Feniscowles Hall ruins, Blackburn

Feniscowles Hall Ruins, Blackburn

Feniscowles Hall stands as ruin today but was once the opulent home of the Fensicowles branch of the Feilden family. Their history in the area accounts for many of the buildings around Feniscowles, and there is still much to see on the ground today for those interested in a bit of history hunting…

Feniscowles Hall was built in 1808 by William Feilden as his family seat, on land he had bought ten years earlier from Thomas Ainsworth, lord of the manor of Pleasington. On the ground floor were the drawing, dining, music and billiard rooms as well as those for the house keeper and butler. It also had “nine principle and sundry chambers” including a Lady’s boudoir, dressing and servants’ rooms. It was decorated with a wealth of paintings both of the family and by leading artists, including a Van Dyke portrait of Charles I.

Feniscowles Hall as was (interpretation board at QEII Jubilee Site)

Outside were stables for 12 horses, a carriage house and harness room. The house itself was set within eight acres of meadow land with ornamental gardens, conservatory, vinery, melon pits, forcing houses and walled fruit trees in the kitchen garden. (For an explanation of some of these features, have a look at our post on the newly restored Worden’s Walled Garden here). A deer park was constructed in the wider grounds with herds of red and fallow deer. The main road between Blackburn and Preston cut right through the deer park, and there is still access to some of the park today (as will be discussed later). This was not the only grand house constructed by the Feildens in the Blackburn vicinity. William was the brother of Henry Feilden who built Witton House in what is now Witton Park (see our page here).

William was a  wealthy calico and cotton manufacturer. As a friend of Richard Arkwright he was also one of the  pioneers of the factory system. This saw workers living in close proximity to the mill, with shift work patterns to enable the machines to run throughout the day time and workers having specialist, repetitive jobs. He had spinning mills in Blackburn from 1818 onwards and they were  known as Feilden’s Factories on George Street West. An 1833  report on his weaving mill at the site shows that it employed 194 weavers all of whom were women and children- except for four men. The youngest employee  was an eleven and a half year old girl.

William was one of the first two MPs for Blackburn after the 1832 Reform Act which gave seats in Parliament to areas that had previously had none. (See our page on the Parbold Bottle Monument for why this was so important for the northern towns). He was a liberal MP from 1832-41 and then swapped sides to be a Conservative one from 1841-47. His philanthropic work included supporting the  Blackburn Strangers Friend Society which gave financial assistance to those in  extreme poverty. As well as his political, social and business interests he was very keen on the latest farming techniques winning prizes at agricultural shows, including best crop of mangle wurzles and turnips.

Immanuel Church Feniscowles

When he died in 1850 a memorial monument was set up for him nearby his house at Immanuel Church in Feniscowles. He had given money to have the church built and it still stands today, with his monument outside in its very small churchyard.

His eldest son William Henry Feilden succeeded him, and his second son Montague Joseph followed in his footsteps by becoming a Liberal MP. After his election in 1853 there were riots by people unhappy with the outcome, and soldiers were called to restore order. Montague was also a mill owner in Blackburn and as a progressive he supported  the Ten Hours Act which restricted the length of the working day to ten hours – which was seen as generous ! A colourful character, he got involved with smuggling brandy in Guernsey, home of his second wife Alice. After retiring from politics he had a change of mind and stood again in 1868, only to be beaten by his Conservative cousin Joseph of Witton Park.

His brother William Henry did not take part in public life, but was a Captain in 17th Lancers and then a Major in the 1st Lancashire Militia. He inherited Feniscowles Hall and estates from his father, but was not to have a happy time with the place. The River Darwen, which flows extremely close to the house had become very polluted, so much so that the smell from it was making it difficult to live there. On two occasions  he tried to rent the hall to tenants but with no success.

The River Darwen flows very close to the hall (the red pipe spans the river- click photo to enlarge)

In 1866 the River Darwen at Witton was described ‘black as ink and stinks abominably’ and that same year William Henry took legal action against Blackburn corporation over the River Blakewater to prevent sewage being dumped into it.  The Blakewater flows into the River Darwen (to the east of present day Witton Park), and clearly any pollution in it would end up flowing past Feniscowles Hall.  The legal action resulted in plans for a sewage treatment works at Wensley Fold, which would come to pass eventually. However, pollution was also added to the  Blakewater from mills, including ironically those owned by the Feilden family. These would remove water for condensing, but return it back both contaminated  and heated up. This combination of heat, industrial contamination and sewage would create anerobic conditons in the water, killing plants and animals that lived in it and creating the very bad smell.

Pleasington Lane Lodge House

In 1879 William Henry died and his son William Leyland Feilden succeeded him. The family had recently moved to Scarborough, presumably thinking the pollution problem would not be solved.  They named their new Yorkshire residence Feniscowles House, but by then had effectively cut their links with Blackburn for good.

For the next seven years the hall was rented out to a Reverend Father Quick who used it as a school to train Catholic boys for the priesthood. The new residents must have continued to suffer as in 1884 a dry spell exposed part of the river bed and the local newspaper the Blackburn Standard commented on the bad stench, connecting it to an outbreak of typhoid at the vicarage close by.

