Thursday, April 24, 1856 Weslyan Minister
ReverendWilliamStocksMonday, January 1, 1866Monday, December 31, 1866  
 J.AllottThursday, January 7, 1875Sunday, April 9, 1876  
ReverendT. G.Horwood, M.A.Monday, January 1, 1877Wednesday, December 31, 1879  
 E.BirchSunday, May 27, 1877Sunday, May 27, 1877 Vicar of Blackburn
Officiating MinisterP. M.Flinn B.A.Sunday, March 10, 1878Sunday, February 16, 1879 Curate of Trinity Church, Blackburn
 RobertMayallMonday, July 1, 1878Monday, July 1, 1878 Vicar of Over Darwen WWJ
Officiating MinisterH. F.GraySaturday, August 24, 1878Saturday, August 24, 1878  
Officiating MinisterH. S.WarleighSunday, September 8, 1878Sunday, September 8, 1878  
ReverendAlfred S.Prior, B.D.Wednesday, January 1, 1879Thursday, December 31, 1885  
Officiating MinisterAaronBernsteinSunday, January 19, 1879Sunday, January 19, 1879  
Officiating MinisterWilliamSharpSunday, August 3, 1879Sunday, August 3, 1879  
 ThomasWoodSunday, October 19, 1879Sunday, October 19, 1879 Curate of St. Pauls Blackburn
 C. W.MoffattSunday, May 2, 1880Sunday, May 2, 1880 Vicar of Holy Trinity, Blackburn
 J. A.RushtonSunday, July 25, 1880Sunday, July 25, 1880  
Officiating MinisterW. V.PalmerSunday, August 22, 1880Sunday, August 22, 1880  
Officiating MinisterJohnHowardSunday, August 29, 1880Sunday, May 15, 1881  
Officiating MinisterS.IngleSunday, September 19, 1880Sunday, September 19, 1880  
 J. B.BrownSunday, September 26, 1880Sunday, September 26, 1880  
 J.Place?Sunday, October 3, 1880Sunday, October 3, 1880  
Officiating MinisterEgbertHackingSunday, November 14, 1880Sunday, November 14, 1880  
 W.M.HaslewoodWednesday, May 25, 1881Wednesday, May 25, 1881 Vicar of Harwood
CuratePhilip E. N.SowerbySunday, June 19, 1881Wednesday, November 30, 1881  
Warden. Dr.JohnPatchettWednesday, November 16, 1881Wednesday, November 29, 1893  
 A. H.PriorSunday, January 29, 1882Sunday, January 29, 1882 Curate of Broseley, Salop.
CurateWilliam WatkinsJonesSunday, October 1, 1882Monday, May 2, 1887  
 T.Cooper M. A.Thursday, September 13, 1883Thursday, September 13, 1883 Vicar of St. Stephen's in the Bank
ReverendHenryWest, B.A.Thursday, January 1, 1885Tuesday, December 31, 1907  
CurateRichardTebbsTuesday, March 9, 1886Wednesday, June 29, 1887  
 GordonCoeSunday, May 30, 1886Sunday, May 30, 1886  
CurateNicholasBirkettSaturday, January 1, 1887Monday, December 31, 1894 Off. Minister from 1893.
Officiating MinisterRobertWhiteheadTuesday, August 2, 1887Wednesday, June 6, 1906 Vicar of Ince
Officiating MinisterThomas E.S.CatternsSunday, September 18, 1887Sunday, September 18, 1887  
 R. E.HardingWednesday, August 15, 1888Wednesday, August 15, 1888 Curate of Clayton le Moors
Officiating MinisterHerbertWestSunday, December 30, 1888Sunday, May 5, 1889  
Officiating MinisterW. W.PomeroySunday, August 23, 1891Sunday, August 23, 1891  
Warden. Dr. CraineTuesday, December 1, 1891Tuesday, December 1, 1891  
CurateThomasBucklyWednesday, March 16, 1892Wednesday, March 16, 1892 Curate of Clayton-le-Moors
CurateJohn F.FrenchWednesday, March 23, 1892Wednesday, August 25, 1897  
Officiating MinisterThomasEddlestonMonday, June 26, 1893Monday, June 26, 1893  
 E. AthertonRawstorneTuesday, August 28, 1894Tuesday, August 28, 1894  
