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Church of St John the Evangelist – A History

Whittle le Woods

The village was first recorded as Witul in 1160, which means ‘white hill’ - ‘le woods’ was added at a later date, subsequently meaning ‘a white hill in the woods’.

With quarries, most likely started in Roman times, and a thoroughfare (Chorley Old Road) that was once the main coach road from London to Preston, Whittle le Woods has a grand and glorious past.

Church of St John the Evangelist

Although legend has it that the first attempt at building a church in Whittle was over 600 years ago, the current church can trace its roots back to 1829 and the Reverend Gardnor Baldwin, then the vicar of Leyland.


The foundations were laid on March 3rd by John Bird (Lord Bishop of Chester), and the church was opened by the same man on July 10th 1830.


The money to build the church came from the Peel Million Pounds Grant, which celebrated the defeat of Napoleon, and the stone came from the local Whittle quarries.


The 1st vicar was Reverend J Duncan in 1830, and the first banns of marriage were read in 1849 … the church still uses the same book for today’s marriages!


In 1879 there was a request to build a larger church, and the foundation stone was laid by Colonel Crosse on July 31st 1880. The current church was completed on May 30th 1882 and is Grade II listed historical building, able to seat 500 people

The Bells of St John’s

The 8 bells of St John’s church were cast by Messrs John Taylor & Co of Loughborough, and the inscription on the tenor bell is ”To the glory of God and in Memory of Charles Kenrick Crosse”.

A bellringers service was held on Saturday, December 8th 1924 when many ringers from neighbourhood church’s assembled. The concluding part of the service was held in the tower room, where the vicar unveiled a carved oak memorial to four of the bellringers who fell in the War.


It reads “Lancashire Association of Change Ringers. In memory of Edward Gent, Hermon Lancaster, Robert Leigh and Reginald Blackwell who fell in the Great War 1914- 1918”

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