Preston Old Road Lodge House

In 1903 attempts were made to sell the hall, but no buyer was found. By 1911 the hall was described as dilapidated- an unheated building without an occupier or a use will soon start to deteriorate.

In 1921 the Feilden family sold nine acres of parkland to the parishes of Feniscowles and Pleasington for a minimal amount of money. The land was dedicated to those who lost their lives in the First World War. It was called the Feniscowles and Pleasington War Memorial Recreation Ground. A charitable trust was set up in 1963 to hold the land for the local people. In 1993 land lying adjacent to memorial ground was awarded Biological Heritage status by Lancashire County Council and Lancashire Wildlife Trust. In 2002 the trustees bought this land, some 10.4 acres being part of the original deer park estate and joined it together with the memorial land.  The whole area was renamed the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Biological Heritage Site, with the aim to further preserve it for generations to come. It is well worth a visit.

Feilden Memorial Immanuel Church

Access and seeing the sites today- a mini tour: Park on the road called Enoch Brow just after Pleasington Golf Club. Head down the hill towards the bend in the road that leads towards church. On the bend is the first of the lodge houses, with gate posts (and a locked gate) and a  carriage way to the hall.  Cross the River Darwen at the bridge and head up Pleasington Lane towards Immanuel Church. In the small churchyard is the memorial to William Feilden. The Feilden coat of arms is over the door of the church.  (We visited on a Saturday  and the gentlemen tending the churchyard asked us if we wanted to have a look inside, which of course we did. The stained glass windows are well worth seeing and there is a small medieval stoop found on Pleasington Lane now serving as the font). At the busy junction of Pleasington Lane and Preston Old Road, turn left and go up to the old smithy (now an antiques shop). Across the road is the Feilden Arms pub (with a painted Feilden heraldic shield above the door).

Part of the Deer Park, now Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Biological Heritage Site with public access

Retrace your steps and head back down Preston Old Road, passing the Pleasington junction on your right. Note the exposed timbers on the side of Sun House. Keep on going downhill past the church hall. The main road cuts through the deer park and you can see the steep escarpment with a beech woodland on your left, and the grounds of Feniscowles Hall on your right. Through the trees you will start to spy the ruined hall, and as stated before the best time to see it is in winter when it is not obscured by leaves. The front part of the hall is the largest part  still standing, but if you compare the current view with the historical you can see that much of the side wing is now gone (see the top two photos above). Keep going until you reach the second lodge house, gate posts and carriageway. This is a more substantial building than the first and a glance over the wall will reveal what looks like lower stories and a slipway to the river.

Cross the road and head back up the hill to find the public footpath into the wooded area on your right. This is the other part of the deer park, and a modern path will take you on  a short loop up through the beech woods to an open area with excellent views of the countryide. (Good views of the hall are also afforded from the path). This is the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Biological Heritage Site.

Site visited by A. and S. Bowden 2018

Nearby, just a short drive away is another branch of the Feilden family at Witton House site, Witton Country Park


The Feildens of Witton Park (undated circa 1980-90s) R.D.S. Wilson, Borough of Blackburn, Department of Recreation, Parklands Divison

Cotton Town website specifically:



On site interpretation at Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Biological Heritage Site

Immanuel Church website http://www.immanuelfeniscowles.org/History.html




Posted in Georgian Lancashire, Historic Houses,, Victorian Lancashire | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Worden Park Walled Garden, Leyland

Worden Park Walled Garden

Worden Park’s Walled Garden was built in 1777 as the kitchen garden for Worden Hall. It was used to grow vegetables, fruit and flowers for the owners, the Farington family. Designed to be a show piece for visitors to the house, it is now a Grade II listed site. It contains many original Georgian and Victorian features such as the Vine and Fern Houses, a Melon Pit, extensive potting sheds and the Bothy House.

The unusual trapezoidal shape of the garden was designed to maximize the amount of sunlight reaching the plants each day. Stoves and flue pipes built into the perimeter brick work allowed some of the walls to be heated to encourage plant growth. These features meant that even exotic fruits like peaches and nectarines could be grown in our Lancashire climate.

Originally there were three potting sheds, but these have been much modified and extended over the years. An old Ordinance Survey map shows some may have been changed in Victorian times to have a glass roof and wall stove for a heated wall, suggesting they had been converted for growing plants. The original old sink for washing  plant pots is still present and the availability to  use hot water would have made this a much easier job.

The Vine House is south facing and had a tall, lean-to design to get the most  sunlight possible. Vines thrive best with their branches hot while their  roots are cool, and the spaces for the root-stock can still be seen in the brick work today. The oldest vine in the house is a Black Hamburg which is around 100 years old. It is thought to be a descendent from the original one at Hampton Court Palace.  There is a Hot House extension connected to the Vine House. The heat from the pipes in this  would be very dry, so to increase humidity there were open heated water tanks and water could also be thrown onto the hot pipes to produce steam. Currently the  Vine and Hot Houses are missing their windows and roof and  await further funds to be repaired in the future.

The Melon Pit with the Fern House in the background

The Victorian Melon Pit is a long low glazed structure again designed to maximize the amount of light and heat the plants needed. It  has a single sloped roof on a west to east axis. The glass and surrounding frame can be removed to allow access to the plants. Part of the structure is underground and steps lead down at the back of it to a narrow passage that runs along underneath. The external part of the Melon Pit has been restored but the inner part awaits further funds before melons can be grown here again.

