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PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2012 2:53 pm 
Spider Lady
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Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:23 pm
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Location: Staffordshire
Burnley Express

Saturday 24 March 1883

Ancient and Modern Extwistle

Yon grand old hills,
In silent solitude,
Lo, they stretch
In airy undulations far away,
As if the ocean in his gentlest swell
Stood still, with all its roundest billows fixed
And motionless for ever. Motionless?
No; they are all unchained again; the cluds
Sweep over with their shadows, and beneath
The surface rolls and fluctuates to the eye;
Dark hollows seem to glide away and chase
The heathery ridges.
A grander or a wilder scene than this-
Man hath no part in all this week.

A very interesting paper on the above subject was read before the members of the Worsthorne Young Men's Improvement Class on Friday evening last week. The meeting was held in the National Schoolroom, and was presided over by the vicar, the Rev. J.T. Atkinson, and the paper, which was a valuable contribution to the historical and antiquarian lore of the immediate neighbourhood of Extwistle, was listened to with deep interest by the large company assembled. Below we give the paper in its entirety, feeling assured that it will be enjoyable and instructive to the great majority of our readers:-

The ancient township of Extwistle forms a triangular spur, the base extending along the watershed of the Pennine Range from Birking Clough Head to the southern tail of Bouldsworth. A number of undulatory hills, like waves of the sea, stretch from east to west, flanked by the deep and precipitous ravines of Swindean and Thorsdean, and finally culminating in a promontory near where the twin streams meet at Netherwood Bridge, above Pheasantford. The scenery of the upland district of this township partakes of the general features of the Penine Range. The western slopes washed by the wintry storms which roll up from the Atlantic, owing to the prevalence of winds from that direction, form high and precipitous ranges, while eastward the hills slope away in easy gradients along the Yorkshire border. There is little known of the history of Extwistle during the ten centuries of Celtic, Roman, Saxon, and Danish occupation; neither is it mentioned in the Doomsday survey made by the order of William the Conqueror, immediately after his conquest of Britain. It appears that Roger de Poicton received it along with other lands in Blackbournshire, in a direct grant from William, from whom it subsequently passed to the De Lacy's, Earls of Lincoln. There seems to be some slight mystery connected with its history about this period, for we find in 19 Henry III. (1235), the abbot and monks of Newbo, near Lincoln, held a caracute of land (100 acres) in Extwysell, granted to them by Richard de Malbyse, and afterwards confirmed by Robert de Lacy (Rot. Chart. 19 Henry III., m.17), and, according to the Testa. de Neville, fol. 397, Adam de PReston, during the reign of King John, held the tenth part of a knight's fee from the Earl of Lincoln in Extwysell. This particular portion of land was subsequently held by the abbot and monks of Kirkstall, near Leeds, from Henry Duke of Lancaster (Birch's MSS.), from whom the name of "Monk Hall" is derived, and which it has retained up to the present day.


This is a modern farm house which stands in a field adjoining the road which leads from the top of "Noggarth" to Monk Hall quarries, and is said to have been built upon the foundation of an older and more pretentious structure, better in keeping with the style and magnificence of the monks of the thirteenth century. Tradition says that the monks of Kirkstall Abbey held this farm in their own possession as a place of retreat when weary with the cares and toils of monastic life. Shrewd business men who live in these degenerate times, amidst the smoke of long chimneys and flying shuttles, are apt to smile at the wisdom of those "Venerable" Christian fathers in choosing the loveliest and most fertile spots in the country for their religious houses. A pretty dale on the banks of a fine salmon river with plenty of hawking and hunting were the necessary attributes of a life of seclusion. The following interesting letter from Hugh, Abbot of Kirkstall, and dated from Castle of Reginald, on the morrow of St. Martin, 1287, shews that the old monks of those days had their ups and downs, and at times were puzzled how to "raise the wind." The affairs of the abbey had been gradually sinking under a load of debt; their revenues were exhausted by usurious payments, and their live stock had been consumed for present support. It seems the abbot was in London at the time the letter was written, trying to raise the "needful," as the purport of the letter indicates: "Brother Hugh, Abbot of Kirkstall, to his beloved in Christ at the convent of the same house health and blessing in the bond of peace." After a long re-capitulation of the difficulties and poverty of the resources of the convent, he says: "Here we found our patron, the Earl of Lincoln, with other great men of the court, attending upon the king, and to him we explained fully and to the best of our ability the distresses of our house. For, having shewn to the earl and his council the extent of our lands in Blackbournshire, besides Extwysell, and other of our lands in Roundhay, Schadwell, and Seecroft, it appeared that the above-mentioned lands and tenements, with the addition of four pounds which for several years last past we have received out of the exchequer at Pontefract, deducting everything which in reason ought to be deducted, would amount to £41 17s. 9d. yearly. Now, this revenue might be sold for £413 17s. 6d. Send some money by the same hand, however you come by it, even though it may be taken from sacred obligations, that we may at least be able to purchase necessaries while we are labouring in your vineyard, for this we earnestly entreat you not to fail for in truth we never were so destitute before. Fare well my beloved, may peace be with you. Amen." The pecuniary difficulties of the abbey were subsequently relieved by an agreement entered into with Henry de Lacy to take their estates in Blackbournshire (including Extwysell) at a ten years' purchase. After the dissolution of the monasteries, the Manor of Extwistle was granted to John Braddyl, who soon after alienated it to the Parkers, in whose hands it has remained up to the present day.

