Welcome To St. Anne's Church, Turton


Brief Word About St. Anne's
Historical Notes
A Tour of the Church
The Grounds and Graveyards
Organizations at St. Anne's
Remembrance Memorial
St. Anne's Church Choir
Flower Festivals
Relevant Website Links


St. Annes - Hand Drawing

------- SERVICES--------

Matins (1st Sunday)
Sung Eucharist (2nd, 4th & 5th Sundays)
Service of the Word (3rd Sundays)

Wednesdays - 9:30am Holy Communion

Saints' Days
See Parish Magazine & Weekly News Sheet

St. Anne's Church Taken through the Main Lych Gate

The church is dedicated to St. Anne, the mother of the Virgin Mary and is situated on High Street in Chapeltown, Turton..

Those who worship here regularly are privileged to live in this very beautiful part of Lancashire.

This splendid church is set in delightful grounds which give it an air of peace and tranquility. It has been aptly called "the cathedral on the hill". If you take a visit to the church we know you will return to your home refreshed in body, mind and spirit. As you look around, spare a thought for the generations of parishioners who have worshipped here, been baptised in the font, married at the Chancel steps and who are now resting in God's acre outside.

The following paragraphs tell you a little about the fascinating history of the church.


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Historical Notes

Turton was settled in very early times, remains found on the nearby moors include a Druid circle, standing stones and copper and bronze artifacts. The name Turton is thought to derive from two early British/Anglo-Saxon words....Twr, Tur, Tor, meaning Tower and Tun meaning Town.

The Romans came to the North in 79A.D., and by the time they left in 447 A.D., the area had become Christian (by imperial decree!)

The Chapel of Turton has existed since 1111 when a chapel was built on this land, probably by Roger de Poictou. He was a cousin of William the Conqueror, and had already built Bolton Parish Church in 1110.

In 1333, Turton Fair was established on Chapel Fields. The celebrations originally started as an all-night service to commemorate the patron saint of the chapel, gradually feasting, drinking, trading and bartering were added until it became a Fair. The tradition continued as Turton Agriculture Fair until 1932.

It is thought that the earliest chapels were dedicated to St. Bartholomew, a derivative of St. Botolph, a Christian missionary to the northern heathen tribes.

In 1523, the chapel was "in the gift of" Ralf of Rauff Orrell, Lord of the manor of Turton, and the incumbent was a James Anderton. At this stage the chapel was merely a "Chapel of Ease", serving the needs of the parishioners who lived in the isolated farms and crofts, and who could not travel into Bolton to the Parish Church.

In 1565 the priest in charge was described as "decrepit" or sick, so it is not clear how much the chapel was being used. By 1610, however, it was said to be "well supplied with ministers".

In 1630, Humphrey Chetham who had purchased the manor of Turton rebuilt the chapel. This reputedly philanthropic man later founded the Chetham Hospital and Library in Manchester, and donated "goodly books" to the parishes of Turton and Walmsley for the use of the parishioners. These chained books and their ornate carved chest can now be see in Turton Tower.

The Turton Chapel was not licensed for weddings, and until about 1705 it was served by curates who travelled out from Bolton for the services; there were no clergy resident in the village.

In 1717, Samuel Chetham secured "Queen Anne's Bounty", a grant of money used to supplement income for church and clergy. It is possible that the church's name was changed from St. Bartholomew's to St. Anne's at about this time, in recognition of this assistance.

Historians point to the fact that St. Anne's Sermons Sunday used to be on the first Sunday in September, followed by the Fair opening on the Monday, as showing the link with St. Bartholomew's day on September 4th.


In 1779 the chapel was rebuilt yet again. It is recorded as being a long low building with mullioned windows, leaded panes, and a gallery reached by an outside staircase. There were 470 sittings, 38 of these being "free".

It it thought that these early chapels were sited to the south-west of the present church. The altar was probably situated where the Spencer family vault is now, the left of the diagonal path to the small lych gate.

The photo opposite is the 1779 chapel drawn from memory in the 1800's.


Turton Old Chapel 1779

In 1837, Turton was made an Ecclesiastical parish, and by 1840 the increase in the size of the local population which had accompanied the arrival of mills and bleachworks in the area, made a larger building necessary.

