GRIMSARGH ON THE MAP
An Introductory Historical and Topographical Perspective
Map 1, Page 7:
The Parish of Grimsargh in 2001. The outlined area shows the extent of the parish boundary.
Map 2, Page 15:
Detail of the second edition six inches to the mile OS Map (1895) showing Moss Nook, the railway and Grimsargh reservoirs. Courtesy of Lancashire Record Office.
Grimsargh Before the Norman Conquest
The Grimsargh Story begins with the primeval forests which covered most of Britain. The semi-natural ancient woodlands of Red Scar on their steep escarpments may be remnants of the original wild forest, which remained until
man began their clearance in the late Stone Age, about 4,000 BC. Evidence of settlements was provided in 1885, during the construction of Prestons Albert Edward Dock, a few miles down river. The major archaeological legacy came from deep beneath the surface of the riverbed. A head count of severed skulls comprised of thirty human skulls, over a hundred skulls of red deer, several of now-extinct wild ox, two pilot whale skulls, a Bronze spear head and two dug-out canoes. This collection has been preserved in the Harris Museum at Preston and in 2001 was the subject of further investigation and research by John Moores University, Liverpool. Research findings indicate that this material has probably accumulated since the time of the Bronze Age and the exact reason for its deposition at this point has yet to be ascertained.
Bronze Age artefacts discovered in the Grimsargh area have included a bronze flat axe found at Elston Bottoms in 1932, a flint arrowhead found less than one foot below the surface near Higher Brockholes Farm close to Horse Shoe Bend in 1930 and a damaged stone hammer head found about four feet below the surface at Stone Cross, Grimsargh, in 1950 The Lancashire Sites and Monuments Record (SMR) of Lancashire County Councils Environment Directorate at Preston contains evidence of a possible prehistoric promontory fort or other enclosure situated in Ribble Valley woodland between Red Scar Wood and the adjoining Boilton Wood.1
Early settlement and established agricultural land use in the area of Grimsargh is likely to have been characterised by primitive farming and the use of polished stone and flint tools and weapons. No one can be sure ran he sure of the date of the dates of the first of the first Grimsargh settlements but they could be of the Neolithic period, from about 2500 to 1900 BC. The first human invaders of the vast tracts of primeval forests inhabited by wild beasts of the period may one day also reveal their secrets.
Following the Roman Invasion of southern England in AD 43, advancing Roman legions intent on conquering northern England, had a challenging time defeating the regions Celtic tribes known as the Brigantes. The Celts were well established in the north-west and Roman onslaughts involved armies landing by sea and using the Ribble and Lune Valleys for inland penetration. Overland advances involved the construction of roads linking the forts at Chester, Manchester, Ribchester, Lancaster and Kirkham. Just after this Conquest, a military supplies depot was set up at Walton-le-Dale. Situated alongside the Ribble and astride the road running north, and by an established ford crossing, it was stray tegically important and within reach of the fort at Ribchester. Bremetennacvm Veteranorum, the Roman name for Ribchester, was at the heart of the road network. The fort was built between AD 75 and 80 by Agricola during his campaign against the Brigantes and provided for the accommodation of a cavalry troop of at least 500 men.
Despite the initial conflict, day-to-day life involved the people working on the land, sustaining the rural economy, and experiencing a peaceful co-existence for the greater part of the occupation which lasted for over 300 years. Settlement patterns and ways of life do not appear to have been greatly affected by the Roman occupation, nor by their departure. This was in contrast to the southern counties where the effects were much greater.
The Roman Road linked Ribchester with the fort at Kirkham. Driving along the straight stretches of the urban Watling Street Road, through Fulwood, Preston, provides an opportunity to reflect on the line of the original road where Romans and their livestock hauled wooden trucks long before the modern phenomenon of road rage and thunderous juggernaut traffic. The roads enabled soldiers and supplies to be moved quickly between trouble spots; and tracing the course of the same road through the Parish of Grimsargh may be accomplished with a trained eye, the OS Pathfinder map 679 and an indispensable guide to Roman roads2. From Ribchester the Roman road passes close to Ribchester Church and heads west to Hothersall and Stubbins Nook before entering the grounds of Alston Hall College.
The college was actually built on the line of the Roman road, which dispels any rumours that the Romans sought to improve their quality of life or obtain a few A levels! The course of the road is shown to emerge from woods to the west of Alston Hall and cross fields to the south of Marsh House before crossing the northern extremity of Big Wood where the narrow recessed course of the road is discernible in the landscape. Between Elston Lane and the Tun Brook Woodland Nature Reserve it crosses a private driveway leading to a red bungalow, and between this driveway and Tun Brook traces of the ridge can be seen next to a ditch and the remains of isolated trees. There is little to discern in Tun Brook Wood other than signs of a curving terrace going first north and then south on the steep and inaccessible east bank. The woodland ravine is difficult to negotiate and at the point where the road cuts through the wood there is no public footpath. On the west side of Tun Brook the course of the road passes close to the aptly named Roman Road Farm and Roman Way Industrial Estate before reaching Red Scar.
An archaeological evaluation took place at Red Scar in advance of the proposed development of the land. The Roman Road was found to be relatively well preserved, with a cambered surface composed of rounded stones and cobbles
with finer gravels acting as a capping. Along both sides of the road were two drainage ditches about 9.5m apart and two outer boundary ditches about 26m apart. Roman pottery and a glass paste melon bead were amongst the archaeological remains found on the site and confirm the existence of the road during the third century. It is likely that the road would have been used by Roman regiments and cavalry, wheeled vehicles for supplies and also by local communities. The exposed excavation at the Roman Way Industrial site gives a good impression of the road and is well worth a visit.
Several items of Roman material have been found along the banks of the Ribble near to Grimsargh including a bronze coin found at Boilton Wood of a specific type issued by Emperor Antonin. In addition, three other Roman coins have been found in Red Scar Wood.