The Fern House is a long greenhouse. There was a Victorian craze for ferns  but  while ferns grew well in dark Victorian drawing rooms they were sensitive to pollution, so couldn’t be easily grown outside as they might be now. Today this greenhouse is still used to grow plants for the garden and to sell to the public.

The Bothy at Worden Park

Connected to the outside of the walled garden is a small red brick house called  The Bothy. This provided accommodation for the apprentice and journeymen gardeners. Although there is only a single room  both downstairs and upstairs there would have been several people living there at any one time. Being onsite enabled the gardeners to tend to the boiler to keep it going during the night, to ensure the hot houses remained warm. The building was restored in 2013 and  is now open to the public so you can get a sense of what it was like for those living here. Original features such as the fire place, wooden ceiling beams and internal walls made from lath, hair and lime can be viewed.

Winter 2013

When the grounds of the Worden Estate were bought by the local council in the 1950s and opened up to the local people, the gates to the walled garden remained firmly closed. At first the council used the garden to grow display plants for the locality, but over time this use fell away and the garden became dilipidated. In 2006 the Brothers of Charity Service became involved with the South Ribble Partnership and began to restore the site. In 2012 they secured a grant from the Veolia Environmental Trust to begin repair of the buildings and full restoration of the garden. It has come a long way since then, as the picture on the left shows. Now it is open to all the public for free and is run as part of the Brothers of Charity Service Social Enterprises. To learn more about what they do see their website here.

Summer 2017 – Still more to be done- the Vine House (top right) is in need of full repair

As well as the repairs to the above mentioned buildings, a huge amount of planting has taken place. Four flower beds have been filled with the plants that were popular at different historical times. There is a pre 1700 bed, a 1700-1800, 1800-1900 and a post 1900 one. This was done with the collaboration of Myerscough College and the interpretative boards by the beds offer  a guide to the plant species.  The garden also features a 150 year old mulberry tree that still produces fruit. Apple trees of local Lancashire varieties have been planted against the perimeter walls-  for example Lord Suffield is a cooking apple raised by Thomas Thorpe, a  Victorian Middleton weaver. There are interesting plants to buy too and if no staff are on site, just use the honesty box.

In Lancashire there has been a real revival in the fortunes of our walled gardens. Recently work has been done at Astley Hall near Chorley and Cuerden Hall near Bamber Bridge to revive their walled gardens. These will be the subjects of future posts on Lancashirepast.com

If you would like to know more about the history of Worden Hall and the Farington family, then see our post here.

Site visited by A. and S. Bowden 2013 and 2017


Worden Park Walled Garden is free to visit and open every day of the week. See the website to check for times here. Parking at Worden Park is free- see the council website for it here.

Nearby, just a short walk away Worden Hall, and  Icehouse and folly arch.

A little further away, but within walking distance are Leyland’s Tudor Grammar School and  Leyland Cross and Town Well


On site interpretation: Most of the historical information for this post is taken from the on site interpretation boards provided by Brothers of Charity.






Posted in Georgian Lancashire, Victorian Lancashire | Tagged , | 3 Comments

The hall at Lostock, St Catherine’s Park, Lostock Hall near Leyland

St Catherine’s – the hall at Lostock Hall

Residents and visitors to the area of Lostock Hall  may wonder where the hall that the township is named after is located. The original building stood on the site of the present day St Catherine’s Hospice, and the area has been recently opened up for those interested in history, nature or just in search of a good cup of tea. The medieval hall is long gone, but  a later substantial one still stands in newly created St Catherine’s Park.

The River Lostock still flows close by the hall today, and the earliest recorded family from the area were called ‘de Lostock’, taking their name from the river. The Edwardian publication  A History of the County of Lancaster tells us that a  James de Lostock is recorded as living here between 1332-1350. The area the hall stands on was once part of Cuerden Green and James’s daughter Margery  renamed this part as “Lostock Hall” during her tenure. (Part of Cuerden Green still exists- it is the area surrounding the end of the M65 motorway at Junction 1a. ). Margery married into the Banastre  family, who continued to live in the hall during the 1400s. Interestingly there is a building just off Nook Road by Junction 1a marked on the modern A-Z map as  ‘Banastres at Bank’. The Banastres were a wealthy Lancashire family. There were branches of them at nearby Cuerden Hall, Walton le Dale and Park Hill in Barrowford (now the excellent Pendle Heritage Centre). The Bannistre’s manorial seat was at Bank Hall at Bretherton (see our site visit here).  They continued to live at Lostock Hall until the mid 1500s after which the building was sold on.

There’s a gap in the historical record for a hundred years or so, but in 1662 Andrew Dandie (or Dandy) was recorded as  paying rent for lands there to the Lord of Clitheroe. A William Dandy paid tax on three hearths in 1676. This was a form of taxation for large householders, the more fireplaces you had the more tax you paid. Dandy Brook Park was the name of the area that borders onto the River Lostock, east and west of Todd Lane South (and has now been incorporated into St Catherine’s Park).

