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|A Ramble Through A Lancashire Vale 1883
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|Author:||Mel [ Sun Dec 09, 2012 2:00 pm ]|
|Post subject:||A Ramble Through A Lancashire Vale 1883|
Saturday 21 April 1883
A Ramble Through A Lancashire Vale
By Thomas Booth
The stately homes of England,
How beautiful they stand,
Amidst their tall ancestral trees,
O'er all the pleasant land.
One of the most enjoyable walks I believe in the neighbourhood of Burnley, is, to commence at Towneley Lodge gates, and so pass along through the pleasant and romantic gorge of Cliviger as far as the town of Todmorden, a distance of about 8 1/4 miles, through some of the most interesting scenery, interspersed with cascades in some places grand, in others where
The rocks are rent and riven,
in a way truly sublime. We will commence our walk at the Handbridge. Here I suppose formerly existed a mineral spring, for Dr. Leigh mentions a spring between Towneley and Burnley, which yielded na ron, called the Handbridge water, which was of the same nature as the Bourbon water of France. This water was very salutary in cases of stone and scurvy. In Bowen's "System of Geography," published in 1747, a spring is mentioned as existing at Burnley, which he says "Like that existing at Lathom is impregnated with sulphur, vitrol, and ochre, mixed with iron, a little [i[lapsis scipilis,[/i] and marine salt, united with a little purging salt; but the sulphur, he adds, is only discernible in the morning, as it goes off in the course of the day. To resume. Passing along the pleasant road that leads through Towneley Holmes, with the ancient deer park on our left, to our right we can discern the castellated turrets of Towneley Hall, embosomed amongst tgeir 'tall ancestral trees.' At what time the present hall was erected cannot be ascertained, but, "the original site of Towneley," according to Dr. Whittaker, "appears to have been a tall and shapely knoll to the south of the present mansion, still denominated the Castle Hill." When this elevated situation was abandoned it is impossible to learn; but the present house may, in part at least, lay claims to great antiquity. It is a large and venerable pile, with two deep wings and as many towers, embattled, and supported at the angles by strong buttresses, all of which contribute to give it a formidable and castle-like appearance. It was until about a century ago a complete quadrangle, with two turrets at the angles, of which the south side, still remaining, has walls more than six feet thick, constructed with grout-work. The side opposite to this was rebuilt by Richard Towneley, Esq., before his death in 1628; but the new building added to it on the north was the work of William Towneley, who died in 1741. On the norht-east side were formerly two turrets in the angles, a gateway, a chapel, and a sacristy, with a library over it. These had been the work of Sir John Towneley, knight. They were removed over a century ago by Charles Towneley Esq., and placed with religious reverance in their present situation. The vestments, some of which are of an antique and unusual form, are recorded by tradition to have been brought from Whalley Abbey.
The origin of the family of Towneley seems almost lost in the dim mists of the past, but "Geoffrey the elder, descended from Spartlingus, the first dean of Whalley upon record, who lived about a hundred years before the Conquest, married the daughter of Roger de Lacey, who granted to him the town of Tunleia, between the years 1193 and 1211, and his grandson, Roger, the last dean of Whalley, gave the town of Tunleia, to his brother Richard, whose son, Peter de Tonley, first bore the present arms of the Towneleys; argent, a fesse sable, in chief, three mullets of the second. Richard de Tonlay, his son, was the last heir male of the deans of Whalley, and he died leaving two daughters, coheiresses, of whom Agnes married John de Hargreaves, and died without issue; and Cecilia de Thonley, who married about 4th of Edward III., Richard or John de Legh, who was afterwards called de Townley, and is the progenitor of the present families of that name." (Baines's Lanc., Vol. 3)
Of course it is not my intention to enter into a personal history of the members of this ancient family, but the following brief notice of some of its more noted members may not be altogether uninteresting:- "Sir Richard Towneley was knighted at Hutton Field, in Scotland, during the war with that country in 1481. Sir Barnard Towneley was Docter of Laws about the same period. Sir John Towneley was Sheriff of Lancashire from the 23rd to 32nd of Henry VIII. Another Sir Richard Towneley was knighted at the siege of Leith, in Scotland, during the reign of Philip and Mary, and in August, 1644, Charles Towneley, Esq., the then owner of the estate, was unfortunately killed at the battle of Marston Moor, fighting on the side of the Royalists. His widow, when searching for his body, was wisely advised to desist by no less a personage than Oliver Cromwell himself, and his remains were consequently buried on the field of battle. The family honours and his property descended to his son Richard, who wisely preferred the peaceful walks of literature and science to the dangers and toils of war. His uncle Christopher, the indefatigable transcriber of the Towneley manuscripts, was also devoted to similar pursuits. He appears also to have been well versed in chemistry. We may also add that the geometry of the Greeks does not appear to have escaped his attention. The manuscripts transcribed by him occupy no fewer than twenty-two folio volumes. The grandson of Richard Towneley was no less distinguished in the science of war than in the walks of polite literature. He is sometimes cited as the Chevalier Towneley, from the circumstance of his long military service in the French army, but is better known as John Towneley, Esq., Knight of St. Louis, and the successful translator of Butler's Hudibras into French verse, which he published in London in 1757." (Burnley Church, by T.T. Wilkinson, F.R.A.S.)