The present church was built between 1840 and 1841, and dedicated on October 2nd, 1841 by the Bishop of Chester, the Right Reverend John Bird Sumner D.D., who went on to dedicate Christ's Church Harwood on the next day.


Organ in Gallery

In the new Turton church the Father Willis pipe organ and pews were installed in a gallery at the west end.

In 1870, (or 1871 depending on the source material) lightning struck the spire, dislodging a coping stone. This crashed through the roof into the organ pipes  in the gallery, demolishing the instrument entirely. The stone then fell through the gallery floor and destroyed a family pew beneath!


Organ installed in Chancel in 1890/91

The new Father Willis excellent pipe organ was re-built by the well-known firm who was the builder of the original Father Willis of which was originally located in the gallery is shown here in its present position in the Chancel installed here in 1890/91. It is still maintained and tuned regularly and is in good condition.

In 1887, the magnificent stained glass window at the east end was given by the widow of Kay Knowles.

In 1888, the marble Reredos was erected behind the altar, and the Chancel was enlarged and refurbished. The organ and choir pews were moved from the gallery and installed in their present position in the Chancel in 1890/91

In 1898, the old enclosed "box" pews were replaced by the oak seating the church has today, and the gallery was refronted at a cost of 1000. In the course of this work, dry rot was discovered in the floor which had to be completely replaced costing 117.

St. Anne's Church (circa 1887)

The font was donated and installed at the back of the church in 1899.

The oak panelling and screens were installed in the Chancel in 1924 and the Rood screen was added in 1927.

In 1954, 5000 was raised to treat a recurrence of dry rot.

In 1977, with the dwindling congregation and the need for a function room, the back of the church was partitioned off to form the Broadhead Room and the gallery was adjusted. The font was moved from the back of the church to its present position in front of the Lady Chapel. The Chetham pew and the Chetham books and chest were moved to Turton Tower.

In 1988, the Lady Chapel was refurbished in honour and memory of Florence Taylor, churchwarden for many years.

In 1991, the 150th anniversary of the dedication of the church was celebrated with a solemn Eucharist and social activities in a marquee in the grounds.

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A Tour of the Church


Broadhead Room

The Broadhead Room

Constructed in 1977, this provides accommodation for Parish meetings and social functions. Groups ranging from toddlers to senior citizens meet here regularly. Church organisations hold fund-raising events and parties and on Sunday mornings after the service, it provides a warm convivial atmosphere to have a drink of tea or coffee and chat to friends old and new. Here shown is the Leisure Club which meets every month to play dominoes, have a chat and a cup of tea.

Back of the church

Inside the church at the back

Plaques along the back wall commemorate Sunday School teachers and superintendents. Some older Churchwarden's chairs are here. Near the flags of the Uniformed Organisations, the stained glass window which was donated by parishioners, depicts Faith, Hope and Charity.

The Font

The Font

This is constructed of Caen Stone, supported on alabaster columns, and was presented to the church by the Revd. J.W. Spencer in 1899. Originally placed at the back of the church, it was moved forward in 1977 when the Broadhead Room was built. The older font was lost for a considerable time but now has re-appeared and is residing quietly in the locality.

The Lady Chapel

The Lady Chapel

The altar and clergy desk here were originally in the Broadhead Mission Church in the north of the Parish. When the Broadhead Mission Church closed down (now a private dwelling), the furniture, along with the stone Broadhead font and brass candlesticks were donated to St. Anne's. In 1988, relatives of Florence Taylor, churchwarden, refurbished the area in her memory. The resulting Lady Chapel now provides a quite corner suitable for private prayer and mediation. Communion services for small groups (especially on Early Sunday morning and Wednesday morning) are held here.

The stained glass window, donated by parishioners, depicts the risen Christ.

The Pulpit

The Pulpit

Constructed of Italian marble and designed to tone in with the marble Reredos, this was installed in 1919 as a memorial to those of the Parish killed in the Great War. Plaques now list the names of Turton men killed in both World Wars, and the Turton District British Legion flag is laid up nearby.

