Historical Record of Littlemoor Congregational Church 1811-1897.

In 1896 the officers of Littlemoor Congregational Church decided to publish a Manual of the Church, which was duly published the following year. It which included a Historical Record of the Church since its founding in 1811. This article is a transcript of that record.

Littlemoor Church originated through the labours of the Rev. W. Hudson, a zealous and faithful Minister of the Gospel at Tintwistle during a period of more than 30 years, and who died in 1811. Mr. Hudson, assisted by some members of his Church, preached once a fortnight, for some time, in a room in Whitfield where the attendance was usually very good; but his health declining the preaching was discontinued.

In 1809 a few friends,who resided in this neighbourhood, and who attended the Chapel at Tintwistle, or at Charlesworth, met together in private houses for prayer on Sunday evenings and other evenings of the week. A Mr. Samuel Dearnally, of Cross Cliff, who had never been in the habit of attending a dissenting place of worship but regularly frequented the Parish Church, one evening entered the house of a neighbour, in which one of the prayer meetings, above alluded to, was being held. After the meeting he enquired into the doctrines held by the body of Christians to which these praying people belonged, when one of the party read for him some extracts out of “Boston’s Fourfold State” on the Doctrine of Regeneration, with which the old man expressed his satisfaction and said that these were the doctrines which he held as gospel truths. He then cordially pressed the friends to hold the next prayer meeting at his house, from which time he cast in his lot with these praying people, and rendered them support in their efforts to do good. They were of the body of Christians usually called Independents, to which body the worshippers at Charlesworth and Tintwistle Chapels were attached.

The meetings for prayer being well attended, and there being a prospect of gathering a Congregation in ease a suitable place of worship could be erected, the question was mooted whether it might not be desirable to erect a Chapel. Whereupon Mr. Dearnally generously offered to give a plot of land as a site for a Chapel and Burial Ground. In the proposed undertaking a few gentlemen of property and influence in the neighbourhood, and of Nonconformist principles, heartily concurred and rendered assistance. A Chapel was built on the ground at Littlemoor given by Mr. Dearnally, and was conveyed to the following trustees: George Hadfield, Esq., of Old Hall; Moses Hadfield, Esq., of Simmondley Hall; John Kershaw, Esq., of Hurst; William Kershaw, of Charlestown; Thomas Shaw, James Shephard, and John Platt.

The Chapel was opened in July, 1811, when Sermons were preached by the Rev. W. Roby, of Manchester; the Rev. Joseph Cockin, of Halifax; and the Rev. J. Crockford, of Penistone.

The formation of a Church took place in 1812 when twelve persons became united in Christian Fellowship.

The first pastor was the Rev. J. Harrison who laboured here for about 5 years. After his removal the pulpit was supplied by various ministers for two years. Then the Rev. J. Fielding, who had been for many years the pastor of the Church at Coggleshall, Essex, was invited to become the Pastor of the Church, and accepted the charge. He remained until June, 1825. The Church next secured the services of the Rev. George Partington, of Park Chapel, near Bury. Thus far but little progress had been made, but under the ministry of Mr. Partington the Church revived and the Congregation so increased that the erection of galleries became necessary, which work was performed in 1829 with promptitude. The ministry of Mr. Partington was not unattended with difficulties. It was found necessary to exercise Church discipline in several cases. He was a man of sterling principle, of great firmness and decision of character, and of laborious habits. Early in 1838 he was called to his rest and reward, leaving the Church and Congregation in a much better condition than he found them, and having laid a foundation for a future builder.

On the 1st September, 1838, the Rev. Thomas Atkin, of Wigan, accepted a unanimous call to become the Pastor of the Church and entered upon his labours. The Congregation rapidly increased in 1838-9, and the Church experienced additions. From this time a gradual increase took place, the Chapel becoming too small. It was enlarged in 1845 at a cost of over £1000. The Sunday School increased also and a new School was built in 1840. The liberality of the people increased with the prosperity, and large sums were annually collected for the Schools. The year of the enlargement of the Chapel the people raised £400 in subscriptions, and £220 were collected at the re-opening services. Most of the additional pews were taken in the first quarter after the re-opening. In 1845 the Chapel was conveyed by John Platt, the surviving trustee, to new trustees, viz: The Rev. Thos. Atkin; Messrs. John Kershaw and Jas. Beever, deacons; and Anthony Higginbottom, Edward Dyas, and John Bennett, members of the Church.

