One of only a few villages built on the hill side, the historic weaving and farming village of Newchurch-in-Pendle is home to 12 Newchurch holiday cottage.
Immediately next door is the iconic Witches Galore shop, a popular tourist destination selling spooky gifts and souvenirs underneath the sign “Gerrit Spent… They dont pupockits i shrouds”. Watch out for the witches sat outside!
The “Pendle Witches” of the infamous 17th Century Pendle witch trials are synonymous with Newchurch, where many of them lived. The site of St Mary’s Church (at one time, literally the ‘New Church’) — a few metres down the road — has been home to a chapel of ease since 1250, with a later chapel consecrated in 1544. The current tower, now restored, is the only remaining part of that prior chapel from the time of the witches — the rest of the church that now stands was completed in 1740. Both the graveyard and church building offer peaceful sanctuary for many a weary traveller.
On the west side of the church tower is the ‘Eye of God’ — a unique piece of masonry that was placed in the church to ward off evil spirits and witches. Holly trees planted outside a house or farm were also believed to protect from witchcraft; note the well established specimen outside the Old Parsonage in the village. The graveyard also contains the Nutter family grave, which many believe is where Alice Nutter was buried after she was hanged in Lancaster on 20 August 1612. However, this is unlikely: it was unheard of for convicted witches to be buried on consecrated ground, and they were usually buried in unmarked graves near to the execution site.
Each year since 1910 the ancient ceremony of Rushbearing is commemorated in August. Historically, the annual renewal of rushes for cleanliness and warmth on the old earth floor of the church became an occasion for celebration. Following a floral procession through the village, the Rushbearing Queen is crowned before a short service at the church.
Opposite 12 Newchurch is a path tucked away between two houses. It leads to Sparable Wood and the Newchurch playing fields — Queen Elizabeth II fields registered for the Diamond Jubilee in 2012. They contain two playgrounds, a football pitch, woodland and wetland areas — home to plenty of local wildlife. At the foot of the hill is the hamlet of Spenbrook, which includes Spenbrook Mill – formerly one of several Victorian cotton mills in the vicinity. You can also join the Vicar’s Walk route for a longer off-road stroll to Roughlee.
To the left of 12 Newchurch is a public footpath that forms part of the Pendle Way and ‘Walking with Witches’ trail, heading off over towards Pendle Hill. The Pendle Way is a 45-mile circular footpath ranging from limestone meadows to rugged millstone grit moorland, incorporating hamlets, villages and towns associated with the Pendle Witches and the Brontȅs.
There are plenty more historic photos of Newchurch on the village website.