Tocca’s Stone can be found as part of a monument in St. Stephen’s churchyard. The monument consists of a slim cross shaft with the oddly shaped Tocca’s stone beside it. Both of these pieces of sculpture rest on a cross base. Below this is a large reused block from a cheese press. The block is inscribed with the following: “The upper portion of this monument is supposed to be a remnant of the old parish preaching cross probably dating from 684 : The lower portion is probably part of the ancient Toches Stone from which the parish takes its name” .
The word ‘Tockholes’ is either Saxon (Old English) or Viking (Old Norse). The ‘Tock’ part is a personal name, either Tocca or Toki. The ‘holes’ part comes from ‘hol’ which means a hole, or hollow.
Note the difference in spelling- the stone is variously called either Tocca’s or Toches. Whether this strangely shaped piece of carving is really related to the founder of this settlement, is probably doubtful. Still, it’s a good piece of local folklore, and it would be interesting to know its true origin.
The Toches Stone is not the only historical curiosity centred around the churchyard. Although the present church is modern having being made in the 1960s, it retains the porch from the original building and also the lych gate which is of similar design. The lych gate features the date 1906 and on its reverse side is carved the name of the vicar A.T Corfield, a name that we’ll see again in a moment.
In 1834 the original St Stephens School was constructed (the more modern one is further up Rock Lane). Money was raised by public subscriptions and also with a grant of £150. Today we can see the old school is a long, low building. It features a very unusual open air pulpit created from window mullions and other pieces of masonry. The whole thing has a very odd appearance.
Just outside the churchyard on the lane is a roadside well. The well is unusual in that it has what is claimed to be a Norman archway over it, taken from a local manor house. The plaque on the well reads “The Norman arch above this well was removed from Gerstane Hall Tockholes, and placed here in 1910 by the Revd. A.T. Corfield Vicar”.
Local historian John Dixon states that Gerstane is another name for Garstang Hall, now demolished. It used to stand in the Ryal Fold area of Tockholes near the Royal Arms Hotel. Above the inscription is a coat of arms featuring three hearts and a hand holding a laurel wreath. In latin are the words “Serva Fidem” which means “keep the faith”.
Just a little way up the road on the same side is another piece of reused masonry. Over the garden wall doorway is an arch that bears the inscription ” R A 1692 “. The Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society website states that this too comes from Gerstane Hall, which seems plausible. To have a good look at the lintel, just click on the photo to the left and magnify it.
Access Park on the road near the lych gate of St Stephens Church, Rock Lane. All the items mentioned in this post are within a couple of minutes walk.
Journeys Through Brigantia Volume Eleven: Circular Walks in The East Lancashire Pennines, John Dixon and Jaana Jarvinen (2003) Aussteiger Field Guide
Heather in My Hat, George Birtill (1985) Nelson Brothers
Lancashire Curiosities, Richard Peace (1997) The Dovecote Press
http://kepn.nottingham.ac.uk/map/place/Lancashire/Tockholes (accessed 22/8/15)
http://latindiscussion.com/forum/latin/serva-fidem-fidem-serva.8972/ (accessed 22/8/15)