As through your ruins, hoar and gray-
Ruins yet hoary in decay-
The silvery moonbeams trembling fly,
The forms of ages long gone by.

Water mills planted on the banks of streams and consisting of square weather-bound structures, usually open at the top, were the means possessed during the Saxon era for grinding the cereal products of the country. A few years after the Normans had settled in these districts, those primitive sheds were superseded by a more substantial class of building, the remains of which we find in the old feudal soke mills of the country. After crossing the rustic bridge at Netherwood you leave the footpath to the left, and following the course of the stream that flows from the "Hagg," there is a miniature peninsula formed by a bend of the river about 300 yards from the confluence of the two streams. The promontory formed by the stream rises some 60 or 70 feet above the bed of the river. On the top there stands two green mounds, opposite each other, on which two clusters of throns are growing. These hillocks are the termini of the old mill race, while underneath the surface, on the slopes below, lie the ruins of the ancient mill. The goit, or conduit, is partially filled up, but can be distinctly traced for a couple of hundred yards in the direction of the "Hagg." Tradition says that this mill formerly belonged to the monks of Kirkstall Abbey, when they possessed Monk Hall, and who annually made a pilgrimage from Kirkstall across the moors over Bouldsworth to Extwistle, stopping on the way to preach gospel to the farmers and shepherds of the surrounding country from the top of the "Abbot Stones," a group of grit rocks on the northern end of Bouldsworth.


These are the only crosses that have been known to exist in the township. The former lies in the road side at a short distance from Rogerham Gate, and is said to have been erected by the monks at a point where the old road branched off towards the moors - a fitting shrine for the weary traveller to kneel and pray for a safe journey across these dreary wilds. The cross has been removed from its original site for a short distance; the socket in which it stood has not been disturbed, and I have been informed by Mr. Henry JObling, Mr. Parker's estate agent, that he has given strict orders for its erection on the old site. "Widdup Cross" stood up to within a few years on the north side of the Roman road at "Widdup Head," on the highest point of the Pennine Range, leading towards Widdup Valley. It was a plain slab of mill grit, about six feet in height, firmly embedded in a socket 14 or 15 inches square. I remember when I was a shepherd seeing it in a perpendicular position, where no doubt it had stood for centuries, but now, alas, it has disappeared; the ruthless hand of a vandal has probably broken it to pieces for the purpose of repairing the roads. It is a great misfortune that these interesting landmarks of history should be so ruthlessly destroyed.


In the month of May, A.D. 1561, certain irregularities had taken place in connection with the pasturage of sheep on Extwistle moor. A meeting was held by the shepherds and farmers to frame laws and regulations for the better government of the same. The following are a code of laws agreed to and afterwards confirmed by John Parker, of Extwistle, and John Towneley, of Towneley, Esqrs:-
1. Item. First, it is agreed that foure Byrelaw men shall be chosen and appoynted for ye said township.
2. Item. That no townsman shal take anie beaste, shepe, or horse to ye comon except yt be a poore man.
That hath kyne to geve him milk or a horse or other beaste to led hi eldying subpena, IIIs. IVd.
3. Item. If any inhabitant ther cut downe or fell anie thornes in Swindean to forfeat IIIs. IVd.
4. Item. If anie inhabitant ther stauve anie thrones in Swindean to forfeit IIs.
5. Item. If anie man sel anie slate oute of ye saide townshipp to forfeit for ev'y waineload XIId.
Item. For ev'y waineload of lime XIId.
6. Item. All goodes of straye to be impounded and ye owners to paie for ev'y horse or mare, VId. for ev'y horne baste except shepe IVd. and for ev'y sheep Id. and for every foulde break VIs. VIIId.
7. Item. No serving man to have above X shepe on ye common without assent of ye Byrelaw-men.
8. Item. All ringe yardes to be made afore ye XV of March yerely sub pena IIIs. IVd. and at ye same day al cattel to be avoyded out of ye fields under like paine.
9.Item. Noe gras to bee mowne, shorne, or pull'd betwene ye feste of ye Nativitie of o'r lorde and ye last day of September on paine for ev'y defaute IIs.
10. Item. If anie kinde of ev'l neighborode be committyed and found by ye Byrelaw men to paie for ev'y such defaute, IIIs. IVd.
11. Item. For ev'y defaute in breaking of hedge or cutting wode in ye enclosure to paie IIIs. IVd.


The following picture of the lawlessness of the times may be gathered from the circumstances narrated below. It really reads as if a petty civil war was being waged between Sir Thomas Metcalf and a Mr. Robinson, of Raydale House, Wensleydale, (a cousin of Sir Nicholas Assheton), for possession of the Raydall estate. Mr. John Parker, if Extwistle, was appointed one of the commissioners to inquire into the relative claims of the belligerents:- "June 1st, 1617. I went to Jo. P'ker (this John Parker died 1633) to be of commission for my cooz Robinson against Sir Thomas Metcalf. With much ado I got him. -June 4th. This evening came Sir Thomas Metcalf w'th 40 men or thereabouts at sunsett, after to Raydall House in Wensleydale with gunns, about half a score bills, picks, swordes, and other warlike p'vision, and besett the house where was my aunt Robinson and 3 of her little children, wch wente forth shutting the doore. My aunt left ye children and went to Sir Thomas desyring to know the meaning of that force; if for possession of ye house and land, and by wjat authoritie, and if better than her husbandes, whoe was now at London, she would avoyde wth all hers quietlie. Hee answered that he woulde not soe much satisfie her; his will was his law or authoritie for that tyme; see they would not suffer her to goe into the house for her stockings and headdressing and shoes, w'ch she wanted, but shee was forced to go a long myle with her little children to a towne called Buske, and thence a foote to Morton, two myles thence. This nyghte was the house shot at manie tymes and entered, but reserved. -June 5th. To Mr. Midloms and Sir Arthur Daykin's, 2 justices, shee could not get no reamedie, but went to York duble horsed to ye Councell. She left in Raydall House 3 of her sonnes, Jo. Wm. and R. Robinson, and 7 servants and retainers; one Tom Yorke, of Knaresborough, a boy newly come, with a b're and s'ving maydes, these with great currage mayntayned ye possession in great danger against a lawless, rude, and unrulie companie, desprate and graceless in their actions and intents."


