A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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Bretherton, 1242 and usual; Brotherton, the principal variant, occurs 1292 (fn. 1); Bertherton, 1292. Thorp, 1212.
The present Bretherton includes also the ancient Thorp, the position of which appears to have left no trace. The south-west half of the township, known as the Ees, is below the 25-ft. level, the village being situated about the centre of the township, where the ground begins to rise a little. Bank Hall is on a slight elevation to the west, near the Douglas, the old course of which river forms the boundary on that side. The new and straighter course lies within the boundary. The area is 2,436½ acres, (fn. 2) and in 1901 there was a population of 809 persons.
A road from Rufford crosses the old and new Douglas near Bank Hall and goes through to Much Hoole and Preston. At Carr House on the north it is joined by the road from Croston, which passes in several branches through the village of Bretherton, from which a road goes east to Leyland. The Lancashire and Yorkshire Company's Liverpool and Preston railway crosses the north-east corner of the township, where there is more moss-land. The soil is clay, loam and peat; wheat, oats, potatoes and fruit are grown.
CARR HOUSE, which 'tradition' associates with the name of Jeremiah Horrocks, is situated at the extreme north-west of the township, half-way between the villages of Tarleton and Hoole. The building faces south to the Bretherton road, from which it stands back some distance and has a foreyard inclosed on the west side by farm buildings. The house belongs to the early part of the 17th century and is of two stories, with slightly projecting end wings and a central porch with gable over. It is built of red bricks which have weathered a very pleasant colour, relieved with a blue-brick diaper pattern similar to work of the same period at Rafford Old Hall, Bank Hall and Hoole Church, and with stone quoins of irregular length. The building has not been altered very much externally, all the old stone mullioned windows remaining on the principal front, though one of them is built up and the original lead lights have disappeared from them all. The roof, however, is covered with blue slates instead of the usual stone slabs which give so good a contrast of colour in most of the old brick houses of this district. But apart from this the exterior is pretty much as it was in the 17th century. The porch, which is 9 ft. 6 in. wide, is the principal feature of the front, being centrally situated, with a projection of 4 ft. 6 in., and rising in a third story or attic above the roof. The wings, which measure 14 ft. across, only project a little over 2 ft. in front of the middle part of the building, or less than half the distance of the porch, but the general grouping of the front, which is 52 ft. in length, is very good, the recessed middle portions, which are rather narrow, not being in too deep a shadow. The house is simply roofed with a central ridge and plain gable at each end. The ridge of the small gable to the porch is of the same height as that of the main roof, giving room for a five-light window to the attic above the eaves, and the projection of the wings being so small the roof is continued down over them, the line of the eaves only being broken. There are ten windows on the principal front, four on the ground floor, five on the first, and one in the attic, with hood moulds, all of four lights except those over the porch, which have five. Between the upper and lower windows are four vertical chases 4½ in. wide cut in the brickwork and now filled in with plaster or cement, the object of which is said to have been a partial evasion of the window tax, the upper and lower windows thus connected counting as one. An inscription in raised letters on the stone head of the doorway reads: 'Thomas Stones of London haberdasher and Andrewe Stones of Amsterdam merchant hath builded this howse of their owne charges and giveath the same unto their brother John Stones: (fn. 3) Ano Domni 1613. Laus.' The inscription is curiously divided towards the end by the head of the doorway breaking into it. The plan of the house falls naturally into three parts. In the middle is a room 15 ft. 6 in. by 16 ft. entered from the porch by the original oak nail-studded door, with what has been a very good fireplace with deeply recessed cupboards in the thickness of the wall at each side. On the east are a small room and a passage leading to what is now a farm kitchen, a large room 19 ft. 6 in. by 12 ft. 10 in. occupying the whole of the wing, and on the west side is a smaller room about 11 ft. square, behind which is the staircase contained within four walls, with a small central open well and square newels. The first floor follows the plan of the ground story, the middle room only being bigger by the addition of the recessed window over the porch at its south-east corner, with a light on each return. (fn. 4) The interior has no features of architectural interest. The walls of the upper rooms are stated to have been formerly panelled in oak, but the panelling is said to have been removed to Bank Hall about 1832. (fn. 5) At the back of the house are two good brick chimney stacks with diagonal shafts.
