It was 1856 when Great Harwood first had a Parish Priest to serve the Town. In those days however there was no Church and Masses were celebrated in a 'Mass House' which was a rented cottage in Queen Street, the home of the first Parish Priest, Father John Dunderdale, later to become Canon Dunderdale. He served the people of the town for 30 years and supervised the building of the first Church, Our Lady and St. Hubert.
Our Lady and St. Hubert's Church, now a grade II listed building and its impressive stained glass windows were designed by Architect, Edward Welby Pugin, son of Augustus Welby Pugin who designed the Houses of Parliament. A local landowner, James Lomax who had already built a school for the Catholic children of the town, financed the building of the Church which cost £6,000. On the feast day of Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, September 1858 the foundation stone was laid. The Church was opened by his Lordship Dr. Turner, the Bishop of Salford on the feast day of St. Hubert 3rd November 1859. It is now undergoing restoration as it has been affected by the elements and other factors over the years.
50th Anniversary of Our Lady & St Hubert's Church
As the population of the town increased from 1,659 residents to almost 14,000 by 1911, it became necessary to build another Church. By this time Father Henry Hill was the Parish Priest at Our Lady and St. Hubert's and was the inspiration behind the building of the second Church and school. The second parish was to become St. Wulstan's. Father Hill purchased three and a half acres of land at the other end of the town for £1,000, aided by a bequest. Money was raised by the parishioners and a temporary corrugated iron church was built on the land in 1912 and served by the Curate from Our Lady and St. Hubert's, Father Patrick Wren, later to become Parish Priest at St. Wulstan's. The foundation stone for the permanent Church was laid on 3rd October 1936.
Father Henry Hill
Inevitably history has turned a full circle and as you can see we are back to one Parish Priest, Father Anthony Clarke to serve the Parish of Our Lady and St. Hubert with St. Wulstan but now involving two Churches and many more parishioners.
Now in 2009 renovation of the graveyard at Our Lady & St. Hubert's has been completed. A great deal of laborious research to enable the successful identification of the very old graves was a project undertaken by Trevor Fielden, a parishioner. This was necessary prior to the contractors moving in to carry out the groundwork to make the graves, memorial stones and lawns safe and attractive.
A corner of the Graveyard prior to renovation, many of the memorial stones were unsafe, and the ground was difficult to maintain.
Following renovation. The stones have been made safe or removed and the lawns laid for easier maintenance.