Experts to delve into history of historic village church

The historic St Mary's Church in Newchurch-in-Pendle, with work taking place on the tower roof.

The historic St Mary's Church in Newchurch-in-Pendle, with work taking place on the tower roof.

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The lovely and ancient St Mary’s Church at Newchurch-in-Pendle has been given £81,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

It will fund an essential and exciting project by helping towards the cost of repairing the historical church’s tower roof, eradicating dry rot and repairing and reassembling the organ in their beautiful Grade II listed building.

The sign on the entrance to St Mary's, with the tower roof work going on behind.

The sign on the entrance to St Mary's, with the tower roof work going on behind.

Mr John Parsons, St Mary’s Parish Secretary, said: “The Parochial Church Council will – as a result of this grant – also be able to undertake further historical research, create a new booklet on the church’s history and redevelop the church website to allow access to church history and heritage.”

And he said: “Next year has been designated St Mary’s Church Heritage Year and a programme of activities has been organised to engage the public with the heritage of the church.

“This project will allow us to restore the fabric of St Mary’s Church so as to keep the heritage of the church alive for future generations. The historical research will help to find information about the church from its origins in 1250, some of which has become lost over time.

“What is known about the church and what is discovered as a result of research in 2016 will be shared in a new booklet and on the new church website.”

The ‘Cathedral in the Forest’ – St Mary’s Church – is an important part of our national heritage, partly due to its association with the Lancashire Witch Trials of 1612, but also due to its architectural interest and famous people interred in the graveyard

St Mary’s Parish Secretary

The programme will include an opening event there on Saturday, January 9th, with Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson attending. There will also be a Local Study Week for their two parish schools, a Guided Tour of St Mary’s, a Celebration Organ Recital and a final Thanksgiving Service and Open Day.

And Mr Parsons said: “The ‘Cathedral in the Forest’ – St Mary’s Church – is an important part of our national heritage, partly due to its association with the Lancashire Witch Trials of 1612, but also due to its architectural interest and famous people interred in the graveyard.

“St Mary’s Church is also one of the very few churches to still celebrate Rushbearing – an interesting part of our nation’s heritage.”

Pendle MP Mr Stephenson said in his letter of support to the Heritage Lottery Fund: “St Mary’s, Newchurch, is one of the oldest active churches in my constituency, with a history back in 1250 AD. Already a Grade II listed church, St Mary’s is an important part of Pendle’s heritage and community, not only as a place of worship but also through running local events.”

St Mary’s vicar, the Rev. John Hallows, said: “We are delighted that we have been successful in receiving a grant from Heritage Lottery Fund. It means that we can protect and maintain our church building for future generations.

“It is much valued by parishioners and visitors alike. The grant also gives us opportunities to research our history and to engage with our community in exciting ways, especially with our village schools. It will be an exciting year.”