Chatburn, Lancashire, England
Elder Heber C. Kimball served two remarkably productive missions to Great Britain. During both missions, he served in the Ribble Valley near Preston, Lancashire. In that region are some quaint little villages including Chatburn and Downham. This is an area of stunning beauty. At that time, locals felt that residents of those villages were too wicked to respond to the gospel message. Heber responded by saying that he was not there to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Consequently, Elder Kimball and his companion went to work and experienced great success. They walked the road from Clitheroe to Chatburn and on to Downham as they taught, baptized, and confirmed a good number of souls who lived in the area. The present-day route of the Chatburn Road has been altered because of a large stone quarry. However, the street where the original road began in town is still there with the name “Old Road.”
Hidden behind a renovated church in Chatburn is a pond situated in a beautiful setting. This has been identified as the baptismal site where Heber C. Kimball and others baptized perhaps 100-200 new members. The site was first identified by Carol Wilkinson in 2005 and documented in her essay “Mormon Baptismal Site in Chatburn, England.” More recently, Richard Lambert, vice chairman of the Ensign Peak Foundation, looked for the site while doing research in that region of England.
After searching the neighborhood in Chatburn, Lambert found a seemingly insignificant little wooden gate adjacent to the Chatburn Methodist Church building. Walking through the gate and down some steps, he found the site where baptisms were performed. He later reflected, “It’s just sitting there, beautiful, after all these years. I imagine that it hasn’t changed much after almost a century and a half since Heber C. Kimball and others baptized there.”
There is a tavern in Chatburn called the Brown Cow. In 2009, the owners of the tavern affirmed that it was standing and in use during the times that Elder Kimball served in Chatburn.
Map and Directions
From Clitheroe, take the Clitheroe-Chatburn Road (A671) for several miles to Chatburn. To continue on to Downham, turn right (northwest) on the Downham Road for two miles.
Chatburn is a village in Lancashire, England and open to all. The baptism site is a public area open to visitors with no charge.
Articles & Resources
James B. Allen, et al., Men With a Mission 1837-1841: The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the British Isles, 49-51.
Richard L. Evans, A Century of “Mormonism” in Great Britain, 56.