Thursday 24 March 2022

Early Development of Bradshaw Chapel 1700 - 1800

Extract from Bradshaw Chapel I by James J. Francis, chapter 2, pages 5-8.

Chapter II - Early Development of the Chapel 1700-1800 

In 1704, a special fund was established to receive and use the ecclesiastical dues previously annexed by Henry Vlll and which were then the property of Queen Anne, to supplement the incomes of the poorer clergy. The fund was known as Queen Anne's Bounty. Parishes were able to apply for a grant on the basis that the Bounty grant would be equalled by the Diocese and the total used to invest in property to produce an annual income for a deserving Curacy or Chapelry. 

Bradshaw Chapel Plan Elevation 1774
Drawing of new Chapel proposed by Petition in 1774 - Elevation.

Having no fixed income, Bradshaw certainly qualified as being deserving. The Bishop of Chester in 1717 reviewed his Parishes and their Chapelrys, probably with a view to a claim for Queen Anne's Bounty. The following reports were written at his request and a certificate under the hand of the Rev Peter Haddon MA Vicar of Bolton dated September 20th 1717 was addressed to Dr Wroe. 

‘I sent you by the carrier on Tuesday night an account of the Chapels which my Lord Bishop of Chester required, that letter which should have brought it I hear miscarryed therefore I send this. Bradshaw Chappel is of antient erection, hath no endowment at all and the minister is maintained by the contribution of ye people, which scarce amounts to £12 per annum.' Rev Haddon's successor later certified. 'This Chappel belongs to Bradshaw Hall and ye minister is maintained by subscription in the neighbourhood. The Clerks income is also by collection.'

That the then Incumbent resided at Bradshaw Hall is borne out by the Will of Rev Caleb Barrett, Curate of Bradshaw, who died 19th June 1723. Robert Partington who was a tenant of Bradshaw Hall certified the Rev Barrett's Will along with his wife, Abigail Partington, describing the Curate as having lived there for several years. The Will was sworn in the presence of Rev Thomas Morrall MA, Vicar of Bolton. 

Regarding the report of Rev Haddon stating the Chapel to be ‘of antient erection' we should be aware of the Chapel Bell. James C Scholes author of ‘History of Bolton' reports in November 1879 a Manchester newspaper of September 1874 as publishing a note of the Bell Inscription at Bradshaw. 'In the rickety old belfry or tower of Bradshaw Chapel near Bolton is a bell, evidently of pre-Reformation date, with the following inscription  “Ave Maria Gracia Plena", with the letters V & L in the first and last words cast upside down. If the bell were made for Bradshaw Chapel then the dedication would be to the Blessed Virgin "Hail Mary, full of grace’ In the Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society 1915, FH Cheetham in his paper 'The Church Bells of Lancashire' concludes that the 20½ inch diameter bell in Bradshaw Chapel is of Medieval origin of fourteenth century date. This date is probably too early to have been specifically made for Bradshaw and supports the old legend that the bell originated in Yorkshire.

With little or no Bradshaw family influence or support in the religious life of Bradshaw and its ministers at this time, Bolton Parish Church continued its responsibilities by transferring or attaching its Curates for duties at Bradshaw Chapel. It is not clear whether any of those appointed actually lived in the area. Rev Barrett who died in 1723 was succeeded by Rev John Norris, M.A. who in turn was succeeded by Rev James Wylde in 1737. John Barlow was known to be Curate of Bradshaw in 1766 as was Robert Dean in 1768. Robert Dean was also Curate of Ainsworth at this time, suggesting he was not residing in Bradshaw, but his ministry lasted for 30 years. The last Incumbent at Bradshaw in the 18th Century was Rev John Atkinson (1799). 

The earlier efforts and support by Bolton Parish finally succeeded in gaining financial grants through the Queen Anne's Bounty and in 1737 the Curacy of Bradshaw was augmented with £200 which in 1738 was laid out in the purchase of a ‘Messuage and outbuildings and 5 acres of large measure in four fields, part of Upper Foulcotes and one acre of Common in Blackmoss and Common of pasture on Pot Green in the Manor of Tottington’.

