A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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The township of Much Hoole has an area of 1,776 acres, (fn. 1) and the population numbered 624 in 1901. The Douglas or Asland River forms the boundary on the west, and the surface rises slightly from west to east, about 70 ft. above the ordnance datum being reached on the boundary of Leyland. In the south the township is bounded mainly by Carr Brook.
The principal road is that from Ormskirk to Preston, which goes north-east through the township, passing Mill Hill on the left or west, the church on the right and the village; Goose Green and Mosshouses are hamlets to the east. The West Lancashire portion of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway from Preston to Southport crosses the north-west corner, and passes into Hesketh by a bridge over the Douglas.
The 'land of HOOLE' was a member of the barony of Warrington; by Pain de Vilers it was given to Thomas de Vilers, and in 1212 seems to have been held by Robert and William de Vilers. (fn. 2) As in the case of Halsall and Windle, the descent is in one part uncertain. In 1242 the Earl of Ferrers was holding Hoole, or a portion of it, of the heir of Amery le Boteler, (fn. 3) and a century later Otes de Halsall and the heirs of Windle were returned as tenants. (fn. 4) In 1223 Robert de Vilers gave an oxgang of land in Hoole to Walter de Hoole and Beatrice his wife, a rent of 2s. being payable. (fn. 5) This seems to be the land which Adam de Walton held of the Earl of Ferrers in 1288 by the same rent. (fn. 6) Before 1260, however, the whole had been given to the Cistercian Abbey of Merivale, (fn. 7) probably by the Earl of Ferrers (fn. 8) and through his influence, and by the monks it was granted to the Walton family (fn. 9) of Ulnes Walton. After the partition of their estates it was held by the Leghs (fn. 10) and the Radcliffes of Smithills, (fn. 11) and so descended for several centuries.
The subsequent story is obscure. The Legh moiety appears to be that now held by Lord Lilford, (fn. 12) while the other was sold to Andrew Stones in 1638, (fn. 13) and was afterwards acquired by the Crook family, (fn. 14) and may be that now held by Mr. Richard Rainshaw Rothwell of Sharples. (fn. 15) Courts are held annually in June by the joint lords. (fn. 16)
A resident family or families took their surname from the place, but few notices of them occur (fn. 17); some charters relating to their estate at Mosshouses are in the British Museum. (fn. 18) Among the other landowners recorded are Aughton, (fn. 19) followed by Bold (fn. 20); Banastre (fn. 21); Beconsaw, (fn. 22) succeeded by Hesketh (fn. 23); Boteler of Rawcliffe, (fn. 24) by Walton (fn. 25); Shireburne, (fn. 26) Shuttleworth, (fn. 27) and Waleys. (fn. 28)
Warinede Vilers and Robert son of Richard le Waleys gave land in Much Hoole to Cockersand Abbey. (fn. 29)
Peter Martindale in 1649 desired to compound for his small estate, sequestered by the Parliament for 'delinquency.' (fn. 30) Edward and Henry Stananought, as 'Papists,' registered their estates in 1717. (fn. 31)
The land tax return of 1783 shows that the ownership was greatly subdivided; the principal names were those of Peter Legh and Thomas Stananought. (fn. 32)
Among the leaseholders in 1717 and later were the family of Buck, who afterwards succeeded to Agecroft in Pendlebury. (fn. 33)
The church of ST. MICHAEL is situated close to the road at the south end of the village, and consists of chancel, nave, south porch and west tower. It is a small building of red brick on a low stone base, erected in 1628—replacing, it is said, an older structure which stood on another site (fn. 34) —but added to subsequently at different periods. The original building forms the present nave, and was a simple parallelogram about 55 ft. long by 21 ft. 6 in. wide inside. In 1720 a tower was erected at the west end and the west wall rebuilt, and in 1824 a small chancel was built. In 1857, however, as the result of an appeal to commemorate the name of Jeremiah Horrocks, the chancel appears to have been taken down and an extension of the church made eastward, known as the Horrocks chapel, beyond which the chancel was rebuilt with a small vestry on the south side. The internal dimensions are: chancel, 10 ft. by 6 ft. 6 in.; Horrocks chapel, 11 ft. by 21 ft. 6 in.; nave, 55 ft. by 21 ft. 6 in.; and tower (at clock stage), 6 ft. 9 in. by 7 ft. 9 in., the longer dimension being from north to south. The brick walls of the older part of the building were relieved by blue diaper patterns, as in other brick buildings of the period in the district; but lately the whole of the exterior brickwork has been painted red all over, and the old distinction temporarily lost. A portion of the south nave wall at the east end seems to have been rebuilt at the time that the Horrocks chapel was erected, but the window is the original 17thcentury one. The extension of 1859 is in the same style as the original building, and the roof, which is covered with green slates, is merely carried eastward without a break. The general appearance of the building outside is therefore, with the exception of the tower, very uniform.
The chancel, the roof of which is lower than that of the rest of the building, has a three-light pointed window, and is separated from the Horrocks chapel by a pointed arch 8 ft. wide. The chapel is practically part of the chancel, though not so styled, and has a three-light square-headed window with roundheaded lights on each side. The floor is level with that of the nave, from which the chapel is separated by a pointed arch 8 ft. 6 in. wide, the centre line of which, like that to the chancel, is 2 ft. north of the axis of the nave, so as to allow for the small entrance vestry south of the chancel. The nave, which is flagged, has four windows on each side, each of four round-headed lights under a square head, with a doorway in both north and south walls, and one at the west end under the tower. The roof is ceiled with a segmental plaster vault erected in 1812. There is a wide organ gallery at the west end, and a narrower one containing square pews along the south side, carried on iron columns, and gained by a staircase at the west end. The north doorway, which externally shows the same detail as that on the south porch, is now made up. The south doorway bears the date 1628 on the stone head, and the door itself is the original oak nail-studded one. The porch has an open outer doorway under a segmental arch, with moulded jambs and square head and label over. Over the label is a modern panel with text, and the wall finishes in a brick gable with stone coping with urn ornaments. On one of the arch stones are cut the initials P. H.
