A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 5. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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This township, which contains the chapelry of Milnrow, occupies the south-east part of the parish, and has an area of 7,765½ acres. The surface is comparatively level in the west and south, but on the eastern border rises steeply, a height of nearly 1,500 feet being reached. The following are the former hamlets or subdivisions:—Butterworth Hall, 738½ acres; Belfield, 458; Clegg, 1,677; Low House, 1,278; Wildhouse, 264; Haugh, 599; Bleakedgate with Roughbank, 2,751.
The township has long been divided into two sections, the Freehold side and the Lordship side. (fn. 1) These 'sides' refer to the ancient terms of tenure, some freehold, some of the lord of the manor by various rents and services. The tenements of each class are scattered all over the township, and the existing classification became fixed before 1600, the various holdings being judged to belong to freehold or lordship side in accordance therewith, though all the holdings have long ago been enfranchised. The classification is still maintained by tradition, because each 'side' has been accustomed to have a constable in the Rochdale manor court. (fn. 2)
The principal road is that going south-east and east from Rochdale through Milnrow to Huddersfield. From Milnrow a road goes north to join the Rochdale-Todmorden road. The Lancashire and Yorkshire Company's railway from Rochdale to Todmorden passes through Belfield, and the canal between the same places goes along by the line; the same company's line from Rochdale to Oldham has stations at Milnrow and New Hey.
A 'disorderly custom' called the Rushbearing used to take place on the Saturday before St. James's Day. (fn. 3) The rushcarts finally disappeared about ten years ago, but the annual fair or holiday is still called the Rushbearing, and is kept at various dates in the autumn at Milnrow and other places in the Rochdale district.
Formerly Chapel Croft used to be mowed after the other fields, the superstition being that if it were mown without rain falling, none of the hay from the meadows would be got in dry. (fn. 4)
A local board was constituted at Milnrow in 1870; (fn. 5) it became an urban district council in 1894, and the district was formed into an independent township; there are three wards—Belfield, Milnrow, and Haugh, each with six members.
Butterworth, or the part of it held by Hugh de Eland about 1190, was given by him to Gilbert de Notton, son and heir of Gilbert de Notton, in marriage with his daughter Margery; (fn. 6) they had issue a son Roger, a benefactor of Monk Bretton. Margery afterwards married Sir Baldwin Tyas, or Teutonicus, by whom she had a daughter Joan, married first to Sir Robert de Hoyland of High Hoyland, in Yorkshire, and afterwards to Sir John de Byron. (fn. 7) The estate of the Elands and their heirs, the Saviles, with numerous additions, (fn. 8) was known as the manor of BUTTERWORTH, and descended like Clayton in Droylsden till the beginning of the 17th century, when the whole was sold to a large number of purchasers, mostly the occupying tenants. (fn. 9) Sir John Byron, who died in 1489, was found to have held twelve messuages, 200 acres of land, 10 acres of wood, &c, in Butterworth, of Sir John Savile, by services un known; also parcels in Ogden. (fn. 10) It appears that the Byrons held land also of the Hospitallers, who owned a great part of the township, (fn. 11) for in the rental it is stated that a later Sir John Byron, about 1540, paid 18d. for Butterworth. (fn. 12) The hall, which existed in 1420, (fn. 13) was built upon the Hospitallers' land. (fn. 14)
A number of families used the local surname. (fn. 15) In the central hamlet, known as Butterworth Hall, are situated Milnrow with the chapel, and the residences called Lady House, (fn. 16) Holt, (fn. 17) and Gartside, (fn. 18) all of which tenements possess some historical interest.
