A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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This township, the northernmost in the parish of Blackburn, lies to the west of Whalley, the winding course of the River Ribble and of its eastern tributary the Calder encompassing the northern half of the township. The western boundary is formed by Dinckley Brook and the eastern by a long ridge called Billington Moor, which terminates towards Whalley and the River Calder in the escarpment of Whalley Nab, a prominent feature in the landscape of Ribblesdale as seen from the north. Here the land, rising from an elevation of a little over 100 ft. above the ordnance datum at the confluence of the Ribble and Calder, attains an elevation of 606 ft.
The Roman road from Ribchester to Ilkley, and probably to Over Burrow and Whitley Castle, passes through the township in a north-easterly direction. The high roads from Preston and Blackburn unite near the church, and continuing towards Whalley the road passes over the Calder by a bridge below Whalley Nab. The old turnpike road leading between Blackburn and Whalley passes over Billington Moor and unites with the main road at Whalley Bridge. The Bolton, Blackburn and Hellifield line of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company traverses the township with a station at Langho. There are several ancient estates or mesne manors: Hacking Hall, near the confluence of the Ribble and Calder; Brockhall, a little further west; Braddyll, the ancient seat of the family of that name, near the last and close to Dinckley Brook; Chew, an estate once belonging to the monastery of Whalley with a castlestead lying within a bend of the River Calder; Cunliffe, the messuage from which sprang the family of that name; and Snodworth, in the southern extremity of the township near the hamlet of Billington. The area is 3,138½ acres, (fn. 1) and in 1901 the population numbered 1,442 persons.
The soil is stiff and clayey, the land being principally devoted to dairy produce. There is a fair amount of woodland on Billington Moor and around Hacking Hall and Braddyll. (fn. 2) There are cotton manufactories at the Abbey and Whalley Mills, also bobbin and clog sole works at Chew Mill. There is a stone quarry free to the inhabitants.
'Bilington' paid 28s. 7d. to the subsidy of a thirtieth levied upon goods and chattels in 1237, out of £41 1s. 7d. from the hundred. (fn. 3)
An inclosure award for Billington and Wilpshire was made under an Act of 1788. (fn. 4)
Not only in the name of the township is there record of the first English settler in this place, but also in the ancient name of the escarpment on Billington Moor which forms the southern buttress of the gorge through which the Calder flows before joining the Ribble. In the 13th century this summit was known as 'Belsetenab,' (fn. 5) the head or top of the hill where was Bil's seat, now contracted simply to Whalley Nab. Some idea of the era in which this Englishman lived is suggested by the fact that in 798 the hill 'Billingahoth' (fn. 6) was no lorger associated with the person of the first settler, but with his family or descendants. 'Billing.' At the Conquest it is probable that there were two manors here, one of which may have subsequently remained in the possession of the local family under the lords of Clitheroe, whilst the other passed into the demesne of the honor until granted in small freeholds to the ancestors of Braddyll, Hacking, Cunliffe, Dean and Bolton. The history of the first-named manor is involved in that of the manor of Chew, which represented half the vill of Billington; that of the other in the account of the mesne manors of Braddyll, Brockhall and Hacking and other ancient freeholds.
CHEW. (fn. 7) —The manor-house standing in a place called the 'Chew' gave name to the manor. About the year 1170 Henry de Lacy enfeoffed Hugh son of Leofwin of half a knight's fee in Altham, half of Billington, and elsewhere; consequently the mesne lordship of this manor descended in the family of Alvetham (Altham) and their descendants until the commencement of the 14th century, if not later. (fn. 8) At the date of this feoffment the manor was undoubtedly held by a local family of whom the first upon record was one Elias or Ellis de Billington, (fn. 9) living in 1203, when he was amerced before John Bishop of Norwich and his fellow-justices in eyre at Lancaster, (fn. 10) and in 1208, when he agreed with his tenant and probably kinsman Elias de Pleasington about the tenure of Pleasington. (fn. 11) He was father of Adam de Billington, a juror from this hundred on the inquest of the Gascon scutage in 1243, in which he was incorrectly returned as holding 'half' a knight's fee in Billington, where a fourth part should have been returned. (fn. 12)
At this time, as for twenty-five years after, the half-fee in Altham of which this manor was a member was held in dower by Margaret Countess of Lincoln. (fn. 13) Three years later Adam de Billington was one of the jurors of the hundred at a special county court held at Lancaster. (fn. 14) He had issue an only daughter Avice, who married, first, Henry son of Hugh del Cho, (fn. 15) by whom she had no issue, and secondly, about 1240, Geoffrey son of Henry de Whalley son of Geoffrey the elder, Dean of Whalley, and had issue Adam de Billington, Richard, Roger, Henry, Robert, Ralph and William. (fn. 16) Adam her son and heir had issue an only son Adam, who probably died young, (fn. 17) whereupon his father sold the manor to Adam de Huddleston, kt., about mid-August 1287. (fn. 18)
