“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.
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, displays of photographs 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 Eileen Fordham, and then cut the first slice.
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.
Dot said: “One of the important legacies in current vicar David’s time 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.
“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 Paul’s’ were given by Vernon Kinrade chair of its fabric committee.
The anniversary day concluded with everyone enjoying wine and refreshments.