Church of England Diocese of Liverpool Hollinfare

ALL ABOUT HOLLINFARE PARISH

Hollinfare is as pleasant a rural parish as one is likely to find in the predominantly industrial north Cheshire region.

Our church of St Helen is the focal point of one of the largest parishes in the Liverpool diocese but which is most probably the least inhabited.

We have a proud history dating back to 1497 and in this profile you will discover that we have a lively congregation of forward-looking self-starters of mixed age groups who are faithful, loyal and enthusiastic.

Our vicar is the Rev Arthur Cooper who was licensed on June 25 2018. Arthur was formerly vicar of All Saints, Stoneycroft, Liverpoool.

Our church organisations include an outstanding day school with pre and after school clubs, a well-attended Sunday School, a choir, a Friends group with a village history room within our premises and a weekly Chill and Chat group.

In essence, we have a congregation of many talents who have many times, and especially during many interregna (covering more than 20 of the past 50 years), displayed the ability to simply “get on with things.”

You will read here about many grass-roots achievements of which we are deeply proud - but it is our future that is mostly concerning us at this time.

Our principal challenge for the years ahead is to at least double our weekly congregation which will help towards securing our future both spiritually and financially and at the same time will support our bishops’ stirring calls for growth.

Hollinfare’s boundaries are the same as the civil parish which is called Rixton with Glazebrook – essentially the secularly-named Rixton and Hollins Green are the same place while Glazebrook village is a separate entity.

Our mission statement...

We aim to maintain a Christian witness in this community.

We seek to make the Gospel relevant to today’s world while acknowledging our own need of God as Lord and Saviour.

We gather in this place to worship God, to give thanks for his love.

We offer ourselves and others time to stop and think in a busy world and to share our concerns for the local community and the world.

We have a tradition of “middle of the road” worship.

Our PCC voted in favour of welcoming a female parish priest as soon as the Ordination of Women measure was approved in 1993 and a now-retired female curate took charge of our parish for nine years from 2003.

Bordered by the dioceses of Manchester and Chester, Hollinfare is as far away from the cathedral as any other parish in the diocese of Liverpool.

However, we have always endevoured to maintain strong links with the cathedral.

The population of the parish is 1,800 and has remained static for 30 years though 36 new homes now being occupied in Glazebrook will increase this number.

Farms occupy most of the land area and among residents there is a complete mixture of the upper, middle and working classes and, accordingly, a selection of higher and lower priced homes.

Most of those who work have to travel outside the parish.

Our church stands at the epicentre of Hollins Green village which reflects the archetypal rural English community.

Across one parallel road stands one of our two old-world public houses which has undergone much refurbishment.

It provides high-class accommodation and is also home to our village pond replete with ducks and a playing field.

Opposite to the east stands the village community hall, a hub of activity which includes dancing classes, indoor bowls and much more.

In School Lane, the road where you will find our west door, stands the village’s war memorial where we gather every second Sunday in November for the Remembrance service and close by are the smithy and the cemetery.

We are currently in the process of illuminating our memorial.

The cemetery is lovingly cared for by a group of volunteers led by members of our congregation – so much so that it has been awarded the Green Flag accolade.

The churchyard was closed for burials in the 1890s but is also a most attractive and well cared-for feature with two trees that are illuminated on special occasions and at Christmas.

Hollins Green has a successful village shop and a post office and is served by a frequent bus service between Warrington and Manchester.

At one time there were claypits and these have been transformed into a protected area of natural beauty which can be visited.

The two roads from Hollins Green to Glazebrook are each festooned with seasonal flowers especially in springtime and Old Manchester Road is bounded by trees that are illuminated by night.

Glazebrook is much smaller than Hollins Green but has a rail station on one of the lines linking Liverpool and Manchester.

It also has a post office.

The River Glaze, the eastern boundary of the parish, flows into the greatly beautified Manchester Ship Canal, its southern boundary.

Both our western and northern boundaries are motorways, the M6 and M62.

Both Rixton and Glazebrook have Methodist churches with whom we enjoy cordial relations and which we hope in the future will be further strengthened.

Our close proximity to Irlam, Cadishead, Lymm and Culcheth means that a number of families and individuals who live in those areas are happy to worship here with us.

Because of our small population and at a time of clergy shortage we formed the united benefice with Glazebury All Saints in 1994 and from 2004 to 2009 formed part of the first triple benefice in the diocese under the wing of Winwick St Oswald. The united benefice continues legally but Glazebury now have their own priest.