St Catherine’s Gate in the old kitchen garden wall

Sometime before the mid 1700s there was a fire that seriously damaged the hall. Some of the brickwork that was not affected by the blaze was used in the rebuild in 1764 by William Clayton, a Preston banker.  The Clayton family continued to  live at the hall until 1840 after which the house was occupied by a series of different families from the cotton manufacturing business.

The last owner was Harry Dewhurst who bought it in 1880. He was part of  the Dewhurst Cotton Company which developed the famous Sylko cotton thread. When he left in 1918 he donated the hall and the grounds of six and a half acres to Preston Royal Infirmary to be used as a ‘Continuation Hospital’. Following conversion the building opened four years later to admit convalescing women and children and remained  a hospital for 60 years.

In 1981 the hospital closed and St Catherine’s hospice bought the building and grounds from the NHS. In 1985 on the 29th April, the feast of St Catherine, it opened for its first day care patients and a few months later for inpatients. Over the next two decades it extended its services and patient capacity and has become a much respected institution within the South Ribble area.

The Mill at St Catherine’s Park

Most recently the hospice has created a public café and community hub building, called The Mill. It is a converted 1800s barn on the site that was once part of Lostock Fold Farm. The name ‘The Mill’ comes from the fact that the farm was built on the site of  a cotton mill and the barn could have been made of stone from that mill. Before its recent conversion  the ground floor of the barn was a shippon for 20 cows, along with a bull pen and threshing floor. The floor above held the hayloft. The Mill café is run as a social enterprise to help fund end of life care for the hospice patients and is well worth a visit.

South Ribble War Memorial

In 2015 St Catherine’s Park opened up access for the public into the gardens of St Catherine’s and the newly created Wetlands area. Visitors can pass through St Catherine’s Gate in the hall’s walled garden into the former Dandy Brook Park and walk by the side of the River Lostock. The path leads down to the First World War replica Inglis Bridge (see the page about this on our Lancashire at War website by clicking here). It continues down to the new South Ribble War Memorial and Peace Garden. The hospice, South Ribble Borough Council and the Rotary Clubs of Longridge, North Preston and Preston South are to be applauded in their creation of this green and historical space. To visit St Catherine’s Hospice website click here. To view the Mill’s website click here. For more about the war memorial click here.

Site visited by A. and S. Bowden 2017


There is parking for the Mill Café at St Catherine’s. There is also free parking for the Inglis Bridge, Memorial and Peace Garden at the new car park on Todd Lane South. You can park in either of the car parks and follow the sign posts to see all the historical and nature sites of the newly created St Catherine’s Park.


St Cathernine’s Park: A Trip Down Memory Lane (2017) published by St Catherine’s Hospice Care and The Mill (free booklet available from The Mill)

Townships: Walton-le-Dale in A History of the County of Lancaster Volume 6 edited by William Farrer and J Brownbill (London 1911) accessed from British History online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/lancs/vol6/pp289-300

St Catherine’s Park : Central Parks leaflet by South Ribble and St Catherine’s Hospice (available from The Mill)



A Bannister Family History (2006) Heritage Trust for the North West

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Brindleheath and Old Jewish Cemeteries, Pendleton, Salford

Brindleheath Cemetery in Pendleton

Just off the busy four lane highway of the A6 in Salford lies the small Brindleheath cemetery. It was here that the chapel of St Thomas once stood. It’s gone now, but on the site many of the gravestones of the cemetery remain, not in their original position but laid out in a rectangle. Alongside lies the oldest Jewish Cemetery in the Greater Manchester area.


The chapel of St Thomas was  built in 1773 and lasted until 1829, when its congregation had out grown the building and moved to a new larger one. This new church was also dedicated to St Thomas and still stands on Broad Street in Pendleton today. The old chapel became dilapidated, but was pressed into service as an isolation hospital when the cholera epidemic of 1849 broke out. Two years later it was demolished but the old cemetery space still remains with many of the gravestones having been relaid.

Pendleton Jewish Cemetery

A small Jewish cemetery existed alongside this Christian one. Founded in 1794 it measured just 12 by 15 yards. Before this plot was established burial would have occurred in Liverpool. The land was leased from a silk dyer called Samuel Brierley at the cost of 43 pounds, 8 shillings and 9 pence, plus an additional annual peppercorn rent. It stayed in use as the only Jewish cemetery of the Manchester ‘Old’ Hebrew Congregation until its closure in 1840. Two new ones were then opened up, on Queens Road in Miles Platting and on Bury New Road in Prestwich.

The Pendleton cemetery had 29 Jewish burials and records of most of these have survived- although they are very brief.  Click the photo opposite to read them from the on site interpretation board. Today, five of the surviving gravestones are arranged radiating out from a central pentagon shape (again not in their original position). There is also a six pointed star of David patterned into the pavement just next to the plot.

Such green spaces as this one are a small oasis for wildlife in the city landscape. The following wildflowers have been recorded as growing at the site of these two cemeteries: wild iris, birds foot trefoil, tufted vetch and  self heal. Animals visiting it have included bats, hedgehogs and woodpeckers.

Our thanks to Jim, our Salford history correspondent on bringing this site to our attention.