After the departure of the Romans from British shores, the Celtic influence prevailed and some of the native population stayed on in spite of Roman and Saxon infiltration. Large numbers of Anglo Saxons colonised the lowlands during the fifth and sixth centuries. King Ethelfrith (AD 593-613) took over the land to the north of the Ribble where Grimsargh is situated; and what is now central Lancashire was then a part of the kingdom of Northumbria based in Yorkshire. The Danes and Viking Norsemen crossed the North Sea to raid most of north and western Europe from the eighth to the eleventh centuries. In the years before the Norman Conquest there must have been considerable cultural differences and political unrest. Indeed, since the time of the Roman occupation, Preston and its rural environs have been at the heart of political upheaval and several significant battles.
Danish and German Anglo-Saxons established many Lancashire villages with names ending in ham and tun. Thus we have Kirkham, Heysham, Whittingham, Bolton, and Preston. The origin of the name Preston and the town (attaining city status in 2002) that grew up with it have been associated with an Anglo Saxon Bishop, Saint Wilfrid, who was granted land near the Ribble, about AD 670. It has long been believed that monks from his abbey at Ripon founded a church and that embryonic Preston grew up round it, so giving the town its name Priest [tune] town. The Sacrificial Lamb was Saint Wilfrids crest and the letters PP (Prince of Peace) became the towns coat of arms. The original parish church was dedicated to Saint Wilfrid up to the time of the Reformation, when it became St Johns. The present St John the Divine Church was built on this same ancient site of Christian worship in 1855.
During the early years of the tenth century boatloads of Norsemen from Scandinavia settled in north-western England. This immigration was distinct from that which had introduced a Danish population into eastern England before the end of the ninth century. The north-west invaders were Norwegians, not Danes, and there is little evidence to suggest that there were any military operations or conquests such as preceded the Danish settlements in eastern England. The surprisingly sophisticated immigrants came with well-developed agricultural skills and cultures, seeking lands to cultivate. In all probability the Irish Norse invaders would have sailed from northern Ireland and the Isle of Man before infiltrating Northern England in an atmosphere of relative calm, albeit with initial skirmishes and no doubt violence being met with met with violence.
The Hundred of Amounderness, north of the Ribble, attracted many Norse settlers and many small villages owe their origins to the Norse colonies. The Vikings influence can be seen in the derivation of modern place names including words ending in by such as Nateby. Scandinavian name formations indicate the origins of both Grimsargh and the nearby village of Goosnargh.3 Grimsargh-with-Brockholes was the name of a composite township bearing a Scandinavian and an English name. The predominance of the Scandinavian name does not in itself imply that the English were dispossessed of their lands and the flight of a few individuals cannot be read as the mass displacement of a population. The combination suggests that the Norse and Saxons of the two hamlets of Grimsargh and Brockholes may have coexisted side by side.4
Grimsargh was a Norse settlement and the name argh or aerg was probably an equivalent for a summer farm, or a cluster of wooden huts used for the shelter of cattle in summer. This term has been connected with the Latin arvum, a ploughed field; with the Old Norse herfi and the Danish harv, a harrow; or even with the Angle, Saxon, erigan to plough and ergend, ploughing. Another view is that names like Grimsargh indicate former sites of pagan altars, derived from the old Norse word horgr, a heathen place of worship.5 The name Grim is derived from Grimr which is a well-known old Norse name.6 It is therefore likely that the land of the Norse township would have been in pasture and this was the argh or pasture belonging to a person named Grimr.
The Scandinavians gained skills in handicrafts, accrued consider, able financial assets, and were eventually converted to Christianity. Local evidence of the Scandinavian invaders became apparent in May 1840, when a great archaeological find was discovered at Cuerdale, close to the old Grimsargh-with-Brockholes parish boundary on the banks of the Ribble. The famous Cuerdale Hoard of buried treasure contained the largest collection of Viking silver ever discovered in Europe and comprised of silver bullion, coins, ingots and ornaments packed into a leaden chest. There were approximately 7,500 coins of mostly Danish origin, which had been minted at York. The coins suggest that the treasure was collected around AD 905 and theories abound as to how it came to be there. One explanation is that the cache was abandoned by a Danish army, travelling one of the cross-Pennine routes they had established in the ninth century. The treasure may have been hidden by the Danish Army in its flight before Edward the Elder in 911
l. For archaeological and historic site information I am grateful for the help and cooperation of Peter Iles of the Lancashire County Council Environment Directorates Sites and Monuments Records. The sites mentioned here and elsewhere are, of course, only a few of the known archaeological sites. Information on finds and L sites should be sent to the County Sites and Monuments Records in Preston – telephone 01772 264468. Treasure Trove laws have been repealed by the Treasure Act, 1996, and all metal detector finds should be reported to the Antiquities Officer at the National Museum and Galleries on Merseyside, telephone 0151 207 0001.
2. The route of Watling Street and Roman occupation in north-west England is described in a book, Walking Roman Roads in the Fylde and Ribble Valley compiled by Philip Graystone for the Centre for North-West Regional Studies, Lancaster University.
Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society (TLCAS), vol. 58, pp. 71-84.
4. TLCAS, vol. 60, p.8.
5. TLCAS, vol. 8, pp. 89, 93
The Place Names of Lancashire (1922), p. 145.
Following the death of King Harold a triumphant Duke William of Normandy rode from the battlefield near Hastings to seize the throne. If the English had been obsessed with Viking invasion then they had cause for concern following the Battle of Hastings in 1066. William was crowned king and most of the land of the English nobility was soon granted to his followers. Williams need for money to prepare for a feared Danish invasion in 1085 inspired him to undertake the enormous Domesday Book survey of his kingdom.
At the time of the Conquest the royal estate was divided into wapentakes (meaning weapon take) or hundreds. Salford, West Derby, Leyland and Blackburn wapentakes were between the Mersey and the Ribble, and Amounderness and Lonsdale were north of the Ribble. In the centre of the county were Amounder, ness, Leyland and Blackburn hundreds. People lived in scattered farmsteads or groups of cottages and the social strata of the day included thanes, freemen, drengs and villeins, and bordars and serfs who were lower down the social scale. A significant proportion of the land was described as waste.