The tower is built of stone and stands inside the building, carried by semicircular arches on Tuscan columns 1 ft. 9 in. diameter with pedestals 4 ft. high. It is of a somewhat nondescript architectural character, the upper stages being in a pseudo-Gothic style, with a two-light stone-louvred window on each face and embattled parapet with angle pinnacles. The west arch is filled in, and the wall pierced with a square-headed door with circular window over. Above the keystone of the arch and below the belfry window is a two-light square-headed Gothic window to the ringing chamber. The whole of the west wall of the building was apparently rebuilt in stone when the tower was erected, and has the characteristic 18th-century urn ornament at the angles. On the south side of the tower, under a square string below the belfry window, is a painted sundial with the inscription, 'Sine sole sileo,' and on the north a clock, (fn. 35) round which is cut in the stone, 'In memoriam Horrockii, 1639–1859. Ut hora, sic vita.'
The font, which is of stone and octagonal, was the gift of John Stones of Carr House, and bears the inscription, 'Deo Donum Johanis Stones An. Dom. 1633.' For a long time it was painted, but has now been cleaned.
In the north-east corner of the nave is a twodecker oak pulpit and reading desk with rich carving and octagonal canopy over. On the canopy is the date 1695, with the names of the minister and chapel-wardens. (fn. 36) The pulpit has been tampered with in the early years of the 19th century, when small Gothic panels were introduced. The back and canopy, which are the original 17th-century work, were taken down and cleaned in 1859. The front of the desk has good carving with 18th-century top. Two bench ends at the west end of the nave bear respectively the initials R. O. and F. O., but to whom they refer is not known. There are two old square pews at the west end of the north side under the gallery and two at the east end of the south side, but the rest of the seating is modern.
At the east end of the nave, in front of the Horrocks chapel, is a stone, with inscription, marking the burial-place of the Rev. Thomas Leigh, rector (d. 1703), and on the north wall of the nave is a marble tablet to the memory of Horrocks, erected in 1859, with a long inscription, and a brass in the Horrocks chapel states that the chapel was 'erected by subscriptions from Lancashire, Oxford, and Cambridge.' The chancel window is also a memorial to Horrocks, the centre light containing at the top the symbol of Venus, and at the bottom the figure of the astronomer observing the transit, with his own words, 'Ecce gratissimum spectaculum ut tot votorum materiem.' In the window by the pulpit is an allusive figure representing a Bible and telescope, with the motto, 'The word of God shall stand for ever. 1639. Religion and science in fellowship. 1874.'
The plate consists of a chalice inscribed, 'The gifte of Margaret Warner, the wife of John Warner, 1629'; another chalice, 'The gifte of Elizabeth Wheat, the wife of William Wheat, 1629'; both chalices have inscribed on foot, 'Belonging to the Chappell in Hoole in ye parish of Croston, Lancashire'; and a breadholder, 'The gift of Katherine Stones, ye wife of Andrew Stones.'
The earliest reference to a chapel is a grant about 1280 by Amery de Hoole to God and St. Mary of an acre in Much Hoole for the maintenance of the lights in the chapel of Little Hoole. (fn. 37) What became of it is unknown; it is not noticed at the time of the spoliation of such chapels by Henry VIII and Edward VI, and by that time, therefore, had probably fallen into decay, the endowment, if there had been any, having been lost. (fn. 38) About 1628 a chapel was built in Much Hoole by Thomas Stones of London, and in 1641–2 it was made a parish church, (fn. 39) the townships of Much and Little Hoole, with a messuage called the Carr House in Bretherton, being assigned to it. The patronage was vested in the builder, and a seventh part of the rent of £53 6s. 8d. due to the Crown from the rectory of Croston was to be paid by the rector of Hoole. (fn. 40) The advowson has frequently changed hands, and the present patron is Mrs. Mary Dunne. The income is £169.
The following have been rectors (fn. 41) :—
|1641||Robert Fogg (fn. 42)|
|1647||Samuel Jones (fn. 43)|
|c. 1654–8||William Brownsword, M.A. (fn. 44) (Emmanuel Coll., Camb.)|
|1660||Robert Browne, M.A. (fn. 45)|
|oc. 1676||Samuel Barton (fn. 46)|
|1686||Richard Foxcroft, B.A. (fn. 47) (Christ's Coll., Camb.)|
|1701||Thomas Leigh, B.A. (fn. 48)|
|1704||James Whitaker (fn. 49)|
|1732||Thomas Ellison, LL.B. (fn. 50)|
|1763||John Lowe, B.A. (fn. 51)|
|1783||Roger Barton, B.A. (fn. 52) (Brasenose Coll., Oxf.)|
|1799||Thomas Shutt, M.A. (Queen's Coll., Oxf.)|
|1805||Robert Harris, B.D. (fn. 53)|
|1812||Miles Barton (fn. 54)|
|1848||Robert Brickel, B.A. (fn. 55) (T.C.D.)|
|1881||Edmund Neal Dunne, B.A. (T.C.D.)|
A school seems to have been founded at the same time as the church, but it had disappeared by 1720. (fn. 56) Another was built in 1774.