In 1821 Dr. Law, Bishop of Chester, reported on “things to be done at Newchurch in Pendle” he required “dry rushes to be procured for ye bottom of ye pews”.
Rushes, which are plentiful around Newchurch and Goldshaw Booth, were gathered and brought to church. The old rushes would be removed and the new rushes placed on the floor of the church. The rushes made a carpet in church at a time when the roads, paths and lanes to church would have been muddy. When Bishop Law visited someone must have been lax in replacing the rushes.
St. Mary’s is one of the very few churches that have kept the Rushbearing tradition alive. We no longer put rushes on the floor but we do celebrate our heritage at our Annual Rushbearing Service every year. It is one of the ways we thank God for our heritage, include the whole community and welcome visitors and tourists.
Each year we sing this hymn to the tune of Crimond. The Rev. William Frankland, Vicar of Newchurch in 1954, wrote it especially for Rushbearing.
The celebration is in July just before the children break for their summer holiday.
The Rushbearing Queen is crowned on the Saturday in the centre of the village, after which we all go to church to praise God. Finally we have a picnic tea outside church to the sound of Burnley Alliance Silver Band.
If you would like to come to the next Rushbearing then you will find the date here.
We know that Rushbearing was being celebrated in 1910 when the Vicar G. Fletcher.
The earliest photograph we have found is of 1949 showing the procession going past the vicarage to church.
The programme of events for the day is shown below:
This is Rushbearing in 1986 with the procession walking down to church from the centre of the village.
This is the Rev Jane Bury, Vicar of Fence and Higham, crowning the Rushbearing Queen in 2013.
The 2015 Rushbearing when The Bishop of Burnley, Rev. Philip North crowned the Rushbearing Queen can be seen on the home page of this website.