Building » Newchurch-in-Rossendale – St Peter

Newchurch-in-Rossendale – St Peter

Turnpike, Newchurch, Rossendale BB4

A plain interwar church built to a standard design used by the architect Richard Byrom elsewhere in the diocese. The church is the third building used by the mission, including a former Methodist church on the site of the current church. 

A Catholic school had been opened in Newchurch in 1882. In 1891, Canon Mussley from Rawtenstall bought a Methodist chapel, Mount Tabor, in Chapel Street, with a view to establishing a Catholic place of worship, dedicated to St Peter. The mission at Newchurch-in-Rossendale was formally established in November 1892 from Stacksteads. The first Mass at the converted Methodist chapel was on 27 November 1892. On weekdays the building was used as a school, while the cellar was used as a parish hall. Around 1900, a site was acquired in New Road for a new school-chapel, but the land turned out to be unsuitable for building. In February 1915, Newchurch was made a separate parish, with Fr Cashell the first parish priest.

In 1916, the old Newchurch Grammar School was acquired for use as a school and chapel. In the 1920s, the former Methodist chapel was demolished and plans were prepared to erect a new church and presbytery on the site. The architect was Richard Byrom of Byrom & Noble of Bury, who built similar churches at Stacksteads (1928; demolished), and Todmorden (1928-9; qv). The plan of these is generally a simple rectangle with a small apse or chancel; stylistically they might be said to be in the Early English Gothic style, but only by virtue of their lancet windows. The contractor was Chris Bradley of Stacksteads. On 1 October 1927 Bishop Henshaw laid the foundation stone, as well as a memorial stone in the east wall. He also opened the church on 15 July 1928. The church and presbytery cost around £8,300 and the furnishings over £1,000. The altar and reredos from the previous chapel were installed in the new church.

The Stations, the pulpit, a side altar and altar rails were installed in 1929. In 1968, Greenhalgh & Williams (architect in charge: T. Lesisz) reordered the church. This comprised: the alteration of the reredos, a new forward altar, the removal of one side altar, the conversion of a side chapel into the priest’s sacristy, the enlargement of the boys’ sacristy and the working sacristy, the repaving of the baptistery, new baptistery gates, a new facing to the gallery front, new light fittings, and the redecoration of the church. The overall cost was £7,500, and took five months to complete.

Since then, the church appears to have been reordered at least once more, removing the pulpit, dismantling the reredos and using parts of it for new baptistery gates and a new tabernacle stand.

At Stacksteads a school-chapel was opened in 1897 in Hutton End Lane. A new church (with a basement hall) by Byrom & Noble was opened in 1928. In 2004, the parishes of St Peter, Newchurch, and St Joseph, Stacksteads were merged. In 2005, the church at Stacksteads was closed and has since been demolished.


The church faces south. This description follows conventional liturgical orientation.

The church was built using local stone, white bricks and concrete, with a slate roof. The plan is rectangular, with a straight-ended chancel. There are shallow flat-roofed projections at church-floor level along the north wall housing sacristy and confessionals, which are on concrete piers above the ramp to the hall. The pitched roof is hipped on the west and east gables.

The west elevation and the returning bays have a higher parapet than the rest of the church. (The Buildings of England thought this a later addition; however, the perspective by Richard Byrom for the proposed church and the presence of the 1927 foundation stone prove this to be an original feature. Also, the west elevation shares some features with that at Todmorden (qv).) The elevation is framed by shallow clasping buttresses. There are four oblong ground floor windows, of which two are in the centre between two short buttresses. The foundation stone is placed centrally. Above a string course with blank paterae are three lancets of equal height. A crucifix crowns the apex of the west wall. The south wall has seven lancets between shallow buttresses. There are two entrances in the narrower westernmost bay, with a further door in the third south bay from the east. There are two thin stone crosses high up on the walls of the re-entrant angle to the south. The straight-ended chancel is lower than the nave roof.

The seven-bay nave has a timber panelled ceiling. Between the slopes of the ceiling are two paterae bands, with a further band on the top of the walls. The narthex screen comes from the demolished church at Stacksteads. The pipe organ is by Peter Daly of Manchester and the gallery was re-fronted in timber in 1968. In the centre of the narthex is the former baptistery (now repository) with fine carved timber gates with pierced tracery, made from part of the original reredos.

The sanctuary still has its carved timber altar rails. While the forward altar and lectern are modern, there is a fine carved presidential chair and carved dado panelling on either side of the tabernacle stand. The latter incorporates parts of the original reredos and a figurative panel from the original pulpit. The lunettes over the sacristy door and in the arch to the side chapel are filled with reliefs: a vision (north) and the Annunciation (south).  The south side chapel has a carved timber altar with tabernacle and the inscription ‘Ave Maria’. A statue of the Virgin Mary stands just outside the chapel, beside a tall statue of the Sacred Heart. The metal chandeliers in the nave date from 1968. The Stations of the Cross are carved reliefs in pinnacled ogee-arch frames. The windows have stained glass panels with ecclesiastical symbols.

Heritage Details

Architect: Richard Byrom of Byrom & Noble

Original Date: 1928

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed