A Brief History of Brindle St. Joseph's RC Parish & Church

If you come across St Joseph's by accident, you might well think you have arrived at a farm, with outbuildings and a rather large barn. Not so, this is Chapel Fold and the 'barn' is St Joseph's Church. This 'mission' has long been in the care of Benedictine monks who first began to serve this place in about 1677.

Stanfield House The priests' house was built in the 1730s. What is now the dining room was once the Chapel which the present Church replaced. Above the outside door of the dining room is a stained glass window depicting St Benedict.

The Cottage to which it is attached, is older. The priest once lived here and the Chapel then was on the first floor and reached by an outdoor staircase which has long since vanished. Later the cottage housed a school.

Chapel Fold Cottage opposite, dates from the Seventeenth Century and was a thatched farmhouse. The farmer here combined farming with hand loom weaving.

The Church was built in 1786, in a very plain style to avoid drawing attention to its existence, since at that time Catholics were still forbidden to build places of worship. During the next 200 years the Church was enlarged and greatly embellished, but in 1986 reroofing and extensive restoration became an urgent necessity at the cost of almost 200,000.

The Altar is the upper section of an inlaid oak court cupboard of about 1580, said to have been used as an altar by the Jesuit martyr, St Edmund Arrowsmith (1585 - 1628) who served the 'Mass' houses of this area in penal times. By saying Mass he was breaking the law and was finally betrayed, pursued and captured on Brindle Moss before being executed in Lancaster in 1628. His portrait is at the back of the Church.

The Vestment A tattered vestment, presumed to belong to St Edmund Arrowsmith, and found hidden in the walls of a cottage in Hillhouse Lane blown down in a gale in 1774, now hangs in the vestry along with sections of 2 altar stones found at the same time.

The Cross in the Ash Tree (now in the church porch) was discovered near the above site when the tree was felled in 1982. Tests were carried out by scientists at the Archaeological Research Centre at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, who concluded that the carving of a cross on the bark of the tree had taken place about 1838. It had been carefully recarved for twenty years before being discontinued. The tree grew for a further 132 years.

The Window from Newhouse Farm (also in the church porch) was discovered around 1973. Newhouse was an early Chapel built on land given by Alice Gerard of the Well, in Back Gregson Lane (now Brindle Road) in about 1677. It was forfeited after the 1715 Rebellion.

The Lime Trees in front of the Church, now reduced in number through disease and age, were originally 12, representing the 12 apostles.

The Graveyard The Burial Ground dates from 1815 and the Parish Registers, almost the earliest Lancashire Catholic Registers, date from 1722.

The 'Old School' (on the Private Road as you turn down the lane that leads to Chapel Fold) now, the recently refurbished 'Parish Hall', was built in 1831 by Joseph Knight a local boy who 'made good' in London. It was later added to in the 1880s.

The Stone Cross in the corner of the 'Old School' garden near to the road, used to stand in the garden of 'Cross Cottage' at the corner of Gregson Lane and what is now Alma Row. Here bearers would rest their coffins, and pray, on their to Brindle or Walton-le-Dale Parish Churches.