Press Release


St Nicholas’ Churchyard Project wins National Lottery support


St Nicholas’ Church in Newchurch, Rossendale, has received a £38,300 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, for a project that will involve the whole community in restoring the churchyard to create a place of beauty and biodiversity. The heritage of the site will also be brought to life through the creation of display boards, leaflets and a new interactive website.

Newchurch is one of the oldest settlements in Rossendale and the Grade II* listed St Nicholas’ Church itself has a 500-year history. The churchyard contains Grade II* listed harrier hound monument of Methuselah Yates; however, over the past 40 years, the condition of the churchyard has deteriorated to the extent that is no longer safe to access.

Thanks to the ‘Our Heritage’ grant from HLF, the restoration project will restore the churchyard and share the stories of those buried there, while making the site a place of beauty to be enjoyed by the local community once more.

The project will involve the removal of diseased and dangerous trees, the repair of drystone walls and the repair of dangerous gravestones. Areas of weeds will be controlled, and biodiversity will be improved to encourage the site to become a haven for flora and fauna.

The money will also fund archive research to uncover lost information about those buried in the churchyard. This information will be shared on St Nicholas’ website, on interpretation panels on permanent display in the church, and on leaflets which will be distributed to the community. In addition, a 3D survey of the site will be carried out to create a separate interactive website that will explore the graves and the churchyard’s heritage features.

Working with archivists, ecologists and heritage professionals, the whole community will have the opportunity to be involved in the project and gain a wide range of new skills from drystone walling, to woodland management, first aid and website design.  


Commenting on the award the Reverend Penny King, said: “We are delighted that the National Lottery has recognised our community with this support. Without this funding the churchyard would have faced an uncertain future, with the stories of those buried there at risk of being lost forever. However, with the funding now in place we look forward to it becoming a beautiful space and a hub for local people once again.”


Anyone interested in getting involved in the project is asked to contact The Reverend Penny King on or 01706 211 122.

The project will be managed by the PCC of St Nicholas’ Church with support from Trustees from Valley Heritage, a Building Preservation Trust operating in Rossendale.


Notes to editors

About St Nicholas’ Church, Newchurch

In 1511, Newchurch was a ‘Chapel of Ease’ to the Castle Chapel of St Michael, Clitheroe, administrated by the Cistercian monks of Whalley Abbey in Clitheroe. In 1537 Whalley Abbey closed with the dissolution of the monastery.

St Nicholas is the third church on the site and was granted the full rights of a Parish Church in 1550, following a petition by the inhabitants of Newchurch. The churchyard contains graves dating back hundreds of years and there is fascinating history contained in their writing. St Nicholas’ Church is in the Church of England Diocese of Manchester.

Rossendale Borough Council have earmarked Newchurch village as a potential new Conservation Area within their draft Local Plan which would further strengthen the heritage within Newchurch.

Further information

For further information, please contact The Reverend Penny King at St Nicholas’ Church on or 01706 211 122, visit the church website or find us on Facebook.

Alternatively contact Valley Heritage at and follow the progress of the project via twitter @Valley_Heritage or instagram @valleyheritage


About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLottery and #HLFsupported.