The early history of this ancient Lancashire family seems to be lost in obscurity. The first mention of the name is from the pen of Sr. Whitaker, in his History of Whalley, in which he says:- "In the 21st Richard II. I meet with a John Parcour de Hightenhul, This was merely a name of office, but gradually became hereditary, and I suspect, from several circumstances, that the Parkers of Extwistle, could their descent be traced to its source, would terminate in a keeper of Ightenhil." This is a tradition related to me by old Dick o' Dick's, who died at Extwistle some forty years ago, at the age of ninety years, and from whom I received a store of information (traditionary and otherwise) that one of the Parkers of Briercliffe (where the family held lands prior to their removal to Extwistle) armed a number of tenants, and fought under the Earl of Surrey at the battle of Flodden Field, which took place on the 9th day of September 1513 when-
The English shafts in volleys hail'd
In headlong charge their horse assail'd,
Front, flank, and rear the squadrons sweep,
To break the Scottish circle deep
That fought around their King.
But yet though thick the shafts as snow,
Though charging knights like whirlwinds go,
Though billmen ply the ghastly blow,
Unbroken was the ring.
In reference to the antiquity of the Parkers of Extwistle, a William Parker occurs 10 Henry IV., 1409, and John Parker of the same place, 7 Henry VI. They were probably lessees under the Abbey of Newbo. Coming down to later times, they seemed to have intermarried with some of the leading families of the neighbourhood. One Edward Tempest, of Yellison, married Jane, daughter of John Parker, of Extwistle; she was the widow of George Tempest, of Broughton, who died in the latter part of the sixteenth century. Thomas Lister, Esq., of Arnoldsbiggin, (ancestor of the present Lord Ribblesdale), who was baptized at Gisburn, Dec. 5, 1665, married Elizabeth, daughter of John Parker, of Extwistle. She was buried at Gisburn 1709. Again, Robert Parker married Jane Haydock, daughter of Evan Haydock, of Heasandford, who died Dec., 1597. I also find that an Elizabeth Parker, sister of John Parker, of Extwistle, married George Halstead, of Bank House, in Burnley. Halstead died in 1644. The intermarriages of the Parkers with the Towneleys of Royle, Bannisters of Cuerden, and Parkers of Browsholme, are matters of local history, and shews their descent from some of the most illustrious families in the north of England. The firm adherence of the Parkers of Extwistle along with the Towneleys of Towneley and a number of the local gentry of East Lancashire to the ill-starred fortunes of the Stuart dynasty, often brought them into trouble with the opposite faction. During the siege of Skipton Castle by the Roundheads, which was gallantly held by Sir John Mallory for Charles I. from 1642 to Dec. 1645, the former made a raid into Briercliffe and Extwistle for the purpose of plundering the supports of the Royal cause. A party sacked High Halstead, taking all they could lay their hands on, and ultimately driving away ten oxen and two other beasts to the value of £45. The noise and tumult made by the marauders was heard across the valley from Extwistle Hall by Mr. Parker, who immediately drove all the cattle within reach into the thickets of Runclehurst Wood, and hid away most of the vauables in the hall. On finding themselves cleverly checkmated the marauders attempted to fire the place, but, having to decamp hastily, very little damage was done. Coming down to later times a number of the leadingJacobins, in the year 1701, formed themselves into an institution of a very singular kind, which was connected with the political history of the times. Under an appearance of jollity and conviviality a political purpose was concealed, and the members constitute themselves into a mock corporate body, which went by the designation of the Mayor and Corporation of Walton (near Preston). The meetings were held at a small public-house in that village now called the "Unicorn," and the proceedings were conducted with a kind of ludicrous formality. Their register contains a record of such of the transactions as it was judged prudent to commit to paper; and a mace, a sword of state, and four large staves covered with silver served to keep up the mystery and whimsicality of this coterie. They had also a hunting rod, mounted with silver, and inscribed, "The gift of Bannister Parker, of Extwistle, Esq., for the use of the Corporation of Walton, 1721." Each of the staves had a silver top and hoop, on which were engraved the names of the Mayor and other officers of this self-made Corporation. On the first staff, upon the top of it is the inscription:- "Wm. Farrington, Esq., Mayor of Walton, ye 13 Nov., 1721." Round this: "The Right Hon. James, Early of Derwentwater, Viscount Radcliffe Langley, and Baron Tindale, Mayor; John Walmsley, Esq., Recorder; Richard Assheton and Robert Parker, Bailiffs." The rebellion of 1745 took off some of the most efficient of its members, and as a natural sequence its essential finctions passed away, and the register and staves came into the possession of Sir Henry Hoghton, Bart. They are now at Cuerden Hall, the seat of Thomas T Parker - (Baines History of Lancashire.) It is said that Captain Robert Parker, whose name was inscribed on the staff as bailiff, on returning home from one of these Jacobite meetings, saw a goblin funeral procession pass through the gate at the top of Law Carr, between Extwistle Hall and the Old Tithe House at the top of Netherwood Fields, at midnight. The ghastly cavalcade moved on in deep silence, and when the coffin passed he saw his own name written on the top. The representatives of a colateral branch of the Parkers are descended from Robert Parker, -a nephew of the master of Extwistle, dating back to the times of the Commonwealth - whose stern Republican principles were the cause of his alienation from the parent stock. It is said that John Parker, the father of Elizabeth, who married Thomas Lister, an ancestor of the present Lord Ribblesdale, was present at the battle of Marston Moor, along with the brave but unfortunate Charles Townley, of Townley, whose bones lie bleaching on that bloody field. His nephew Robert was also present, fighting under the banner of the Parliament, a circumstance which caused an estrangement between the two families that existed for several generations. Bannistre Parker, of Proctor Cote, was a lineal descendant of the above-mentioned Robert. He died in the beginning of the present century, leaving issue: Robert (Robert O. Bannister), who died at Swindon. Henry Parker, the village blacksmith at Worsthorne, whose son, John Parker still survives, and lives at the same village; John Parker, of Walshaw, clerk at Worsthorne Church upwards of 37 years; Daniel Parker, of Rogerham; Peter Parker, of the Old sparrow Hawk, Burnley; and the late William Parker, joiner, of Lane Bridge, are all descended from the same stock, through Bannistre Parker, of Proctor Cote, in Extwistle.


