A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 5. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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This L-shaped township stretches westward from Bury for about 3 miles, and northward for 2½ miles, and has an area of 2,553 acres. (fn. 1) The part near Bury has long been urban, and indistinguishable from Bury proper except by the Irwell's course. The surface in the western limb rises gradually till 800 ft. is attained in the north-west corner at Bowstone Hill; in this portion are Elton proper and Walshaw Lane. The northern limb, bounded on the east by the Irwell, also rises to the west, over 400 ft. being attained; this portion contains Brandlesholme in the centre, with Woodhill to the south and Summerseat to the north. The population of the registration district was 13,997 in 1901.
From Bury Bridge the roads spread out to the north, north-west, west, and south-west, to Haslingden, Blackburn, and Bolton. The Lancashire and Yorkshire Company's Bolton and Bury line crosses the south-eastern corner. The Bury and Bolton Canal, opened in 1796, starts in this township near Bury Bridge, and proceeds along the western bank of the Irwell; there is a large reservoir for it on the border of Elton and Radcliffe.
In 1666 there were seventy-five hearths to contribute to the tax, including Thomas Greenhalgh's house with twelve, Thomas Symonds's, six, and Roger Kay's of Woodhill, six. (fn. 2)
Elton has now disappeared as a township, the greater part having been added to the borough of Bury, but part to Ainsworth and other townships. (fn. 3)
There does not appear to have been any manor of ELTON, although in the 13th century a family occurs bearing the local surname. (fn. 4) Elton was considered a hamlet of Bury, and its manorial history is involved in the latter's. (fn. 5)
The estate of BRANDLESHOLME in Elton, however, was called a manor. Its early possessors (fn. 6) gave way to the Greenhalghs, who retained it till the beginning of the 18th century. But little is known of this family, who are said to have sprung up in Tottington, (fn. 7) until the 16th century. Henry de Greenhalgh and Alice his wife made settlements of their estate in Bury and Tottington in 1397 and 1398. (fn. 8) Thomas Greenhalgh died at Brandlesholme on 18 July 1576, holding the manor, with various messuages and lands, of Henry, Earl of Derby, as lord of Bury, in socage by a rent of 2s. a year. John his son and heir was about twenty-six years of age. (fn. 9) John Greenhalgh was buried on 21 January 1614–15; (fn. 10) but his son Thomas had died in 1591, (fn. 11) leaving an infant son John to succeed his grandfather. The family were in the service of the Earls of Derby, (fn. 12) and John Greenhalgh was in 1640 appointed Governor of the Isle of Man; (fn. 13) and holding this office at the time of the Civil War, his estates in Lancashire were seized by the Parliamentary authorities. He died in the island 16 September 1651, (fn. 14) and was succeeded by his grandson Thomas, son of Richard Greenhalgh, born in 1633. (fn. 15)
Thomas Greenhalgh recorded a pedigree in 1664, (fn. 16) and married Elizabeth elder child of Dr. Henry Bridgeman, Dean of Chester and Bishop of Man, by whom he had a large family. (fn. 17) He was sheriff of the county in 1667–8. (fn. 18) In his will, dated 1692, John his son is named as the heir, (fn. 19) but appears to have died without issue, as Henry, another son, is described as. of Brandlesholme in 1728. On his dying intestate, administration was in that year granted to his daughters Fanny and Anne. (fn. 20) The manor descended to Elizabeth wife of Samuel Matthews, who in 1732, and again in 1742, made settlements of it. (fn. 21) In 1770 Joseph Matthews and Elizabeth Matthews, widow, were two of the vouchees in a recovery of Brandlesholme and the other estates. (fn. 22) About that time it was sold to Richard Powell of Heaton Norris, a merchant. In 1849 Brandlesholme belonged to his grandson, Captain Henry Folliott Powell. (fn. 23)
