Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society

News and Views

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Jan 2011 Feb 2011 Mar 2011 Apr 2011 May 2011 Jun 2011
Jul 2011 Aug 2011 Sep 2011 Oct 2011 Nov 2011 Dec 2011
Sep 2011
Historians at the University of Central Lancashire plan to offer a range of events in autumn, 2012,
to explore Temperance history.
Dr Annemarie McAllister has asked for your assistance as outlined in the attached document.
Sat 17 Sep 2011
Historical tour of Chorley Unitarian Chapel by Doreen Jolly

Chorley Unitarian Chapel

Doreen Jolly gave a talk on the history of Chorley Unitarian Chapel on Park Street at the chapel on Saturday 17 September 2011.

Doreen’s talk covered the period from before the chapel was built in 1725, making it Chorley’s second oldest pace of worship, through to the 1960s. Her task of finding the chapel’s deeds set her off on the road of researching its history, which took her to Chorley Library, Lancashire Record Office, the chapel’s safe and its cellar.

Chorley Unitarian Chapel

Her story began in 1662 with the Act of Uniformity, which made it law that the Book of Common Prayer had to be used. The following years saw protestant dissenters persecuted for non-conforming.
Later in the 17th century an Abraham Crompton, a banker, bought Chorley Hall and its estate for £5,500 (over £400,000 in today’s money), which included the land the chapel was to be built on. Abraham sought permission from the Quarter Sessions to hold non-conformist meetings at the hall. When he died he left money for the construction of a Presbyterian church, which started the family’s long association with the chapel. When it was built in 1725 it was in a solitary position with none of the present properties yet built.

Chorley Unitarian Chapel interior view

Wide view of the Church as Doreen gives her presentation

One of the many fund raising tea parties. This one is about 1959

A late 1800s watercolour painting of the Chapel

Doreen referred to extracts from an 1891 book on non-conformist chapels in Lancashire that described its layout at that time, which had not changed since it was built. What you see today is due to works done in 1901 and the 1960’s from monies provided by Susan Crompton and Leonard Fairclough respectively.
Detailed records that Doreen researches also covered the construction of the nearby manse, which is now in private hands but has been carefully restored.

The nearby blue door goes nowhere.
The inside was blocked off during
renovations over 100 years ago

The Crompton grave plot

It was common for ministers to serve for many years and Doreen was able to give an insight into several of them right back to 1727. One of these was Rev. William Tate, father of Henry, who served from 1799 to 1836.

Rev A. Cobden Smith (1926-1931)
The man who had electricity  installed in the Manse,
School and Church

Rev Wm. Stephenson(1931-1952)

References to detailed minute books from the mid 19th century helped give an insight to the social importance of the chapel and the involvement of its congregation in raising funds through tea parties and charitable giving for the upkeep of the chapel, its grounds and heating.
Thanks to Doreen’s efforts and through her we were given an interesting insight into an important part of Chorley’s history that we did not know before.

Peter Robinson

The Manse, now a private residence

Sat 10 Sep 2011
Chorley Heritage Day - Chorley Cemetery tour by John Harrison

A cemetery is a place of burial other than a churchyard.

The churchyard traditionally was the most common and convenient place to be buried. The best known example of an early cemetery is perhaps Pere Lachaise in Paris. It has winding, tomb-lined avenues with well-constructed views of the landscaped cemetery. (Graves of Chopin, Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf and Jim Morrison.).
Most cemeteries up until the mid 19th century were privately owned by companies. They sought a profit and this was made from their charges. Most of the population could not afford such burials.
Cemeteries came to be seen as civic amenities, like parks, libraries, art galleries and museums. They were places worth visiting and a source of civic pride.
The population of Chorley had tripled in the first half of the 19th century. More people being born inevitably meant more people were dying. The churchyards were not big enough to cope and as the town was growing there wasn’t the space around to expand.
In 1853 it was reported that at the parish church of St. Lawrence the graveyard was “ so long used that the subsoil is full of human remains; bones and fragments of coffins constantly dug up when graves are dug. There are 150 burials per year.”

