A CHURCH is resurrecting an ancient walking tradition to celebrate its 175th anniversary.

Members of Christ Church Walmsley, in Blackburn Road, will walk the parish boundaries with an event known as Beating the Bounds.

It is an ancient custom, rarely followed now, but has a long history dating back to before the Norman Conquest.

A group of old and young members of the community would walk the boundaries of the parish, usually led by the parish priest and church officials, to share the knowledge of where they lay and to pray for protection and blessings for the land.

It was custom to beat certain markers on the boundary with a stick or a willow and sometimes the boys were bumped on the boundary stones to make them remember.

Ken Holt, who lives in Egerton and has been involved with the church for 30 years, is chairman of the 175 Committee, which is working to organise a number of events throughout the year He said: “As far as I’m aware, the church has never done it — certainly not in living memory. To mark the 175th anniversary, we thought it’s a good time to resurrect it.

“It will be a very nice walk indeed. It’s surprising how many people don’t know where our church is because you can’t see it from the main road. We are trying to widen the scope.”

They are hoping more than 50 people will join members of the church’s regular walking group, Walmsley Wombles, for Beating the Bounds.

The main 14-mile walk is planned for Saturday, May 31, meeting at Dunscar Bridge at 9am for a 9.30am start.

It will take about seven hours and will be followed by refreshments and a presentation of certificates at Dunscar Bridge Brewery at about 4.30pm.

People are also being offered the chance to complete the walk in two stages, the first of them today meeting at Dunscar Bridge at 10am for a 10.30am start.

The first half walkers will then be able to join the main group at Cadshaw Bridge in a fortnight to complete the route. Mr Holt hopes the revival of the age-old tradition of walking the parish boundary, established in 1844, will continue after this month’s events.

Members of the church have already held events to mark the milestone year, 175 years since the consecration of the church building, including a quiz and Victorian tea party.

Following on from the Beating the Bounds project will be the Walmsley Family Heritage Day which will take place on July 5 within the grounds of the church and school.

Local charities are being invited to hold a stall at the event. Ring Ken on 01204 595124 or email ken.holt7@ntlworld.com for more information.