Registered Charity 250037


We are all delighted that our primary schools have done so well in the recent Ofsted inspections

St Mary’s is judged as
GOOD in every aspect of RE

St Anselm’s is judged as
OUTSTANDING in every aspect of its work

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Contact us:
St Mary and St Anselm
John Street, Whitworth
Lancs OL12 8DB

01706 853562

History of St. Mary's Church, Bacup

In the late 11th century the Cistercian monks of Whalley Abbey were assigned a part of the Forest of Rossendale and made a settlement at Brandwood, and it was these monks who administered to the spares population of the area. In 1507 King Henry VII decreed that the area should be deforested and made open to settlement and cultivation. This led to an increase in the population and in 1511 the chapel of Our Saviour was built at Newchurch. With the reformation of the church in the reign of Henry VIII the chapel became part of the Established Church. Those who refused to attend the reformed church were subject to heavy taxes and fines and even death. For the next three hundred years very few Catholics remained in the area and those that did depended on the Towneley family of Burnley for spiritual ministration.

The 1778 and 1791 Acts of Tolerance gave more freedom to Catholics and the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 once more gave Catholics complete freedom worship openly.

The first Catholic mission in the area was at Sunnyside, Crawshawbooth. The Sunnyside print works had endured a long strike and John Brooks the owner recruited labourers from Manchester, which included Catholic families. These Catholics were provided with a building to worship in in Pinner Lane and were served by the priests of Towneley from 1828 until 1836 when Father James Carr became the resident priest. By 1842 the congregation was growing rapidly and so land was obtained at Constablee to build a church and in 1845 St James the Less was opened. In 1849 Father Thomas Unsworth, the priest at St James the Less established mission centres at Bacup and Haslingden.

In 1852 Father Henry Mulvany was sent by the Bishop of Salford to further the mission. He became the first Catholic priest to live in the town when he rented a room over Mr. Pilling's ironmongers shop in Market Street which could seat over 300 people and was used for services and as a school. With the help of the parishioners a new church was constructed on Dale Street in 1857. The school was moved to Wesley Place in 1862 and a new school was built at the side of the church in 1872. In 1871 the Catholic portion of Bacup Cemetery was consecrated and a mortuary chapel was dedicated to St Joseph.
 The Rectors and Priests of St Mary's R. C. Church, Bacup
 1852 - 1880 Father Henry Mulvany
 1880 - 1884 Father Thomas Steele
 1884 - 1903 Father John Lane
 1903 - 1913 Father William Moran
 1913 - 1944 first Parish Priest 1918 Father John Kiely
 1944 - 1952 Father Morgan Walsh
 1952 - 1963 Father Francis Shutt
 1963 - 1967 Father John McDonnell
 1967 - 2009 Father Michael Twomey
 2009 Father Frank Thorpe


StMary old