The Squire Parker mentioned in the following song was Mr. Robert Parker, who married the co-heiress of Christopher Bannister, by whom he obtained the Cuerden estate. Five of the verses were published by the late T. T. Wilkinson; the remainder were given to me by old Dick o' Dick's (Richard Preston) nearly forty years ago. The old man, when primed with a glass or two of beer, took a pride in singing this fine old hunting song at the neighbouring fairs and rushbearings:-
Come all ye jolly sportsmen, give ear to me all,
And I'll sing you of a hunting at Extwistle Hall;
Sich jumping and hunting you never did see,
So come jolly sportsmen, and listen to me.

There were Squire Parker and Holden o' th' Clough,
T'one mounted on Nudger and t'other on Rough;
Tantivy, tantivy, the bugle did call
To join in the hunting at Extwistle Hall.

There were Starkie fro' Huntroyde on th' old bob-tailed mare,
Un Towneley un Ormerod and lots more were there.
Sich riding and leaping were ne'er seen before,
As they swept helter skelter o'er Extwistle Moor.

O'er Haggate and Shelfield and down they did hie,
And through Trawden Forest they ran him breast high;
They swept across Bouldsworth und o'er bith Deer Stone,
Till Parker on Nudger were there all alone.

Old Nudger kept leading and let nought come near,
And it neighed and it marlocked when th' hunters did cheer.
So come jolly sportsmen, and join wi mi all
In a health to Squire Parker of Extwistle Hall.

They hunted fro Rogerham to Wycollar Moor,
But t' buck kept ahead and made t' horses to snore;
There were th' old dog and Pincher, but Rover bet all
That started that morning fro' Extwistle Hall.

They hunted to Langridge and then back again,
Till o'er Pendle Water th' buck it was ta'en;
Some horses they stumbled, some riders did fall,
for they hunted beaut resting fro' Extwistle Hall.

Soa nah mi brave fellies come lift up your glass
To drink to Squire Parker and his sweet bonny lass;
He's of a good sort and long may he live,
And mony a good hunting like this may he give.


Referring back to ancient times we find that an inquisition was made in an advowson of whalley, together with a license of translation, obtained from Henry de Lacy by charter, dated at Pontefract 1283, in which the value of lands belonging to the Church of Extwistle is valued at 11s. At an inquisition taken at Blackburn, on June 25 1650, before R. Shuttleworth, Esq., and others, by commission under the seal of the Commonwealth, for enquiring and certifying the number and value of all parochial vocations, &c., within the parishes of Whalley, Blackburn, and Rochdale, it was found that Briercliffe and Extwistle, being distant from Whalley five miles, and from any other six, and consisting of one hundred families, desire to erect a single chapel for themselves. On Thursday, the seventeeth day of March, 1718, an accident of a serious character took place by an explosion of gunpowder in front of the old fireplace in the large dining room at Extwistle Hall. Captain Robert Parker, with his two daughters, Mary Townley, Betty Atkinson, and a child, were all seriously injured. Two rooms were set on fire. Captain Parker lingered in great agony until the twenty-first of the April after, when death put an end to his sufferings. He was afterwards buried in the interior of Burnley old church. It is said that the family took such a dislike to the place through this occurrence that they shortly removed away, never more to use it as a family residence.


