History Page 2

A Brief History of the Holy Trinity
Links: Taylor’s of Loughborough Holy Trinity Church was consecrated on Trinity Sunday 1843. Land and funds for building the church were provided by the 13th Earl of Derby, but the family links to Bickerstaffe date back to the 16th Century when Henry, the great grandson of the 1st Earl acquired the Manor and came to live at Bickerstaffe.

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The Church was built by local labour and from stone quarried in the Township. At the beginning of the 20th century, the North Aisle extension was added by public subscription, together with an enlarged Vestry.

The Wilkinson Organ has been moved twice and had at least one re-build when additional pipes and a new console were installed.

The Tower houses a fine clock and a Carillon of eight bells – a gift in 1933 – the bells from Taylor’s of Loughborough.

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Before Holy Trinity

The first mention of the existence of a place of worship in Bickerstaffe was in 1389 when Nicholas de Atherton was granted a licence by the Bishop of Lichfield to build an oratory at his manor house. The exact site is unknown, but it was near or on the same foundation as the present Bickerstaffe Hall. It was still in use in 1671 when in possession of Sir Edward Stanley, third baronet of Bickerstaffe, but it seems to have been reserved for private services.

The need for a place of public worship was recognized by the Commonwealth Church Surveyors in 1650 when they described “Bickerstath’ as a “towne with the p’ish church of Ormskirke a distant six statute myles and a halfe, and a myle and a halfe from the Chapel of Rainforth. The further presented the case for a Church to be built at Halecroft near the Hall.”

Churchgoers in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries faced a long walk to Ormskirk for the privilege of sharing public worship. Even so, many persons attended each week. The Church had a difficult task in providing for the needs of parishes without a place of worship. To alleviate the problem, each parish conducted its own affairs. Early records mention William Goore, churchwarden in 1676, and Thomas Billinge in 1707, both Bickerstaffe farmers. The accounts end in 1828, which coincides with the building of a small wooden chapel at the entrance of “Intak” paths.

Perhaps it was the absence of a church that prompted many local people to join the Quaker movement. The founder of the “Society of Friends”, George Fox, published a journal in 1654 which mentions a “Biccerseth” meeting, and it is generally believed that he took part in its formation here. Around 1688 a meeting house with a schoolroom attached was built in Liverpool Road, on the site of the present Stanley Cottage. A licence was granted in 1689 and Quaker registers record more than one hundred marriages which took place there. Services were discontinued in 1789 and the house was used as a cottage until it was demolished in the latter part of the nineteenth century.

Early Bickerstaffe

An old track that once formed part of Hall Lane was last used to haul stone from Barrow Nook Delph during the erection of the Church and School in the early 1840’s. Traces of the track’s foundation can be seen in the plantation near Keeper’s Cottage. In the space of 5 years the landscape was completely transformed. The Church was sited so as to be visible to all parishioners. Edward, 13th Earl of Derby, funded the project, on condition that parishioners carry all materials. Hundreds attended the Consecration on 30th June, 1843. Architect Sydney Smirke was in the congregation. The cost of building the church was £6,000.

Dr. Nicholas Pensver tells us that the Church was built in the Commissioners Tradition, with a portal tower in Early English detail. The nave has a pair of lancets and buttresses between. At the front entrance the Tympanium is engraved with three angels in typical Victorian Romantic style. Seating accommo­dation was increased in 1860 by the addition of a North Aisle. The Vestry was added in 1895.

In the Chancel are two stained glass windows, one presented by Mine owner Henry Foster, who died in 1863, and the other by the Penrhyn family in memory of their deceased infant children. The Revd. O. Penrhyn, a cousin of Lord Derby, was Vicar for 11 years. The Church Clock was installed in 1890 as a parting tribute to the Revd. Dr. Wall. The fourth Vicar, the Revd. H. Rowland, printed the first Parish Magazine in January, 1892. In 1895 the heating system was refurbished and a new boiler installed under the new vestry at a cost of £980.

Bickerstaffe became an independent parish on November 14th, 1901, when the Revd. J. E. Woodrow, Vicar of Ormskirk, relinquished his privileges. Electric lighting was installed in the Church for the Dedication of the Bells, the gift of Sir Thomas and Lady Rosbotham in his Knighthood year, on November 6th 1933. The war memorial, erected in 1921 at a cost of £512, was paid for by donations from residents of the parish.

Information reproduced by kind permission of Owen Taylor

History of HTB.