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New Jerusalem Church, Kearsley
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New Jerusalem Church, Kearsley, Lancashire

The following account was provided by Pauline Grimshaw, Treasurer and Registrar of New Jerusalem Church, assisted by Diane Vaughan, January 2010. Photographs and information about the church prior to 1908 come from 'A history of the New Jerusalem Church, Kearsley (1808-1908) by Mrs Robert Cooke. Published by Robert Cooke Limited (Farnworth) 1908'.

The Kearsley Society of the New Church began when Mr Thomas Seddon, who had received the doctrine of the New Church while at Bury, moved to Ringley around 1791 and held meetings in his own house for about 12 years. The gatherings increased in numbers so they moved to new premises at ‘The Meeting House’, Top o’th Brew, Ringley. The exact date of closure of the Ringley Meeting House is not known, but is thought to be around 1834 or 1835, although the last baptismal entry is dated 1831. Thomas Seddon and his son James, left Ringley in 1820 – emigrating to Frankford in Pennsylvania. James became the Rev James Seddon and ministered to New Church people there.

New Jerusalem Church, Kearsley 1837-1878
New Jerusalem Church, Kearsley 1837-1878

Contemporary with the Ringley group there was another society forming at Stonehill, Farnworth, which some from Ringley joined. The Stonehill group started around 1827, and by 1836 had begun a subscription to raise money for the erection of a church on ‘a most eligible plot of ground, in the township of Kearsley’. The whole cost is estimated at £400.

The first church at Kearsley was completed in 1837. At this time the Stonehill group seems to have split in two, some joined the church at Kearsley, but the Stonehill society continued to meet separately until 1876 when it finally merged with Kearsley.

In May 1838 it was decided to rent a piece of land at the back of the church, for the purpose of erecting a Sunday school, and 2 weeks later it was decided that ‘some portion of the church yard should forthwith be appropriated to the purposes of a burial ground’. In May 1840 the church was licensed for marriages.

A Day school was established around 1866 and by 1908 there were 314 scholars. The attendance at the church was increasing steadily, and plans for a larger building began around 1872. The new church was built at a cost of near £7,000 and dedicated on the 4th December 1878.

New Jerusalem Church, Kearsley 1878-1982
New Jerusalem Church, Kearsley 1878-1982
The chancel of New Jerusalem Church, Kearsley 1878-1982
The chancel of New Jerusalem Church, Kearsley 1878-1982

The Society suffered badly during WWI (see names on the memorial tablet listing). Keith Curtis was the only son of Rev A J Curtis, and he died only months afterwards. The Claxton brothers were all the sons of Rev W H Claxton.

Kearsley West Primary school was opened in 1912, and the New Jerusalem Day school closed. The premises were sold to Lancashire county council in 1919 as the cost of maintaining the building was too much for the church. There was a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ that the society could use the building which lasted until the 1950s. In 1954 a Building Fund was set up to enable the church to build a schoolroom/hall of their own, which was opened in 1958.

New Jerusalem Church altar, Kearsley 1987
New Jerusalem Church altar, Kearsley 1987
New Jerusalem Church, Kearsley 2010
New Jerusalem Church, Kearsley 2010

In 1967 notice was given that the new hall had to be demolished for the building of the M62 motorway – part of the old graveyard was under the roundabout for the Kearsley spur exit on to the A666 road. With the compensation, a new and bigger hall was opened in 1972 and used for many social occasions, but unfortunately was built with a flat roof. The road developments also split the church from half of its traditional intake area as even crossing the road became difficult.

The large church building from 1878 had dry rot and was pulled down in 1982 and rebuilt in 1983. The remains of the old building were landscaped into a ‘mound’ behind the cremation plots and some of the gravestones were placed around the mound. It now looks very nice, providing an oasis of green for the locality.

By 2002 the hall was very dilapidated due to rainwater leaking in, and as the congregation was declining a decision was made to demolish the hall and rebuild a smaller, more manageable building which was opened in 2007.

List of Ministers

Performed baptisms at Ringley:

TS Thomas Seddon
TG Thomas Gee
1839-1872 Rev Woodville Woodman
1873-1882 Rev Peter Ramage
1882-1892 Rev John Elstob
1894-1901 Rev George Meek
1901-1903 Rev S. H. Ferguson
1903-1912 Rev William Henry Claxton
1913-1915 Rev Richard Hooper Teed
1915-1918 Rev Arthur James Curtis
1919-1923 Rev Charles Ernest Newall
1923-1928 Rev Edwin Fieldhouse
1929-1936 Rev Thomas Hill
1936-1938 Rev George Brown
1939-1944 Rev Alan Grange
1947-1950 Rev Eustace Redman Goldsack
1953-1967 Rev Arthur John Hall
1972-1983 Rev Robert Arthur Gill
1983-1985 Rev William Alfred Grimshaw
1992-1997 Rev Brian John Presland
1997-2002 Rev Alan Lewin

Roll of Honour – Names on War Memorial Tablet

Charles Blower: Pte. 10th Loyal North Lancs, Killed at Cambrai, August 1916
Charles Barnaby: Tpr. Household Battalion 2nd Lifeguards, Killed in France, May 11th 1917
Louis Bernard Briercliffe: 2nd Lieut. R.F.A. Killed at Arras, March 31st 1917
Woodville Bowers: Pte. L.N.L. Killed in France July 21st 1917
Samuel Claxton: 2nd Lieut. H.A.C. Killed in France November 30th 1916
William Claxton: Pte. Middlesex Reg. Missing March 12th 1918
Benjamin Claxton: Pte. Rifle Brig. Killed in action September 10th 1918
James Claxton: Sgt. Coldstream Guards, Died at Bonn February 27th 1919
Keith Saxby Curtis: 2nd Lieut. Royal Warwick, Killed in Flanders, December 26th 1917
William Randolph Cooper: 2nd Lieut. LNL. Killed at Givenchy May 13th 1918
Wilfred Dawson: Pte. 6th Border Regt. Killed at Arras September 14th 1916
Harry Forshaw: Pte. 10th LNL Killed in France May 25th 1917
Robert B. Gee: Pte 1/4th Royal Berks Killed in France December 10th 1916
Harry Higson: Pte Royal Marine Light Infantry. Killed at Beaumont Hamel October 30th 1916
Walter Howe: Pte 6th Manchester Regt. Killed in Belgium Sept 25th 1917
Norman Hurst: Pte 11th RNL Killed in France December 1st 1918
Thomas Parkinson: Gnr R.F.A. Killed in France August 17th 1917
Arthur Partington: Pte 12th Manchester Reg. Killed in France November 5th 1918
Frank Arnold Royley: Pte 5th Dragoon Guards. Killed at Arras April 23rd 1917

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