The Rivington Pilgrimage

The Rivington Pilgrimage has been an important part of the life of the Chapel for sixty years. The first one took place in 1962 to celebrate the three hundredth anniversary of the ejection of 1662, which resulted in many ministers having to leave their posts in the Church of England.

The Pilgrimage was suggested by John W. R. Crompton of Rivington Hall, the then Chairman of Trustees, and Reverend Eric Shirvell Price, who was minister of Bank Street Unitarian Chapel, Bolton, at the time. The idea was to give Unitarians from all parts of the country the opportunity to meet together to mark this important anniversary.

About 360 people made the first Pilgrimage. A dinner in the Rivington Tithe Barn was followed by a walk to Chapel for a service, with many having to sit outside. By popular vote, it was proposed that the Pilgrimage should become an annual event. However, by the 1980s it was decided that it should be held once every three years, on a Saturday in September.

The format of the Pilgrimage has remained much the same over the years. After the meal, a guest speaker proposes a toast to ‘Civil and Religious Liberties the World over’. Everyone then makes their way to the Chapel. Some chapels bring along their banners. Although the number of people attending is much less than in 1962, there are enough to fill the Chapel for the service which is usually led by a guest minister.