The population of Preston at this time extended to only a few hundred inhabitants. During the period Preston had gained some importance as the Chief Manor of Amounderness and sixty-one local settlements were contained in this area. Amounderness was loosely based on the Fylde, extending between the rivers Cocker and Ribble and the Forest of Bowland in the east. In the reign of William the Conqueror parts of England were already divided into shires. At that time Lancashire did not exist as a shire and was a borderland including segments of both Yorkshire and Cheshire. North of the Ribble was nominally covered by Yorkshire and south thereof by Cheshire.
The Domesday Book is the first inventory of the assets of the people of England To extract the maximum taxation from his people William needed to know their wealth. One respondent complained that the questioning of Williams investigators was so rigorous that it was like the last judgement on Doomsday, hence the name by which the bureaucratic snooping came to be known. Compilation of the Domesday information recorded all the land held by the King and his tenants and the Manors belonging to particular estates. The names of landholders or tenants in chief and their tenants and under-tenants were fully documented. In the Domesday Survey of 1086, there were eighteen carucates of land under cultivation within the entire Parish of Preston. Prestune (Preston) had six carucates to geld and close by two carucates were assigned to Grimsargh, spelt Grimesarge in the Domesday Book. The hamlets of Elston or Brockholes are not specifically mentioned.1
When a tax was imposed a rate was announced, usually two shillings a carucate. Every landowner could then calculate his tax by multiplying the number of his carucates by the rate announced. For years after the Norman Conquest, land was being measured in Norse carucates (or ploughlands) and bovates (or oxgangs). A carucate geldable under the Domesday Book was around 100 acres and a unit in the tax system named after the word caruca, the Latin word for plough. Originally a bovate was the area of land that one ox could manage to plough each year, but by 1086 all these measures seem to have become tax assessment figures. After the Battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror bestowed the Honour of Lancaster upon Roger de Poictou, third son of Roger de Montgomery, who gave certain privileges to the Burgesses of Preston. As he joined in the rebellion against the Norman king at the Battle of Rochester, his estates were forfeited, and was later expelled from England after taking part in a rebellion against Henry I in 1102 During the reign of Henry II Prestons earliest charter was granted in 1179 and trade guilds became established. Roads and expanding rural settlements began to emanate around the ancient Borough of Preston.
Grimsargh has been given at least twelve spellings during its history and the following variations are represented in documented sources: Grimesarge, (Domesday Book); Grimesherham, (1189); Grimisharg, (1242); Grimsarche, Grimsharg, (1244); Grimesherg, (1253); de Grimesargh, Gremeshargh, Grymesharth, Grymesharuth, (1292); Grymesargh, (1293); Greymesargh (130I) and finally in 1400, Grymsar, the easiest pronunciation and sounding like the present day, Grimsargh.2
The Domesday Survey shows woodland and wasteland exceeding arable land in eleventh-century Lancashire. The medieval forests of Lancashire were of moderate extent, covering about 47,000 acres. The lands included within the
metes of the forest (boundaries) included the whole of Amounderness. The formation of the forest was still in process for a hundred years after the Conquest. John, Count of Montain, made a grant of ^500 to the knights and freeholders to reduce to cultivation their underwoods and to alienate them by gift or sale. This was accompanied by a grant of liberty to keep harriers, foxhounds and dogs for hunting all manner of beasts except hare, wild boar and sow, and roe deer and hind throughout the forest outside the demesne enclosures or parks. On 16 February 1225 justices were assigned on behalf of the King to carry out a programme of deforestation and three years later the forest area was reduced to the localities of Quernmore, Bleasdale, Toxteth, Upper Wyresdale, and Fulwood. Fulwood consisted of 2,117 acres lying in the valley of the Savick and extending from Cowford bridge in the west to Grimy sargh in the east, almost wholly on the north side of the Roman Road. The development of the regions lying adjacent to the forests began as landholders began to clear the scrub and woodland. The villeins and serfs dug out the trees and bushes and the following year crops were planted in the clearings, thus propagating the medieval strips of land worked by men with scythes and sickles.
In medieval Grimsargh the area was still extensively wooded and contained much waste. Increasingly, land cultivation brought more consolidated holdings. Enclosure schemes gradually super, seded the structure of open fields as the land owned by the Lord of the Manor was leased to tenants and the medieval strips disappeared under the grass. The Hoghton deeds provide evidence as to the nature of farming in the Grimsargh area during the late thirteenth century:
Indenture dated 24th November 1284: Thomas de Grimishere for 25 marks, 7s leases for 12 years to Master Richard de Hocheton his manor with gardens, building, lands in Grimishere, namely 29 acres arable and meadow. To hold except to Sir Ad. De Hocheton and his son and the heir of William de
Echeliston with all liberties, enclosures, waste, moss, herbages of wood, pannages, rents and escheats of dower. If the lessor wishes to sell the lands the lessee shall have the first option. (LRO, DDHO/640)
Indenture dated 2nd May 1329: William son of Robert de Etheliston grants to Sir Richard de Hoghton Kt. and his heir that he may enclose all the moors, woods, marshes, mosses in Grymesargh for his own use and retain them so that the grantor his heir and tenants may for a term of years in Etheliston and Grymesargh have sufficient common of pasture for their tenants. For this, Sir Richard grants to William the right of enclosing moors and woods in Etheliston so that his heir and tenants may have sufficient common of pasture for their tenants. (LRO, DDHO/642)
East of Marsh House Farm the old township boundary separating Elston from Alston is traceable by trees, hedgerows and earthworks. An attempt at historic land characterisation by Lancashire County Council Archaeological Services
suggests that the area between Brockholes and Alston is predominantly ancient enclosure – probably of AD 1400-1500 origin.