Site visited by A. and J. Bowden 2017

Access The site is open access. Park on Brindle Heath Road.

Just a drive away, Kersal Cell and Kersall Moor


On site interpretation boards, provided by Salford City Council




Posted in Georgian Lancashire, Victorian Lancashire | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Sandy Holme Aqueduct, Thompson Park, Burnley

Sandy Holme Aqueduct footpath arch

Two large horseshoe arches carry the Sandy Holme aqueduct over the River Brun as it flows into Thompson Park. Designed by engineer Robert Whitworth, it was constructed to carry the Leeds & Liverpool Canal over the river between 1790-6, long before the park was thought of. It takes its name from Sandy Holme farm, through whose land it passed. The blocks around the arches are made to look old or ‘rusticated’, with rough faces and holes punched into them. It’s an impressive piece of construction, but on passing under the footpath arch the visitor can see a whole range of intriguing designs, carved onto the blocks.  These are mason marks- each mason being paid for the number of stone blocks they produced. They would put their own design on every stone they shaped. There are stars, zigzags, arrows, hourglasses, ones that look like eyes…we have never seen so many in one place. There are reports that nearby Gannow tunnel also has them, and that will be the subject of a future blog post. The aqueduct is Grade II listed and sits at the north-east end of the park.

Leeds & Liverpool canal carried by Sandy Holme Aqueduct

The idea for a park in the area came from James Witham Thompson. He is said to have spied the spot from an open top tram and thought it would be a good place for a public park. On his death in 1920 he left £50,000 to the council to construct one. Formerly unemployed labourers did much of the work. They began in 1928 and two years later  the land had been converted from Sand Holme farm fields, allotments and a plantation into the brand new Thompson Park.

Mason mark on the ceiling of the tunnel

The River Brun runs through the park, passing under the aqueduct. Some of its water was diverted to make the boating lake, which is over three acres big. Boat hire was a popular pastime and has been revived in recent years. Many original features of the Edwardian park are still present and in good condition: The sunken Italian Garden, rose garden, the two art deco style buildings of the  pavilion and boathouse, children’s paddling pool and two ornamental bridges. In 1998 Burnley and Pendle Minature Railway Society first began their train trips here, and are going strong two decades later. See their website here.  A year later tree planting was carried out as part of  the Forest of Burnley project, where over a million trees have been planted within the Burnley area.

To visit the aqueduct and park: Park at Queen Victoria Road car park (free parking). Head down the slope towards the River Brun. On reaching the river, turn left and follow the path towards the Aqueduct. When you go under the arch that goes over the path, look up to see the many mason marks. To get a view of the Leeds and Liverpool canal, take the steps up to the top of the aqueduct. Return down the steps and carry on the riverside path and this will lead you in to Thompson Park by the boating lake.

For more on the Grade II listed park click here and for more on the Forest of Burnley click here

Site visited by A. and R. Bowden 2017


Park at Queen Victoria Road car park and follow the directions above

Nearby, just a short drive away Godley Lane Cross and Shorey Well

Towneley Hall and Foldys Cross










Posted in Canal Buildings, | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Becconsall Old Church of All Saints, Hesketh Bank, West Lancashire

Old Church of All Saints Becconsall, Hesketh Bank

Hesketh with Becconsall  can feel pretty remote even today with the rivers of the Ribble to the north and Douglas to the east, and the large expanse of  Hesketh Marsh to the west. With our modern road links and bridges we take it for granted we can easily reach these sparsely populated areas of Lancashire. This was not so in the 1500s when the local inhabitants faced a long walk to their nearest church at Croston.  Their most straightforward route would be cut off whenever  the River Douglas flooded. This would then mean a walk of five miles to Rufford Bridge and a further three miles to Croston over the boggy Croston Moss.  A new church on the west side of the  Douglas was the obvious solution.  Croston Church created three outlying chapels – one at nearby Tarelton, another at Hoole and in 1535 one at Hesketh Bank. The church was small, just 21 feet long by 12 feet wide and made of wood.

In 1765 funds were raised for a  new church, a sum of £60 by local farmers and levy of £30 on the parishioners.  The wooden church was dismantled and in its place the one we see today was erected, constructed with bricks supplied by the lord of the manor Sir Thomas Hesketh. It was used as a domestic chapel-of-ease by the Becconsall family of nearby Becconsall Hall.

Becconsall Hall
(private residence)

The busy Lancaster to Chester route would usually pass through Preston, but by making a detour via Hesketh Bank, travellers could bypass Preston and shorten the journey by 28 miles. The Ribble crossing between Hesketh and Freckleton Naze was fordable at low tide and guides could be employed to safely show the way. Hesketh Bank could be a bleak and dangerous landscape on foot or by boat. In 1535 the Duchy of Lancaster gave an annual payment of £2, 16 shillings and 5 pence for prayers to be said at the church for mariners on the Ribble. The payment is still made but has not been adjusted for inflation. A copy of the a Duchy cheque written on the 29th September 2000 for £2.82 is displayed in the church today !