In 1852 the School erected in 1840 was enlarged at a cost of upwards of £300.

In 1853, Edward Dyas, James Schofield, Robert Slater, and Anthony Higginbottom, were appointed Deacons.

In 1858 it was deemed necessary to exclude from membership one who was causing division by the propagation of 'different doctrine.'. Thirteen others, who either sympathised with his views, or from other causes were disaffected, withdrew and formed themselves into a separate body.

In 1860 the debt on the Chapel and Manse was entirely liquidated: £200 being paid in 1859, and £380 in 1860.

In 1860 the Chapel was thoroughly repaired and painted at a cost of £120.

In 1863 an Organ was amicably introduced into the Chapel as a means of assisting the singing. In the same year Mr. M. T. Moody was appointed a Deacon in the room of Mr. John Kershaw, deceased.

In June, 1867, the Sunday afternoon service was discontinued, and two services were held instead of three as heretofore. The proposal of the change was received not only without opposition but with satisfaction.

In 1868 the Chapel was repaired and painted, warming the Chapel by hot water was introduced, and a new Organ was obtained. Total cost over £800.

1871 new Trustees were appointed to supply the places of John Kershaw, John Platt, John Bennett, James Beever, and Anthony Higginbottom, deceased. On November 2nd, 1870, Frederick Hollingworth and Peter Sidebottom were appointed Deacons. On February 3rd, 1875, Mr. W. Sykes was appointed a Deacon.

Mr. Atkin presented the Church with a Flagon, two Cups, and two Plates for the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper. They were first used on December 6th, 1857. A suitable inscription was afterwards placed upon them at the expense of Mrs. Atkin.

On January 30th, 1876, Mr. Atkin passed away in the 70th year of his age, and was interred in Glossop cemetery. He had been the beloved and honoured Pastor of Littlemoor for the long period of nearly 38 years. By his fine Christian character, his administrative ability, his thoughtfulness, wisdom, and grace, as well as by his power in the pulpit and on the platform, and by his efforts on behalf of the intellectual and moral equipment of young men, he came to be widely and deeply respected as a man of solid worth, as a Christian gentleman, and as a good minister of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Being dead, he yet speaks, and his works follow him “in lives made better” by his own: and so we may well say he is not dead, but “alive for evermore.”

After an interregnum of 6 months, the Rev. G. Sadler, who had been pastor of the Independent Church, Ulverston, for 3 years, accepted an unanimous invitation to the pastorate. He settled at Littlemoor in August, 1876. It was no easy task to follow a veteran like the minister lately deceased. In 1876 there were 89 Church members, 523 seatholders, and at the end of that year 342 scholars in the Sunday School, with 31 officers and teachers. The need had been long felt for enlarged and improved school premises. Preparations for a Bazaar were set on foot; but prior to this an old debt of nearly £200, which had remained on the Chapel owing to the organ and other improvements, had to be removed. This was done and about the same time complete sets of china, and tea urns were purchased. Early in 1876 a sum of £242 had also been raised by the Congregation and friends as a tribute to the memory of the late honoured pastor. This was spent in a vault and handsome monument erected in Glossop Cemetery. After long and laborious preparations, aided by School Collections, Concerts, Services of Song, &c., the Bazaar was held in the Town Hall, in August, 1878, and proved a great success. It was opened by Hugh Mason, Esq., of Ashton-under-Lyne, and realised upwards of £750.