The variable field patterns of Grimsargh and Elston are a record in their own right and are best read from aerial photographs and maps. One aerial photograph shows rectangular ancient earthworks near to Marsh House Farm at
Elston, thought to be restricted to a single meadow close to the Ribchester to Preston Roman Road. The exact period of the earthwork site is subject to conjecture but could be of medieval origin. It was first recorded here in October 1991, and represents a moated site. According to the occupiers of Marsh House the complex of ditches and platforms frequently attracts people with metal detectors. On the west side of Elston Lane close to Chapel House Farm and approximately 1,000 feet from the earthworks was once the site of an ancient cross. This raises the exciting prospect that the earthworks may represent an earlier phase of settlement at Grimsargh, long before the village was developed on its present site.
The first nineteenth-century Ordnance Survey maps record the existence of four medieval crosses on the six miles of road leading out of Preston in a north-easterly direction through Grimsargh to Longridge. It is believed that the crosses were erected some time between AD 1100 and 1400. In the historical literature Grim, sargh Cross is described as: A pedestal of a stone cross, three and three quarter miles north-east from Preston Market Place, on the south side of the road, and one eighth of a mile south of Grimsargh Church. The words Three Mile Cross appear on the map close to the pedestal. It is possible that some of the numerous crosses shown on the map of Blackburn hundred, between Long, ridge and Whalley, were placed there for the guidance of travellers over those wild moors, so forming a complete series from Preston to Whalley Abbey. If this route between Preston and Whalley were taken, a distance of about fifteen miles, there would be almost a continuous range of crosses including those at Ribbleton Lane, Ribbleton Moor and Three Mile Cross at Grimsargh.
Prior to the Reformation there were about 500 wayside crosses in Lancashire. Thereafter only a few remained and the heads and arms in most cases were missing – hence the term headless crosses – other theories abound as to their various uses. Some __ crosses were believed to have marked the stages at which funeral processions used to rest on their way to distant burial places; of some marked spots where villagers gathered to hear sermons from travelling friars or to hear proclamations by the Lord of the Manor or to discuss other matters of public interest, and others had marked the boundaries of estates or church land.3
In addition to acting as one of a series on a waymarked route it is quite feasible that Three Mile Cross at Grimsargh could have fulfilled any of these functions. The base of the wayside Three Mile Cross, has been preserved as part of the war memorial, situated on Preston Road. The old shaft had long since disappeared, but a new Latin cross of Longridge stone was erected in the socket of the ancient base in 1920 to honour the dead of the Great War and is today a Grade II listed structure and familiar Grimsargh landmark.
Grimsargh was originally assessed as two ploughaands and was a member of the Earl of Tostigs Preston Lordship with only a few inhabitants. After the Conquest the manor was divided – Grimsargh, as half a plough-land was held in thegnage (a thegn was an Anglo Saxon who held land from the King or Noble in return for certain services); Brockholes, also half a plough-land, was given to the Baron of Manchester while Elston, the remaining plough-land, was given to the Baron of Penwortham. Roger, son of Augustin de Heaton of Heaton in Lonsdale, had a confirmation of his half plough-land in Grimsargh in u89, from John, Count of Mortain. Roger died in 1204 leaving a son of the same name.
Roger de Heaton held Grimsargh in 1262, and his heir was his son William, who confirmed the title of William de Grimsargh.
In 1297 William de Grimsargh held the village by the service of 3s. a year. The rent had remained unchanged and was payable to the Earl of Lancaster. About this time the Hoghton family of Hoghton acquired land in the township. The time of purchase does not appear, but in 1301 Richard de Hoghton seems to have had a fair estate in Grimsargh. The two families continued for some time as part-owners of the land and in 1334 they sought arbitration on matters in dispute, submitting their differences to two neighbours and a man of the law.
There has been no operational water mill in Grimsargh for many years. Documented sources indicate the site of one close to The Hermitage on Elston Lane, which existed in the late nineteenth century. Scrutinising wills and deeds yields many surprises, including the use and former ownership of the water mill. John Frederick Chadwick died in 1857 and resided at The Hermitage. Mr Chadwick bequeathed the whole of his property and estate, which included The Hermitage, mill and the land belonging to both and the cottages adjoining the mill to his wife Alice, and after her death to the second son, Robert. The new owners of the old mill seem to have allowed it to crumble into oblivion, although it is possible there are still faint traces on the inaccessible banks of Tun Brook. The corn mill, corn drying kiln and large mill pond are all shown on the 1847 Ordnance Survey Map as being on the north bank of Tun Brook a few metres downstream from Elston Lane. The corn mill had disappeared by the end of the century though in 1922 Mill Dam Cottage was occupied by Elizabeth Allen, shopkeeper. However, by the time of the Preston Rural District Council Overcrowding Survey of 1936, the cottage had been condemned.
It is possible that watermills used for grinding corn had been in use in Grimsargh since the Roman occupation. By the time of the Domesday survey in 1086 there were over 5,500 watermills in England and they would have been commonplace throughout the country in the Middle Ages. Indeed water and wind power were almost the only means of grinding corn until around the time of production of those first Ordnance Survey Maps in 1847- It is probable that the medieval references contained in the De Hoghton papers at the LRO relate to this particular site at Elston Lane, where the large wooden machinery consisting of cogged wheels and horizontal shafts would have been driven by the fast-running waters of Tun Brook.
In 1265 William de Grymesargh grants to William de Etheliston, liberty to grind at his mill of Grymesargh without multure and they will be hoprefre for ever; also common pasture in Grymesargh and liberty of pasture and mill in Etheliston for their cattle and tenants in Etheliston. Witness – Benedict Gernet, Sir Hen. Du Lee. Hen. De Haydok. (LRO, DDHO/ 631)
It sounds as though William de Etheliston from the neighbouring township of Etheliston (Elston) would have been on good terms with William de Grymesargh and able to share the resources of the mill and pasture, provided of course that it was left tidy and hopfree – the miller would have to clear the mill hopper of any remnants of corn before grinding the corn and without taking some of the flour produced (multure) for his own use.
