Although St John’s Church building was closed 15 years ago and later sold in 2010 to a private developer, the churchyard has remained the responsibility of the Bollington Parochial Church Council (PCC) based at St Oswald’s, our Parish Church, at Bollington Cross.
The churchyard is now closed to new burials, except where there is space in existing family graves. However, a legal complication has delayed the legal closure of some parts of the churchyard. This means that we have not been able to transfer responsibility and costs for maintenance of the churchyard automatically to the local council. An informal request was therefore made to Cheshire East in 2016 to take on this responsibility but this was turned down. Due to a lack of sufficient local volunteers able or willing to carry out maintenance of the churchyard on a regular basis, we first engaged the help of the Community Payback Team over five years ago now. Following discussions with Bollington Town Council, arrangements have now been made for the Community Payback Team to cut the grass regularly through the growing season. This was carried out successfully during last year and, at the time of writing, the grass is short, allowing access to all graves. Ours is a very large graveyard so several visits are required to complete the whole area. We hope this arrangement will continue this year.
The church’s obligation for maintenance extends to the safety of the churchyard and its memorials, in order to comply with Chester Diocesan Churchyard Regulations (which can be found on the Diocesan website). Regular and fully documented safety inspections will be carried out at intervals, to identify:
– Risks from trees, in order to carry out safety work where necessary (in line with any Tree Preservation Order)
– Dangerous headstones and monuments
– Any breaches of Chester Diocesan Churchyard Regulations.
Potentially unsafe graves were identified in an inspection carried out in November last year, using the St John’s Churchyard Plan. In all, 75 graves have been noted, 30 of which we consider may need attention. Overextended graves which contravene the Churchyard Regulations, open graves and any that could be a tripping hazard have also been noted, as well as graves undermined by saplings that may cause damage and/or instability.
Any laying down of dangerous headstones has to be done with the agreement of the family who own the monument or otherwise by approval of the Diocese, via a Faculty application. The laying down will be carried out by a suitably qualified person.
It is now possible to research a number of our parish registers on our main website here. The available records include:
Baptisms at St John’s, St Oswald’s and Holy Trinity Kerridge from 1834 to 2006 – a total of nearly 7,600 records.
Marriages at St John’s from 1838 to 1959 and St Oswald’s from 1937 to 1954 – a total of over 1,470 records. (There were no marriages at St Oswald’s before 1937, and no marriages at all at Holy Trinity Kerridge.) For the time being it is NOT proposed to publish more recent marriage records online for Data Protection reasons.
Burials at St John’s Churchyard and Columbarium from 1835 to 2017 – a total of about 8,000 records.
Memorial Inscriptions at St John’s Churchyard and Columbarium from 1835 to 2017 – over 1,400 records.
Sunday 8 January 2017
The bells from the former St John’s church at Bollington have now been re-installed at St Thomas’s church at Stockton Heath, near Warrington, where the vicar, Revd Michael Ridley, is a former curate of Bollington.
St Thomas, Stockton Heath
Bishop Peter gives Michael a bellrope
Many bellringers turned up to “have a go” after the newly installed peal of bells was blessed by Bishop Peter, including a team from Bollington/Prestbury. Here is a short burst…
The bells from St John’s Bollington were blessed and dedicated at their new home, St Thomas’s, Stockton Heath at a service on 10 April 2016. Present at the service were a number of parishioners and former bell-ringers from Bollington.
It was desirable to keep the bells within the Chester diocese, and St Thomas’s was the only church available with a tower of suitable size. Extensive repairs to the fabric of the church were necessary before the bells could be installed. The vicar at Stockton Heath, Revd Michael Ridley, was a curate at Bollington in the 1980s.
As well as the eight bells from Bollington, there are two new treble bells (a gift in memory of a parishioner) and the former school bell (the smallest bell – this will not be part of the peal, but will sound the hour). They will be installed over the coming weeks and should be ready for ringing early in January 2017.
After our former parish church closed in 2003, the Diocese of Chester had to look for appropriate new homes for various artefacts, including the organ and the bells. Finally in 2011 St George’s Church in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire showed interest in acquiring the 1836 Samuel Renn organ. Thanks to various bequests and a substantial grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, St George’s PCC were able to raise the necessary amount (of over £100,000) to cover the costs of dismantling, transportation, renovation and installation of this historic instrument in their church.
On Sunday 15 June 2014 a small group from our parish travelled down for the Dedication Service held at St George’s, conducted by the Bishop of Tewkesbury, the Rt Revd Martyn Shaw.
Here are some photos taken in Spring 2011 as the organ was being dismantled and taken away from St John’s Church. These are followed by photos taken at the Dedication Service at Nailsworth, during which the Interim Vicar of Nailsworth acknowledged the gift of the organ from Bollington and thanked both the organ builder and the representative of the Lottery Fund who have enabled the organ to be welcomed into a new home. After the service St George’s delighted organist was pleased to allow Paul Broadhurst to give an impromptu recital (Paul is the Chester DAC Secretary who helped arrange the re-homing of the organ) encouraged by one present and one former Churchwarden of Bollington!