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The Roman Catholic Church of St James the Less, Rawtenstall
in the County of
-- Lancashire --

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The Roman Catholic Church of St James the Less, Rawtenstall
The Roman Catholic Church of St James the Less, Rawtenstall

In 1828 the nearest Catholic Church to Rossendale was at Towneley Hall in Burnley. Although there were already a few Catholic families in Rossendale (23 were recorded in 1820) their number had been augmented by Catholic families moving to the area from Manchester. The reason for their arrival was a prolonged dispute at the Sunnyside Works in Crawshawbooth as a result of which the mill owner imported a number of operators from Manchester in order to maintain production. Finding that the nearest church was seven miles away they approached the mill owner, Mr John Brooks, who offered them the use of a room in his works if the priest from Towneley could be brought to say Mass. From this time -1828 to 1833- visits, more or less regular, were made by priests who would travel on horseback from Burnley (among them was Father Charles Lupton chaplain to the Towneleys of Towneley Hall) or, occasionally from Bury.

In 1836 through the generosity of John Brooks Rossendale acquired its first Catholic chapel and, at the same time, its first resident priest. The priest was Fr. James Carr and the chapel was what was known as the Old Counting House, a small building near the Sunnyside Print Works in Crawshawbooth at the bottom of Pinner Lane.

By Christmas 1842 finding his congregation increasing Fr. Ryland, with the approval of the Bishop, set about obtaining land for the building of a church at Constablelee. This was to be the present St. James the Less and Constablelee was chosen as being in a more central position. Money and land for the project was raised with the help of prominent Catholics in the area, foremost of whom were probably Nathaniel and Mary Booth.

The ceremony of dedication was held on Wednesday 24th September 1845 and entry was by ticket only at a cost of 2/6 (12½p) per head - a considerable sum in those days. The money raised from the occasion was used to defray part of the cost of building. Following the dedication ceremony the first public Mass in the church was held on Sunday 28th September.

For more details, see the Church website.

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