World Through The Lens

The last few weeks of a Prominent Local Churchman as told through Newpaper and Magazine articles

BACKGROUND: Peter was born on the 19th November 1834 and died on the 9th Febuary 1907, aged 72. (Some of the newspaper articles put his age at 71, but he was actually 72) Peter was the son of John and Ann (nee Berry) Holmes. He was baptised at St Peter's Church, Swinton, Lancashire on the 21st November 1834 and married Betty (Elizabeth) Berry on the 31st August 1857 at St Peter. Peter's occupation was listed on the census as Boot, shoe, clog and pattern maker, employing 1 man and 2 boys. They had ten children and it was John, his 2nd eldest son, who followed in his father's footsteps and became a clogger, eventually owning the shop next to his father on Chorley Road, Swinton. The shops are still there today, directly across from the church.

st peter church, swinton, lanc's     peter (2nd from right) and john shops (3rd from right) around 1959
St Peter's Church and Peter's Shoe shop

Newspaper Article: Swinton and Pendlebury Journal
Friday January 4th 1907
Presentation to Mr P Holmes, Swinton

The St Peter’s School, Brackley Street, Swinton was used for the last time for Sunday School purposes last Sunday afternoon and the ‘farewell service’ was attended by an unusually large number of scholars and teachers, amongst them being several who have now left Swinton but who came specially to renew acquaintance with the old place before it was vacated. A special form of service was used, the Rev. R.H. Malden, curate, officiating. Hymns appropriate to the occasion were sung and addresses were delivered by Messrs. L.G. Parsons, P Holmes and T Belshaw - a former teacher at St Peter’s and now headmaster of Atherton Church Schools. The chief feature of the afternoon’s proceedings was the presentation of an illuminated address and a Bible to Mr Peter Holmes by members of his young men’s class. Mr Holmes is one of the eldest and most devoted workers amongst the laity of St. Peter’s Church and schools and had the unique distinction of being the only member of the Sunday Schools who was present both at the opening of the Brackley St schools in 1864 and their closing in 1906. He was aptly described as the ‘father of St Peter’s Sunday Schools’ by Mr E Brooks, the oldest member of his class, who made the presentation. The address, is fitting terms, places on record, the fact already alluded to and expressed hearty appreciation of Mr Holmes’ services as teacher for over 50 years. “During this period,” it proceeds, “by your regular attendance, remarkable punctuality and willing services you have set a noble example to your scholars in this part of God’s vineyard. We pray that God may still strengthen you for the service in which you delight and that your declining years may be gladdened by the thought of duty faithfully done”. The reading of the address was received with applause. In reply Mr Holmes warmly thanked the subscribers for their gifts and alluded to the work accomplished during his long term of service. He expressed his regret which they all shared, at the loss of the late vicar, who had laboured so increasingly for the new schools and had never seen them in use. In conclusion Mr Holmes urged the scholars and teachers to support the Rev. B Heywood, their new vicar, as faithfully and loyally as they had always supported Mr Boddington. The Sunday School takes possession of the new premises next Sunday, when another special service will mark the event.

Newspaper Article: Swinton and Pendlebury Journal.
Friday January 11th 1907
St Peter’s School, Swinton.

Marking the transference of the Sunday School to new premises adjoining the church speeches were given by the Rev. Malden, Mr Parsons, Mr Musker, Mr Johnson and Mr Belshaw. Afterwards the teachers and scholars dispersed to their respective classrooms and after the registers had been called over, the scholars were dismissed. Much regret was expressed at the absence of Mr Peter Holmes, the oldest teacher in the school, through sickness.

Botherhood of St Peter's Swinton 1906

Newspaper Obituary: Swinton and Pendlebury Journal
February 15th 1907

Death of Mr Peter Holmes, Swinton
A Prominent Church Layman

peter holmes (clogger), swinton Lancashire. 1834-1907
One of the oldest and best known churchman in Swinton has passed away in Mr Peter Holmes whose death at the age of 71, occurred last Saturday at his residence at 193 Chorley Road, Swinton, after a lengthy illness. For some years Mr Holmes had been in indifferent health but he did not take to his bed until the beginning of the year since which time his condition gradually become worse, the end coming very peacefully. The deceased was one of the most staunchest and devoted workers amongst the laity of St Peter’s church and schools and for more than half a century he has been a teacher of the young men’s class, a fact which was commemorated with a beautiful illuminated address with which the present and past members of the class presented him just before the close of last year. He was described, very aptly, as the ‘father of St Peter’s Sunday School’, as he was the only member of the school who was present at the opening of the Brackley St schools in 1864 and their closing on the last Sunday of 1906. Mr Holmes was a faithful and loyal supporter of the different clergy under which he laboured during his long period of service and in his last public utterance – in acknowledgment of the token of esteem from his class – he appealed to the scholars and congregation to support the Rev.B.O.F. Heywood, the new vicar, as loyally as they had the Rev.E Boddington. Remarkable punctual and regular in attendance at church and school and willing and earnest in the performance of his duties, Mr Holmes, has set a splendid example for the large body of men who have sat under him as scholars. He was a frequent speaker at the various meetings in connection with the church, and as an enthusiastic Conservative he was also in great demand at local meeting of his party. He was several times practitioners’ warden at St Peter’s Church, and for some years was also a sides-man. In addition to being a teacher he was superintendent of the Sunday School for a few years prior to the appointment of the late Mr James Haworth. He was a foundation manger of St Peter’s Schools, and a trustee of the new school, in connection with which scheme he was a prominent worker. For a considerable period he was the Chairman of the Political Committee at Swinton Conservative Club and a member of the Management Committee. Amongst other offices which he held were member of the Swinton Burial Board and treasurer of the Swinton Church Sick and Burial Society – positions which he occupied up to his death.

