Churchyard project will mark the sacrifice of more than 100 Nelson men killed in the First World War

The churchyard overlooking Pendle Hill
The churchyard overlooking Pendle Hill

A church project to commemorate Nelson men who fell in the First World War has won Heritage Lottery funding which will allow volunteers to shed more light on their sacrifice.

The Friends of St John’s Churchyard have received the grant of £8,300 to research the lives and service of those buried in the Barkerhouse Road churchyard, originally thought to be around 30 but now believed to be more than 100.

Awarded through the Heritage Lottery Fund’s First World War Then and Now programme, the project focused on generating a database of the casualties, researching and documenting their lives within the local community and creating a permanent memorial to these local men in the form of a garden enhanced by information boards.

Elaine Butterworth, secretary of the Friends group, said: "For a long time it was believed there were 33 war graves at the churchyard but we now think there are as many as 110, many of whom died on the Somme.

"The grant will allow us to research and create an online database on the lives of those men, and then create a permanent memorial to them.

"Following the Centenary year it is fitting that we acknowledge and remember their huge sacrifice and discover and share as much as we can about their lives and also those of their families left behind.

"The information gathered is digitally recorded and an on-line archive created which everyone can access and use The archive will allow the public to discuss, contribute, share and research information about the effects of the First World War on their local community."

A celebration will be held at St John's Church Centre on Saturday, July 20th, from 1-30pm to 4-30pm which will include tours of military graves, displays and re-enactments.

Another member of the Friends group, Kathleen Stewart, said: "We have discovered how the Great War affected our community and so we plan to provide a lasting memorial for our local heroes here in the churchyard at St John’s."

The Friends of St John’s churchyard are a very small independent community group who have been involved with the reclamation and restoration of the churchyard since 2005.