Parish of St. John’s Read and St. Peter’s Simonstone
Until the 1960′s, there were two distinct village communities, but with the development of new housing estates in both Read and Simonstone, the two villages began to move closer together. They are now fully conjoined. These developments not only significantly increased the population but also had the impact of bringing in younger families and facilitated the forming of the Guides, Scouts and Brownies organisations.
After several meetings of the St Peter’s Church Committee and of St Leonard’s PCC, a special meeting with the Archdeacon, a proposal was tabled to join St Peter’s with St John’s Read. The change of parish boundary was approved by the Church Commissioners by Pastoral Order with effect from 1 April, 1993.
With the advent of a younger population and housing estates, there was growing involvement in a number of activities mostly based in Read (e.g. cricket, football, youth organisations, playground, local shops, etc).
There was a long history of social activities supported by the two churches, both in aid of church funds and community projects. As the years passed, many joint activities were supported including H.M. the Queen’s various Jubilees. In 2002 there were some twenty-two different organisations operating in the villages covering a wide range of sports, hobbies and social activities.
In 2007, with the help of a lottery grant, church members from St John’s and St Peter’s worked to provide toilets, a kitchen area and general meeting facilities in St John’s Church. The font was moved and some pews were removed to allow for this improvement. A sponsored walk across Morecambe Bay helped to raise a substantial amount towards the project.
St John’s Church, Read
The move to have a parish church in Read began in 1837. At that time Read was still part of the Parish of Whalley. Read had a population of 550 who were very anxious to have their children educated. The accommodation for teaching in one small classroom was very restricted and when the number of pupils rose from thirty to seventy the house known now as the ‘Old Vicarage’ on Whins Lane was built as a school. It was enlarged in 1845 and church services were held there – so the villagers no longer needed to travel to Whalley to worship. After the construction of the new school in 1888, the old building was used as a vicarage until 1930. The present day vicarage is in a beautiful location next to the church. It is well maintained and has large gardens and lawns. It has five bedrooms, a large reception room and study. It has recently had improvements made to the roof to prevent water ingress.
The building of the present St John’s Church began in 1884 and the Foundation Stone was laid on June 7th of that year. The church was completed the following year and consecrated on September 2nd, 1886 by the Bishop of Manchester. It was intended at the outset to accommodate 250 people. The site was given by Mr Richard Fort, M.P., of Read Hall and the total outlay was expected to be not more than £1450; later rising to £2,000. The promoters confidently hoped that the church would be opened free of debt and over the years, the parishioners have responded positively to requests for funding. The population of the parish at that time had risen to around 950. Twenty-five years after the consecration of the church, the foundation stone for the church tower was laid on 18th February, 1911. Currently the capacity of the church is approximately 200. This is arranged by means of fixed congregational pews (two rows of ten pews seating 7 per pew) and choir pews with a small number of individual chairs together with two moveable pews retained from the works in 2007 where the font was re-sited.
The population of the Parish is 2,600 and is increasing with additional private dwellings being added. Approximately 70% of the congregation live within the parish
The church building is primarily used for church services during the week, but since the addition of the kitchen and toilet areas, more regular events are open to the public to attend. These include: lunches; Tree Festival; choir and Mum’s and Toddlers group. The weekly light lunches attract parishioners and non church attendees, who we hope will join the congregations in time.
The annual Christmas Tree Festival, established over four years ago also attracts large numbers from the local community.
The villages of Read and Simonstone have limited facilities for use by local groups. Currently there are two halls, one at St. Peter’s School in Simonstone and the United Reform Church in Read. Both are well utilised by existing organizations and groups leaving virtually no free nights to hold community activities. St. John’s Read is already ‘home’ every Monday night to a choral group.
There are two schools within the Parish. St. Peter’s C. of E. Primary school in Simonstone with 126 pupils (voluntary aided) and St. John’s Read Primary with 180 pupils (Controlled). The building is used for festival worship by St. John’s School. Approximately 50% of the school children are from within the parish and the remainder from local towns and villages.
Currently, St. John’s church is only partially utilised by the local community and one of the aims is to increase this usage by working with local organizations and potential creation of an area within the church, more suitable to these needs.
Activities that have recently taken place in the church would have benefitted from a segregated area. For example, Mindfulness Now sessions and smaller group activities would benefit from improved seating. If an area was created as a separate zone within the church, savings on heating costs can be made. Our home group sessions (Pilgrim Course) have been very popular and almost too big now for a standard home and these could benefit from this communal space.
Our Vision: We want to get closer to God through prayer, to serve people
in our community in new ways and to grow more in faith and membership.