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Gravestone Land to the North of the Old Rectory, Rossendale

Description: Gravestone Land to the North of the Old Rectory

Grade: II
Date Listed: 27 June 2011
English Heritage Building ID: 1401039

OS Grid Reference: SD8232122759
OS Grid Coordinates: 382321, 422759
Latitude/Longitude: 53.7010, -2.2692

Locality: Rossendale
Local Authority: Rossendale Borough Council
County: Lancashire
Country: England
Postcode: BB4 7TH

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Listing Text


C19 gravestone

Reason for Listing

This C19 gravestone recording the burial of James Ormerod located on the edge of allotment land to the rear of houses running along the south side of Patrick Crescent in Rossendale is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* History: It is one of a group of four isolated gravestones marking C18 and C19 non-conformist burials within the Rossendale valley and attests to the strong non-conformist background of this area throughout the last five centuries.
* Rarity: Isolated and small groups of isolated non-conformist burials are considered to be rare nationally.


This gravestone is one of a group of four located in a relatively discrete area within Rossendale and set on private land away from communal burial grounds. While they may have been repositioned, they are each believed to remain in the vicinity of their original locations. This gravestone is located on the edge of allotment land to the rear of houses running along the south side of Patrick Crescent and records the burial of James Ormerod who died in 1817. James Ormerod's will was witnessed by Thomas Haworth's son-in-law. Thomas Haworth died in 1800 and his gravestone is one of this group of four. Thomas Haworth was the trustee of James Haworth, who died in 1772 and whose gravestone is also one of this group. Another of James Haworth's trustees was Richard Ashworth, son of Richard Ashworth, a Baptist minister who died in 1751. Richard Ashworth's (Snr's) gravestone is the fourth in this group. James Ormerod was trustee for the will of James Haworth's son, also called James, and it is suggested that this web of legal ties represents a bond of trust and community of interest between the individuals across generations and may suggest that all four individuals whose gravestones are in Rossendale were Baptists.

Rossendale's social and economic development, and history of non conformity, provided a backdrop to the burials. The area was settled on land parcelled out to copyhold tenants in the C16 and C17 and the surviving distinctive pattern of farm holdings and enclosure with stone walls that remain visible in the upland areas around Rossendale date from this period.

The first Baptist meeting house in the area was built at Goodshaw in about 1685 and this was superseded by the building of what is now the Grade II* listed Old Baptist Chapel in Goodshaw in 1760. Despite the presence of a well-established burial ground at Goodshaw, the setting of these four burials on private land would appear to have been a matter of choice by the individuals or their families and the sites of these burials appear from the records to have been the family property of the deceased. It is suggested that the individuals concerned represent a local tradition of middle class property owners who shared religious beliefs and had strong family ties and links to local land holding.

Whilst many early non-conformist burial grounds were established during the Commonwealth (1649-60), a system of laissez-faire existed after the Restoration in 1660 regarding the locations of non-conformist burials which continued until the Burial Acts of 1857 and 1880. In essence this meant that it was not unknown for the bodies of non-conformists to be deposited in an unauthorised place of burial until the introduction of the Burial Acts in the latter half of the C19. The inscription on James Ormerod's gravestone 'What e're this place has been before / Tis consecrated now' is sufficient for an understanding that his body was deposited in an unauthorised place of burial. Whilst it is impossible to estimate accurately how many 'random' burials there might be, it is reasonable to assume that there may have been hundreds nationally rather than thousands.

This gravestone and the three other isolated gravestones in the Rossendale area may represent the burials of Strict & Particular Baptists who took the notion of "come out from them, and be separate from them...and I will welcome you" (2 Corinthians. 6:17) even as far as burial.


A C19 gravestone recording the burial of James Ormerod located on the edge of allotment land to the rear of houses running along the south side of Patrick Crescent.

MATERIALS: Local sandstone.

PLAN: Laid flat on stone baluster posts and aligned approximately east-west.

DESCRIPTION: The gravestone is a smooth sawn local sandstone slab alighted approximately east-west and located on the upper edge of allotment land immediately behind the gardens of houses running along the south side of Patrick Crescent. The gravestone is laid flat some 0.5m above the ground and it sits on four square sectioned stone baluster supports that stand on a rough stone-flagged plinth. The edge of the gravestone is a continuous curved moulding which wraps around its upper and lower edges. The inscription is in a serifed font headed by elaborate copperplate script and reads: 'BENEATH / are deposited the earthly / remains of JAMES ORMEROD / Innkeeper; who departed / This Life the 8th Day of Novr / 1817, in the 57th Year of his Age / Dear loving faithfull father now farewell / With whom it was my Happiness to dwell / With whom I was united Heart with Heart / From whom it was so painful thus to part / Yet shall the gracious Hand that took thee hence, / By Love divine thy Absence recompense / Prepare me for the bliss thou hast & then / Eternity unite us both again. / When we this good man's life explore / We cannot but avow / What e're this place has been before / Tis consecrated now'.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.