Amongst the portraits in the family portrait gallery at Towneley is one of Richard Towneley, born in 1598, who was so long in foreign parts that it was only by his dog that he was recognised on his return, and this faithful rememberer is drawn by his side. In a deed, without date, it is a semi-Saxon character, probably of the reign of Henry II or III., appears the name of a Walter Capellanus de Tunlay, which leads Whittaker to conjecture that in those early times this hamlet had a village and chapel, both of which must have been destroyed to make room for the house, offices, and grounds of the opulent family which followed; and accordingly a small close, now partly enclosed in the gardens, is still remembered by the name of the Chapel Lee; and within this enclosure one of the old workmen has affirmed that human bones had been discovered.
Few of the halls of our ancient families escape the reputation of being haunted by some visitant from the spirit world, and Towneley is no exception to the rule. The old tradition of "Towneley Boggart," as it is called in the neighbourhood, is thus told in Harland and Wilkinson's Legends and Traditions of Lancashire:- "The license for enclosing the old park of Towneley, which lay west from the house, is dated 6th Henry VII. (1490-91). The malice and superstition of the common people have doomed the spirit of some former and hitherto forgotten possessor of the estate to wander in restless and long unappeased solicitude, crying-
Lay out, lay out
Horelaw and Holinhey Clough."
"Lay out" means the reverse of "take in," i.e., to throw open, or disappropriate land previously enclosed. To shew at once the foundation and antiquity of this story, as well as to illustrate a remark that traditions, when stripped of the marvellous, have generally their basis in truth, Dr. Whittaker quotes the following record:- "By letters patent, dated Feb. 28, 1st James I. (1604) the said king grants unto Charles, Lord Mountjoy, Earl of Devon, in consideration of the good services done by him in the time of Queen Elizabeth, and since, inter alia, all that parcel of land called Horelaw Pasture, containing by estimation 194 acres, of 24 feet to every perch, abutting on the north upon a pasture called Holinhey, parcel of the possession of the Duchy of Lancaster, and formerly enclosed in severality by John Towneley, knight. This was evidently an encroachment which had been seized by the officers of the Duchy, and granted out afresh. It is said that the above spirit required one life every 7 years. It is a common expression in the neighbourhood of Burnley when anyone returns after a long absence, "Well, tha's come ageon like Teawnley Boggart." It is said that this spirit is now "laid" to trouble no more as long as a green leaf remains in Long Hollin Wood. There is another tradition of one of the Towneley family revisiting "the pale glimpses of the moon." This was Colonel Francis Towneley, who held a colonel's commission from the King of France in 1745. He was recommended by the said king to the service of the Pretender, and joined Charles Edward at Carlisle, of which city he was for a time governer. He took an active part in the rebellion, and held command of the Pretender's "Manchester Regiment," numbering about 300 rank and file. He surrendered December 30th 1745, to William, Duke of Cumberland, at Carlisle, when the regiment had been reduced to 114, including all ranks. The officers were conveyed to London in waggons, under a strong guard, and lodged in Newgate. They expected by virtue of holding French commissions, that they would be treated as prisoners of war, and be exchanged as such. But it was determined that the full vengeance of the law should fall on all belonging to the Manchester Regiment. The trials commenced on the 16th of July, 1746, in the court-house of St. Margaret's Hill, London, before the High Commissioners appointed for the purpose. Colonel Towneley was first arraigned; he was firm and undaunted throughout the trial, and was found guilty. He was first hung, and after being suspended for five minutes he was cut down, stripped, laid upon a block, his head severed from the body by a cleaver, and put into a coffin, then his bowels and his heart being taken out, they were thrown into a fire of faggots prepared for the purpose. The remains were privately interred by his friends, and only one head - that of Captain Fletcher - was exposed on Temple Bar. This event gave rise to the following Jacobite ballad, and relates to the asserted breach of faith on the part of William, Duke of Cumberland (second son of George II.) with the prisoners of war taken at Carlisle:-
When Sol in shades of night was lost,
And all was fast asleep,
In glided Towneley's murder'd ghost,
And stood at William's feet.
"Infernal wretch, away! he cried,
And view the mangled shade,
Who on thy perjured faith relied,
And basely was betrayed.
"Embrued in bliss, embalmed in ease
Tho' now thou seen'st to lie,
My injured shade shall gall thine ease
And make thee long to die.
"Think on the hellish acts you've done,
The thousands you've betrayed;
Nero himself would blush to own
The slaughter thou hast made.
"Not infants' shrieks, nor parents' tears
Could stop thy bloody band;
Nor even ravished virgins' tears
Appease thy dire command.
"But oh, what pangs are set apart
In hell thou'lt shortly see;
Where even all the danm'd will start
To view a fiend like thee."
With speed affrighte! William rose,
All trembling, wan, and pale;
And to his cruel sire he goes
And tells the dreadful tale.
"Cheer up, my dear, my darling son,"
The bold usurper said;
"Never repent of what you've done,
Nor be at all dismayed.
If we on Stuart's throne can dwell,
And reign securely here,
Thy uncle Satan's king of hell,
And he'll protect us there!"
The author of this ballad is unknown, but it is copied from a manuscript in the handwriting of Mrs. Kenyon, wife of the clergyman of that name resident a century ago in Salford, and incumbent of Trinity Chapel.
(To be Continued.)
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