These interesting relics of antiquity are found scattered over different parts of the British Isles. In close proximity to the old house on the brow of Beardley Hill (now in ruins) there stands a large circular tumuli or raised mounds of earth. The derivation of Beardley Hills seems to be derived from the Saxon Beado - battle, and ley, a field - "Battlefield" - (Bosworth's Saxon Dictionary.
There is a tradition that a battle was fought on this hill. I am of opinion that a great many of these rude mounds belong to the pre-historic Celtic age, and are sephulchral monuments erected to the memory of some important chieftain, or to cover the remains of fallen heroes who perished on the field of battle. It is a remarkable fact that in the wild sterile regions of the Pennine Range there is scarcely a mountain, rock, or stream whose name does not bear record of the ancient inhabitants of Britain. Cities may be destroyed, races may succeed races, but these grand old footprints still survive, the imperishable records of the forgotten past.


On perusing an ancient map of the township kindly furnished to me by Mr. Henry Jobling, I find the stream which flows through Thorsdean Valley is name the river "Don." The meaning of this root is derived from one of the most primitive forms of the Aryan or Hindoo-Eurpoean language; it signifies water or river. Armstrong says don is an obsolete Gaelic word for water, and that it is still retained in the Armorican (Brittany in France, whose inhabitants are a branch of the Celtic race) evidently derived from the Sanscrit word Udan - water. We find numerous instances of this word being found in the names of rivers throughout Britain, as the Don in Yorkshire, the Dean in Nottinghamshire, the Dun in Lincolnshire, &c. Passing on to the derivations of some of the names of places in Extwistle we find "Rogerham," which is probably derived from Roger (Roger de Poicton, the feudal lord of the manor under the conqueror), and ham, from the Saxon, home or hamlet - "Roger's Hamlet." On the south side of Thorsdean Valley a precipitous escarpment of carbonifirous rocks rise up like a wall from the bottom of the valley called "Hell Scarr," from Heil, Saxon, holy; and scarr from the Norske or ancient Danish, a rock, - "Holy Rock." Hell Clough, a deep defile which branches out of the Hell Scarr on the Extwistle side, is derived from the same source - "Holy Clough." Extwistle is from Ac or Acc, Saxon, oak, and twistle an old Danish word for enclosure (e.g. Entwistle, Oswaldtwistle, and Birchtwistle, &c.) - an enclosure of oaks. Swindean, Sweyn, a Danish name of the owner, and dean, Saxon, a valley - "Sweyndean." "Runclehurst," from the Saxon, Ronk, a place thickly planted; Hurst, Anglo-Saxon, Hyrst, a thick wood. "Monk Hall" is evidently derived from the monks of Kirkstall, being the proprietors. "The Hagg," from the Saxon, Hagga, a place surrounded by a fence or hedge. Netherwood, Saxon, Nedr, Dutch or low German, Neder - "Low," or "Lowerwood." "Law Carr," Saxon, Hlaw, a hill; Carr, a name generally given to small brooks or streams which contain the red oxide of iron, which are frequently found in different parts of East-Lancashire. These old musty records of past ages are perhaps chiefly of value to the ethnologist who takes an interest in tracing the different tides of immigration that have flowed across Britain like the ripple marked rocks which record the course of the primeval ocean, and so in a like manner wave after wave ofGaelic, Cymric, Roman, Saxon, Danish, and Norman, have left their traces in the names of places in indelible marks that may probably exist after our homely but incongruous language is forgotten.


On the northern side of the Roman road at the bottom of "Stony Bonk," and near to the confluence of the stream which flows from the tail end of Bouldsworth, and the brook which tumbles down the ravine leading from Widdup Cross, there stands the foundations of an old wayside inn. It is grown over with a rich green heritage which forms a strange contrast with the sombre hues of heather and brackens by which it is surrounded" It existed as a place of refreshment until about seventy years ago, when it fell from utter decay one wild and stormy night, and owing to the lonely situation, and the construction of better roads though the vale of Todmorden diverting the course of commerce, it was allowed to remain in ruins. Some of the stones which formed a part of the building may be built into the pasture fences in close proximity to the ancient site. The last tenant was William Lee, whose ancestors had been located in the district for several generations. At Jerusalem Farm there is an old oak kist which bears the initials W.L., and which formerly belonged to the last landlord of the Reeve Edge Inn. The name of the inn is derived from the "Reeve Edge," a roccky hill crowned with huge blocks of millstone grit that runs from north to south in the direction of Swindean waterhead. During the last century a great quantity of strong home-made clothes called huckabacks, bockins and bombazines were manufactured in the cottages of Briercliffe, Extwistle, and Trawden and afterwards carried across the moors on pack horses to Halifax, the principal emporium for this class of goods, and such was the insecure state of the roads over Widdup Head, that weavers have been known to wait at the old hostelry at Reeve Edge till a sufficient number was collected for the purpose of mutual protection against footpads and robbers, several of whom were apprehended and suffered the extreme penalty of the law under the shade of the old feudal fortress at the city of York. To go into the details of some of these crimes would not interest, as the perpetrators were generally inhabitants of the Yorkshire side of the Pennine Range, and are almost forgotten even by the oldest inhabitants. Of these stories one is an affair in which one of our own neighbours was a passive observer, and perhaps some of the elderly people may have it in their recollection. In a lonely valley encircled by moors there stands a farm house called "The Greave." In consequences of some repairs being required in connection with the farm buildings, Old Binn o' Withams, a joiner and hand-loom maker, who lived at Lane Bottom, was employed to carry them out. At the noontime of the day he was sat at the table getting his dinner along with the farmer and his family, when a gang of robbers, with blackened faces, entered the house. After rifling the drawers and boxes of all the money they could find, they were leaving the premises, when the farmer made the following foolish remark:- "I know you, and you'll suffer for this." On hearing this remark they immediately returned, and taking down the farmer's gun from the wall, loaded it before his face and subsequently blew out his brains. Old Binn sat at the fireside a involuntary witness of this fearful tragedy. The murderers were never discovered, although it was afterwards stated that the same gang were arrested for another crime, and one of them confessed to being one of the party. He died in exile at botany Bay, his name being Britcliffe, and a direct descendant of the Briercliffes of Briercliffe, an illustrious local family, who held lands in Brierclive (who very probably gave the name to the township), and whose names appear as witnesses to charters relating to estates during the reign of Henry VI.


