The church began its life in a small cottage on Springfield road in 1865. It remained here until work began on the church in 1870 at a cost of about £5,500 and made entirely from local stone. It was started as a mission by St. Paul’s which is the mother church of St Stephen’s.
St Stephen’s has been the subject of two interesting tales.
The first regarding the “ceremonial” trowel that was kept for performing the laying of the foundation stone disappeared and was not found for 80 years. It was discovered in an antique shop by two people who understood the inscription on the trowel and brought it back to Burnley where it was put on display in the church.
The second tale relates to the date that the church was supposed to be consecrated, as the original date was postponed. Whilst the postponement is unclear, what is known is that the Bishop had received a protest from the Town clerk against the consecration. A small matter of a sum of £222 for paving of Smalley Street was outstanding and the Town Clerk accused the church of owing the amount to Burnley Corporation. The town clerk was accused by the bishop of bring frivolous and dismissed his protest, which resulted in the Town Council passing a resolution.
The church’s stained glass windows are all dedicated to people synonymous with the church. The East Window was erected in 1880 in memory of Mary Parkinson. The great west window was replaced in 1920 and dedicated to those soldiers who died in the First World War.
In 1922 a new window was installed in memory of Mr John William Kneeshaw, who was schoolmaster for 37 years. It was to mark his service to as a schoolmaster, choir master and teacher and cost £120.
In 1929 the church celebrated its Golden jubilee and dedicated a jubilee window at a cost of £100.
St Stephen’s has undergone some major remedial works including dry rot which in 1861 had caused the supports and flooring of the aisle to be in danger of collapse. The church had to be closed for 3 weeks for repair, then again for 3 months in 1862 for rewiring and restoration.
Today the church holds various groups, clubs and family services.
For ex pupils or those interested in St Stephen’s School, here is a page dedicated to its history.