Around the beginning of the fourteenth century the Hoghtons appear to have acquired lands in the township, though the date of purchase is not known. In 1362 William de Grimsargh granted to Sir Adam de Hoghton all his messuages, lands, rents and services in Grimsargh. The deed of 1362 was the completion of a sale which had taken place long before. Upon final completion of the sale to the Hoghtons, the Grimsargh family faded into obscurity. The Hoghton family held the full manorial rights for over 400 years.
There are references to Grimsargh Hall and its occupiers contained in the Hoghton deeds and papers. A documented lease of 1282 by Thomas Grimesherk to Master Richard Hocton (Hoghton) stimulates analytical thought. The archived land transactions of William de Grimsargh in 1265 even mention a derivative of the modern Grimsargh road name of Waingate (originally meaning a cart road).
Thomas Grimesherk for 14 marks leases for 10 years to Master Richard de Hocton his manor of Grimesherk with hall, chamber, kitchen and barn and the land pertaining in Grimesherk and all his right in woods, mills, waters, waste and their profits. To hold except to religious men, Sir Adam de Hocton
and William de Echeliston with all liberties, enclosures, herbages, pannages, rents, escheates and free common rights. The grantee shall leave the premises in a state as good as or better than he received them. If he shall act contrary to this agreement or wish to let the lands to those excepted in this deed, the grantor shall re-enter; or if he shall wish to give or sell them he shall pay to a grantor 100 s silver. Witnessed – Sir Benedict Gernet, Sir William de Hetun , Sir William de Bartun Kts., Adam de Brocholis, John de Bartun, John de Grimesherk, Gilbertt of the same, John de Wytingham. (LRO, DDHO/638)
William de Grymesargh for 3 marks grants to William son of William de Etheliston a part of his land in Grymesargh namely 9 acres within these bounds – Beginning at liolf s clearing, following the sike of raschagh nortwards to the completion of the nine acre square looking eastwards, then to Wayngate on the east and southwards to liolfs clearing. To hold with common pasture and easements. (LRO, DDH/632)
Inevitably there are many gaps in the precise medieval history of a small parish like Grimsargh including how it was affected by the plague. The Black Death reached Lancashire from the Orient in 1349. It is estimated that one third of England s population died and over 1,000 villages were depopulated. In the ten parishes of Amounderness it was claimed 13,180 people died between September 1349 and January 1350. In the parish of Preston (which included Grimsargh-with-Brockholes) 3,00o people died, with Preston alone losing at least one third of its entire population. Close to Grimsargh in the neighbouring parish of Ribchester at least 400 people died and it is quite probable that hamlets such as Grimsargh would have suffered heavy mortality and been left desolate. Successive generations suffered recurring outbreaks of the plague in 1390 and well into the Stuart period; in 1631, 1,100 people died within the town and parish of Preston. After the pestilence there were said to be only 887 people alive in the town:
The great sickness of the plague of pestilence wherein the number of 1100 persons and upwards dyed within this towne and parish of Preston begunn about the tenth day November in anno 1630 and continued the space of one whole year next after.4
The irony is that nowadays the ship-borne carrier of bubonic plague, the black rat, is almost extinct in Britain except for restricted distribution on two offshore islands, where it poses no threat to anyone and even enjoys protected status.
The Township of Elston
The name Elston has roots in its ancient Saxon and medieval history. It was known as Etheliston (1212), de Etheleston with derivatives Etheliston, Ethelaston, Etherston (u46) and Elleston (1446).5
In 1863 a medieval ampulla (a small lead flask for holy water) was discovered in the bed of a stream, to the east of Preston. The find spot was originally described by Henry Ecroyd Smith in 1869: The streamlet scarcely exceeds half a mile in length and debouches into the Ribble, after running through a portion of the Elston district, about half way between Preston and Ribchester. Archaeologist Ben Edwards has now narrowed the find spot down to a square kilometre of the stream flowing through Alston Wood/Gib Holme Wood, Elston. The ampulla was in good condition and had probably been lost by a pilgrim en route to a holy shrine, during the mid-medieval period.6 This benign activity was in stark contrast to those of the opposing factions that once prevailed in the Saxon township of Elston.
Dobson refers to the townships history in his antiquarian book Rambles by the Ribble. In times past it was owned by a family that took its name from the township, Elston or Ethelston. Dobson7 and Hardwick8 both make reference to an ancient deed, which describes Saxon turmoil that occurred close to the banks of the Ribble at Elston. It was told me by Alexander Elston, who was uncle to my father and sonne to Ralph Elston, my great grand, father, that the said Ralph Elston had a deede, or a copee of a deede, in the Saxon tongue, wherein it did appear that King Ethelston, lynge in camp in this county, upon occasion of warrs, gave the land of Ethelstone unto one to whom he was Belsyre (the word belsyre meaning godfather). In the Subsidy Roll of 1332 nine persons were rated for the township which was then described as Ethelston.9
Several families, possibly younger branches, assumed Elston as a surname. One of these families had long associations with the neighbouring township of Brockholes. Early lordship seems to have descended to one John de Elston, living in the time of Edward III. About a century later, it passed to the heir-general, Sir Thomas Harrington; that one Harrington was lord thereof, who had nine daughters, and left to every one of them lands worth 25 marks per annum and she that had Elston married Mr Hylton, of Farneworth.
The Hamlet of Brockholes
The name of Brockhole is derived from the badger brocc and hol (holes or setts), which was spelled Brochole, (1212); de Brocholes (1244); Brochol, Brokhol (1246); Brocholes (1290); and Brokholes (1319).10 The Parish of Grimsargh included Brockholes which was a member of the fee of Manchester. It was granted to the Lathom family and held by a tenant, one Award de Brockholes whose son Roger held the land in 1246. Rogers son, Adam de Brockholes, held the Manor of Brockholes of Sir Robert de Lathom by the eighth part of a knights fee. (This was a feudal obligation by which the tenant was required to pay for his land through the performing of military service.) The Brockholes family also acquired land in Byrewath, Paythorne, Gisburn and Garstang. In 1338 Roger de Brockholes first purchased land at Claughton and to this day the family seat of Fitzherbert-Brockholes has long been established at Claughton-on-Brock.