In due course after much anxious and protracted deliberation the new building, adjoining the grave-yard and facing Victoria street, arose. The foundation stone was laid by W. Shepley, Esq., J.P., of Brookfield, on Good Friday, 1880, amid many manifestations of delight, and thousands of friends and spectators, under a cloudless sky. Besides the proceeds from the Bazaar something like £1,500 had been promised in subscriptions. In the cavity of the foundation stone a bottle was placed containing coins, a copy of the “Advertiser” and other papers, and photographs of the Pastor and his wife, and mother. The contract for the building was let to Mr. Haughton, of Godley, for £2,576. The Architects were Messrs. Paull and Bonella. The School was opened July 17th, 1881, (the anniversary of the wonderful and unique celebration, in this district, of the Centenary of Sunday Schools the previous year) by J. F. Cheetham, Esq., M.P. for North Derbyshire, with T. Rhodes, Esq., J.P., of Mersey Bank, in the Chair. Altogether the cost of the building, including the £550 paid for the 5 Cottages on the site, was about £3,300, and after the opening ceremony there remained a debt of £1,000. Among the most zealous workers in this undertaking must be named Mr. T. Hampson, Chairman; Mr. J. Downs, Secretary; and Messrs. W. Ingerson, T. A. Pettit, C. S. Harrison, members of the Committee, and other friends too numerous too mention.

On October 31st, 1881, the premises were opened as a Day School with 80 scholars.

In April 1881, the Derbyshire Congregational Union met at Littlemoor.

The “Annual Reports” that have been regularly published since 1876 describe the history of the Church in fullness of detail.

The Trustees holding office in September, 1882, were Messrs. E. Dyas, P. Sidebottom, S. Robinson, J. H. Hadfield, W. Sykes, and W. Ingerson.

The Deacons at the same date were Messrs. R. Slater, E. Dyas, P. Sidebottom, R. Ollerenshaw, J. Priestnall, W. Ingerson, T. A. Pettit, J. Downs, and John Chappell.

(This record, up to this point, is taken from the Church Book. What follows lias been contributed by one of the Deacons.)

Early in the new year a serious accident at the Manse, when two servants were suffocated by the fumes from the boiler flue, combined with differences which arose with the Trustees, caused uneasiness, which did not seem to abate, and the Rev. George Sadler resigned the pastorate of the Church, and preached for the last time on the second Sunday in July, 1883.

Owing to differences alluded to previously the Church suffered considerably, and its usefulness and power were impaired. Many members left the Church, and for some time it was without a Pastor; till on September 12th, 1884, the Rev. W. L. Parker, of Ravensthorpe, Yorkshire, accepted a call from the Church, and entered upon his ministry October 19th, 1884. The recognition meeting was held on October 21st.

His ministry was, at first, somewhat arduous owing to the disturbed state, but his steady Christian labours were eventually crowned with success, and his influence felt, bringing about a more settled condition, as is shown by the work which followed. The first example of this, was the repairing and renovating of the Chapel, which was completed, in 1886, at a cost of £400. Re-opening sermons were preached by the Rev. Dr. Mackennal, B.D., Rev. Dr. Hannay, Rev. J. Calvert, and this cost was defrayed without leaving any debt.

The debt upon the school, which by interest had been advanced to £1,400 was a formidable item to attack ; but the whole of this sum has been raised, and was finally paid off in March, 1895. For this final and successful effort we are indebted to the generous help of old friends of Littlemoor, who came out bravely, supplemented by donations from a few who were not associated with us, and to whom we are ever grateful. We must not pass without a warm tribute of praise to the indefatigable ladies, who worked well and long to accomplish the object desired, and by their efforts raised by Sales of Work and Teas, the magnificent sum of £854. By the generosity of the late Robert Sheppard, who left a legacy of £600 for the purpose, a new Manse has been built, and the taking down of the old one made it necessary to provide a Vestry, making a more convenient arrangement, and improving the appearance of the Chapel grounds. Beyond these material advances, we must not lose sight of the higher work which marks the 12 years’ ministry of Mr. Parker. He has diffused amongst his hearers, perhaps in some cases against their will, a healthy and manly spiritual feeling, which has had no small influence in binding the workers together. His honest outspoken opinions have, to a large degree, eradicated the sentimentalism, which is such a serious hindrance to true Christianity. His work has been varied, and his attention especially given to the young, to whom he has always been a close friend. Amongst other work, may be mentioned the “The Christian Endeavour Society”, “Young People’s Guild”, “Sunday School Work”. “Children’s Bible Classes” and “Catechumen Classes”. A special feature is the Popular Services which he inaugurated, and which have been a marked success.

Looking back upon the work of the last 12 years, we are compelled to thank God for what we have been enabled to accomplish, and to take heart, and continue in the good fight, being assured that the Divine Blessing will be given upon our earnest endeavours.

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Last updated: 23 July 2023