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Rivington Church
Wikimedia Commons

Rivington Church is an active Anglican parish church in RivingtonVillage in the Borough of Chorley, to the northwest of Bolton, on the fringe of the West Pennine Moors., Lancashire. The church has no patron saint and is not named after a saint or martyr.[1] It is in the Deane deanery, the Bolton archdeanery and Diocese of Manchester.[2] The church was designated a Grade II listed building in 1967.[3]

A small plain church in a circular churchyard, it has an early origin. An unusual detatched bellhouse was built in the churchyard in the 1540s. When Rivington was created a parish in 1856, the parishioners were able to elect their own minister.


The graveyard surrounding the church is circular, which is typical an of early foundation. A Saxon font found in the vicarage garden is housed in the church’s Millennium Room. The graveyard and Saxon font may be evidence of pre-Conquest foundation.[4] Arched windows on the church’s south side are cut from solid stone, another Saxon feature. A deed dated 1280 mentions [5] Three acres (1.2 ha) of “terra ecclesiastical” in Rivington .[6]

A chapel of easeChurch building subordinate to a parish church, built for the convenience of those parishioners who would otherwise find it difficult to attend services at the parish church. in the ancient parishAncient or ancient ecclesiastical parishes encompassed groups of villages and hamlets and their adjacent lands, over which a clergyman had jurisdiction. of Bolton le Moors was built in the late 15th century and rebuilt or restored by the lord of the manor, Richard Pilkington around 1540. At the consecration by the Bishop of Chester in October 1541,[5] the residents stated on oath they had worshipped at the site for generations. In 1566 Queen Elizabeth I granted letters patent for a licence to provide a curate or minister and allow baptisms, marriages and burials at the church for the inhabitants of Rivington, AnglezarkeSparsely populated civil parish near Chorley in Lancashire with no village, just scattered farms and the hamlet of White Coppice., Hemshaws and Foulds. Before this time the inhabitants had to travel to the surrounding parish churches. A major rebuild took place in 1666. In 1832 the church was damaged by an arsonist.[5]

Rivington was created a parish out of the ancient ecclesiastical parish of Bolton le Moors in 1856, and at their own cost, and by a privilege that few churches in the country possessed, the parishioners were able to elect their own minister.[5]


The church is a small, plain building that remains primarily as rebuilt in 1666 with alterations and restoration in the late-19th century. It is built of irregularly coursed sandstone with large quoins
Any external angle or corner of a structure.
, some measuring five feet (1.5 m), at the corners and the roof is covered with green slates and finished with overhanging eaves. The naveCentral part of a church, used by the laiety. is 55 feet 6 inches (16.9 m) long and 27 feet 6 inches (8.4 m) wide, and the chancel measures 13 feet 6 inches (4.1 m) by 15 feet 6 inches (4.7 m). Its three bays have square-headed windows of three square lights on the north side, and round heads on the south side. The chancel has three round-headed lights in each side and a five-light east window.[3]

The west gable wall has an elliptical-headed doorway and an octagonal bell turret with a square base and conical roof with a weather vane. The 19th-century gabled porch is between the centre and western windows on the south side and a modern vestry is on north side. There are doorways between the second and third windows from the east on each side and a door at the west end.[7] In 2014 an extension was added to the west end, providing a reception and display area, toilet and kitchen.[4]


The roof has four collar trusses with bracing to tie-beams and collars. The church is furnished with a late medieval oak screen and a late 16th-century octagonal, oak pulpit on a stem with two linen-fold panels in each side.[3] The screen and pulpit are considered to predate the church building.[7][8] The church retains an 18th-century brass chandelier with fluted body and two tiers of arms.[3] On the north wall is a copy of a 16th-century painting of the Pilkington family.

The church was restored in 1861 at a cost of £500. An “inward-jutting porch” was built at the west entrance, Minton tiles were laid in centre aisle, the altar was raised and railings installed in front, the rood screen was restored, the walls were panelled to a height of 5 feet (1.5 m) The pipe organ by Lewis & Co from 1884 was overhauled in 1927 by Jardine and Co.[9] In 1923 electric lighting was installed.[5]

Churchyard and bellhouse

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Wikimedia Commons

The bellhouse, a Grade II Listed building in the churchyard is a small, square, single-storey structure built in sandstone with a stone slate roof. It has a basement and outside steps and held a large bell bought from All Saints’ Church, Wigan in 1542.[10] The bell was sold by church commissioners around 1551.[11] It is the only such structure in Lancashire and has been used as a charnel house but is now used by the sexton and grave digger.[12]

In the circular churchyard, the earliest gravestone is marked 1617. A lych gate
Roofed-over gateway into a churchyard.
was erected in 1923.[5] The churchyard contains three Commonwealth war graves, one from the First World War and two from the Second World War.[13] Several headstones were moved to the east end and laid flat in 2008.[14] Near the entrance, the Anderton Stone, which depicts shack bolts[a]A shack bolt, or shackle bolt, is a heraldic symbol representing a fetter, such as might be put on the wrists or ankles of a prisoner.[15] from the Anderton coat of arms and a crucified figure with the letters INRI, is believed to originate from Anderton Hall Chapel.[16] Above it is a carved Sator Square reading “SATOR AREPO TENET OPERA ROTAS” which possibly predates the Christian era.[17]


a A shack bolt, or shackle bolt, is a heraldic symbol representing a fetter, such as might be put on the wrists or ankles of a prisoner.[15]



Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Find War Dead.
Fergusson Irvine, Wm. A Short History of the Township of Rivington in the County of Lancashire. Ballantyne Press, 1904,
Guillim, John. A Display of Heraldry Manifesting a More Easy Access to the Knowledge Thereof. Facsimile of original 1660 edition, Kessinger Publishing Co, 2003.
Historic England. “Church of the Holy Trinity.” National Heritage List for England, 2020,
Historic England. “Bellhouse circa 10 Metres West of Church of Holy Trinity.” National Heritage List for England, 2020,
LanOPC. Rivington Church. Accessed 7 Sept. 2020.
Lewis, Samuel. “Rivington.” A Topographical Dictionary of England, British History Online, 1848, pp. 676–79,
MCLGA staff writer. “Re-Opening of Rivington Church.” The Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 28 Sept. 1861.
NPOR. “NPOR K00907.” National Pipe Organ Register, Accessed 7 Sept. 2020.
Rawlinson, John. About Rivington. Nelson, 1969.
Smith, M. D. Old Rivington and District. Wyre, 1998.
The Church of England. General Search Deane.
Wright, Joanna. Rivington Parish Church, Chorley, Lancashire An Archaeological Watching Brief. University of Manchester, 2008,