In the beginning of the year 1812, a combination was formed among the cloth workers and finishers of the adjoining district of the West Riding Yorkshire. Their object was to destroy the new machinery which was introduced for the purpose of finishing woollen goods at a considerable saving to the manufacturer. A series of riots overran the district, beginning at Marsden-in-Saddleworth. Midnight attacks were made on the mills of the manufacturers, which finally ended in the destruction of life and property. Large rewards were offered for the apprehension of the guilty parties. Such, however, was the fear of the vengeance of the society that the perpetrators remained undiscovered for a considerable time. Some fled out of the country, others remained. It happened one day that a young man called at the lonely public house at the bottom of "Stony Bonk," footsore and wearied. He expressed a desire to stop through the night, and on rising the following morning he seemed in no hurry to depart, frequently making enquiries for work amongst the farmers in the neighbourhood. He ultimately arranged to stop and give a hand at the inn until something better turned up. Time wore on, and he was noticed to avoid the company of strangers who ight happen to call. One day a traveller from Yorkshire called at dinner time when the young man was at his meal. After a short time the guest pulled out a newspaper from his pocket and commenced to read about the recent apprehension of some of the Luddites. Dropping his knife and fork, a deadly pallor came over the features of his hearer as he listened with breathless attention to the names of the parties arrested. Struck by the strange appearance of the listener, a sudden thought flashed across the mind of the reader. He at once came to the conclusion that this man must have had something to do with the affair. Without mentioning the matter to any person he made his way to Heptonstall, a distance of five or six miles, and, finding out the constable, he related his story and suspicions. Returning, they arrested the object of his suspicion, and he immediately confessed to being a party to the riots. Being afterwards recognised he was tried at York, and hanged along with some fourteen or fifteen other who suffered the penalty of the law for the crime of participating in the foolish riots.


This man's name must be familiar to a great may. He lived in a little shanty close to the river side, in the bottom of the valley below "Broad Bonk." His name in the local vernacular was "Miles o' David's," and "Will i'th' Parlour," who lived in Trawden, was his uncle. He kept what is called in East Lancashire a "whist shop," and generally brewed his own beer, and sold it under the "old Act," viz, by subscribing to Her Majesty's exchequer. Full of native wit and humour, and ever ready to crack a joke with a customer, Miles was a model Boniface, and what with the quantity and purity of the water which swept by his door, or the scarcity of malt, he never was much troubled with drunken rows, and his customers often went home sober. Miles was a general favourite with the gentlemen sportsmen who frequented the moors during the sporting season. Oftentimes has General Scarlett, with a number of brother sportsmen, regaled himself from "David's brew," seated on the little greensward in front of the door. I remember once being at Miles's when the shooters were returning from a hard day's sport. The gallant old General rode up the road, and said "Well Miles, how are you? Here are some gentlement waiting to have some of your beer." Miles obeyed the order with alacrity, serving it out in common earthenware pots, and they, no doubt, enjoying themselves to their heart' content. What a change has occurred since those days. Miles has passed away. The fine old warrior, too, sleeps the sleep that knows no waling in the little rural churchyard at Holmes Chapel, while the humble cot by the river side, whose ingle has often rung with the merry chorus of Miles's patrons, lies in utter ruin and decay, without a roof - a mournful reminiscence of the good old times.


The following is an extract from the fly-leaf of an old Bible belonging to Edmund Tattersall, of Hurstwood, which was bequeathed to him by his father:- "February 7th, 169_ (the last figure is obliterated), a terrible wind arose about midnight, and continued without interruption for over two days and nights. Scores of trees were torn up by the roots. Extwistle and Worsthorne people were so terrified at the roaring of the hurricane that they durst not stop in their houses. A great many houses and shippons were unslated. The wind came from the west; the trees were covered with a thick crust of salt, and a large flock of sea gulls were seen to fly over Extwistle Hill toward Swindean."


Extract from the leaf of a book of Cook's Voyages in the possession of L. W. Halstead, of Heckenhurst:- "July the 11th, 1806, Pendle Hill this day covered with snow. Signed, Robert Halstead."


The history of this old family who not only gave the name to the old family house, but also to the clough (Holden Clough) seems to have been completely forgotten. The "Holden 'oth Clough," mentioned in the Extwistle hunting song, was one of the descendants, and lived at Holden near Rogerham. They were probably a branch of the Holdens of Holden Hall, in Haslingden.