The Reredos and Stained Glass Window

Inside Church

The Chancel

The magnificent stained glass window was given in 1887 by the widow of Kay Knowles, and is inscribed with a touching verse to commemorate his passing. The lower part of the window shows the Nativity scene, while the glory of the Resurrection is depicted above it.

The marble Reredos, matching the pulpit, was erected in 1888 in memory of Robert Knowles of Swinton by his sons. At the same time an enlarged wooden altar table was constructed, cunningly incorporating the older smaller altar within it.

The brass altar rails were donated in 1902 by the Revd. J.W. Spencer, a previous incumbent, while the oak panelling and screens were installed in 1924, donated by George and Rose Ann Walker of Pallett Farm, Edgworth..

The Rood Screen was donated in 1927 by Robert Kenyon and has a bronze plaque dedicating the screen to his late wife - Mary Alice.

The brass processional cross was donated in memory of Mary E. Crook (1880~1955) by her sister in 1956. Carvings on the arms of the cross show the four evangelists, and the Agnus Dei is depicted in its centre.

The impressive brass candlesticks on the altar were given as a farewell present in 1964 by Mr. D'Arcy Madden along with a brass taper and candle 'snuffer'. Details of these generous donations are to be found on the nearby plaques.

The excellent pipe organ was built by the well-known firm of Willis, and was originally located in the west gallery. It is still maintained and tuned regularly and is in good condition.


The Lectern

The brass eagle lectern was donated in 1907 by Alice Walker in memory of her father, the Revd. J.O.K. Spencer, an incumbent of Turton. The two Miss's Appleton mentioned in the inscription on the lectern purchased Turton Tower in 1890, but continued to live at Horrobin Lodge, leasing the Tower out to tenants.

Stained Glass Window in Vicar's Vestry

Windows along the South Side

Hidden from the public view inside the clergy vestry, is the oldest of the three windows on this side of the church. It depicts St. George, Richard Coeur-de-Lyon, and Phillippe Auguste. Roger Kay, John Kay and James Kay are also mentioned in the window.

Middle Stained Glass Window (South Side)

The middle window was donated in memory of the Appleton sisters (mentioned on the lectern) and depicts a biblical scene.

Right Stained Glass Window (South Side)

The third window on this side was donated in memory of James Kay of Turton Tower and his wife, with a tablet underneath commemorating their son. The window depicts St. Anne, patron saint of our church, with St. John and St. James.

The Church Bell


The Tower

There is only one bell at St. Anne's: the condition of the tower and geological deposits under its foundations, mean that it is not possible to have a full peal of bells. According to the inscription on it, the bell was cast in London in 1859, and it was probably hung in the tower soon afterwards. In 1949 the tower was strengthened.

At this time, the bell was re-hung and fixed more securely, so that only the clapper now moves when the rope is pulled.

The church clock strikes the hour on the outside of the same bell.


Outside the Church


The Porch

The Porch

Leaving the church by the main doors at the back of the Broadhead Room, there are two brass plaques on the pillar to the left. One commemorates the dedication of the church in 1841, and the other records the installation of the floodlighting in 1999.


The Church Floodlighting

The Floodlighting

.......and talking of floodlighting. In 1999, with assistance from a Millennium Grant and from a legacy left by Doctor Howson, the church was able to install floodlights all around the church, lighting the base walls of the church and more spectacularly the spire.

This enables people to see the church from any position around the area thus shining the light of God out to all. 

The Main Lych Gate  

The Main Lych Gate

This was given in 1961 by Major J.A. Barber-Lomax, in memory of his wife Sarah 1889~1948). Sarah was related to the Spencer family, incumbents of Turton 1815~1899. The Major's son, Lt. Colonel Geoffrey Barber-Lomax C.B.E., was a churchwarden at St. Anne's for many years. He was High Sheriff of Lancashire, and a Deputy Lieutenant of the County.

The Small Lych Gate

The Small Lych Gate

This marks the position of the original entrance to the old chapel. In 1966, it was completely rebuilt by Bert Middlemiss, and re-consecrated on Sunday October 20th, 1996.


The Weathervane

Donated by Mr and Mrs. Jordan, the cockerel was designed by Mr. Jordan, made by Bolton steeplejack Fred Dibnah, and erected by him in February 1980 (being shown on BBC Television).