In the feudal legal and social system of medieval England, people were given land by the lord, in return for which they worked and fought for him. Tenants also had to look after the bailiff – And when the bailiff or lords sergeant of the baron, came to ride about, and overlook his demesne, and collect the rents, the tenants had to provide him, “bread, ale and victuals, and other things necessary according to the season, and for his boy and four bailiffs, such food as they provide in the household and provender for his horse”. 11
Brockholes passed to another Adam de Brockholes in 1341, who had several children including Nicholas, his heir, and Roger. An ancient legal document dated 4 June 1372, written in Latin and on parchment, has provided further insight into medieval Brockholes, when the Manor of Brockholes and all other lands and tenements with their appurtenances passed to Nicholas de Brockholes. Nicholas had at least two sons but the Manor descended to two daughters or granddaughters, one of whom, Margaret, married Roger Elston in the reign of Richard II; and the other, who married Thomas Singleton. The Elstons, who became seated at Brockholes, were originally of the adjoining township of Ethelston. During the thirteenth century there was only one house recognised as the demesne house of the Manor of Brockholes. The Manorial rights were long vested in the Manor of Brockholes and a capital messuage named Brockehall Hall, together with the fishery of Brockhole.
The following deposition taken at Preston in Tudor times makes clear reference to the ancient seat of Brockehole Hall which preceded the Stuart period buildings of Lower and Higher Brockholes described in the next chapter. Edmond Felippe of Balderstone, labourer, aged 28 years, knows the mansion house called the Hall of Brockhole, three gardens, one orchard, and certain closes of arable ground, meadow and pasture, called the grene, the heys, the tentor bankes, the great wood hey and the chuchfeld, parcel of the demesnes of Brocehole, of which William Singleton was seized.12
An ancient ford crossing linked Elston with Samlesbury Lower Hall to the east of Red Scar. The ruined remains of Lower Hall may still be seen on the riverbank, bearing testimony to an earlier building on the site destroyed by Robert the Bruce in 1322. Eight years after his triumph at Bannockburn, the Scottish king was determined to assert Scottish independence. The Scots looted Preston and set fire to some of its wooden buildings before rampaging throughout the pastoral landscape of Grimsargh-with- Brockholes with its timeless river and field mosaics. The Ribble ford was used by Robert the Bruce in midsummer 1322 when he burnt Lower Hall and robbed Samlesbury Church of valuables.13 After four weeks of absolute mayhem they went home to Scotland leaving the distressed inhabitants of Amounderness in a state of poverty and shock, and with not a counsellor in sight! A second building was built on the same site known as Lower Samlesbury Hall and its ruins may still be seen on the river bank. Interestingly, the staircase was salvaged from the ruins of Lower Hall and has since been reincarnated in Old Hall at Cow Hill, Grimsargh. This staircase was originally found in an outbuilding by Mr H. Mallott of Grimsargh House who incor-porated it into the Horrockses offices in Stanley Street, Preston, where he was the managing director. When the offices of the old mill were demolished, the staircase was purchased and installed in Old Hall where it remains in situ to this day.
History from Sources – The Domesday Book – edited by John Morris (1978).
2. Fatter and Brownbill,
Victoria County History, vol. 7 p. 90.
3. References to Grimsargh Cross: TLCAS, vol. 10, p. 172; and vol. 58, p. 84.
4. Philip Ziegler,
The Black Death; and R. Sharpe France, History of the Plague in Lancashire, TLCAS.
The Place Names of Lancashire.
Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire (THSLC), vol. 9, pp. 165-80, and Antiquaries Journal, 51 (1971) pp. 316-18.
7. William Dobson, Rambles by the Ribble (1877).
8. C. Hardwick,
History of the Borough of Preston (1857), pp. 533, 534.
9. H. Fishwick,
The History of the Parish of Preston (1900), p. 82.
The Place Names of Lancashire.
11. Dobson, Rambles by the Ribble, p. 66.
The History of the Parish of Preston, p. 292.
13. R Eaton,
History of Samlesbury, p. 167.
Grimsargh after the Middle ages
Elston was a township in the parish of Preston covering about 962 acres, situated between the townships of Alston and Grimsargh-with-Brockholes. Portions of the estate passed by descent from Harrington through different families to Thomas Walmsley of Preston in 1610. His nephew of the same name succeeded to it and in 1717 two or three papists also registered small estates in the area. The landscape of Elston has seen little change and the idyllic hamlet nestles below steep escarpments, close to the River Ribble, as it has for centuries.
A pleasant walk may be enjoyed from Elston along the Ribble Way to Brockholes, though green fields have been replaced by extensive gravel workings and the rural tranquillity has been completely transformed by the M6 Motorway.
Three miles downstream of the Elston ferry an alternative river crossing linked the hamlet of Brockholes with Samlesbury Church and operated from Ferry Boat House, on the south bank.
A History of Samlesbury (Eaton, 1936), mentions ways of crossing the Ribble by a medieval ford and ferry and a nineteenth-century bridge. On the river just above Samlesbury Church a ferry was established linking Samlesbury with Brockhall and Preston. It was served by two ferrymen in 1379 who lived nearby on the Samlesbury side. There were incentives to ferry across the Ribble, for the boathouse was also a beer shop. In 1824 the ferrymen were made redundant when the river was crossed by a wooden bridge and each foot passenger was charged one halfpenny. In 1861 a modern stone bridge was built and the wooden one removed. The former toll bridge is still known locally as halfpenny or Brockhalls bridge.
The earliest maps, including Yates of 1786, reveal ancient routes linking the farms, bordered by hedgerows and many other inter, esting features. Before construction of the turnpike road from Preston to Blackburn in 1824, there was no proper route between the two towns and Lower Brockholes was reached by a roadway known as Brockhall Lane. Leading from this roadway was a high parallel row of hawthorn hedges, enclosing a path linking Lower Brockholes Farm with Higher Brockholes Farm, Red Scar and Grimsargh and which today forms part of the Ribble Way long distance footpath. Samlesbury Church could be reached via Brock, hall Lane and the ferry crossing, and occasionally even coffins had to be carried along Brockhall Lane and accommodated in the small rowing boat. The seventeenth.century Lower Brockholes Farm still nestles at the foot of ancient woodlands and seems an anachronistic survivor almost belying the existence of the old Higher Brockholes seat of the Elstons, now obliterated from the landscape of the riverine Horse Shoe Bend.