A very considerable interest in the manor of Chew was acquired during the last half of the 13th century by the Pontchardon family of Little Mitton mainly through the marriage of Richard son of John de Pontchardon to Beatrice daughter and co-heir of Adam de Blakeburn. It is not easy to distinguish the separate interests of Henry son of Hugh del Cho, the first husband of Avice lady of Billington, and of Richard son of the same Henry del Cho by a former marriage, but it is clear that several small estates held by these three persons and by their kinsfolk were given to Beatrice de Blakeburn, (fn. 19) who at the time of her marriage to Richard son of John de Pontchardon in 1280, being well advanced in years, enfeoffed her father-in-law of half a dozen tenements here together with lands of her own inheritance in Wiswell and Blackburn with a view to create a life interest in favour of herself and husband and a reversion to her husband's heirs. (fn. 20) After his wife's death Richard de Pontchardon in 1303 conveyed his manor of Chew, other lands and services in the manor, with all his chattels there and his land of Snodworth, to Adam de Huddleston, kt. (fn. 21)
By his deed dated at Upholland in 1302 Adam de Huddleston enfeoffed William younger brother of Robert de Holand, kt., of the manor, who a few months later re-enfeoffed Adam and Joan his wife and their issue. (fn. 22) Joan died not long after, leaving no issue. In 1309, Huddleston, having married Isabella lady of Godested, made a settlement of the manor upon himself and wife and their issue, (fn. 23) but on his dying childless in 1322 his nephew Richard the son of his brother John de Huddleston entered the manor as next heir, and the year following enfeoffed Thomas son of Geoffrey le Scrop. (fn. 24) In 1325 the manor became vested in Geoffrey le Scrop, kt., by release from Isabella Sir Adam's widow and other interested parties. (fn. 25)
In 1332 the king directed the sheriff to ascertain by inquest what injury might be caused to the Crown by the assignment of the manor of Chew and half the vill of Billington by Scrop to the Abbot and convent of Whalley. The return showed that the manor was held of Queen Isabella, as of the castle of Clitheroe, by a yearly rent of 3d. for all services, and was worth £20 a year. Six weeks later the royal licence issued to permit the alienation in mortmain, (fn. 26) and the abbey came into possession of this valuable estate lying almost at their doors, and containing a valuable turbary and quarries of good stone suitable for the new monastic buildings then in course of erection. (fn. 27) An attempt was made in 1341 by John son of Richard de Huddleston to establish a title to the manor, but the suit was not successful, and the claimant accepted 80 marks from the abbot to resign his claim. (fn. 28) The subsequent history of the manor is involved in that of the other moiety of the manor of Billington, which passed into the possession of Whalley by somewhat different steps.
There is no evidence that the lords of Clitheroe derived any profit from the other moiety of Billington beyond the free rents of tenants to whom it had been granted before the end of the 12th century. After the death of John de Lacy we find Billington included in the lands assigned to the dower of his countess Margaret in 1241, and then extended at the yearly value of 54s. 9d. (fn. 29) —a sum closely approximating to the total of 54s. 9d. received by the monks of Whalley in the 14th century from this moiety of the vill. (fn. 30) About the year 1287 Henry de Lacy Earl of Lincoln demised to 'our dear bachelor,' Adam de Huddleston, for the term of his life, for his good service done and yet to be done, his tenements in Billington with the demesne and services of free tenants, and villeinages with the villeins holding them, saving the earl's free chase. (fn. 31) In 1318 Thomas Earl of Lancaster gave to Whalley the reversion of half the manor after the death of Huddleston, and later in the year, after the usual inquiry had been held, licence was given to Earl Thomas to alienate in mortmain. (fn. 32) Notwithstanding the earl's bounty the monks were not permitted to hold this moiety in peace until they had given, during the abbacy of John de Lindelay, to the earl's widow, the Countess Alice, 300 marks sterling for this and other gifts of her ancestors. (fn. 33) An attempt to recover possession of the manor of Chew was made by Miles Huddleston in 1464, but without success. (fn. 34)
At the dissolution of the abbey the yearly value of this moiety of the manor was found to be £3 4s. 1d., from the rents of free tenants, and of the Chew moiety £33 5s. 3d. from the rents of tenants at will, and £8 4s. from the mill. Where the 'manor place' had formerly stood was plain ground, called Chew Yard. Billington Common, where the tenants had common jointly with the townships of Great Harwood and Wilpshire, contained about 2½ miles in circuit. A wood called Elker, containing 60 acres, was well replenished with oak timber and fair young trees and an underwood of hazel and alder. Another wood, called the Nab, of 40 acres in extent, contained oak timber and fair ash trees. The tenants at will paid a fine at every alienation or entry of such amount as they might agree with the lord to pay, and two courts were held yearly. (fn. 35)
