In 1511, Henry VIII was King and Newchurch was a ‘Chapel of Ease’ to the Castle Chapel of St Michael, Clithero, in the Diocese of Chester served by the monks of Whalley Abbey which was situated within the parish of the parochial church of Clithero. The township of Newchurch stretched from Bacup to Rawtenstall with a population of about 1000 people. St Nicholas is the third church on the site. The first church was thought to be made of wood and erected in 1511, dedicated to the ‘Chapel of Our Saviour in Rossendale’.
In 1550, Edward VI was king when the inhabitants of Newchurch petitioned for the Church to receive the full rights of a Parish Church, which was granted.
It was rebuilt in stone in 1561 in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, and re-dedicated to the Holy Trinity—the octagonal stone columns with splayed caps, within the church, are thought to date from this time. A consecration stone in the porch bears the initials of Elizabeth 1 dated 1561 with the Royal Arms of England including French fleur-de-lys.
The present church dedicated to St Nicholas was started in 1824 and consecrated on the 12th September 1826 by the bishop of Chester—Dr Blomfield. A stone plaque over the West door is lettered and dated: GEO 1V REX 1825.
In 1512 Lettice Jackson left buildings and land to form the ‘Newchurch Chapelry Estate’, and this was able to pay the Rector’s Stipend each year for over 450 years! As late as 1960 it could still pay his stipend, but now all Priests are paid from a central fund managed by the Church Commissioners and the Diocese of Manchester, and supported by the Parish Share—a sum of money which each parish has to find each year towards the stipend of its priest and the running of the Diocese of Manchester. The Diocese of Manchester was established on 10th August 1847 by Order in Council.
There is a list of Rectors and Vicars of St Nicholas Church from 1511 recorded upon an oak tablet on the North Wall of the Church
|1511||James Roberts||1850||J. B. Phillips|
|1515||Edward Tattersall||1891||Herbert Bury|
|1521||Stephen Smith||1896||John Bennett|
|1532||George Gregory||1906||J. S. Addison|
|1548||Henry Ramsbottom||1920||G. E. Knapp-Fisher|
|1592||James Kershaw||1928||Maxwell Young|
|1622||William Horrocks||1942||Stanley Lane|
|1646||Robert Dewhurst||1956||G. Hamilton Richards|
|1662||Thomas Sanders||1957||Francis Bennett|
|1695||Thomas Leigh||1961||Frank Robinson|
|1726||John Welsh||1972||John Titterington|
|1767||John Shorrock||1973||Parish of St Nicholas and St John Established|
|1802||Nicholas Baldwin||1981||Alan Toombs|
|1811||David Rathbone||1985||Parish of St Nicholas with St John and St Michael established|
|1825||Philip Abbot||1999||Charles Ellis|
|1833||Edward Burrow||2005||Susan A Davies|
The original Parish Registers from 1853 to the present day are held by the Incumbent at the Church. Earlier records can be accessed at:-
Manchester Archives and Local Studies, Central Library
Baptisms-1654-1778- Archives L75
Baptisms-1778-1853- MFPR 200
Baptisms-1853-1890- MFPR 1756
Baptisms-1890-1952- MFPR 1757
Baptisms Tr.-1653-1723- 929.3272 N5
Baptisms Tr.-1723-1812- LPRS Transcript
Burials-1653-1761- Archives L75
Burials-1775-1848- MFPR 200
Burials-1848-1871- MFPR 1536
Burials-1871-1933- MFPR 1757
Burials Tr.-1653-1723- 929.3272 N5
Burials Tr.-1723-1809- LPRS Transcript
Marriage Idx.-1813-1837- Rossendale Fiche N4
Marriages-1654-1763- Archives L75
Marriages-1763-1845- MFPR 201
Marriages-1845-1864- MFPR 1535
Marriages-1864-1914- MFPR 1758
Marriages Tr.-1654-1723- 929.3272 N5
Marriages Tr.-1723-1774- LPRS Transcript
Microfiche Copies of Parish Registers 1606 to 1803
This historical compilation and the transcription of the Parish Registers would not have been possible without the help and assistance of the Revd Sue Davies, Area Dean and Team Vicar for St. Nicholas Church with St. John and St. Michael, Newchurch, together with her husband Rob Davies. They have provided invaluable help and assistance in giving me access to Parish Registers and Church archives. More information can be found on the St Nicholas website.