The River Douglas, Hesketh Bank

In 1655 William Tomlinson of Warton complained he had lost more than ten horses over his 40 years as a guide and petitioned for a new one. James Blundell’s 1844 grave near to the door of the church carries the poignant epitaph: Often times I have crossed the sands, and through the Ribble deep, but I was found in Astland drown’d, which caused me here to sleep. It was God’s will it should be so, some way or other all must go. (The Astland refered to here is an alternative name for the River Douglas.) Reminders that the landscape is still steeped in water cluster around the church. There is the Ferryman’s house almost next door and a  boatyard lying just  outside the bounds of the church. Nearby Douglas House Farm was the customs house for the River Douglas through Georgian and into early Victorian times.

In 1919 the new  church of  All Saints began to be built on Station Road. When it was finished in 1925  the whole congregation transfered there. Once a year they returned to the Georgian building on ‘Old Church Sunday’. Eventually the older church became so dilapidated that the building could not safely be used, and the services took place in the nearby field.

Looking towards the church from the bomb site

During the Second World War bombs dropped by a German plane damaged the gravestones in the churchyard badly, and caused some damage to the church too. The blast and shrapnel marks can still be seen by visitors today, if they stand at the entrance to the church and look back towards the gravestones. For the  full story of this incident see our sister website Lancashire at War here .

Through the 1980-90s a movement began to try to save the church, with many worried it would be demolished if a function for it could not be found. Ideas such as converting it to a youth hostel, tea room or agricultural museum were just some of those mooted. None of these came to pass, but in 1997 the Church Conservation Trust took over. This excellent organization looks after 325 churches throughout Britain.  Huge amounts of restoration took place on the fabric of the building, and the original bell was brought back from the new All Saints and placed in the repaired belcotte on the roof above the entrance doors.

On visiting today (see below about how to gain access) there is still much to see. You enter in at the west end, passing under a choir gallery supported on four fluted wooden columns. Walking up the gallery steps gives you a good view over the interior of this small Georgian chapel. On the ground floor only two of the original pews remain . The pulpit and font are contemporary to the church’s time of building, the altar and reading desk were added in the restoration of 1875. Two painted wall boards display the Ten Commandments, Lord’s Prayer and Apostles Creed. The large late Georgian windows are in excellent condition and flood the room with light. At the back of the church are displays featuring lots of newspaper clippings from over the years about the attempts to save the building. Details of the restoration, maps of the area and other local history snippets are also featured. The Friends of Becconsall church (see their website here) organize events during the year to make use of the building.

Site visited by A. and R. Bowden 2017

Thanks to local residents Sheila, Malcolm and Bob for their help.


The churchyard is open access. To view the interior of the church, a key can be obtained from two of the houses nearby. The information board at the entrance to the building tells you which ones. The church itself is towards the end of Becconsall Lane.

Nearby, just a short drive away Bank Hall, Bretherton


Becconsall Old Church of All Saints, Hesketh Bank, Lancashire, (2001) Series 4 No.51, The Churches Conservation Trust. Booklet currently available from within the church

Hesketh with Becconsall Heritage Trail leaflet (excellent free pdf, available at http://visitseftonandwestlancs.co.uk/ -click on the walking routes tab)





Posted in Georgian Lancashire | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Cann Street Well, Tottington, near Bury

Cann Street Well

A little way along Cann Street in Tottington is Cann Well. It is protected by a small drystone wall facing on to the road, and a cap stone above it. It is well cared for  and has plants on the capstone  and pots around it. A few steps descend into the well and a blue plaque reveals its history. The plaque states: “This is the last working well on Cann Street. It is shown on the deeds of No.38 as circa 1731. It was last used to draw water in the drought of 1976. The well has never been known to run dry and refills in 30 minutes. Despite the obvious later additions, the original stonework and steps are clearly visible. Please treat with respect this unique historical feature of the old coach road to Tottington”. A second plaque on the capstone is in memory of a local resident who tended the well for many years.

Cann Street Toll House

At the end of Cann Street is a toll house. Now converted to a private residence, it is a reminder of the Toll Pike era of the Georgian times when a huge number of roads were built or drastically improved throughout the area.

Site visited by A. and R. Bowden 2017


Cann Street Well is open access and is found opposite no. 38 Cann Street. Do not drive down Cann Street as it is very narrow and there is nowhere to park. Park somewhere on Woodstock Drive off Turton Road. Walk to the end of Woodstock Drive, turn right by the Toll House and walk down Cann Street for a short distance. The well is on the left opposite number 38.

Nearby, just a short drive away Tottington Mill Printworks ruins                  Tottington Dungeon      Affetside Cross and Higher Woodhill Mill ruins


Posted in Ancient Wells,, Georgian Lancashire | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Leyland Town Cross and Well

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Leyland town cross and well site

At the centre of the oldest part of Leyland stands the town cross and well. The cross shaft and steps are probably medieval and the well would have been a useful water source in the early days of the settlement. Leyland is one of the Lancashire Hundreds, which are large administrative areas set up in late Saxon times. (The other hundreds are Blackburn, Amounderness, Londsale, West Derby, Newton and Salford. It’s disputed as to what a hundred refers to. Some sources claim it is an area that could provide a hundred men-at-arms, others say it represents a hundred households, or perhaps a hundred hides (each hide being 120 acres- enough to feed a large family).

