1754 The Presbyterian Chapel of Rivington Starts To Become Unitarian
It was in the year of 1754 that four of the congregation of Rivington Chapel, Hugh Makinson, Moses Cocker, Thomas Anderton and John Ashworth took up the cause of Presbyterian doctrine in opposition to the rise of Unitarianism. took up the cause of promoting an abandonment of Rivington Chapel in favour of Lee Lane Congregational Chapel at Horwich. The two doctrines differ in the manner of practice.
Unitarianism allows for freedom of belief and interpretation of the bible in context, rather than in literal meaning. The Presbyterians do not follow the doctrine of freedom of belief. The Unitarian doctrine of belief in one God of all mankind. At this point Lee Chapel came to flourish as dissenters moved away from Rivington Chapel in favour of Lee Chapel. Lee Chapel sprung up as an offshoot of Rivington.
Lee Chapel Founded
With the growing number of Presbyterian supporters within the neighbouring Horwich combined with the Rivington congregation sufficient momentum had been gained to give rise to the building of a Chapel there and the foundation of the building was laid down in 1774.
The Rev Pendlebury, Harrison and Priestly of Manchester were their first preachers. Lee Chapel was founded in 1765. It has a prior history before Chapel records start. The Chapel is considered to have been first founded in 1672 within the house of Thomas Willoughby at Horwich. The Chapel was not created by Act of Licence it was a licence granted to an existing Chapel. The Chapels of Horwich and Rivington were the first in Lancashire to granted Royal Favour, the Freedom to worship as non conformists. Hampson in his history of Horwich, 1893 says 'Rivington and Horwich were rent in twain".
At one time the Rivington Chapel members who could not agree to the Unitarian ways gathered at a dingle or quarry at the base of Rivington Pike, the founding words as quoted by Hampson were spoken at the outdoor meeting, on a cold and wet day " Brethren, something must be done", from those words the cottage was obtained, that cottage was to become Lee Chapel. Here commenced the very first Sunday school.
In 1760 four pious men left with a large flock of the congregation of Rivington Chapel to swell the numbers at Horwich, Rivington Unitarian Chapel was at that time Presbyterian.
The four men were:
By 1774 says Hampson the four men had founded a new building for Lee Chapel. The Rev. Leonard Redmayne, who's grave is to be smashed in 2007, was one of the first ministers to serve the Lee Chapel. He began his ministry in 1777, he ended his ministry in 1822 and died age 82 in 1829. During these years within the names you will find the Pilkingtons in baptism records, members of Rivington Chapel travelling to Lee Chapel.
By June 1787 a well organised Sunday School with over 100 children attending was launched at Lee Chapel, Horwich, this provided education to all families. The Chapel also provided food and clothing for the congregation. Lee Chapel had become the not just a Chapel but the centre of community life. The school is being demolished in 2007.
High Death Rate of under 18's
On recent inspection of the grave records the Horwich Lee Chapel (Lee Congregational Chapel) shows an extraordinary number of young people interred between 1884 and 1894. Although the graveyard is small within this ten year period alone there were around 205 under 18's interred at Lee Chapel, whilst in the same period the number of adults was around 104.
Unknown Graves at Horwich
Lee Chapel has many graves pre dating their own burial records. The number of internments is only recorded in a lined book from 1840, the books is incomplete. Graves pre dating this have no record. (M.I)' Joseph Anderton of Rivington who died June 1st 1836 aged 77 Also Rachel his wife who died sept 2 1837 aged 78yrs'
Affliction sore long time I bore Physicians were in vein but death did seize when god did please and eased me of my pain
In summer 2007 excavators are about to dig to 0.6 meter depth, to lay the foundation for a car park, the Chapel will become apartments.
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Photos of graves, all now removed for car park