Sunday, 13 October 2013

Darwen Churches

There's no record of any chapel having been found earlier than 1577 when a writer describes 'Darwent Chappell' and later a drawing of 1598 illustrates 'Darcom Chap.' near the River Darwen.
Then a 1616 survey mentions  'Darwen Chappell' which also appears in a later in 1650.  The area is 'Chapels' as we know it today.  During that time there was a constant dispute between the Nonconformists of our town and the Vicar of Blackburn (sounds familiar doesn't it!).
In 1722 it was pulled down and the present Church of St. James was built there, standing on the site of the old Elizabethan chapel.  The rebuilding work was made possible by the congregation pulling together and donations were made over several years.
Pole Lane Chapel, opened in May 1793 was later demolished and a Methodist Society was formed in Over Darwen in that century following a visit from John Wesley to Darwen.  There were four Primitive Methodist Chapels used as temporary meeting places during 1825 and 1832.
Holy Trinity Church, built between 1827 and 1829 overlooks the town centre and in 1832 the Baptist Chapel in Bolton Road opened its doors.   Later, in 1874, St. Cuthbert's was founded.
Roman Catholics built a mission room on Radford Street in 1856 for both worshippers and learning which was succeeded by St. Joseph's opening its doors on Bolton Road in 1885.
As churches come and go a curious development can be seen at  the Railway Road Wesleyan Methodist church, founded in 1864 and closed in 1968 re-opening as a mini-supermarket.  Its present owners, a national pubs chain, is busy peeling back the building to its infancy.  Thankfully they're restoring the long-lost and beautiful stained glass windows in an attempt to remind drinkers of the future of its past.
Finally, history has highlighted the tenacity and sheer determination of Darreners - of all shapes, sizes and beliefs - to establish various places of worship in every corner of the town.
Carol Tapp