Robert Rawlinson (1810 - 1898)
the great sanitary reformer and civil engineer

There was increasing recognition nationally and locally that such levels of overcrowding were unhealthy.
Laws were starting to be passed by parliament on Nuisance Removal, contagious diseases and Public Health (1848). The debate in Chorley was about who should be responsible and enforce the laws. There was no council. What changed the picture was the 1853 report of Robert Rawlinson, a great sanitary reformer and civil engineer, whose father had been born in Chorley. He itemised the problems and set out a programme for improvement. As well as reporting on the lack of sewers, the lack of domestic water supply, and the problems of night soil, he said the churchyards were full and a cemetery was needed.

by the Smethurst family vault

The Chapel came in handy to shelter from a short rain shower

Action was demanded and the result was that Chorley was given an Improvement Commission which governed the town for almost 30 years.

Richard Jackson was appointed as Clerk to the Chorley Improvement Commission, equivalent to modern Chief Executive. He carried out the decisions of the Improvement Commissioners. His obituary also said that his influence on the Improvement Commission was largely beneficial to the inhabitants of the town. This included keeping the rates down, but also development of the cemetery.

James Derham was surveyor to the Improvement Commissioners. His work for the town over 30 years involved supervision of the construction of sewers and streets and their maintenance, designed by Robert Rawlinson. During Cotton Famine supervised public works, particularly opening out of Euxton Road and Butterworth Brow.

The Improvement Commission was established in 1853, but the Cemetery was only opened in 1857. Attention was given first to putting in a sewerage system in the town, and improving the water supply.
In May 1855 the site was identified and in July 1855 the Improvement Commission agreed to buy the land for £3100.

The Committee started to think about Cemetery Buildings and plans were commissioned for 3 chapels (Established Church, Catholic and Dissenters) and an entrance lodge. The plans for the buildings were produced by Robert Rawlinson although the Commission eventually chose plans for the lodge prepared by James Derham.
Tenders for the buildings were received in May 1856. Again there was haggling, but eventually Thomas Banks won the contract for the 3 chapels at £808.

Only Anglican chapel completed for the opening in January 1857. The surviving chapel was originally the RC Chapel described in Pevsner’s guide as “slightly crude composition with tall round-arched lancets and a detached NW tower of diminishing stages with a tiny stone spire.”
The lodge is a neat Elizabethan structure consisting of a parlour, office, kitchen, back kitchen, scullery and four bedrooms. The north wall is surmounted by iron palisades.

The laying out of the site was the responsibility of the surveyor James Derham. Derham was asked to consult a Mr. Gay of Bradford. The Undercliffe Cemetery, Bradford was laid out between 1852 and 1854.
The design of the cemetery grounds was prepared by William Gay (1814-91). He was one of the most imaginative and gifted cemetarians of the period. His layout incorporated his favourite devices of a promenade and a viewing platform. Gay used raised and sunken terraces to enhance the complexities of the landscape. The cemetery was seen as a civic amenity along with parks, museums and libraries. They were a thing of beauty, worth visiting for contemplation and relaxation and a source of civic pride. The Preston Chronicle in June 1856 wrote of “Views from the grounds towards the sea and the surrounding countryside is magnificent ... The laying of the roads and footpaths is very far from being completed but when finished they will have a very picturesque appearance, and will be creditable to the gentleman who designed them, viz. Mr. James Derham, surveyor and architect.

Sir Henry Flemming Hibbert (1850 - 1927)
He was MP for Chorley 1913 - 1918 and had
a key role in the 1903 Education Act

3 Jan 1857 Consecration and opening of Anglican part of Cemetery by the Bishop of Manchester and licensing of the chapel. 7 Jan 1857 First interment: George Humphreys age 5 of West Bank.

John Harrison

Fri 09 Sep 2011
Unveiling of the Lightoller plaque at Albany school, Chorley.

About 25 people, from various local groups, attended the unveiling of the Lightoller plaque at Albany school 9th Sept. 2011. The plaque was very generously provided by Chorley Civic Society and was unveiled by Lady Louise Patten, the grand daughter of Charles Herbert Lightoller. Born 30th March 1824 and died 8th December 1952. The plaque is situated near the site of Yarrow House, where the Lightoller family lived. Charles was christened at St. Laurences's church and attended Chorley Grammar school, until he went off to sea on a 4 year apprenticeship, at the age of 13. Lady Louise Patten has written a book entitled "Good as Gold" which expels lots of myths about the family. Following the unveiling everyone moved to St. Georges church where a very interesting and enlightening descriptive talk was given by Peter Jackson and David Horsefield, with little anecdotes added by Lady Louise.