BRANDLESHOLME HALL stands on high ground a mile and a half north of Elton, to the west of the road to Holcombe Brook, and is now a house of little or no interest, modern rebuilding and repairs having deprived it of all its architectural features. It was formerly a good specimen of the half-timber gabled houses of the district, built on a low stone base, and erected probably in the 16th century with a later stone wing with mullioned windows at the north end. The greater part of the external timber-work, however, appears to have perished or have been otherwise destroyed before the middle of the last century, when the house seems to have been in a more or less dilapidated state, the principal front, which faces the east, being then patched with plaster and modern sash windows introduced. (fn. 24) In 1852 the south end was taken down and rebuilt in brick and stucco, no attempt being made to reproduce the former style, and the rest of the building being very much dilapidated was repaired in 1908 in a manner more resembling in style the work of 1852 than that of the original building. Externally, therefore, the house, which has long been divided into two, preserves nothing of its ancient appearance, a portion of stone walling on the north, some brickwork at the back (west), and a few stone slabs on the roofs, which have been renewed with blue slates, being all the old work now left. The interior, however, exhibits a good deal of the timber construction, and the hall preserves its wide open fireplace and original oak ceiling beams. In another room is a portion of a ceiling with well-moulded oak beams, and other portions of old timber-work still remain. But the general aspect of the house, inside as well as out, is wholly modernized, and new rooms have been added. On the north-east is a stone barn, and in a corner of the grounds on the south-west side at the end of a terrace approached by eight stone steps are the remains of a small stone building, locally said to have been a chapel, but more probably a summer-house, with the initials H.G. (Henry Greenhalgh) and the date 1709 on the door-head.
CHAMBER HALL, on the border of Bury, appears to have been at one time the residence of a Greenhalgh family, (fn. 27) and then of the Kays. (fn. 28) The place was leased to Robert Peel, who there established his great cotton-printing works. His son, the celebrated statesman, was born in the house or in an adjacent cottage. (fn. 29) It is a question debated locally whether Sir Robert or his younger brother was born in this cottage during some repairs or additions at the hall; these additions, which were probably the new brick front, may not have been begun till after Sir Robert's birth. (fn. 30) The hall was used as a Baptist college from 1866 to 1874. (fn. 31)
It was situated about 400 yds. directly north of Bury market-place, on low ground at the foot of the plateau on which the old town of Bury was built, and not far from the left bank of the Irwell. The railway, going north from Bury, passed close to it on the east, and its surroundings, which had been growing less attractive for the last thirty years, were somewhat squalid. In 1825, however, the house is described as standing 'amid fertile fields,' (fn. 32) and the position was no doubt originally a pleasant one. Of the 17th-century house only a small portion remained, at the back or north side; the front part, which was built of brick and dated from the latter part of the 18th century, forming the larger and principal portion of the building. The old house was of three stories, was built of thin rough coursed stones with dressed angle quoins, and retained its old mullioned and transomed windows with label mouldings, one at the east end on the third floor having eight lights. The roof was covered with stone slates, and in the north wall was a stone with an inscription very much worn, dated 1611. The later addition was of the same height but of two stories, breaking the west gable of the old building, and had a very plain brick elevation, with a central doorway and two sash windows on each side on the ground floor, and five similar windows above. (fn. 33) The house was pulled down in February 1909, the inscribed stone above referred to being placed in the Bury Museum.
Somerset, now Summerseat, was held by the Rawstornes under the lord of Brandlesholme. (fn. 34)
The principal landowners in 1789 were: Powell for Brandlesholme, Peel for Chamber Hall, Richard Bridge, Mrs. Nuttall for Woodhill, and Mrs. Johnson for Seddon's. (fn. 37)
In connexion with the Established Church, All Saints' was built in 1843, and had a separate district assigned to it in 1844. (fn. 38) St. Stephen's, built in 1881, had a district assigned to it three years later. (fn. 39) The patronage of these churches is vested in the rector of Bury and the vicar of All Saints' respectively. Christ Church, Walshaw Lane, was built in 1892 as a memorial to Jesse Haworth of Walshaw Mill, who died in 1897, by his sister Miss Nancy Haworth and his nephew the Rev. John Gorell Haworth.
The Wesleyan Methodists have two churches in Elton; the United Methodist Church one; and the Primitive Methodists also one, built in 1868. (fn. 40)