Eleven generations of Elstons sustained their position as lesser gentry at Higher Brockholes and the Elston moiety descended to Robert Elston who with his bride, Ann, first came to Higher Brockholes in 1643. They proudly recorded the event for posterity with a plaque above the front door bearing REA 1643 – the initials of Robert and Ann Elston. On opening the door they would have entered a spacious hall with a fine fireplace typical of the period, and a magnificent staircase which led to the upper floor. The structure was built partially of handmade bricks with the exception of the west wall of the east wing, which was of stone. Black and white work on a stone base and a unique outbuilding to the south gave it the dignity of an old manor house rather than of being the homestead of a farmer and it would have been well worthy of preservation.
Robert Elston died in 1662 and his daughters sold the estate in the same year to a Frenchman, Paul Moreau of Knowsley, who settled at Higher Brockholes Hall. In dispute at the time was the ownership of the medieval water mill at Grimsargh and trouble was brewing between Roberts son William de Elston and Richard de Hoghton.
William son of Robert de Elston claimed the sixth part of a water mill in Grimsargh against Richard de Hoghton. The plaintiff stated that his father had purchased the mill from Thomas de Grimshagh, but Agnes widow of Thomas had a third part in dower, which she had granted to plaintiff till he had
received the cost of repairing the mill?
And one is left to wonder if they ever did repair Grimsargh water mill.
The Moreaus remained at Brockholes for about thirty years. The registers of Preston Parish Church tell of marriages, christen, ings, and burials of members of his family there. Paul Moreau, grandson of the purchaser of Brockholes, eventually sold the whole estate to Mr Thomas Winckley of Preston. Four families sustained the inheritance of Higher Brockholes for five hundred years. They were the Brockholeses, the Elstons, the Moreaus, and the Winckleys.
Lower Brockholes remained in the hands of the Singletons until 1564, when John Singleton sold the capital messuage called Brockhall Hall to Sir John Southworth of Samlesbury, son and heir of Sir John Southworth who added the large wing to Samlesbury Hall. Sir John Southworth died in 1597 and early in the seventeenth century Lower Brockholes was conveyed to Edmund Breres of Preston, gentleman, who in 1621 mortgaged it to Sir Robert Bindloss, Knight, of Borwick Hall. It descended to a grandson, Francis Bindloss, who built the existing Lower Brockholes Hall (now a farm) in 1634. Over the front door a stone dated 1634 was emblazoned by the arms and initials of Francis Bindloss.
In August 1648, local man Hugh Welchman/Walshman, yeoman, fought for the King at the Battle of Preston, when Oliver Cromwell led his forces to victory at Ribbleton Moor. The Royalists were defeated and Welchman was fined £3 10s in 1649 for adhering to the forces against Parliament. In March 1654 Hugh Welchman, first took up a nine-year lease of the Lower Brockhall Estate for £60 a year, plus £40 a year for the fishery and water corn mill. On 4 August 1662 he renewed the lease from Francis Bindloss and was shown to be paying tax on five hearths in 1663. Hugh and his son John Welchman prospered despite Cromwell, and in 1662 they were both admitted to be burgesses at the Preston Guild of 1662-3
On the death of Francis Bindloss the estate was sold in 1668 to Paul Moreau, owner of Higher Brockholes, and John Welchman. The estate was divided and Welchman took the Hall and demesne and Moreau took portions of the land near to Higher Brockholes. Lower Brockhall was mortgaged to John Welchman, Yeoman, the lessee, for and on behalf of Hugh Welchman, his father, for £1,000.
John Welchman died soon after the death of his father and was buried at Preston in 1693. The brief mention of have hook and netts in the probate inventory gives little indication of the value of John Welchmans commercial fishing rights on the Ribble at the old weir, which passed over to his successor Thomas Winckley.4
The Welchhman and Moreau shares were sold to Thomas Winckley in 1696 and 1698 respectively, who reunited the two moieties. Edward Winckley had settled in Preston at the beginning of the seventeenth century but the Winckley line died out follow, ing the death of Thomas Winckley. Frances, daughter of Thomas Winckley, married John Shelley Bart in 1807. Following the death of Lady Shelley in 1873, Brockholes was sold to Edward Petre in 1875.5
The entire estate belonged to Lady Shelley of Preston for most of the nineteenth century and it was during her time that the owners of Brockholes had a small mill near the river and close by a weir, which caused one of the most prolonged litigations ever to occupy an English Court. The lawsuits fought were in respect of the Ribble fisheries who contested the rights of the owners to dam the river, their bone of contention being that the salmon were unable to ascend the weir and swim upstream to reach the spawning grounds. The Brockholes fishery case occupied the courts and Lady Shelley figured in three lawsuits. During one of the trials the judge and jury sat for twenty-four hours consecutively. Fortunately the proceedings were brightened with a little humour during cross-examination of an elderly female by a legal luminary
appropriately named Cockle. The old lady was brow, beaten and asked by Cockle, I suppose, mistress, you like salmon? Yes sir, came the unexpected retort, I like salmon, but I dont like Cockle sauce to it. 6
It was around 1562 that John Farrington, a lessee of Sir John Southworth, built a new obstruction above the tidal reach of the Ribble at Brockhall and in 1580 we get the first mention of Bessowe Caul, afterwards known as Brockholes weir. During the same year objections were raised by special commissioners assembled at Preston. There is one caul weir or gorse made about 18 years ago upon the water of Ryble called Bessowe Caul. The same caul is so high and close that salmon and salmon fry canot have their full passage or course. Thomas Weld of Stonyhurst took effective action against the owner of Brockhall Weir in 1804, the thrust of his objection being that the salmon had not secured a one-way ticket upstream to his fishery at Stonyhurst. Judgement was granted in favour of the plaintiff and in 1811 the Brockholes weir was finally demolished.7
The Manor of Grimsargh passed from the Hoghtons to the Cross family who built Red Scar at the beginning of the 19th Century. The Hoghton family first acquired land in Grimsargh during Medieval times but little is known of their Grimsargh Hall residence which is mentioned in Fishwicks The
History of the Parish of Preston (p. 360).