Previous to the year 1825, the western boundary of the moor included the land and stanneries down to Extwistle Mill, sweeping north along the road leading from "Th'ing Hey" to the "Wall Nook," along by the east side of Beardley Hill, with Monk Hall farm for the western boundary. The walling in of the pastures commenced about 1825, and continued until the latter part of 1827. This was a period of great commercial depression commonly known as "Dole time," when the working classes were famished with hunger. No work to be had at any price, and owing to a bad harvest flour was selling at 5d. and 6d. per pound. Hand loom weavers lived principally on barley porridge, hence it was called "Barley time." When I look round on this respectable and well dressed and well fed assemblage, said the essayist, my mind refers back to those dark days of distress when clogs and porridge were the order of the day. I well remember when my parents who had a numerous family, had hard scheming to fill our bellies. We had blue milk (almost as thin as water) and meal porridge one and twenty times in a week, that is, if the meal lasted out to the end of the week, and we thought we were fine people if we could manage a pair of new clogs ironed round the sides. They were no light dandy clogs in those days. Many of your fathers and mothers will testify to the truth of what I say. Ours was not an isolated case, it was general all over the country. I can assure you we ought to be thankful that those days are gone, and let us sincerely hope never more to return.


See how the sharp corroding thief of time
Hath rent these massive walls; the stones dissolve,
And like the feeble sinews of old age
Relax, and shrink, and tumble to the ground.

The situation of this fine old family mansion is well chosen. Nestling under the brow of the hill which secures if from the bitter north wind, it presents an imposing front to a Southern aspect. The scene from the embattled roof is one of a most sublime character. Eastward, as far as the ridges of the Pennine Range, deep ravines and wild heath-crowned mountains and rocks, stand forth in savage grandeur. Old Boldsworth with its rounded summit, 1,700 feet above the sea, bars the view to the north-east, while the wild scenery of Dean Scauts and the range of hills stretching westward to Hambledon in Hapton, stand in bold relief against the horizon. Turning due west the vale of Calder lies at your feet, like a beautiful panorama, while stading between you and the Irish sea old Pendle rears its lofty head, the hero of a thousand storms. Musing over the history of past ages what a mighty change has come over the destines of those ancient families whose homes lie scattered in the prospect before us. The last of the name of Towneley is gone, Ormerod of Ormerod, Barcroft of Barcroft, Cunliffe of Hollings, and Wycollar are all gone; Tattersall of the Ridge, Holme and Hurstwood, and Townley of Royle, Halstead of Rowley, Habergham of Habergham, and a number of others whom I could name, have either become extinct or are almost lost in the great unmentioned wave of humanity. Cheap literature, rapidity of locomotion, the wonders of the telegraph, and the ever dancing tide of democracy, seem destined to sweep away these interesting landmarks of our history; whether it be for the weal of the woe of our country and race no human mind can fathom. Referring back to the old hall it may be said that it is shorn of much of its ancient grandeur. The removal of the oak panelled wainscotting and the splendid oak dining table that stood in the great hall, the falling of the greater part of the south and western wings which have been rebuilt in the modern style, have had a tendency to destroy its former grandeur. Part of the old fire-place still remaits, but the spacious dog kennels and stables which formerly stood in the old garden are all swept away to make room for more modern improvements. One of the most remarkable instances in connection with this township is the small number of the population, the total absence of either school or place of worship, and its isolation, owing to the want of a good system of roads of communication with the adjoiing townships, and more especially westward in the direction of Burnley. The following extracts from an "inventory" of all the goods and chattels on the premises at "Buwands" in Briercliffe in 1661 will furnish anyone with an accurate idea of the monetary worth of certain articles of farming stock at that time:- "One outshoote of hay, £1 4s. 10d.; one mare and one colt £3; six geese 4s. 6d.; 8 sheep 32 shillings; 6 hens and 1 cock one shilling and ninepence; one calfe 8 shillings; one cowe £2 10s.; &c."


It was during the residence of the last of the Parkers at Extwistle hall that there lived at Monk Hall an old man named Harry Stanworth, who had been an inveterate poacher the principal part of his life. The reason of the curious name mentioned above being given him occurred as follows:- Going out one night in pursuit of his favourite calling, he had an unusual run of good luck. Having caught twelve hares his avarice increased with his good fortune. He said to himself, "I'll just catch another and make up thirteen," and having accomplished the object of his wishes, he was busy tying up his bundle when lo, behold, the keepers pounced upon him, seized the hares, and took him before Mr. Parker. He was often heard to say afterwards "Ther's no luck wi thirteen to th' dozen." On another occasion he was again caught at his old pursuit, and when taken to Extwistle, before Mr. Parker, the latter said, "WEll Harry, you'r come again." "I am, maister," said Harry. "Now if you agree to the following terms," said Mr. Parker, "I will let you go. You must go to the Burnley Church once every Sunday, mark, I shall stand no nonsense; if I find you breaking your word I shall give you the lash of the law. I will also allow you five shillings per week so long as you give up poaching and also carry out the other arrangements." A bargain was made on these conditions, and old Harry jogged home as happy as a king with a hare over his shoulder, presented to him by his generous and forgiving patron. Things went on all right for a time, until the old instinct again predominated. He said to himself, "I'll just have another night." He had no sooner got his nets properly arranged before the keepers caught him redhanded. On being taken again before Mr. Parker, he said, "It's no use; I can't help it, it runs i' th' blood; I do like to catch a hare, master. You mun forgive me and I'll try to do better." Mr. Parker, no doubt seeing that promises were of no avail, dismissed the old man with a caution to behave better in future.


