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
Doreen Jolly gave a talk on the history of Chorley Unitarian
Chapel on Park Street at the chapel on Saturday 17 September
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
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)
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.
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
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
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
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
demanded and the result was that Chorley was given an
Improvement Commission which governed the town for almost 30
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
Fri 09 Sep 2011
Unveiling of the Lightoller plaque
at Albany school, Chorley.
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