The original function of the cross is not clear- it could be the market cross or  an early preaching cross, or perhaps both. The town stocks and whipping post were also here until the end of Victorian times.


Leyland Cross

It’s not known when the top part of the cross was broken off, with some historical sources claiming it may have been done by puritans. A drawing from 1769 shows the cross to already be broken by then. Damage to crosses such as these was common across the country and many market and church crosses were attacked during the turbulent times in power struggles between factions of the Christian Church. Here in Lancashire many of our crosses have been knocked down, hidden and reused before finally being reinstated. This was the fate of the  Whalley Crosses, Foldy’s Cross,  and Doffcocker Cross.




Leyland Well Fountain

In the late Victorian times the Leyland cross shaft had twin street gas lamps mounted on top of it. The well had a large iron pump connected to it and a stone trough next to it. For Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee it was decided that the cross and well should be restored. The gas lamps were removed and a new cross head was placed on top of the medieval shaft, bringing it presumably to somewhere near its original height.  The cross has only two flights of its original steps on view, although there are another two flights hidden under the ground level. The pump and trough were removed and a new drinking fountain was installed over the well. This states on one face “Erected in commemoration of the Jubilee of Queen Victoria 1887”. A portrait of the queen appears on the opposite side.

The restoration of the cross did not mark the end to its troubles. Dr. David Hunt, the curator of Leyland’s local history museum, notes that it has been damaged in the twentieth century by cars, vandals and even World War 2 tanks ! Today the cross and well fountain still have traffic travelling both sides of them, as they lie in the centre of a busy route through the town. After viewing them visitors can proceed along to the nearby medieval St Andrew’s Church and Leyland’s Tudor Grammar School which houses the excellent South Ribble Museum.

Site visited by A. and S. Bowden 2017


Leyland Town Cross and Well are open access on the corner where Church Road meets Towngate. There are pay and display  car parks in the centre of Leyland and the large Tesco car park is very near to the cross and well.

Nearby, just a few steps away Leyland’s Tudor Grammar School and South Ribble Museum.

Just a short walk away Worden Hall, Ice House and Arch Folly


The History of Leyland and District, David Hunt (1990) Carnegie Press

The Ancient Crosses and Holy Wells of Lancashire: A Revised Version: Volume VI: Leyland Hundred, J.A. Hilton, A.J. Noble, M. Panikkar, W.A. Varney (2007) North West Catholic History Society

Leyland Cross Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan  (Revised February 2014) South Ribble Borough Council




Posted in Ancient Wells,, Medieval Lancashire, Victorian Lancashire, Wayside Crosses | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Newburgh Cross, near Lathom, West Lancashire

Newburgh Cross

At the highest point of Newburgh village green stands Newburgh Cross. The cross itself is modern, but its socket base and steps are much older. Some sources have suggested a 17th-18th century date but others go as far as suggesting the base is 14th century from when a market was first established here.

Newburgh means ‘New Borough’ and dates from the time when in 1304 Edward I granted a charter for a market to Robert de Lathom. Robert held the manor of Lathom and it is thought that he wanted to set up a market at Newburgh, perhaps as a rival one to nearby Ormskirk. The market occurred every Tuesday and the charter also included provision for an annual fair. This was centred around St Barnabas day, and was a three day festival on the 10th, 11th and 12th of June. The hope of Newburgh becoming an important town never happened, but the annual fair had become renowned for its cattle by the late 1700s. Both market and fair continued up to the start of the 20th century. Recently the fair has been revived to become once more an annual event.

Newburgh Medieval Cross Base

The market place is marked by the cross and would have extended under the buildings to the north of the green. In 1899 a survey of the cross published in the Transactions of Lancashire and Cheshire Historical Society reported “two tiers of stone with a large square stone probably the wrong side up, and may be the socket of the shaft. A few isolated stones were scattered around the green”. By 1957 a report revealed it to now have a modern shaft in an old socket, sitting on two steps. The surveyor noted that there were no signs of scattered isolated stones anymore.

The cross is located within the Newburgh conservation area designated because of its historic and architectural features. Some of the larger houses are old farmhouses and inns. The current Post Office was formerly the Horse and Jockey pub. The village has over 40 listed buildings, 20 of which lie within the conservation area.

Newburgh Village Green

Visitors to the site today will see a modern cross sitting inside a medieval sandstone socket. This rests on two weathered sets of steps held together by iron staples. The triangular green also features a flagstone wall bearing the conservation area badge.  Nearby is a large quarry stone with a plaque stating: This Roand O Quarry Stone is to mark the end of quarrying in Newburgh and to commemorate the new Millenium. Newburgh Parish Council 1999/2000.


There is also a Grade II listed telephone box of the K6 type, designed by Sir Gilbert Scott, which may make readers realise that their own recent past is now becoming classed as history !

