History of St Matthew's and Holy Trinity

Church History.

The ancient township of Habergham Eaves was separated from Burnley by the River Calder and reached to the boundaries of Cliviger, Dunnockshaw, Hapton and Ightenhill. In the 17th Century the name was usually applied to the scattered farms south of the town of Burnley.

The Revd Robert Master, who came to Burnley in 1826 decided that the town was growing far too rapidly to be ministered to by only one priest and to have only one church school. So in 1835 a school was built in Cog Lane and people attended services there for over forty years. Holy Trinity Church was built, its foundation stone being laid on June 24th 1835 by the Bishop of Chester and consecrated the following year on the  10th November, the architect being Lewis Vulliamy. In 1889 a ring of 8 bells were installed in the tower to augment the clock bell which had been hung by Gillett and Bland. 

A great feature of the worship of Holy Trinity was the annual Procession of Witness which in 1948 had over 500 walkers and in 1951 boasted the total of 150 choir boys from all the Anglican Churches in Burnley, Holy Trinity being the first church in the area to have a surpliced choir. This walk still continues on Trinity Sunday, but in much more modest circumstances.

Throughout the 19th Century as Burnley became more industrialised the population grew enormously, and Habergham Eaves became more and more part of the growing town area. As it was clear again that other churches were needed three more were consecrated in Burnley including St Matthew’s on 1st November 1879 by the Bishop of Manchester, the foundation stone being laid three years previously on the 7th October 1876 by the church benefactress Miss Halsted of     Hood House. The first Vicar was Fr Robert Giles.

In some contrast to Holy Trinity St Matthew’s was founded in the Anglo Catholic tradition and vestments , lighted candles and even birettas were used in the 1880’s a cause of some scandal, so much so that the Bishop of Manchester refused to allow the parish an assistant curate until the then Vicar The Revd S E Clarke assured the Bishop that ‘It is our endeavour at St Matthew’s to carry our English customs, and to make our Church a living example of strict obedience to the Book of Common Prayer’. The format of the building, using two candles instead of six on the altar for example and the adherence to Anglican Liturgy is reflected in the worship of St Matthew’s today.

Apparently St Matthew's also contained some notable stained glass, by both Kempe and Burne Jones, the original building being designed by William Waddington, who was a famous local Victorian architect, responsible for many of the buildings in Burnley town centre. According to recent research the design of the panels in the side windows would have been similar to those in St Paul's Cathedral Calcutta where the east window is pictured here. (Sewter, A. Charles. The Stained Glass of William Morris and His Circle).

The longest Serving Vicar of St Matthew’s The Revd F Jones arrived in 1923 and stayed until the end of the second world war. During his time electric lighting was installed in 1924, but this was to be very problematic leading to the disaster of 1927.

On Christmas Day 1927 as a local family associated with the church were walking past they saw that the Lady Chapel was on fire. Despite the help of many neighbours and the fire brigade the church was burned to the ground  However determined not to be defeated services were held in the open air, money was raised and in 1931 the new church was opened  by the Bishop of Blackburn, Whalley and Burnley. The well respected Lancashire firm of Austin and Paley given the task of re building.

Sadly apart from the loss of the valuable stained glass the marble reredos was also beyond repair, which was a cause of great sadness to the congregation of the time. 

An organ from a church in Farnworth by Laycock and Bannister replaced the old one

which may have caused the fire, and new stained glass was commissioned and installed in 1946 after it had been placed in the cellar during the war.

When The Revd C G Bellamy became vicar in 1956 he oversaw the building of the church  hall and the church continued to flourish.

For Holy Trinity, times became more complicated, and by the late 1970s’ the Holy Trinity School had moved to its present site nearer St Matthew’s.As the population too diminished and the new motorway split the parish in half Holy Trinity became untenable as a church on its own. Despite being from a differing tradition in church style both congregations worked exceedingly hard to integrate with one another and with the sale of the Holy Trinity Church as well as the St Matthew’s Church Hall a new hall could be rebuilt, with a new Vicarage and the inside of the church re ordered as it is today.

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