Warden. Dr. StephenSunday, March 3, 1895Sunday, March 3, 1895  
 BoulbyHaslewoodSaturday, July 31, 1897Saturday, July 31, 1897 Vicar of Oswaldtwistle
CurateOwen FrancisWilliamsThursday, August 5, 1897Thursday, February 17, 1898  
 Thomas M.PlantMonday, February 21, 1898Monday, June 4, 1906 Curate of Christ Church Jarrow-on-Tyne
CurateF. W.BoumphreySaturday, August 13, 1898Monday, April 17, 1911  
 Arthur W.HoulkerSaturday, June 20, 1903Saturday, June 20, 1903 Curate of St. Bartholomew's Great Harwood
Officiating MinisterA.E.AllenSaturday, May 21, 1904Saturday, May 21, 1904  
 Ernest R.HayesSaturday, November 11, 1905Saturday, November 11, 1905 Assist. Priest Great Harwood
ReverendCharlesHarpur, M. A.Tuesday, January 1, 1907Wednesday, December 31, 1924  
 B.KenyonSaturday, May 29, 1909Saturday, May 29, 1909 Curate-in-Charge Holy Trinity Church Gresley
 J.A.WilsonSaturday, August 20, 1910Saturday, February 11, 1911 Minister of St. John's Gt. Harwood
Warden. Dr.JohnBarr, J.P.Thursday, December 31, 1914Thursday, December 31, 1914  
Warden. Mr.R. H.CatterallThursday, December 31, 1914Thursday, December 31, 1914  
Warden. Mr.WilliamBoardmanThursday, December 31, 1914Thursday, December 31, 1914  
Warden. Mr.ThomasClaytonThursday, December 31, 1914Thursday, December 31, 1914  
Warden. Mr.WilliamPickupThursday, December 31, 1914Thursday, December 31, 1914  
Warden. Mr.JohnWhittakerThursday, December 31, 1914Thursday, December 31, 1914  
Warden. Mr.RobertBatesonThursday, December 31, 1914Thursday, December 31, 1914  
Warden. Mr.W. R.WalmsleyThursday, December 31, 1914Thursday, December 31, 1914  
Warden. Mr.RichardGrimshawThursday, December 31, 1914Thursday, December 31, 1914  
Warden. Mr.ChristopherParkerThursday, December 31, 1914Thursday, December 31, 1914  
Warden. Mr.GeorgeBlackburnThursday, December 31, 1914Thursday, December 31, 1914  
ReverendW. IraBrownTuesday, January 1, 1924Friday, December 31, 1943Friday, November 17, 1944 
ReverendR.KirkhamFriday, January 1, 1943Friday, January 1, 1943  
CanonErnestSouthcottWednesday, June 7, 1972   
ReverendPaul AndrewSmithWednesday, January 1, 1986Thursday, April 1, 2004  
 MichaelWoodsSaturday, April 1, 2006Wednesday, January 1, 2020  
FatherChristopherHoldenFriday, January 1, 2016Sunday, February 14, 2021  
ReverendEdwardCarrMonday, November 8, 2021   


Vicar (RISHTON St Peter and St Paul), The Vicarage, Somerset Road, Rishton, Blackburn, BB1 4BP 01254 883 996


1939 Church Magazine
1963 Mothers Union
Panoramas from Church Tower
East Panorama
North Panorama
South Panorama
West Panorama
Christenings at the COEChristenings carried out at Saint Peter and Pauls Church from 1879.
MarriagesMarriages carried out at the Church of SS Peter and Pauls.
1914 Church Concert


Rishton remembered Kathleen Broderick.

Rishton Jubilee Year 1927 - Noble.

Lancashire Evening Telegraph, Saturday 03 October 1998.

A Brief History of Rishton - H. H. Cormack, 1914.

A Hyndburn Chronology by Paul Lanham.

A Chronology of Accrington and Men of Mark, by R. S. Crossley, Published 1924.

Council Minutes

Rishton On Record, the Festival of Britain 1951.

Picture used courtesy of Ron Grenier (Carolina, USA.)