Church marks 125-year anniversary

The majority of the 250 parishioners celebrating St Paul's Church anniversary at the day's first event, morning service followed by birthday cake and coffee..
The majority of the 250 parishioners celebrating St Paul's Church anniversary at the day's first event, morning service followed by birthday cake and coffee..

“A fantastic day and a great celebration for St Paul’s anniversary.”

That was how Vicar of Longridge the Rev. David Anderson summed up the milestone occasion for his parish with two churches, marking 125 years since St Paul’s was consecrated.

The St Paul's 125 year display in Longridge

The St Paul's 125 year display in Longridge

For the full day’s events, he welcomed six descendants of mill owner Robert Smith, who gave the land for the church in the mid 1880s, plus £1,000, and then paid in full for the chancel to be built, including the east window and the reredos.

The six descendants were among 250 at the morning family service in a church filled with flowers, paper chains with everyone’s names on, displays of photos of the many events and personalities through the years, and plaques featuring the names of the nine vicars of St Paul’s – starting with Rev Fitzherbert Astley Cave-Brown-Cave who agreed to the building of St Paul’s after some opposition, and was the incumbent from 1877 to 1894.

Then came Thomas Martin Harrison 1894 – 1925, John Talbot Canton 1925 – 1928, Charles William Wilberforce Bramley 1928 – 1949, Charles Fletcher 1950 – 1964, Edward Peter Alexander Furness 1964 - 1989, Richard William Esgar Awre 1989 – 1999, Simon Mark Aiken 1999 – 2006 and David Anderson 2007 to the present.

The family service concluded with singing ‘happy birthday’ to St Paul’s, then three cheers and applause before Robert Smith’s great-great-great-great granddaughter, seven-year-old Sophie Henderson, blew out the candles on the enormous birthday cake made by baker extraordinaire Eileen Fordham, and then cut the first slice.

A fantastic day and a great celebration for St Paul’s anniversary

Vicar of Longridge the Rev. David Anderson

The second and oldest Anglican church in the parish, St Lawrence’s, was brought into full focus for the sell-out afternoon Talk and Tea event by Dot and Fred Little.

In words and pictures under the title ‘Longridge - the parish with two Anglican churches’ they looked back 500 years to St Lawrence’s beginnings and through the parish’s amazing and detailed history since.

In her fascinating talk, Dot recalled how, in 1939 at the dedication of the lychgate, a reporter wrote that continuing to maintain two church buildings was the Longridge tragedy.

Canon Bramley had replied “why should we close a church that has cost so much and is one of the finest in Lancashire”..referring to St. Paul’s... “but we cannot close the old church either, the attachment is too strong.”

Rev David Anderson with Fred and Dot Little at St Paul's Church in Longridge for a talk on the parish's two Anglican Churches

Rev David Anderson with Fred and Dot Little at St Paul's Church in Longridge for a talk on the parish's two Anglican Churches

One of the important legacies in current vicar David’s time, Dot told her audience “is that both buildings are being used appropriately.

So much of the history of Longridge lies within St Lawrence Church and churchyard. In many respects it is a Mortuary Chapel but it remains a special prayerful building and weekly evening services ensure it is regularly worshipped in, as previous generations demanded. The building remains open seven days a week...St Lawrence must look as well now as it has looked in all of its 500 year history.”

A songs of praise service with special anthems and readings was held in the evening.

At the same event, reflections on the care of St Pauls’ were given by Vernon Kinrade chair of its fabric committee, life at the vicarage from Peter Furness’s daughter Rosemary Lyons, memories of vicars by Kathleen Sturzaker, and ‘in the 21st century church’ by Sunday School and Youth Group members Lisa Monks, Alistair Lock, George Eccles and George Green.

The anniversary day concluded with everyone enjoying wine and refreshments - and even more cakes - in the Centenary Room.