BELFIELD, held in part of the Hospitallers, (fn. 19) gave its name to the family owning it; but little is known of them, (fn. 20) a branch of the Butterworths having possession from the 16th century onwards. Robert Butterworth died in December 1557 holding Belfield Hall with various messuages and lands in Butterworth, partly of the Belfields and partly of others; also messuages and lands in Castleton, Hundersfield, and Oldham. (fn. 21) Edward, his next of kin and heir, being a nephew, succeeded, and died in 1570, when Alexander, his son and heir, was about six years of age. (fn. 22) Alexander died in 1623, leaving a son Edward, (fn. 23) who in 1626 held Belfield Hall and 240 acres of land, as well as lands elsewhere. (fn. 24) Edward Butterworth was a Presbyterian, and became a member of the Bury classis on its formation in 1646; (fn. 25) a younger brother, Alexander, joined the king's forces, and compounded for his estate in 1650. (fn. 26) Another brother, Jonathan, left a son Alexander, (fn. 27) who in 1665 succeeded his uncles Edward and Alexander in the estate, and died in 1728, having parted with it to his steward, Richard Townley, a Rochdale mercer. (fn. 28) The new owner, who was high sheriff in 1752, (fn. 29) was followed by his son and grandson; but Belfield was in 1851 sold to Robert Nuttall of Kempsay, whose grandson, Captain Clement R. N. BeswickeRoyds, of Pike House, Littleborough, still owns it.
BELFIELD HALL is a quadrangular building standing on an elevated site. The principal front, which was rebuilt in brick in 1752, faces south. On the west side the ground falls abruptly towards a small stream called the Stannybrook, and the position of the hall, as seen from the south-west, is very striking. The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway passes close to it on the north. The hall is now nearly wholly dismantled, and is fast falling into decay. Two portions of the building—at the north-east corner, and on the west side of the quadrangle—are occupied as cottages, and these are the only parts of the old house at present in a state of repair, the outer walls having been largely rebuilt, and modern windows inserted. The rest of the house, including the 18th-century south wing, is little better than a ruin. The doors are open for anyone to enter, the windows are smashed, the floors broken, and the roofs do not keep out the rain. The whole presents a picture of desolation, all the more to be regretted because a little timely repair would have preserved the building for many years to come. Less than twenty years ago the house presented an ordered appearance, which is now difficult to recall.
The building is of stone and of two stories. The walls are constructed with thin rough coursed stones with long quoins on the angles, and the roofs are 'covered' with grey stone slates. The entrance to the quadrangle is through a gateway 8 ft. wide on the east side. From this, under the archway, doors open to rooms on either side; that on the south is said to have been the Justices' Room, or Court House, and over the door were formerly the arms of Butterworth. To the north was a large room with a fireplace on the west side, opening to the principal room of the north wing. This was lit on the south side by a long stone-mullioned bay window of no less than sixteen lights. The kitchens were probably on the west side. The 18th-century south wing seems to have taken the place of an older wing. A sundial plate formerly at Belfield (fn. 30) bears the date 1619, and it is possible that the Hall as now existing is of much the same period. The west side has been much altered in more recent times, and may even have been entirely rebuilt before the coming of the Townleys in 1728. The quadrangle measures about 46 ft. across from east to west, and 42 ft. from north to south. It is now overgrown with grass, though the cobble pavement was in good condition till a quite recent date (i.e. in 1889). The principal room on the north side of the quadrangle is about 38 ft. in length, and 24 ft. in breadth, and has a flat ceiling. There is a large ingle-nook 10 ft. wide at the west end, now built up. Until recently the room was occupied as cottages, and the wall dividing it into two still remains. The whole of the courtyard side of the room is taken up by the sixteen-light window before mentioned, with a smaller window on each side, one single light in each return. The bay is 23 ft. in length inside, and is carried up with a projection of 2 ft. 6 in. to the first floor, where a similar window lights the room above. On the other side are two smaller bays facing north, one of them awkwardly contrived behind the projection of the ingle-nook. These seem to be later additions or afterthoughts to the original design, and built with more regard to outside than inside appearance. The staircase is said to have been in the north-east angle of the house, though there are now no traces of it. In the west wing, supposed to have contained the kitchen, is a fireplace opening 17 ft. wide, since built up, and two modern grates inserted, the room having previously been divided into two.