Seven interregna have meant that those in authority within our church have had to develop skills of leadership often as far as worship as concerned, show initiative, become adept at raising money, maintain pastoral care and have a working knowledge of the requirements of a church many centuries old.

Attached to our church is Church House, once the home of the incumbent and which is now used for many of our parish activities and also by the community for such matters as local authority and police surgeries and village meetings.

Our Sunday morning service is supplemented by a well-attended worship and lunch on Thursdays.

We also hold coffee mornings in Church House once a month which are also attended by members of the two Methodist churches in our parish and frequent social events all organised by a vibrant and enthusiastic committee.

We have had an active Sunday school since at least 1820, a fine musical tradition led by our organist and choir, and a dedicated Friends organisation who have established a magnificent history room for the whole parish within Church House.

The Friends hold regular talks and exhibitions of the archives.

We are putting in place mechanisms to work towards Child Friendly status and the Church-School Partnership.

While providing the various rites of passage for our own parishioners our beautiful surroundings have encouraged brides to choose us for their wedding and the proximity of the cemetery means that we also provide services for the departed from neighbouring areas.

We have a garden of rest and this is currently being restored and enhanced by the provision of a framework for memorial plaques.

A book of remembrance is also maintained and opened on the appropriate days.

We like to think we are most supportive of those who come to us at such special times in their lives.

During 2017 we conducted 12 baptisms, four weddings and 15 funeral services. 

Our day school repeatedly does well in Ofsted inspections, never being considered less than “good” and this status was maintained at the 2017 review.

The SIAMS inspection, also carried out this year, provided our school with yet another rating of “outstanding.”

In the SATS tests in 2010 our school was the only one in Warrington to achieve 100 per cent level four ratings and despite small cohorts during the past six years the results have remained excellent.

The pupils attend church on many occasions during the year and as mentioned earlier. Major extensions were made to the frontage and administration area of our school in 2006 and opened by the Rt Rev David Jennings.

The heating system was replaced and a security fence installed in successive years and we have completed the complete refurbishment of the infant department and hall last year.

Our pre-school and after-school groups each have meeting rooms within our day school.

The strong links between church and school are complemented by links with the many organisations within our parish.

The annual parish council Civic Service and the village’s Remembrance Day observance are always held here.

We strongly support the work of the Church of England Children’s Society.

We were one of the first churches in the land to celebrate an annual Christingle Service and have now raised more than £5,000 from this service since 1974 and also collect money in home boxes.

We also support the food bank at the Salvation Army Citadel in Warrington.

We had 66 worshippers in church on Easter Day 2017. There are around 50 on the electoral roll and more than 100 people who can count themselves either as attending each week or infrequently. There are more than 40 parishioners under the age of 18.

Because worship has been taking place on our site since the 15th century and most of our present building being completed in the 18th we have to cope with all the problems from which ancient churches suffer.

However our congregation contains many skills and talents and we have maintained the building so well that our most recent Quinquennial Report provided no surprises. The central feature of the church, our 250-year-old cupola, was refurbished in 2006 at a cost of more than £40,000 which we raised ourselves.

The church roof was re-slated as part of a major refurbishment in the 1980s, decoration is in good order and most recently we have laid a fine new path to the west door.

Our Church House building was completely refurbished in 2015-16 with a new choir vestry being created and new tables and chairs acquired. Two of the roofs were re-covered.

On an historical note, the most famous pop singer of our time, Gary Barlow of Take That fame, performed as a youngster one Christmas morning in our church and later performed a concert in our day school.

Church House was at one time occupied by the Byrom family whose most famous son, John, wrote the Christmas carol “Christians Awake.”

The son of one of our former vicars was Tim Bobbin, the celebrated Lancashire dialect writer.

There are a host of local history books and we have recently published a new history to our church. Our website contains much information on our past as well as providing a pen picture of every aspect of our church and an extensive listing of everyone who does anything both for church or in our school.

On the northern border of the parish stands Holcroft Hall.

One of British history’s most infamous characters, Colonel Thomas Blood, the man who attempted to steal the Crown Jewels, married the daughter of the house and lived there.

Links with all community organisations have traditionally been deep in Hollinfare with church people taking a full part in local activities and vice versa.

In addition to our monthly parish magazine there is a quarterly newsletter distributed throughout the village.

A highlight of village life is the annual safari when community centres including our church and many private gardens are open for everyone to enjoy.

Another is the annual carnival; both events are supported by our church.