This old Extwistle family, who gave the name to the farm house known as "Procter Cote," near Lee Green, was located in this township for some two hundred years. The last of the name who resided here was Nicholas Procter. Many old people will remember the venerable old man. He ultimately removed to Burnley Lane Head, where some of his descendants are living at present. Prior ro rhe breaking out of the Scotch Rebellion of 1715, William Procter, who was a staunch Jacobite, went to meet the rebels on their arrival at Preston. Passing through Whalley he was overtaken on the road by a division of the Royal Army, consisting principally of dragoons commanded by General Carpenter, who crossed the country by way of Clitheroe to Preston. Divesting himself of his Jacobite ideas through fear of being arrested, he arrived at Preston in time to see a charge made up the main street by the Royalists. Keeping out of danger as well as possible he saw a number of the Rebel leaders, including Lords Derwentwater and Kenmure, marched down the street as prisoners. On arriving back home, one of his favourite Jacobite themes was the recital of his experience at Preston, and singing the old ballad of "Mackintosh and Mar are coming." [The Earl of Mar raised the Pretender's standard at Braemar in the Highlands.]


This remarkable and somewhat eccentric man was born, I believe, in the Valley of Thorsdean. Endowed by nature with a good constitution and an herculean frame, his powers of endurance were astonishing. As a mower he had no equal; it was a common observation amongst his neighbours that he could mow as fast as an old woman could walk. Oftimes has he been known to carry a sack of coals on his back from the pit on Marsden Height to his mountain home at "Jerusalem" on Extwistle Moor, a distance of between two and three miles. As a preacher of the gospel he was very peculiar in the selection of his texts. He once took his text from a cart wheel, representing Christ as the naves and the apostles as the felloes. He built Thorsden Chapel (now in ruins) and enclosed "Jerusalem Farm," named after his own peculiar fashion and almost the work of his hands, the stones being carried in a cart drawn by a bull, after the custom of the old Patriarchs. He was noted for his sterling honesty and indomitable perseverance. Circumstances over which he had no control compelled him ultimately to leave the home which had cost him so much toil, and crossing the Yorkshire border to a more congenial soil, he breathed his last in the neighbourhood of Brighouse, where he lies interred far from the mountain farm he loved so dearly.


Having alluded to these interesting relics of antiquity in the lecture on Ancient and Modern Worsthorne, I do not, said Mr. Wilkinson, intend to deal with this subject to-night. The Roman road which leads from Colne (Colunia) to Cambodunum (Slack, near Elland) crosses this township to the north-east. Running by Shelfield and through the upper part of Thorsdean it crosses the Pennine Range at Widdop Head. On the brow of the hill above "Broad Bonk" there are the remains of a circular camp, about 30 yards in diameter, across the centre of which it is as level as a bowling green, with breastworks round the outer circle for the purpose of defence. On the top of Extwistle Moor there is another Roman camp, about 45 yards square, with outlaying breastworks - one of the most perfect in Britain - while across the valley on Worsthorne Moor, a little to the east of "Halstead Cote Nook," there is another camp in a good state of preservation. These entrenched camps have been erected for the purpose of keeping open the communication across these wild and sterile regions, and are interesting monuments of the power of the old Roman, whose eagles floated triumphantly from the shores of the western seas to the table lands of Asia. Imagination carries us back to the time when the soldiers of Agricola toiled up these inhospitable slopes, chanting the songs of their native homes far away under the sunny skies of fair Italy.


In concluding his paper, Mr. Wilkinson alluded to the above in the following jocose way:- It will scarcely surprise any old person in this room that superstition was rife in this district up to within a very short date ; in fact, I should not be astonishd if some of you, om returning to your homes, should find that you have a horse shoe nailed behind the door to keep out evil spirits and witches. I remember when certain heads of families, generally some poor old decrepit old creature with one foot in the grave was blamed for being a wizard or a witch and was shunned by her neighbours on that account. Poor old Fitt Ann and her son William were oth branded with having dealings with the evil one; but thank God education is fast sweeping away these relics of superstition, nevermore to return. With reference to the old customs, the duckling stool or cuckstool was an institution in a many villages throughout the country. It consisted of a substantial chair fastened to the end of a long pole and suspended over a pool of water, the middle of the pole resting on an upright post near the edge of the pond so that the chair could be swung round to the side to receive its victim (generally a garrulous vixen, a pest to her neighbours) and after being loaded it was plunged into the water as many times as was deemed necessary to cool the anger of the unlucky scold. The ducking-stool pit for the village of Worsthorne is situate on the north side of the road leading down "Cross House Green," and the lane that runs by towards the "Hagg" is known by the name of "Cuckstool Lane." Ladies and gentlemen, I have arrived at the end of my journey. I have no doubt trespassed on your patience, for matters of this kind are generally dry and tedious. I shall be very glad to bring before you on some future occasion a few observations bearing upon the history of the adjoining township of Briercliffe.
At the conclusion of the paper a most hearty vote of thanks was unanimously accorded to Mr. Wilkinson, and a like compliment having been paid to the chairman for presiding, the meeting separated, all present having enjoyed the instructive treat afforded them.


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PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2012 7:25 pm 
Computer Whizz
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Thanks Mel, a good read, and some we hadn't heard about before.


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PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2012 6:33 am 
Spider Lady
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Maybe the source of some of Rogers knowledge or at least a base to start at?

I'm trying to find the one he wrote on Briercliffe.


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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 7:52 am 
Spider Lady
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One thing that struck me was the comment about the Great Storm and the surprise at a large flock of seagulls inland. It's a common sight today!


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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 9:04 am 
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We had a flock of over 100 seagulls over us yesterday, I gave up counting in the end. They were spiralling up a thermal and went really high--quite a spectacle.


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