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 1914.
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.
Grave Transcriptions by Plots
Saint Bartholomew's Grave yard, Accrington Reference Library.
Parish Jubilee of Rishton 1927