The exterior elevations of Belfield Hall are chiefly distinguished by the long low stone windows without transoms, which give the building a rather squat and monotonous appearance. The entrance front to the east has a thirteen-light window of this description to the left of the gateway and two similar windows each of five lights to the right. Above, on the first floor, are five windows of five lights each and one with two. All the windows in the old part of the house, with the exception of those to the great bay on the south side and four in the west wing, have transoms are of the same type, and the lack of variety in detail makes the building just miss that note of distinction which otherwise it might have possessed. There is a continuous moulded stringcourse at the height of the ground-floor windowheads which is continued round the entrance archway on the east side, and the upper windows on the outer elevation have hood-moulds. The two great sixteen-light transomed windows to the courtyard, one over the other, separated by a plain wall-space, together with the gable on the west side, make the inner elevations far more picturesque than those on the outside of the house —a picturesqueness, however, the full effect of which is lost by the otherwise straight and unbroken lines of the eavesand roofs.
The northern elevation now facing the railway is broken up by the two small projecting bays, which go up both stories and finish with stone gables. This front seems to have been much patched and altered. The end gable and wall below to the east, as has before been stated, has been entirely refaced in modern times, and the two doorways which now give entrance to the chief apartments are modern insertions. On the other hand it appears that a projecting bay 11 ft. in width formerly existed in the centre of the wall on this side, as shown by the break in the plinth. The south side of the quadrangle is occupied by the back of the 18th-century building erected by Col. Townley which rises a full story above the lines of the eaves of the old roofs, and consequently overshadows the courtyard on the side where the light could be least spared. No attempt has been made to harmonize the new work with the old except that the wall has on this side been faced with stone—probably the old materials used up—and the south side of the quadrangle is properly a back elevation. In later times an enormous buttress has been introduced to strengthen the wall, further destroying the picturesqueness of the courtyard.
The new south front erected by Col. Townley in 1752 is a classic composition of two stories in brick and stone possessing a certain dignity and stateliness, but rather coarse in detail. It is about 100 ft. in length. The centre portion has Doric pilasters, a heavy cornice and panelled attic of stone, and is flanked by slightly recessed wings with four windows on each floor, the end windows on each side being much too near the angles of the building. The whole of this portion of the house is practically gutted, and is in a dangerous condition.
WILD HOUSE was about 1540 held of the Hospitallers by Nicholas Butterworth, who paid a quitrent of 6d. (fn. 31) It passed by marriage to the Hamers, and after several sales became the property of the Fentons. (fn. 32) Birchinley is another old estate, which has also come into the Fentons' possession. (fn. 33)
LOW HOUSE was also held of the Hospitallers by a rent of 18d.; the tenant about 1540 was Robert Butterworth. (fn. 34) In 1626 it was held by John Butterworth, together with the adjoining Crow Nest estate, paying various rents to the chief lords. (fn. 35) It afterwards descended to the Chadwicks of Roughbank. (fn. 36)
FLASH HOUSE, also part of the Hospitallers' estate, was long held by the Chethams of Nuthurst. (fn. 37) Turnagh, corrupted into Turner, occurs in deeds of the 13th century. (fn. 38) The family appear to have settled at Scholefield, and in 1626 Edward Whitehead held part of it by grant of Gerard Scholefield, paying a rent of 7d. to Sir John Byron; John Butterworth held another part. (fn. 39)
SCHOLEFIELD or Schofield gave its name to a family who held it for many centuries. (fn. 40) A number of the charters have been preserved, (fn. 41) from which it appears that John son of Alan de Hollinworth gave Adam de Turnagh, his lord, an oxgang of land in the Scholefield in Hollinworth, which his father had purchased from Roger de Winterworth; (fn. 42) and that Roger de Butterworth released all his right in the same oxgang. (fn. 43) William son of Adam de Turnagh had a grant of land in Longden Brook, (fn. 44) and perhaps John de Scholefield, the first known to have assumed the name, was another son of Adam, or else a son of William. (fn. 45) John appears to have had several sons— John, William, Adam, and Richard; (fn. 46) and in the time of Richard II John the son, then known as John de Scholefield the elder, made a grant of lands to his son John. (fn. 47) At the same time a Henry de Scholefield appears, (fn. 48) and in the next century a Hugh de Scholefield, probably son of the younger John, was in possession. (fn. 49) He left a son James, (fn. 50) from whom the descent is readily traced. (fn. 51) Cuthbert Scholefield, greatgrandson of James, living in the time of Elizabeth, was party to numerous suits. (fn. 52) His nephew Gerard (fn. 53) succeeded, and died at Holt in Butterworth on 1 October 1638, holding Schole, field Hall, Windy Hills, and the Holt; Windy Hills which had been purchased of Sir John Byron, was held of the king by knight's service, but the tenure of the rest was unknown. (fn. 54) The son and heir James was eighteen years of age; he was living in 1665, when he recorded a pedigree at the Visitation, (fn. 55) and was succeeded by his son Radcliffe, whose son, grandson, and great-grandson were Nonconformist ministers. Scholefield Hall was sold in 1673 to Seth Clayton, and in 1770 to Robert Entwisle of Foxholes.
