Description of Church
Grade I listed church with notable history, including the Flodden window and brasses including a rare brass from the Civil War.
St Leonard's Church, is believed to have been built upon the site of an Anglo Saxon Church, and is of medieval origin.
The Church is a fine Grade I Listed Building with distinctive building periods dating from 1120 and 1412, but substantially from 1524 when the original structure was radically extended by Sir Richard Assheton, the then Lord of the Manor. The Church contains an early 16th Century stained glass window commemorating the safe return of a body of archers from Middleton who, under the command of Sir Richard, were instrumental in securing a victory for the English King at the Battle of Flodden Field.
The wooden steeple, built in 1667 on top of the stone tower, is deemed to be one of the only three remaining in this country.
To the south of St Leonard's Church, and separated from it by St Leonard's Street, a steeply rising and largely disused cobbled road to the southern entrance of the Church, is Middleton Old Burial Ground.
Formerly walled to contain the town rabbit warren, the now largely disused burial ground contains the grave of Samuel Bamford (1788-1872), a local hand-loom weaver who became a prominent radical and a leading figure in the movement for the reform of Parliament. It was Bamford who led the Middleton contingent to the infamous Peterloo Massacre in nearby Manchester in 1819.
A Memorial to Samuel Bamford was erected by public subscription in 1877, in an area of the burial grounds which overlooks the town.
Bamford's grave lies within a square area at the highest part of the burial ground. From here there are splendid views of the southern façade of the Church - the main entrance was originally on this side - and panoramic views over the town and the surrounding area.
The church is open:
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