The bird measures three feet from beak to tail and is made of copper covered by pre-war external 23 carat gold-leaf. The gold leaf naturally has now worn off but still the cockerel looks magnificent and the Weathervane still operates correctly.

St. Anne's Church & Grounds
Front of church

Front Lawned Area
Lawned Section

Side of Church Area
New Section

Old area behind Church
Old Section

The Grounds and Graveyards

The grounds and graveyards contain many fine monuments, including the Spencer vault.


There are two memorial gardens, one in memory of Mr & Mrs Woods and the other in memory of Raymond Haslam, and local Horticultural Society maintains a garden dedicated to one of their members. Trees and benches donated in memory of former parishioners contribute to the peaceful atmosphere.


Tribute must be paid to the tireless efforts of the 'churchyard working party' who maintain the grounds in such super condition.


In the year 2005, the graveyard at St. Anne's had to be extended. The site available was the land to the east of the garages and play area, on the north-side of the older graveyard, which some parishioners may remember as the 'plots and tennis courts'.

To make provision for this the PCC decided to begin renovating the walls dividing and surrounding this area.

The Churchwardens and Members of the PCC felt that it is important that we continue to provide an area for Christian burial for the local community, and they invited donations for the stone.

Thanks to the generous offer of FREE labour by local stonemason "Peter Isherwood" and STONE donated by the parishioners, work began on this project and is now completed.

This helped us to continue to provide an appropriate place for the burial of loved ones in the years ahead.


Plan of the Complete Graveyard (Excel Format)
Plan of the Complete Graveyard (small) (Excel Format)
Alphabetical List of Deceased Buried/Remembered at St. Anne's Church



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The Spencers



Clergy Of Our Parish

Bolton was at first included in the See of Mercia. This was originally in the Province of York, but later re-organisation of the church caused it to become part of the Province of Canterbury.

In 1541, Bolton was included in the Bishopric of Chester, which was placed back into the province of York.

In 1847, the final move of the Parish place it in the new Bishopric of Manchester.

In the early days, Turton was served by curates who travelled out from Bolton Parish Church and were not resident in the area.

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Incumbents of Turton








James Anderton
Arthur Pilkington (also there in 1948, '54, '63 & '65)
"Clergy Decrepit" (Arthur Pilkington)
Roger Wrig.....
Gilbert Astley/Aston
"Well supplied with ministers"
Richard Denton M.A.
Mr Boden
James Rigby
Mr Michael Briscoe (ejected by Humphrey Chetham in 1650)
James Livesey
Timothy Smith
Mr Taylor (ejected in 1662)
Richard Atherton
William Richardson
James Chetham
John Boardman (Brasenose College Oxford)
Henry Lawson B.A. (St. John's College Cambridge)
Samuel Stead B.A. (Brasenose College Oxford)
Roger Hargreaves B.A.
William Sutherland B.A.
Amos Ogden L.L.B., C.L. (Catherine Hall, Cambridge)
James Spencer (son-in-law to Amos)....
(was previously curate to the Duke of Wellington)
James Ogden King Spencer (son of James)
John William Spencer M.A. (St. John's College, Cambridge)
      (brother to J.O.K. Spencer, younger son of James
James Odell Coleman
James Platt M.A. (Durham)
William Morgan M.A. (Cambridge)
H. Frederick Fox B.A. (Leeds)
Jack Kirkwood
John H. Daulman
Revd. Martin Short
Revd. Carole Johnston
Revd. Stephen Parsons


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Thanks go to Sue Wilson for some of the above text which was extracted from her book about St. Anne's Church, Turton entitled "A Guide", which is available for purchase from the church.

May I also thank the following people for their invaluable help and advice and access to the above materials:

Mr. D. Michael Morgan, Mr. Norman Boyd, Mr. Malcolm Dowle, Revd. John H. Daulman, and numerous other friends in the parish with sources of information.

Other sources used; Robert Walch "History of Turton", Turton Local History Society publications.


 If you wish to contact the church for general enquiries,
please visit their website www.stannesturton.com


Team Rector - Stephen Parsons - 01204 777167 - email: rectorturton@outlook.com

The Standard MIDI File now playing is entitled "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" by J.S. Bach and is the copyright of Dave Smith

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