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September 2004 saw the emergence once more of a carnival/Procession through the streets of Rishton, the first one to be run 12 months later in August 2005, thus restarting a tradition in Rishton which had previously run for over a hundred years prior.

Rishton Festival Flyer 2005

Rishton has celebrated many historic moments with a procession through our streets, one of the earliest documented was the re-union festival of the 31st January 1914. A souvenir handbook being wrote by H. H. Cormack, one of this towns finer sons.

The idea of walking and praying goes back centuries and crosses all cultures and religions. Ancient Babylonians, Hindus, Greeks and Romans held prayerful processions. Christian monks used to walk from one cathedral city to another, praying along the journey.

Romans processed while invoking the deity over crops to discourage blight, a practice that was adapted by Christians. "We don't have a good grasp of the linkages along the way," says Gerald Ediger, associate professor of Christian history at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg, but the practice "becomes evident again in the Middle Ages."

Every spring, in the week before Ascension Day, called Rogation Week, parishioners would "beat the bounds" by walking the boundary of the parish, claiming it for God, asking God to bless the crops and telling evil spirits to keep out. "Rogation" is from the Latin rogatio ("to ask") and refers to a "solemn supplication consisting of the litany of the saints chanted on the three days before Ascension Day" (Canadian Oxford Dictionary).

Modern prayer walking is usually done without fanfare, but there are often links between it and more public processions such as March for Jesus. "March for Jesus grows out of a strongly restorationist and charismatic matrix in the U.K.," says Ediger, who has researched the movement's roots. "Prayer walking is a practice that is also associated with that kind of piety."

As a lead-up to the first March for Jesus a dozen years ago, a group prayer walked from the top of Scotland to the bottom of England, as well as across the country, forming a cross-like route, "as a way of sanctifying the land," says Ediger.

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.

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.

In 1937 the coronation of King George saw every mill in the town decorated with flags and decor, as well as shops all brightly displayed.

The Co-op regularly held a procession through the town, and many can still recall the Whit-Sunday parade.

One of the newer processions is Remembrance day, still celebrated to this day, now culminating on the car park adjoining the library and School Street.

King George VI Coronation

Fielding Street Party

This picture is from the Coronation of King George VI in 1937. The picture was taken in Fielding Street following a procession.

reading clockwise starting at the front left hand side:- Derek Aspin, Frank Watson, Clarence (laddie) Hurst, Jack Wolstenholme, Margaret Mayers, ??, Ian Finlay, Mrs Haworth, Mrs Hollister, Mr Hollister (use to light the Gas Lights in the street), Mrs Smith, Mrs Kerry, Mrs Butterworth, Jack Butterworth, Mrs Scoles, ??, ??, ??, Mrs Finley, Mrs Kenyon?, ??, Kenneth Wolstenholme, Raymond Kenyon, Florence Hollister, Alice Jolly, Brian Haworth, ??, Clive Haworth, Joyce Wolstenholme, Gloria Kerr, Esther Butterworth, Donald Smith?.

Many thanks to Frank Watson for remembering so many names! Can anyone fill in the question marks that Franks memory has failed him on?

High Street

All the children at the time were presented with a dark blue blazer with red, white, and blue piping. These were gratefully received by the parents as work was poor and many were ‘playing for beams’, which meant working all week with one or two of the looms standing idle.

This is a photo of the 1937 procession through the town prior to the commencement of the street parties.

The Queens Coronation 1953

York Mill

York Mill on Livesey street is still standing today. Used by several small companies the mill has been divided up into smaller sectors.

Here we see the mill dressed up suitably for the occasion.

For More Information

Prayer Walking: Praying On Site with Insight, by Graham Kendrick and Steve Hawthorne (Creation House, 1993) is one of the most popular books on the modern phenomenon of prayer walking.

Other helpful websites include:

grahamkendrick.co.uk
waymakers.org (Steve Hawthorne's site)
globalharvest.org (C. Peter Wagner's site)

Additional related stories:

Prayer Walking, Prayer Journeys and Prayer Expeditions: What's the Difference? (No longer available http://www.christianity.ca/church/intercession/2003/08.001.html)

A Short History of Processions, Pilgrimages and Prayer Walks (Page no longer available - http://www.christianity.ca/church/intercession/2003/08.002.html)

References