Local traditions - the Friends' annual meeting for worship

The Religious Society of Friends began to meet in Rossendale in the 1660s in Chapel Hill, about half a mile from Springhill. These meetings were initially in the open air then in various Friends’ houses. This continued until 1715 when the current Meeting House in Crawshawbooth was opened. The burial ground at Chapel Hill continued in use for burials until the mid C19 and 135 people are said to be buried there.

An annual meeting for worship has continued at the Chapel Hill site, certainly in recent years - I’m not sure if this is continuous from 1715 or not. On the last Sunday in June Friends gather from Rossendale and afield and sit quietly in the Quaker tradition until someone is moved to speak. Otherwise the silence is broken only by the wind in the trees, birdsong and ambient noise from the town half a mile away. It is a very peaceful place.

After the meeting the Friends walk the 3 miles or so over the moor to the regular Meeting House for afternoon tea.

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under your place

It only takes one look at an OS map to see why Springhill is so called. Copyright forbids my putting the map here but the little blue ‘Spr’ label is rather liberally scattered over the hills behind Springhill. This is confirmed by a walk up on the hills where a number of springs are readily visible: some tamed, others just emerging and forming bogs and streams as nature permits.

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The first is at the top of Edge Lane and the second above Mucky Earth.

The water has to come from somewhere and there is indeed a large underground reservoir under Seat Naze and Saunder Height - probably more than one and probably interconnected. There is an entry in Bolton’s woods just behind Heightside House, another in Scout and possibly a third in Whitewell Bottom. This supplies water to Heightside House. A group of intrepid explorers known as the Rossendale Historical Detective Agency set off to explore it and produced these stunning pictures from the Heightside entrance. There is a well founded rumour that a dinghy may have been involved...
(pictures courtesy of Chris Lord of RHDA - many thanks)

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This cavern isn’t the only underground attraction. There are less well attested stories of an underground connection between Chapel Hill Quarry (by the Friend’s burial ground just NW of Springhill) and Bonfire Hill Quarry in Crawshawbooth. If present, this would form an underground passage between the two major Quaker sites in Rossendale, but there must have been easier ways for the Friends to make the journey.

Further north lies Gambleside with the remains of the old Gambleside mines. Most of the shafts have been capped off and grassed over but there is still the odd one remaining... I’m not aware of any accidents in the old Gambleside mineworks but there certainly was an incident when two boys entered the old Dean pit in the 1940s and never came out.

Finally there is a passage between Holly House on Church St, Newchurch and St Nicholas’ church. This would link church and vicarage.

some very sad stories

I am currently transcribing the graveyard of Sion Baptist Church - a slow job not helped by the redevelopment of the old church nearly 30 years ago during which most of the stones were relocated from their original sites and rearranged around the perimeter of the graveyard. That means that any hints of relatives being in adjacent plots has gone, sadly I fear some of the old stones have gone as well.

The stones, as ever, tell stories of the lives. Some, as ever, are very sad.

Take the second stone on the left:

In / Memory / Of / Ann / the / beloved wife of / Thomas Tattersall / of Boothfold / who died March 27th 1873 / aged 26 years / and of Eliza Ann thier daughter / who died March 26th 1873 / aged 1 day

In outline, the sequence of events is not difficult to reconstruct. A newborn child dies, her mother dies the next day. Too quick for sepsis, probably post partum haemorrhage or ruptured uterus from obstructed labour. Tempted to by the mother’s death cert, even though she is not a direct relative or resident of my study area.

Or take the stone underneath the bench on the right of Lichford House:

In memory of / William Taylor / of Waterside who died Nov / 22nd 1871 in the 66th / year of his age / Also Martha Relict of the above / who died January 24th 1886 / Aged 73 years / Also of Ernest Taylor / Son of Lambert and Betsy / Haworth of Edgeside Holme / who died March 23rd 1881 / aged 7 months / Also of Betsy Laura / Daughter of William and / Mary Jackson of Piercy / who died March 12th 1882 / Aged 10 months / Also ofWilliam King / their son who died April 9th / 1884 aged 3 weeks / Also Anne the beloved daughter / of J W and N Hargreaves / who died Dec 17th 1887 / in the 7th year of her age / and Mary Aged 25, 1908.

Lambert Haworth was the owner of a local slipper mill. He was not a poor man, but all his money could not save his son. Interesting that his son is commemorated in a family plot; Lambert Haworth could have afforded a separate memorial.

Or the stone just across the path from the one above:

In Memory of / Richard Lord of Heightside / who died July 15th 1856 in the / 64th year of his age / Also of Hannah his wife / who died January 10th 1875 / in the 83rd year of her age / also of Mary Ann the daughter of / Richard and Hannah Lord who died / April 29th 1826 in the 8th year of her age / Also of Samuel, the only son of / Richard and Hannah Lord, who died / June 10th 1855, in the 40th year of his age / Also of Alice the beloved wife of / Samuel Lord who died Feb 25th 1859 / in the 44th year of her age / Also of three infants, Richard / Rachel and Maria the children of / Samuel and Alice Lord / Also of Mary Ann, their Daughter / who died April 9th 1862 Aged 22 years / Also of Mary, Daughter of / Richard and Hannah Lord / who died February 16th 1868 / in the 37th year of her age / Also of Samuel son of Samuel and / Alice Lord born May 1st 1842 / died June 20th 1878 / Also Elizabeth, wife of Gideon Burrows of Whinberry Naze / who died April 21st 1889 Aged 50 years / Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord

Three infants. No birth dates. No death dates. No ages. I wonder why they were recorded like that?

Full transcripts together with a graveyard plan will appear in due course!

perils of language...

mmm, did anyone get a cardboard-wrapped soldier at once?

(Burnley Express 22 July 1916)

cardboard packing Burnley Express 22 July 1916

marble run

The cascading water down some scaffolding on Springhill house is reminiscent of a child’s marble run. It added a giggle to a rather wet and rainy day.

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