The houses of Newchurch, previously known as Goldshaw Booth, are seemingly perched precariously on a steep hillside, near to the foot of Pendle Hill. The village is easily spotted from a distance, as many of the tall houses are whitewashed. The Newchurch name first originated in October 1544 when John Bird, Bishop of Chester, consecrated the new church of St Mary in Goldshaw Booth. Prior to that, there had been a chapel recorded on the site of the current church since 1250.
Newchurch from Spen Brook
Of the current church, the tower is the only remaining part of the original church and dates back to 1544. The tower itself though is marked with two further dates - 1653 and 1712, when restoration took place. The remainder of the current church dates back to around 1740. The most striking architectural feature is a curious oval halfway up the west face of the tower known as the all seeing "Eye of God", which is reputed to protect the villagers from evil. The tower church bell was purchased in 1830 with the clock installed in 1946. The sundial on the nave roof is dated 1718.
Parish Church of St Mary
'Eye of God'
The 'Witches Grave'
To the right of the church entrance, up against the South Wall, is the gravestone of Ellin Nutter and Family dated 1651 - known as the 'Witches Grave' as Alice Nutter is reputedly interred here. Chattox, another of the witches was alleged to have desecrated graves in the churchyard to collect skulls and teeth for use in casting spells. On the grave are the symbols of human mortality - a skull and crossbones with hourglass engraved on the flat grave stone.
Memorial to Reverend Barnes Wallis
Also in the graveyard is a memorial plaque to Reverend J.S. Barnes Wallis, who was nephew to Dr Barnes Wallis, inventor of the 'bouncing bomb', and a tombstone for James Aitken, who marched with the young Pretender, Prince Charles Edward from Scotland in 1745.
The Old Slaughter House in Newchurch
In 1826 a survey was carried out which showed Newchurch had 769 inhabitants and 387 hand looms. Newchurch was a thriving busy village in the early 19th century with two pubs, two shops, a football team and a brass band. The Pendle Forest Cycling Club, which is still going strong, was formed by workers at Spenbrook Mill in 1931.
The last of the pubs, the Lamb Inn was converted to a private dwelling and is now a bed and breakfast. There are though still some public toilets in the centre of the village, which are handy for the many walkers who pass through the village.
Witches Galore shop
The other main local attraction, besides the church, is the Witches Galore shop, which cannot be missed with the large witches outside!
One of the characters of Newchurch in the 18th century was Nanny Maud. She lived in a house at the top of the road out of the village, and at one time used to collect a toll from every cart that passed her door, until the carters took another route.
The ancient ceremony of Rushbearing is still commemorated every August. There is a procession around the village and the new Rushbearing Queen is crowned followed by a service of thanksgiving in the church.
Carved Face at Faugh's Quarry
On the road out of Newchurch towards Sabden Fold is Faugh's Quarry, at which there is a face carved on a rock. It is thought to be a memorial to a quarryman killed here in an accident around the turn of the 19th century.
|Walks near Newchurch in Pendle|