A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 5. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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The township of Prestwich extends about 2 miles in a north-east direction from the Irwell, which forms one boundary, to the border of Heaton near Poppythorn. The area is 1,917½ acres. (fn. 1) The old village is situated on the north-west side of the township, with the parish church to the south, and the old hall to the north. Two picturesque cloughs distinguish the western half. One of these—the Mere clough— begins near the old hall and goes south-west to the Irwell, forming, as might be gathered from the name, a boundary between Prestwich and Outwood in Pilkington. The other begins to the south of the church and winds along, first west and then south, to the Irwell. Near Mere clough, and about half a mile .apart, are the two great buildings of one of the county lunatic asylums. (fn. 2) In the southern corner is Rainsough, and to the east lie the residential districts of Hilton Park and Sedgeley Park, suburbs of Manchester. Near the boundary is Castle Hill, and Singleton's lies to the north of it. Singleton Brook divides this township from Broughton. On the eastern side, on the border of Heaton Park, is the hamlet of Rooden Lane, and to the north, on the highest land within the boundaries, is Polefield. The population numbered 12,839 in 1901. (fn. 3)
The principal roads are those from Manchester to Bury, the Old Road to the east, near the border, the New Road, formed in 1827, through the centre. There are numerous cross roads; one runs north-east from Agecroft Bridge to Heaton. The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway has its Manchester and Bury line through the township, with stations called Heaton Park and Prestwich. A tramway, connected with the Salford system, runs along the Bury New Road.
A botanist of note, Richard Broxton, was born at Sedgeley Hall Farm in 1786. He died in 1865. (fn. 4)
In 1867 a local board of twelve members was elected; (fn. 5) replaced in 1894 by an urban district council, of fifteen members, from five wards.
There are several bleach works in the township, and two small-ware manufactories. Rooden Lane was formerly a great centre of the hand-loom weaving, which died out about 1882. (fn. 6)
The wakes were formerly held in August. (fn. 7)
The stocks have disappeared, but were in use in 1800. (fn. 8)
The hearth tax return of 1666 records ninety-seven hearths in the township, the largest houses being the rector's with ten hearths, James Wilson's with seven, and John Glover's with six. (fn. 9)
From the survey of 1212 it appears that PRESTWICH was held of the king in thegnage, and was assessed as four oxgangs of land; the service was a rent of 10s. (fn. 10) Robert de Prestwich occurs in 1193, (fn. 11) and his son Adam agreed to pay 5 marks as relief on succeeding in or before 1206. (fn. 12) Adam de Prestwich was in possession in 1212, holding Prestwich, Great Heaton, and Fails worth. (fn. 13) For over sixty years there is scarcely any mention of the manor, another Adam de Prestwich appearing in 1278. (fn. 14) He was probably the same Adam who was plaintiff in 1292, (fn. 15) and who in 1297 settled his manors of Prestwich, Alkrington, and Pendlebury on John his son and heir and Emmota his wife. (fn. 16) This arrangement was not permanent, for he appears to have married about the same time one Alice de Wolveley, whose children became his heirs. (fn. 17) In 1311 he gave the manor of Pendlebury to her son Robert, (fn. 18) and in 1313 settled the manors of Prestwich, Alkrington, and Pendlebury, and the advowson of the church of the manor of Prestwich upon Thomas his son by Alice, with remainders to her other children. (fn. 19)
In virtue of this Alice his widow succeeded him, (fn. 20) and was in turn followed by her son, Thomas de Prestwich. He very quickly granted his manors to Richard son of William de Radcliffe for life, and then in fee. (fn. 21) In 1346, therefore, Richard de Radcliffe was returned as holding the manor of Prestwich with the advowson of the church. (fn. 22) Two years afterwards he made a feoffment of the manor and advowson, probably on his marriage with one Isabel. (fn. 23) Whatever may have been the meaning of this transfer to the Radcliffes, it appears that in 1362 new feoffments were made, (fn. 24) and the trustees regranted the manor of Prestwich and the advowson of the church for the lives of Richard and Isabel, and for a year and a day after their decease, paying to Richard de Langley 50 marks a year, and also performing the services due to the chief lords, the manor to revert to Richard de Langley or his heirs. (fn. 25) The right of the Langleys under the settlement of 1313 was thus fully acknowledged.