Site visited by A. and S. Bowden 2017


The village green is open access and the cross can be viewed during daylight hours. Park on the road that rises up and forks off from the main road through the village. Have a look at Newburgh Village website for more on its history and fair here

Nearby, just a short drive away Hob Cross and Parbold Bottle Monument


Newburgh Conservation Area : Conservation Area Appraisal (July 2004) Caron Newman Egerton Lea Consultancy for West Lancashire District Council

Historic England Pastscape website page on Newburgh Cross  (http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?a=0&hob_id=40370)

Newburgh Village website conservation area page http://www.newburghlancs.co.uk/code/consarea.htm


Posted in Medieval Lancashire, Wayside Crosses | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Mount Pavilion, Fleetwood

Mount Pavilion

Peter Hesketh of Rossall Hall sank his fortune into building the brand new town of Fleetwood, on a stretch of the deserted coast where the River Wyre meets the sea. He commissioned the architect Decimus Burton to design the layout of the town and some of its key buildings. Burton selected Top Hill, a large natural sand hill to become the focal point of the town. Top Hill was renamed The Mount and the new streets radiated out from it.

Two buildings were constructed on the Mount- a pavilion made in 1838 and a lodge in 1841. The Lodge was a neo classical style low building split into two houses for the grounds keeper and the gardener of the Regency style garden. The original pavilion on top of the Mount was a ten sided Chinese style pagoda, and was used for decades as a tea room. It also had a secondary function as a weather observation station.

By 1859 Hesketh’s big gamble of building a new town and bringing the railway to it was not paying off. Now heavily in debt, he sold the North Euston Hotel to the government. This was converted into a military barracks and then into a school of Musketry.

The Mount Fleetwood

Fleetwood residents began to worry that the Mount too would be taken over for military use. A wall had been constructed by Hesketh’s agents, blocking off part of the Mount and so a public meeting was held. During this an angry demonstration by some of the attendees resulted in parts of the wall being demolished. The result of all of this concern ultimately resulted in a right of way being granted on the Mount for everyone, and the local council leasing it from Hesketh. However, the residents did have to share its use with the military as in 1862 a Royal Naval Reserve Volunteers gun battery of two three ton cannons was constructed on the seaward side, firing at targets out at sea.

The proximity of the Mount to the sea meant that it was repeatedly battered by storms. Part of the sand hill was destroyed, the Pavilion kept getting damaged and the gun battery had to be relocated. New sea defences were placed in front of the Mount and this counteracted  some of the worst effects of the weather. In 1902 a brand new Pavilion was put up and this is the present one we see today, made by the Portable Building Company of Fleetwood.

Huge floods in 1927 meant that the sea defences needed to be further strengthened. On the shore in front of the Mount the Marine Gardens were built so that the sea no longer came up to the base of the Mount.

In the 1980s restoration of the Mount was begun. The south side had begun to badly erode so it was planted with pine trees to stabilize it. The Pavilion was by now derelict and had been vandalized. Fleetwood Civic Society and Wyre Borough Council spent £42,000 to restore it and it is still in very good condition today. Thirty years on there is a bid in with the Heritage Lottery Fund for further restoration for the whole of the Mount.

Part of the restored gardens

Much has already been achieved- the Grade II registered gardens are now being replanted and restored to their original format. The metal railings topping the wall around the gardens that were removed in Second World war have now been replaced with ones that have the same design and colour as the originals. The public shelters have also been renovated.

The next stage of the bid is to renovate and open the Pavilion and Lodge for public use. Plans for the Lodge include reopening the ground floor and unblocking the windows. The Pavilion is to be repainted to its original colour scheme, new louvers for  its top and the balcony refitted to its original design.

The weather station in the Pavilion is also going to be restored, which seems appropriate given the long use the building has been put to in the monitoring of local conditions. In 1886 the Meteorological Office put in a Robinson Cup anemometer to measure wind speed. An allowance of £10 per year was made to pay the keeper to change the graph paper and send weather reports down to Greenwich. The anemometer lasted until 1923, when it was replaced by a 10 foot high pressure wind vane. This lasted incredibly until 2009, when it suffered storm damage.

Looking out at the sea defences of the Marine Gardens

The memorial clock installed after the First World War is still going strong. Made by the Potts company at Leeds it is still maintained by them all these years later, striking the quarter of the hour for all to hear.

It is the aim of Fleetwood to make its promenade the finest in England. With its sculptures, historical interpretation boards, iconic lighthouses, town museum and now this restoration project they are well on the way to doing just that.

Site visited by A. and S. Bowden 2017


The Mount and Pavilion area are open access and can be seen at any time during daylight hours. The interior of the Pavilion is not generally open, but plans are afoot to bring it back into public use. It does open for the National Heritage Days every September and there is a movement to start opening it up for events in the school holidays. See Wyre Council website for the latest news about the Mount here

For more on the history of Fleetwood, visit their excellent museum here or type in fleetwoodmuseum.co.uk into your internet browser.

Nearby, just a very short walk away, Fleetwood’s Victorian Lighthouses


An Historical Timeline of the Mount In Fleetwood, Joan Ratcliffe, Fleetwood Civic Society leaflet (undated), currently available from Fleetwood Civic society

Reviving The Mount Wyre Council on site interpretation board 2017

Fleetwood Civic Society temporary display inside the Pavilion (Heritage Days September 2017)

Burton’s Fleetwood, Fleetwood Civic Society, leaflet (undated) currently available from Fleetwood Civic society

Fleetwood A Brief History, leaflet (undated) currently available from Fleetwood Civic Society

Posted in Victorian Lancashire | Tagged , | 1 Comment