CLEGG (fn. 56) gave a surname to its earlier owners, (fn. 57) who were succeeded by a branch of the Belfields, (fn. 58) from whom it descended in the 16th century to the Ashtons. (fn. 59) It afterwards passed through various hands, becoming at last the property of the Fentons. It was sold by Mr. R. K. Fenton in 1906.
CLEGG HALL stands on the site of an older house on high ground about 2½ miles north-east of Rochdale. It is a strong-looking stone building of three stories and an attic, rectangular in plan, measuring about 68 ft. in length by 50 ft. from front to back, with three gables on each face and a projecting porch on the principal or north front. It was apparently built at the end of the 16th or beginning of the 17th century (the Ashton mullet carved in the spandrels of the entrance doorway fixing the date somewhere between 1571 and 1622), and is a good example of the stone-built house of the period, with mullioned and transomed windows. The lower story forms a basement with a high plinth at the level of the sill of the windows of the principal floor, the ground being raised in front opposite to the entrance, which no doubt was approached by steps. In front the building is therefore apparently of less height than at the sides and back, where the ground retains its natural level.
The plan is interesting, and of quite a different type from the traditional one from which the majority of house plans in the district are derived. It has indeed on the ground floor a large room taking up the north-east angle, which represents the hall, and has at the west doorways opening north and south to the porch and main staircase, recalling in some degree the passage through the screens at the lower end of a hall. But otherwise the disposition of the rooms is entirely dictated by the simple rectangular plan, with the staircase set centrally in the back or south half, and four approximately equal rooms on each floor. The kitchen is in the base, at the south-west angle, and the fireplaces of the various rooms are arranged back to back in a wall running east and west through the middle of the building.
The building as a whole is very plain in detail, the whole of the ornamentation being concentrated in the porch, which is of two stories under the middle gable, with a round-arched doorway under a square head on the ground floor, and a five-light mullioned and transomed window above, with two lights on each return. The doorway is flanked by pairs of classic columns, with entablatures over, and the window above also has a column on each side with a smaller entablature and cornice of less projection. The detail of this Renaissance work is coarse and poor, and the capitals of the columns of a rather nondescript character. The elevations are very symmetrical; on each side of the porch are two windows on each floor, of four or five lights, and the gables have copings and ornamental finials. The principal first-floor room, or hall, is distinguished by having five-light windows. The north and west sides are faced with large coursed stones, but on the east and south the walling is of rubble. All the windows have labels, those of the first floor being continued round the building as a string-course, and nearly all the windows retain their original mullions and transoms. The roofs are covered with stone slates. The original appearance of the interior has been entirely lost by the house having been divided for a long time into separate tenements, a use to which it is still put. (fn. 60)
CLEGGSWOOD (fn. 61) became the seat of the Belfields of Belfield about 1500, (fn. 62) and by the marriage of Anne Belfield to Richard Ingham was about 1640 carried to the latter family, who owned it for the greater part of a century. (fn. 63) Little Clegg was owned by a family named Clegg. (fn. 64) Whitacre or Whittaker was at one time owned by the Scholefields. (fn. 65) HOLLINWORTH, or at least the portion which belonged to the Hospitallers, was long tenanted by a family named Hill. (fn. 66) About 1270 2 oxgangs in Hollinworth were held by William de Sale and Cecily his wife, in the latter's right, it would appear; and in 1278 a messuage and half an oxgang were granted to John de Houghton and Cecily his wife at a rent of 13d. (fn. 67) Afterwards the estate was sold to Sir John de Byron and Joan his wife. (fn. 68)
Of HAUGH or Halgh there is little to be said; (fn. 69) it was acquired by the Byrons.