What became of Thomas de Prestwich is unknown. (fn. 26) He had two daughters and co-heirs—Margaret and Agnes. (fn. 27) The former took the veil at Seaton in Cumberland in 1360, but afterwards left the convent and married Robert de Holland; and Agnes, who had married John son of William de Radcliffe, and who was considered the heir after her sister's veiling, died without issue about 1362. (fn. 28) In 1367 a further agreement was made between the Radcliffes and Langleys for securing the succession of Richard de Langley and Joan his wife and the heirs of Joan. (fn. 29) About the same time Robert de Holland put forward his claims to the manor as the right of Margaret, and in 1371 Richard de Radcliffe the elder and Isabel his wife released to Robert and Margaret all their claim to the manor and advowson, (fn. 30) while in 1374 Robert de Holland and Margaret his wife made a feoffment of their manor of Prestwich, (fn. 31) and two years later granted to Peter their son all their lands and tenements in Prestwich, Alkrington, and Pendlebury, together with the advowson of Prestwich. (fn. 32)
Roger de Langley the son and heir was a minor in 1372, and in ward to the Duke of Lancaster, (fn. 33) when Robert de Holland assembled a troop of armed men, and by force took possession of the manor, holding it till 1389. (fn. 34) The Langleys, however, had not been neglectful of their claim. As early as 1371 a certificate had been procured stating that Margaret de Prestwich had been duly professed, (fn. 35) and Roger as son and heir of Richard and Joan appears to have put forward his claim in due form, (fn. 36) but it was not till 1394, after his death, that a final decision was made. (fn. 37) The heir, his son Robert, being a minor, the manor of Prestwich, with a parcel of Alkrington and the advowson of the church, were taken into the duke's hands, livery being granted in 1403. (fn. 38)
The manor then descended peaceably in the same way as Pendlebury, (fn. 39) the most notable feature of the family's tenure being the succession of Langleys to the rectory for 200 years.
On the death of Sir Robert Langley in 1561 and the consequent partition, the manor of Prestwich became the share of his daughter Margaret, who married John Reddish of Reddish, (fn. 40) and afterwards Richard Holland, of Denton. (fn. 41) Her son, Alexander Reddish, left two daughters as co-heirs, Sarah and Grace (fn. 42) The former, who married Clement, a younger son of Sir Edward Coke, the famous lawyer and chief justice, had the manor of Prestwich. It descended in the Coke family, though Sarah's issue died out, until 1777, when Thomas William Coke, the famous 'Mr. Coke of Holkham,' in Norfolk, a leader in the agricultural revolution which took place in the latter part of the 18th century, wishing to increase his Norfolk estates, began to sell Prestwich in parcels. (fn. 43) T. W. Coke in 1779 paid 9s. 4d. to the duchy for Prestwich. (fn. 44) The manor was, in 1794, acquired by Peter Drinkwater, who resided at Irwell House in Prestwich, and it descended to his son Thomas. Thomas died in 1861, leaving two daughters; and Irwell House, with land called Drinkwater Park, has been sold to the Corporation of Salford on a ground rent, and a further part of the land to the Prestwich District Council. (fn. 45)
The manor of Prestwich—i.e. a mesne lordship between the Earl of Lancaster and the local family— seems to have been granted to Sir Robert de Holland early in the 14th century, but the claim to it failed. (fn. 46)
The other daughters of Sir Robert Langley also had lands in Prestwich, on a division of the estate. Thus William Dauntesey of Agecroft held 16 acres as appurtenant to his manor-house. (fn. 47) James Ashton, of Chadderton, in right of his wife Dorothy had a much larger estate. (fn. 48) Part of it was the Polefield estate, since divided into three portions, one of which—Polefield Hall and lands—is now owned by the Earl of Wilton. (fn. 49)
Poppythorn is an ancient part of the glebe land. (fn. 50)
Sedgeley was, in 1788, purchased from T. W. Coke by Thomas Philips, a Manchester merchant. His son George was created a baronet in 1826. The house, called Sedgeley Hall, was from 1848 to 1854 the residence of Dr. Prince Lee, the first bishop of Manchester. The estate has been utilized for building purposes. (fn. 51)
Henry de Trafford of Prestwich occurs in 1348 and later years. (fn. 54) No landowners were assessed to the subsidy in 1541, but in 1622 Edward Holland, Robert Leigh, and Richard Tonge contributed. (fn. 55) The land tax returns of 1787 show the effect of the Coke sale; the largest contributor was James Chapman, who paid about a ninth of the sum collected. (fn. 56)
Sir John Prestwich, some of whose antiquarian collections are in the Chetham Library, claimed to represent the old Prestwich family; he died in Dublin, 15 August 1796. (fn. 57) He had no territorial connexion with the township.
The parish church has already been described. St. Margaret's, Holyrood, was opened in 1851 and consecrated the following year; it has had several additions. A separate district was assigned to it in 1885. (fn. 58) St. Hilda's, a chapel of ease at Rooden Lane, was consecrated in 1904, but services had been conducted there for some years previously.
Wesleyan Methodism was introduced as early as 1805, a cottage in Rooden Lane being used for Sunday meetings. A small chapel was built in 1820, which was replaced by the existing building in 1865. (fn. 59) In Prestwich village services began in 1812, but the Rooden Lane chapel accommodated this congregation also for a time. In 1830 a new start was made; a school-chapel was built in 1835, and a chapel in the main street followed in 1840. The present church was built in 1877. (fn. 60) There is a small chapel at Rainsough. The Primitive Methodists began services in a cottage at Kirkhams, and have since erected an iron chapel; the first minister was appointed in 1897. (fn. 61)
The Congregational Church, Rooden Lanc, originated in a night school begun in 1862. The Chetham Hill church took the work up; a school-chapel was opened in 1865, and the present church in 1881. (fn. 62)
The Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of Grace was opened in 1891. Mass had been said for two years previously in the Co-operative Hall. (fn. 63)
There is a Jewish cemetery, opened in 1840. (fn. 64)