The pedestal of the village cross still exists, and there is another in Sarah Lane. (fn. 6)
In 1666 ninety-nine hearths contributed to the tax; Bank Hall was the largest house, having twelve hearths, John Sharples had eight and John Cliffe five. (fn. 7)
BRETHERTON, assessed as two plough-lands, was a member of the fee of Penwortham, (fn. 8) and appears to have been given by the Bussels to Richard le Boteler of Amounderness, who made grants to Cockersand Abbey (fn. 9) and Lytham Priory, (fn. 10) and possibly a further grant to Richard son of Roger, lord of Woodplumpton, whose heirs are found to have held Bretherton by knights' service. (fn. 11) These mesne lordships, however, soon disappeared from view, (fn. 12) and the immediate owners of the land were considered the lords of the manor. Thus in 1242 Richard Banastre, Walter de Hoole, Richard de Thorp, William de Brexes, Thomas de Gerstan and Simon del Pool were stated to hold the twelfth part of a knight's fee in Bretherton of the heir of the Earl of Lincoln, as lord of Penwortham. (fn. 13)
The six tenements here indicated were in time
consolidated into two, each described as a moiety of
the manor and held by different branches of the
Banastre family. One moiety belonged to the
Banastres of Bank, whose descent will be traced more
fully, and the other to Sir Thomas Banastre, K.G., (fn. 14)
from whom it descended to the Balderstons, (fn. 15) and
thence in halves to the Harringtons and the Radcliffes
of Winmarleigh. The former half was on forfeiture (fn. 16)
granted in 1489 to the first Earl of Derby, (fn. 17) and
descended like Knowsley till about 1717 (fn. 18); while
the latter half passed by marriage to Sir Gilbert
Gerard, Master of the Rolls in the time of Queen
Elizabeth. (fn. 19) These subdivisions appear to have been
acquired by the Heskeths of Rufford about a century
ago, and they were esteemed as lords of a moiety of
the manor (fn. 20) until about 1880, when Sir Thomas
Hesketh sold it to Lord Lilford, who thus became
sole lord, having the other moiety by inheritance. (fn. 21)
The now forgotten vill or hamlet of THORP, assessed as one plough-land, was held of the Crown in chief in 1212 by Richard son of Roger de Freckleton, who rendered 10s. annually. (fn. 22) It was held of the Freckletons by a local family surnamed Thorp for a century and a half after this time, (fn. 23) and being in 1369 sold by the heirs of Thorp to Sir Thomas Banastre, (fn. 24) it became completely merged in his moiety of Bretherton, and ceased to be noticed. (fn. 25)
The early history of the Banastres of BANK, though apparently they were lords of the manor of Bretherton, is very obscure, (fn. 26) much of the uncertainty resulting from the co-existence of several families of the same surname (fn. 27) in the township and neighbourhood. Henry Banastre died in 1526 seised of a capital messuage called the Bank and other messuages and lands in Bretherton; also lands in Tarleton, Becconsall and Hesketh. The Bank estate was said to be held of the king as of his duchy of Lancaster by the twentieth part of a knight's fee and a rent of 4½d. yearly. Richard Banastre, his son and heir, was forty-four years of age. (fn. 28) The said Richard, who recorded a pedigree in 1533, (fn. 29) died in 1548 holding an augmented estate; the Bank was stated to be held of the heirs of Richard le Boteler in socage; William, his son and heir, was forty-eight years old. (fn. 30) William Banastre died in 1555, just after arranging for the marriage of his grandson Adam and Dorothy daughter of Hugh Anderton; Henry, the son and heir of William and father of Adam, was thirty years of age. The tenure of the 'manor of Bretherton' was recorded as in 1548. (fn. 31)
