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Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society

News and Views

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Sep 2012
 
Tue 11 Sep 2012
This evening was our Annual General Meeting. The main change was that Peter Robinson has stepped down from his Secretary post after doing a magnificent job for the past 4 years. Kath Purnell has agreed to compile the Programme of Speakers for next year.

During the afternoon a meeting was held at Coppull Moor Lane, Coppull with Joan Dickinson and John Harrison of Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society. Also Rebecca of the Heritage Lottery Fund and Louise Martin of WYAS Archaeological Services. The purpose was to discuss the feasibility of a Heritage Lottery Grant for further investigations of the Roman Road in the area and link future work on the project with schools and local residents.
 

 


The field off Coppull Moor Lane

After looking at the site we retreated to the excellent café at the Birkacre Garden Centre for a very civilised continuation of the meeting with tea and biscuits.


A very useful meeting at Birkacre


The line of the Roman Road found during an excavation in the early 1960s

 

Sat 8 Sept 2012
Historical tour of Chorley Unitarian Chapel by Doreen Jolly

Chorley Unitarian Chapel

Every year over a weekend in September, Heritage Open Days celebrate England’s fantastic architecture and culture. Buildings of every age, style and function open their doors to the public and many have free conducted tours.

As part of Chorley’s celebrations Chorley Unitarian Chapel, Park Street, was open on Saturday 8th September with a display of documents and photographs that illustrated its history. After an introductory talk by Doreen Jolly about the formation of the church and it’s very important place in Chorley’s history Doreen gave an enlightening tour of the grounds and gravestones.


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.
In 1662 the Rev Henry Welch was ejected from Chorley Parish Church of St Laurence on his refusal to conform to the Act. He and his followers became the first non-conformists. In 1724 Abraham Crompton of Chorley Hall bequeathed land and money for a Chapel and so the existing Church was built in 1725, making it the second oldest in Chorley. The first recorded Minister was Samuel Bourn who was Minister from 1728 to 1732.

During the Jacobite rising of 1745 Bonnie Prince Charlie (Charles Edward Stuart) marched from Scotland heading towards London. He only got as far as Derby before retreating back to Scotland and his subsequent defeat at Culloden in 1746. On his journey south he stayed at Chorley Hall and some of his followers stayed at the Chapel’s Manse and reputedly consumed the entire store of cheese! The whereabouts of this Manse isn’t known as the current Manse only dates from 1823.

Probably the most famous Minister was Reverend William Tate, minister from 1799-1836, and father of Sir Henry Tate (born 1819), founder of Tate & Lyle plc and donor of the Tate Gallery in London.

The Manse was the childhood home of Sir Henry Tate. This is commemorated on a plaque erected by Chorley Civic Society. Sir Henry was educated there at a school run by his father which helped supplement the Minister's small stipend.


Doreen by the Crompton grave

Sir Henry was a generous benefactor to Chorley, providing money to buy books in the new Free Library in Avondale Road. The organ and central choir seats in the chancel were donated by Sir William Tate - Grandson of the Reverend William Tate - in 1902.
In the churchyard is the tomb of the Reverend William Tate and members of his family.

A survey of the Church was carried out in the early 1960s and certainly pulled no punches. Some extracts from the report are as follows:
“Outside the Church Walls looked like Dartmoor Prison on a damp Friday; the stout stone or granite walls will sooner or later lose their battle with the heavy shrubbery and young trees that seem to be springing out of their very foundation.”
“The Pews need stripping down to their virgin pitch-pine and never again, ever, should they be varnished; but properly wax-polished.”
 


Unitarian Chapel in the 1800s

The chapel was completely restored and refurbished by Leonard M Fairclough in 1963 in memory of his father, Leonard Fairclough, who was born in 1849 and died in 1927.

The history presentation and tour of the graveyard was attended by 32 visitors.


The Manse