The Church of St Leonard, Balderstone
St Leonard (Balderstone) was originally founded as a Chapel of Ease to the Parish Church of Blackburn. Although no records regarding its foundation have been discovered; it is recorded that it dates from the reign of Henry VII (1485 – 1509) with 1504 being most frequently quoted.
Over the next 350 years, the condition of the chapel varied from ‘in need of maintenance’, through ‘decayed condition’, to ‘ almost ruined’, in fact one parishioner is on record as saying that by 1849 the condition of the chapel was so bad that on rainy days umbrellas were needed during service.
In 1833, the Independent Chapel at Mellor Brook (Mellor Brook being the main village within the parish of Balderstone),ceased as a place of worship and was purchased by the Church of England and subsequently licensed as a place of worship. Now called St Saviour, this chapel became the centre of worship for the parish until St Leonard at Balderstone was re-built in 1854. Religious services were carried out here until 1859 and at irregular periods for another 10 years after that. In 1869 it became the first village school.
In 1852 it was decided to apply for a faculty to replace the ‘Old Chapel’ with a ‘New Church’, this new edifice dedicated to St Leonard was consecrated in 1854.
The next 50 years brought the addition of several improvements to the structure i.e. the vestry, organ chamber, lych gate, baptistry and tower. The external appearance of the church has not altered since 1906 and visitors are captivated by the building and churchyard which are kept in pristine condition by a group of willing volunteers.
A memorial inside the church is dedicated to the parishioners who lost their lives in the two great wars.
Also available for those seeking more detailed publications are:-
1) Balderstone Remembers - dedicated to all who lost their lives in the two World Wars.
2) The History of St Leonard's, Balderstone - a 200 page A4 size fully comprehensive history of the church and its people.
Anyone interested either of these publications should contact the OPC direct via the email icon in the contents frame for details.