In 1751 the Curacy was again augmented with £200 and in 1774 by Benefaction with £400 and these monies in 1782 were laid out to purchase a Messuage, outbuildings and 16 acres of land in Wolfenden in the Forest of Rossendale in the Manor of Accrington. In 1792 the Chapel was again augmented with £200 which remained in the Governors' hands on interest until the end of the century. By this time the income although not large was becoming more respectable and sufficient, though not generous, to support a full time Incumbent at Bradshaw Chapel. Not before time, as the locality was subject to important changes affecting the economy, population and habitation growth. The Act for the Enclosure of Harwood Commons was approved in 1797 as was the Little Bolton to Edenfield Turnpike Trust, both of these Acts had significant effects on the future of Bradshaw and its old Chapel of Ease.

These various grants helped secure the services of an Incumbent but contributed nothing to the cost of maintenance of the Chapel itself, which continued to deteriorate. The state of the old building became increasingly worrying to the congregation and a group of influential members, led by the Incumbent Robert Dean, petitioned the County Trustees to support their case to the Lord High Chancellor for a grant to help rebuild the Chapel. The petition is dated 21st April 1774.

‘The humble petition of the Minister, Chapel Warden and principle inhabitants of the Chapelry of Bradshaw in the Parish of Bolton in the said County of Lancaster whose names are severally hereunto subscribed and set, sheweth unto your Lordships. That the said Chapel of Bradshaw in the Parish of Bolton aforesaid is a very ancient structure and greatly decayed in every part thereof. The foundations being very much sunk, the walls in many places opened, cracked and bulged and in other parts gone from the perpendicular so far that the whole is in great danger of falling. That the pillars which support the body of the Chapel (being wood) through the length of time are become very rotten and in great decay. That the roof is in a ruiness state, the timber thereof being decayed and rotten and hardly worth the trouble and expense of taking off in so much that it is unsafe for workmen to go upon it to repair it lest the whole should give way and fall together, so that the same Chapel cannot any longer be supported by repairation and must be wholly taken down and rebuilt. 

That your petitioners have caused the said Chapel to be carefully viewed by able and experienced workmen who have made an estimate of the charge of taking down and rebuilding the same upon a moderate computation amounts to the sum of one thousand and seventeen pounds and three shillings and upwards which sum your petitioners are unable to raise among themselves being chiefly tenants at rack-rents and greatly burdened with poor.’

The petitioners were named as 

Robert Dean Minister 
William Scowcroft 
Thomas Hamer 
Robert Bolton 
Nathan Ramsden 
John Thweat 
James Greenhalgh 
Roger Bradshaw 
Samuel Horrocks 
John Kearshaw 

Robert Dean was known to be Curate of Ainsworth as well as at Bradshaw and owned land in the Nab Gate area of Harwood. William Scowcroft (1750-1808) had the lease of the Chapel Tenement. Thomas Hamer was tenant farmer of Pillings Farm (a farm situated between Harry Fold and Crompton’s). Robert Bolton farmed at Brookfold Farm in Harwood. Nathan Ramsden lived in the property built by his father William at the east end of the old Chapel. John Thweat was a Whitster (Bleacher) who in 1782 opened the Lee Gate Bleachworks. James Greenhalgh held farm leases in Bradshaw, including Higher Nuttals on Affetside and acted as Attorney to John Isherwood, Lord of the Manor, in various Indentures of the period. Roger Bradshaw, probably a member of the old Bradshaw Hall Bradshaws, held both Waterfold and Brookbottom Farms. Samuel Horrocks lived at Bradshaw Chapel and was the earliest known blacksmith. John Kearshaw (Kershaw) held leases on Walsh Fold and Brown Barn farms. 

Drawings of the proposed Chapel were submitted which showed a handsome, galleried structure to be built on the cleared site.

The petition was unsuccessful and notwithstanding the ruinous state, the old Chapel was to stand for a further hundred years before replacement. No doubt extensive repairs were carried out at this time and the cost borne by local subscription. Rev Thomas Brocklebank certified on March 15th 1814 that there were 'sittings in the Chapel of Bradshaw for about 200 persons'

Bradshaw Chapel Ground Plan 1774
Drawing of new Chapel proposed by Petition in 1774 - Plan.