An avid historian who died aged 88 has left behind a rich legacy of stone carvings for villagers of Whittle-Le-Woods to enjoy.
Many in the area will not know Jack Sharples, the enigmatic stonemason who created the delicate carvings which can be found throughout the village.
But for his good friend Boyd Harris his loss will be greatly felt. “He was an amazing man and I was so glad to have known him,” he said.
“Jack has left a legacy of many intricate and beautiful carvings around Whittle-Le-Woods. Most people have seen them but don’t know who the stonemason was.
“He was totally self taught. When I look at the detail he carved I still can’t get my head round it. The owl carving detail is stunning and one of his latest.”
Mr Sharples was born in 1929 in Chorley to parents who sold coal, taking it round on a horse and cart. He had four sisters and a step brother, all of whom died before him.
At 18 years old he was called up to do his National Service in the Army, serving for two years in Egypt. He frequently spoke to friends of the incredibly clear starry night skies there.
Following his national service Mr Sharples had various jobs including working for the water board and collecting bins.
He married his wife of 57 years Muriel, who is now 82, in 1960 at Saint John the Evangelist Church in Whittle-le-Woods.
The couple had five children, David, 56, Gwendoline, 52, Rosemary, who sadly died when she was 34, Heather, 51 and Debbie, 47. They also have five grandchildren as well as great grandchildren.
Mr Sharples died of prostrate cancer at his home in Town Lane in the morning on Saturday, September 2.
Friend and councillor Eric Bell of Whittle-le-Woods said: “Jack was one of a kind, the most knowledgeable historian in the area and an expert artist working in stone.
“Whenever a stone carving was needed in the village Jack would always help out.
“In 2004 a commemorative Celtic Stone Cross was needed to mark the spot near where Saint Helen’s Well used to be by the M61 at Birchin Lane.
“The magnificent cross is still there and a fitting memorial to Jack, the master craftsman.”
Mr Sharples was regularly seen walking the lanes and fields of the Chorley area in his search for information about local history and enjoying his passion for bird watching and nature.
Many people in the area will have seen him out on his walks because of his distinctive appearance. He had a long white beard and was always accompanied his large Alsatian dog called Jacko.
St Helens artist Will Simm produced a portrait drawing of Mr Sharples for his 80th birthday. Will said he was “honoured to be allowed to draw such an interesting man”.
Posting on Facebook after his death Matty Southworth said: “A great man, the most skilled man I have ever met, his drawings and artwork were something to behold.”