The Funeral

peter holmes' gravestone. 1834-1907

A very large congregation attended the funeral service at St Peter’s Church on Wednesday afternoon and on all hands their was evidence of the high esteem and respect in which Mr Holmes was held. The procession of mourner form the residence was headed by representatives of public bodies and members of the deceased Sunday School class, six of whom acted as bearers. The relatives and friends followed the bier on foot. At the church gates the cortege was met by the choir and clergy, the opening sentences of the burial service being read by Rev W J Clarke, curate. The service was choral, and as the mourners entered the church, the organist (Mr R Johnson) played, ‘Oh rest in the Lord’, following which the choir chanted the 90th psalm. The hymns, ‘Ye servants of the Lord’ and ‘Son of my Soul’, both of which were favourites of the deceased, were then sung, and an impressive service concluded with the singing of the Nune Dimittis. At the graveside the final rites were conducted the Rev. B.O.F. Heywood, vicar, assisted by the Revs D.O. Evans, R.H. Malden, and W.J. Clarke, (curates). Amongst the mourners were Messrs. H Daniels and T Musker (churchwardens). Messrs. P Scholes, J Belshaw, and A Part (sidesmen). Messrs Gerald Peel, J.P., J G C Parsons and Councillor Mills J.P. (school managers). Rev J. W. Farrow, Mrs H.R. Heywood, Miss Heywood, Mr H.A.Heywood (Chester), Mr F.E.Hannah (headmaster St Peter’s Schools), Messrs W.P.Kidd, W.Gilbody. T. Kershaw, H. Collier, and F. Bee (Swinton Conservative Club and Association). Messrs. F Rawlinson, Rev P. Carrott, and Mr W.T. Postlewaite LLB (Swinton Burial Board), Messrs. C Cash and E Owen (Swinton Church S and B Society); and a number of Sunday School teachers and scholars. There was numerous beautiful wreaths, amongst the donors being the Swinton Conservative Club; Swinton Conservative Association; teachers and scholars of St Peter’s Day schools – members of Me Holmes’ class; St Peter’s Sunday School teachers and scholars; foundation managers St Peter’s school; the church officers; and the Swinton Sick and Burial Society. The flags at the Conservative Club and the Industrial School were at half-mast.

The Death of Mr Peter Holmes
As Reported in St Peter's Church Magazine 1907

There has been quite an unusual number of funerals at the church during the last few weeks and amongst them the funerals of some who have had quite a long connection with Swinton church. On Wednesday, February 13th – Ash Wednesday – the body of Mr. Peter Holmes was laid to rest near the church for which he had felt and shown such constant and deep devotion. Mr. Peter Holmes was, before everything else, a churchman; fervently, almost passionately attached to his church. When some people are mentioned we think at once of their earthly callings, their business, their profession. It is not true to say of Mr Holmes that when he was mentioned people thought not of his trade, but of his convictions. The local newspaper, in its record of his funeral, did not refer to his trade, but referred repeatedly to his Churchmanship. The belief was the man. It is hard to estimate the service which may be rendered to the religion and to the Church of Jesus Christ by one like Mr Holmes, who believes in both and is ready to defend both against unfair attack, and is content to live his life by the rule of Christian faith practice. We could have wished – had it been so ordered – to have had the benefit of his knowledge and advice a little longer, but, as it is, we can thank God for the witness of a strong and worthy life, and pray that others may rise up with a like determination to maintain unflinching, ‘One Church, One Faith, One Lord’.

The Late Mr P. Peter Holmes
As Reported in St Peter's Church Magazine 1907

At a meeting of Wardens and Sidesmen of the Parish Church it was agreed that a tablet might suitably be placed in Swinton Church in memory of the late Mr P. Holmes. Subscriptions to the cost of it may be sent to the Wardens. The members of the Sunday School propose to place an enlarged, framed photograph of Mr Holmes in the school.

Tablet in St Peter's Church, dedicated to Mr Peter holmes, swinton Lancashire. 1834-1907

The Last Will and Testament of Peter Holmes

last will and testament of  Mr Peter holmes, swinton Lancashire

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