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 – the title being commonly given
by courtesy to the clergy at that time.
Picture used with permission from Great Harwood Website
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.
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 is still remembered by many of the older residents of Great
Harwood and Rishton, and whose son was Coroner for N. E. Lancashire in
In March1973 members of the church carried out a survey
of the churchyard before most of the headstones were moved prior to
landscaping. The area was divided into plots, each grave within a plot
numbered and the names on each headstone and tombstone recorded. From
these plot lists an alphabetical Index has been made from which
name, plot and grave number can be found. Taking the plot and grave number
to Transcriptions it's then possible to see all occupants of that
grave listed together. The same numbers can also be used to find the
position of the grave in the Plan.
Index to Graves Alphabetically
Grave Transcriptions by Plots
Saint Bartholomew's Grave yard, Accrington Reference Library.
Parish Jubilee of Rishton 1927