Henry (fn. 32) was succeeded by a younger son William, Adam having died without issue, and William by his son Henry, (fn. 33) who died in 1617, leaving as heir a son Henry, only a year old. The tenure of the capital messuage called the Bank and lands, windmill, &c., In Bretherton, no 'manor' being named, was recorded as in 1526, viz. of the duchy of Lancaster by the twentieth part of a knight's fee and 4½d. rent. (fn. 34) Henry Banastre died in London 13 June 1641, and was brought to Croston for burial (fn. 35); his eldest son Henry, aged twenty-eight when the pedigree was recorded in 1664, (fn. 36) was killed in Cheshire by a Manxman named Colcoth, (fn. 37) and Bank passed to his brother Christopher, high sheriff in 1669–70. (fn. 38) Christopher, who died in 1690, left two daughters and co-heirs; the elder, Anne, married Thomas Fleetwood, (fn. 39) the first to attempt the draining of Martin Mere, and their daughter and heir, Henrietta Maria, (fn. 40) carried Bank and the moiety of Bretherton to the Leghs of Lyme, from whom it has descended to Lord Lilford, (fn. 41) who, as stated above, is now lord of the manor of Bretherton. Courts are held annually.
Bank Hall is a fine brick mansion of two stories with curved gables and a square tower centrally placed on the south or principal front. The house was erected in 1608, but was restored and considerably enlarged in 1832–3, when a new wing was added at the west end, a porch built on the north side, the original north-west wing refaced, and the roofs covered with blue slates. The new work was carried out in a style corresponding to that of the original building, but the difference is clearly marked by the colour of the brickwork and the sharpness of the detail. Nearly all the windows were renewed during the restoration and new bay windows were added in the south front, considerably altering its original appearance. The tower, which contains the original oak staircase, is the chief architectural feature of the building on the south side, and gives a great deal of distinction and picturesqueness to the house as seen from the garden. It has a clock in the top story facing south, and preserves most of its original features, the staircase windows not having been altered, and terminates in a battlement with angle and intermediate ornaments, the latter, however, belonging to the 19thcentury restoration. The interior is almost wholly modernized, but one of the lower rooms in the north-west wing is panelled with oak said to have been brought here from Carr House, and in one of the upper rooms is a good 17th-century fireplace with a peacock boldly carved on the chimney-piece above.
Families named Tarleton (fn. 42) and Bretherton (fn. 43) also occur, but no particulars can be given of their tenure. A few of the other landowners' names can be obtained from the inquisitions and pleadings. (fn. 44) In 1542–3 the following as landowners contributed to the subsidy: Richard Banastre, the wife of Henry Banastre, the wife of Hugh Banastre and Henry Smith. (fn. 45) Henry Banastre and Henry Smith occur similarly in 1564. (fn. 46) In 1600 the freeholders recorded were Henry Banastre of Bank and —Cliff, (fn. 47) while in 1628 the only landowner contributing to the subsidy was Henry Banastre of Bank, a minor. (fn. 48) During the Commonwealth the estates of George Robinson and Henry Snart were confiscated and sold for some 'delinquency.' (fn. 49) In 1783 the principal contributors to the land tax were Peter Legh and Henry Porter, together paying over a fifth of the tax for the township. (fn. 50)
A chapel, 'recently built,' is named in a charter of 1344 preserved by Dodsworth. (fn. 55) Its fate is unknown. In modern times the first buildings erected for divine worship were a Methodist chapel, 1824, rebuilt in 1836 and again in 1883, (fn. 56) and a Congregational one, called Ebenezer, 1819, (fn. 57) replaced by a new one in 1896.
A school was founded in 1653. (fn. 60) Over the porch of the old schoolhouse is the following inscription:—
'this free schoole was erected and bvilt at the proper costs: and charges of james fletcher of london marchant: and at the reqvest of mistris lane fletcher his wife who was borne in this towne Ivne the forteenth: anno doni: 1653.'