During the sixteenth century a junior branch of the Hoghtons of Hoghton Tower settled in Grimsargh, the first of whom was Arthur Hoghton. In the Guild Roll of 1582 his residence is not given but in his will, proved at Richmond and dated 20 July 1611, he is described as of Grimsargh, gent. Arthur had four sons one of whom was Richard. The will of Richard Hoghton, dated 22 June 1614, gives a few clues as to who might have been residing at Grimsargh Hall during the Stuart period. Richard Hoghton left £40 each to his natural sons Leonard and Thomas and his supposed daughter, Katherine Hoghton. He bequeathed £50 to Anne Shuttleworth, daughter of his late wife; 40s. each to Sir Richard Hoghton, Knight, and Sir Gilbert Hoghton, Knight to buy a ring with. He named his cousins Thomas Hoghton of Grimsargh and Thomas Hoghton of Haighton.
It is not certain who lived at Grimsargh Hall, but William Hoghton was living there in 1642, prior to his death in 1650. William, the eldest son of William Hoghton, was described as a delinquent and his estates were sequestrated. The capital messuage and its appurtenances called Grimsargh Hall, together with 80 acres of land, was put up for sale for a term of seven years on 13 April 1653. William secured the lease at a rent of £10 15s. but was soon crying poverty!
The Hearth Tax Return of 1663 shows William to have tax liability on four hearths. Those pleading poverty in 1668, only two years after the Great Fire of London, were not all Londoners nor were they paupers. William Hoghton appealed to the Magis, trates to compel his father to assist him in time of “great poverties”. He thought his father could afford to do so as he had an estate of a hundred pounds per annum at least. (LRO, QSP 318 /19)
The Hoghton deeds help to clarify matters in 1675:
Sir Richard Hoghton leases for 99 years after the death of William Hoghton of Grimsargh to Benjamin Hoghton his second son, Grimsargh Hall with demesne and a smaller messuage of the ancient demesne of Grimsargh, all the tenants [named] of which pay their rent to William Hoghton, and the tithes thereof, also the water corn mill, called Grimsargh Mill, with houses, buildings, orchard, lands, pastures and all mines, quarries and delphs of lead, coal, slate and stone on the premises. Signature – Richard Hoghton. (LRO, DDHO 656)
On the Guild Roll of 1702 appears the name of Matthew, the son of William Hoghton of Grimsargh, which is the last entry referring to this branch of the family. The existing farmhouse called Grimsargh Hall was built in 1773 at the time of the great stone reconstruction of farms and houses. There are no traces to be seen of any preceding structures, though the Grimsargh Hall of Norman times may have occupied the same site. It was not unprecedented for farms to be rebuilt on the same site or immediately adjacent to the manorial buildings they replaced. Dobson (1873) implies continued site occupancy of Grimsargh Hall with the following quotation: … the old manorial residence having given place to one more suitable as the residence of a farmer. Dobson often enjoyed a walk through Grimsargh-with. Brockholes, past the sites of long-vanished farmsteads and admiring the pristine landscape of Queen Victorias reign which would not have changed a great deal since Stuart times. We walked through the fields to Lower Brockholes, past Lower Boilton, a farmhouse snugly seated at the base of a hill, midway in the amphitheatre between Higher Brockholes and Lower Brockholes, which belongs to Mr Cross of Red Scar. We must here notice the mossy character of some of the fields, telling of ancient forests and subsequent ravages of water.
Ribbleton Moor was the site of the Battle of Preston in 1648. It was mentioned by Riley in 1914 as a site of some biological importance. Until 1860 it appears that Ribbleton Moor was a swampy and desolate tract of land, to the east of Preston, extending north from the fringe of Brockholes to Ribbleton. The beautiful Marsh Gentian is recorded as having been abundant here and the Bogbeam scarcely less so. In 1860 Ribbleton Moor was enclosed and cultivated under the provisions of the General Enclosure Act. Relics of the engagement including cannon balls and musket shot were found during drainage and ploughing operations. The moor was initially cultivated as a source of food for the vast industrial complex expanding on its doorstep and today – approximately zoo years after the peace of the valley was shattered by Cromwell – is the site of the Moor Nook housing estates.
Amidst the turmoil of battle, no one would have been too concerned about the botanical aspects of rural Preston. The Kuerden Map of Preston showing the road out to Longridge, Goosnargh and Grimsargh would have been a more useful
resource for opposing factions than the local flora. Higher Brockholes was built when the unfortunate Charles I reigned, though he had lost the authority of kingship and had been held captive by Parliament since just after the first Civil War of 1642-46. Five years after Robert and Ann Elston built their Higher Brockholes home in 1643, a second Civil War extended its ravages close to their home. The scene of the bloody conflict was Ribbleton Moor with its landmark windmill adjoining Grimsargh-with-Brockholes and Preston. As Oliver Cromwells army advanced on Ribbleton Moor the Roundheads rounded up the Cavaliers and in so doing they eventually sealed the fate of Charles I.
Victoria County History, vol. 7 p. 115.
Victoria County History, vol. 7, p. 109.
The History of the Parish of Preston, Fishwick (Hearth Tax ref.) Eaton, A History of Samlesbury, and notes of Reg. Postlethwaite, of Haslingden.
4. The inventory of his goods and chattels is reproduced in the appendix.
Victoria County History, vol. 7, p. III.
The Ribble from Source to Sea (1914), p. 171.
7. Houghton, Ribble Salmon Fisheries (1952), p. 42. 8.
The Ribble from Source to Sea, p. 169.
Webpage posted April 2007.