The History of Deane Parish Church

Most of the information found in this section on the history of Deane Parish Church has been collected from a printed publication written by J.H.Dawson in the 1950's. Please therefore respect the information found in these pages.

Oldest church

The ancient church at Deane - in common with most old churches- was built on the best site in the neighbourhood. It stood prominently overlooking a well-wooded dene- from which Deane takes its name- with the distant view of Winter Hill across the wide valley of the Middlebrook. The Church as you see it today dates back to 1452 (over 550 years old). It replaced earlier buildings on this site and traces of those can be clearly seen. For example the North doorway on our left, and the tower behind us are older than the present building. If you look closely at the tower wall you can see the 'pitch' of the roof of an earlier building. You can get a better look a little later in the tour.

We know that there must have been a church here in Saxon times because 'Kirke - brok' (the name given to the stream that flows through Deane Clough) is a Saxon word meaning 'Church brook'. Incidentally 'Dene' is also a Saxon word meaning 'valley'. However, very little is known of this earlier history. We have to wait until the Norman Conquest before we get our first official mention of Deane in the Doomsday Book of 1086.

Again it is tradition that tells of the chapel of Saynte Mariden being built in the year 1100- about the time that Eccles Church was built; but as the church at Eccles was the mother church of Saynte Mariden it would seem that the folk of Deane, in this instance, have been over-anxious to claim antiquity.

The parish of Eccles was divided into four quarters- Worsley, Barton, Pendleton with Clifton, and Deane. Deane too, was divided into quarters- Westhoughton; Over Hulton, Middle Hulton, Little Hulton; Farnworth, Rumworth, Kearsley; and Heaton, Halliwell, Horwich. The whole of Deane parish covered 20,103 acres.

The year 1452 is given in Crockford's Clerical Directory as the date of erection of the present Deane Church and the Quincentenary Celebrations took place during 1952. Whilst it has generally been understood that 1452 saw the completion of the church of the present dimensions, with tower, nave and chancel, the "Victoria County History of Lancashire" describes a gradual development. This is an interesting account of its growth, and can more readily be accepted when the irregular features of the building are noted- the width of the arches vary, the pillars are not of the same girth, the south aisle is three feet wider than the north aisle, and the arches on the south of the nave are some three feet higher than those on the north. It should also be remembered that many ancient parish churches were originally of small dimensions and were added to during the centuries.

The length of the church does not lie due east, but some few degrees to the north of it, thus conforming to the old custom of building churches so that they lie in line with the rising sun on the festal day of the patron saint: the day of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is September 8th.

After a major restoration and refurbishment in the time of Rev Henry Sheridan Patterson, the church was reopened by Dr. James Fraser, Bishop of Manchester, on December 22nd, 1884.

Such is the story of the building of this ancient church, erected by local builders, who in all probability were directed and assisted by monks from Whalley.


In the absence of tangible evidence the historian often resorts to conjecture suggested by his knowledge of what was customary. It was, for example, a common practice to build a church on the same site, or very near the site, of an older one, which prompts the question; Was the small chapel (the size of which has been indicated) built on the site of, or was it perhaps actually, the original chapel of Saynte Mariden with its smaller tower? It is interesting at least to think on these things, guarding always against offering surmise for fact.