In the early 1800s Mr. John Holt, Justice of the Peace, lived at Stubbylee Hall in Bacup. An intensely religious individual he concerned himself with the spiritual well being of the people who lived on his estate in the Lee Mill area. His grand intention was to build a church however it was not to be during his lifetime.

The nearest church to the estate was Saint Johns and it began to fall into a state of disrepair bordering on collapse some years after Holt's death, so his son, James Maden Holt, decided that he would build a new church at Stubbylee. With the necessary consent granted by the then vicar of Saint John's, the Rev. B. Tweedale, and of the diocese in which the church would be built James Holt looked round for a suitable clergyman to oversee the progress of work. The Reverend William Whitworth, formerly the vicar of St. Jude's, Ancoats, accepted the appointment and work commenced.

In 1854 a temporary place of worship was created in an old mill at Rockliffe where the floor was covered with sawdust and pews were made by standing benches on bricks. At the same time work began on the Sunday school at the New Line site, where it stands to this day, and it was completed in 1858. The congregation were addressed for the final time by Mr. Whitworth in Rockliffe Mill and then a procession marched to the new school for the grand opening. The upper part of the school was now pressed into service as the church for the next few years whilst the vicarage was built, Mr. Whitworth taking residence in 1860 just before work on the church proper commenced.

Saint Saviour's church was completed and consecrated on Monday, the 23rd of January, 1865, by the Lord Bishop of Manchester, the Right Rev. J. Fraser and representatives of the local Wesleyan, Baptist and Independent churches were present at the service. The entire 11,400 cost of the building of the church (8,000), Sunday school (2,000) and vicarage (1,400), was financed by James Holt.

The architect employed by James Holt was E. Wyndham Tarn of London. The church is 120 feet long and 53 feet wide and was built in the Early Pointed Gothic style from local stone quarried on Mr. Holt's estate and with pillars of polished red granite. Seated accommodation was provided for a congregation of 1,000 worshippers. The bell tower, which stands on the north side of the chancel, is surmounted by a spire 150 feet in height. A small transept was built on the south side of the church, and it was used originally as a pew for the Holt family, but later the font was transferred to this chapel from its former position in the chancel. The church contains a baptistry - a small dunking pool for want of a better description - for the immersion of adults. It is sunk in the chancel floor and is covered by an ornamental grating.

The above information was obtained from the 1865 - 1965 Centenary Handbook...

When the last vicar of Saint Saviour's, the Reverend Eddie Ashworth, retired in 1999, the parish became a joint benefice with Holy Trinity Church, Stacksteads. The Church held it's final service in October 2007 and the parish then merged with Holy Trinity, Tunstead.

Since that time the church has been placed on the open market for sale at a guide figure of around 200,000 however Rossendale Borough Council have decreed that it shall not be used for housing and would prefer that it is used instead as a sports venue or some sort of public amenity - fat chance of selling it then!

On our visit in summer 2012 we could see some substantial water ingress at the road side elevation and numerous windows have already been broken. If the council do not change their "requirements" then this once beautiful church will soon go the way of all abandoned buildings and slide ever more rapidly into decay and dereliction. But then when did a council ever do anything in a sensible fashion?

To view the 'particulars of sale' please click the small photo to the right...


Below is a selection of the photographs we took in and around Saint Saviour's Church.

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Taking pictures outside bold as brass with a carnival happening 25 yards away... sometimes you have it to do!

The tower.

Chavvery does my head in frankly.

A magnificent piece of architecture.
Inside the church now.
The alter can be seen at the other end of the nave.
A bible abandoned in a pew.
The vicar's prayer book still sits on the lectern.
Gilt pew numbers.

This carved marble tablet celebrates the life of the church's financier James Maden Holt.

Looking back towards the entrance.

A different kind of preacher in the pulpit!

Stained glass.
The organ.
The manuals of the organ.
The last service?


The organist has a mirror to see the choir. Here they are observing the gospel of urbex.

The organist entertains... well he did once.

One of the church's two current incumbents!

The font.


A plaque dedicated to the memory of the Holt family who were the driving force and financiers of the church.

A plaque dedicated to the memory of Mary Johnson who was the wife of one of the vicars at the turn of the 1900s. She was a teacher in the Sunday school.

The other current 'incumbent' of St. Saviour's prone before the alter and waiting for the resurrection. I say 'the"... perhaps I should say "his"?

Looking back towards the stained glass window at the entrance.

Upstairs now.
Looking back down the nave towards the alter from on high.
The church's function cutlery box.
The top level is for the bone handled cutlery.
The bottom level is for salt and pepper cruets.
A selection of the church's ceremonial items.


One final picture before we leave!


Perhaps it might look like this if this view were committed to canvas?

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