52 residents # 27 solo

Springhill and the surrounding area have an interesting religious history.

Prior to the reformation the majority of the population would be Catholic. The parish church was at Whalley Abbey, approx 12 miles away over rough moor. There was a chapel of ease at Haslingden (St James) from the C13 and St Nicholas at Newchurch (about 3/4 mile away) from the early C16.

The religious landscape became more complex after the reformation however:

  • George Fox received a vision on Pendle Hill (ant 10 miles north) which was instrumental in the formation of the Quaker movement. Quaker worship reached the area early and the Quaker burial ground just north of Springhill is dated 1663.
  • The dissenting congregation in Rossendale was granted a licence in 1672 to meet in 'the barn of John Piccop', almost certainly on Newchurch Road adjacent to Springhill and now sadly demolished.
  • Recusancy was strong in the general area, particularly centred on the Towneley family of Burnley (approx 8 miles north) and the Jesuit school at Stonyhurst. (ant 15 miles north).
  • St Nicholas became parochial in the C16, a great relief for the coffin carriers.
  • John Wesley preached in Waterfoot (about 1 mile east) to a 'congregation of wild men' and Methodism rapidly became established in the ares.

These all have one thing in common: at the time they were Trinitarian faiths, i.e. they believed in the divinity of God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit. This was not a universally held view however and the Unitarian movement began to emerge in England in the late C17 and C18. Unitarianism holds that God is one person and so does not recognise the divinity of Jesus or the Holy Spirit.

It was no surprise therefore that Unitarianism became established in the area, with a Unitarian congregation 3/4 mile to the east and another about a mile to the west of Springhill. One of these, Bethlehem Unitarian Church, Newchurch was ministered to by the Rev Thomas Josef Jenkyns in Newchurch in 1913. He was born in Lampeter, Wales in 1871 and died in office in Newchurch in 1918.

Just to complicate the religious pattern further, a Spiritualist congregation was established about 3/4 mile to the west and Mormon (1.5 miles west) and Jehovah's Witnesses (initially 1/2 mile south west) established active congregations in the area in the C19.

And just to complicate the research further, the Rev Jenkyn Thomas was ministering at the Rawtenstall Unitarian Church at the same time as Rev Thomas Jenkins was ministering in Newchurch.

Other Springhill residents were active in the Bethlehem Unitarian congregation in the third quarter of the 20th century.

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