In Bleakedgate was OGDEN, originally Akeden, formerly held by Monk Bretton Priory. (fn. 70) It also became part of the Byron estate. (fn. 71) ROUGH BANK was in 1626 owned by James Chadwick; the estate descended regularly from father to son, and in 1889 was the residence of Dr. John Chadwick. (fn. 72)
The names of some other of the more ancient owners can be obtained from inquisitions (fn. 73) and from the Survey of 1626. (fn. 74) In this year the common measured 590 acres stinted and 915 acres unstinted, and contained two coal mines, very beneficial to the occupiers. (fn. 75) There was no copyhold land.
The most considerable landowners in 1787 were John Entwisle and the Misses Halliwell, but together they paid less than a fifth of the land tax. (fn. 76)
The chapel of ST. JAMES at MILNROW was built, it is supposed, about 1497. (fn. 77) It was in 1548 seized by the Crown as a chantry chapel, but purchased by the inhabitants for 36s. 8d. (fn. 78) The list of curates is almost complete from 1590, but there was no endowment. (fn. 79) In 1715 the stipend paid was £13, partly out of tithes and partly out of pew rents; (fn. 80) but afterwards some additional endowment was obtained. (fn. 81) The old chapel, having become ruinous, was abandoned in 1798, and a new one built, which had to be rebuilt in 1815. It was taken down when the present church was built in 1869. (fn. 82) The old chapel bell is now at Hollinworth school; (fn. 83) the sundial, dated 1664, is in the vicarage garden. (fn. 84) Entries in the registers begin in 1715. The district was formed in 1858. The vicar of Rochdale presents the incumbents, who are styled vicars. The following is a list of those since 1693:— (fn. 85)
|oc. 1696–9||John Halliwell|
|1699||Thomas Milne, M.A. (Brasenose Coll. Oxf.)|
|c. 1702||Peter Ashton, B.A. (Peterhouse, Camb.)|
|1718||Robert Pearson, B.A. (St. John's Coll. Camb.)|
|1739||Joshua Tillotson, M.A. (Emmanuel Coll. Camb.)|
|1745||Joseph Sutcliffe, B.A. (St. John's Coll. Camb.)|
|1759||Joseph Haigh, B.A. (Magdalene Coll. Camb.)|
|1795||John Hutchinson, B.A. (Corpus Christi Coll. Camb.)|
|1832||Francis Robert Raines, M.A. (Lamb.) (fn. 86)|
|1878||Howard Augustus Crosbie, M.A. (Trinity Coll. Camb.) (fn. 87)|
|1883||Frank Parkin Wright, M.A. (St. John's Coll. Camb.)|
There are several modern churches in the township. In connexion with the Church of England, St. Thomas's, Newhey, was built in 1876; (fn. 90) the Bishop of Manchester is patron. There are Wesleyan, Primitive and Free Methodist chapels at Belfield, Milnrow, and Newhey, and a Baptist chapel at Ogden. There is also a Congregational chapel at Milnrow. (fn. 91)