Until 1554 the manor remained in the Crown, but in that year the queen granted it to Sir Thomas Holcroft, kt., (fn. 36) the well-known trafficker in monastic lands, who died possessed of it on 31 July 1558. (fn. 37) His son, Thomas Holcroft, esq., sold the manor and estate in 1602 to Thomas Walmsley, esq., justice of the Queen's Bench, knighted in 1603. (fn. 38) They have since descended, with Hacking Hall, in the families of Walmsley and Petre of Dunkenhalgh to Mr. George E. A. Henry Petre, the present owner. (fn. 39)
The mesne manor of Hacking was held of the lord of Clitheroe by a yearly free rent of 5s. 4d. until the grant of half the manor and vill of Billington to Adam de Huddleston, kt. The amount of the rent is significant, being the exact sum paid before the Conquest as rent of two plough-lands. Richard de Dynkedley was the father of Bernard, living in the first half of the 13th century. (fn. 40) Part of Bernard son of Richard's lands of Hacking lay to the south of the River Calder and west of the high road leading to Whalley Bridge. (fn. 41) The demesne of Hacking lay near to the confluence of the Calder and Ribble, between the rivers and the site of the Roman road. William del Hackyng, son of Bernard, gave to the monks of Stanlaw half an acre of land called Hughlocpighel, on the east side of the Roman road (strata ferrea) to Clitheroe, as a site for a barn, for which his descendants received 6d. yearly from the monks. (fn. 42) In 1272 he attested a charter of the Earl of Lincoln, who gave him the mill of Billington which he had built on the Ribble, (fn. 43) together with the suit. He married before 1278 Christiana widow of Richard lord of Trafford, whose dower was of considerable value. (fn. 44) He was living in 1288, but was soon after succeeded by his son Bernard, who was party to a suit about a tenement here at Lancaster assizes in 1292. (fn. 45)
Bernard del Hackyng held lands in the adjoining township of Wilpshire (fn. 46) at the death of the Earl of Lincoln in 1311. By deed dated in 1328 he gave his estates to his son William. (fn. 47) He had a brother John, of Aighton, in whose heirs general descended a considerable estate in Dinckley, and probably other brothers—Henry and Hugh del Hackyng. His son William was a juror on the inquest ad quod damnum touching the alienation to Whalley of the manor of Chew in 1332, (fn. 48) and died before 1347, at which time the estate was held of Whalley by the 'heirs of Hackyng.' (fn. 49) He had issue an only daughter Agnes, who married before 1366 Henry de Shuttleworth, a cadet of the family long settled at Shuttleworth in Hapton. (fn. 50) In 1368 a settlement of the demesne lands in Hacking, with the mill and lands in Aighton, was made by the trustee of Henry and Agnes. (fn. 51) Being related to his wife within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity, he obtained a dispensation in 1371 legalizing their marriage. (fn. 52)
Agnes was living a widow in 1408, having had issue by Henry Shuttleworth John her heir, Thomas, Ughtred the first of the line of Gawthorpe near Burnley and Robert. (fn. 53) John had issue by Magot his wife Henry, living in 1422, (fn. 54) father of Robert, who survived until after 1477, as did Sibyl his widow until after 1515. They had issue Henry, who was contracted in marriage to Elizabeth daughter of Thomas Winckley of Aighton, gent., in or before 1462, by whom he had Robert, who succeeded to the estates between 1490 and 1507. In the latter year he covenanted to marry Henry, his second but eldest surviving son, to Catherine daughter of Ralph Catterall of Little Mitton, esq., (fn. 55) and died in 1515 possessed of this estate, which he held of the Abbot of Whalley for 6s. 4d. yearly, with lands in Aighton and Simondston and the advowson of a chantry in Blackburn Church. His heir was Robert Shuttleworth, his grandson, aged five years, the son of Henry, his deceased son. (fn. 56)
Robert Shuttleworth of Hacking, gent., settled his manor of Hacking and other estates upon trustees in 1542–3, and died shortly after, leaving issue by his wife Isabel daughter of John Hoghton of Pendleton a son Robert, who married Jane fifth daughter of Evan Browne of Ribbleton and co-heir of her only brother Richard. (fn. 57) Their son Richard died young, and their daughter Anne, sole heir of her father, married Thomas Walmsley, afterwards of Dunkenhalgh, kt., (fn. 58) by which union the estate of Hacking has descended, like the manor of Billington, through the Walmsley and Petre families, to Mr. G. E. A. H. Petre, the present owner.
HACKING HALL stands in a low and picturesque situation facing north on the left bank of the Calder close to its junction with the Ribble and is a solidly built early 17th-century house of three stories, with gables, mullioned windows and stone slated roofs. The walls are constructed of squared sandstone blocks in regular courses with quoins of gritstone and are entirely unrelieved by any string-course or other ornament, the absence of which increases the apparent height and size of the building. The plan follows to some extent that of the earlier manor-houses with central hall and projecting ends, but the inner angles of the middle portion, which measures 37 ft. between the end wings, are occupied by a projecting bay at the east end of the hall and by a porch opposite, both going up the full height of the building and terminating in small gables, thus giving a series of recesses to the front elevation which break the monotony of its rather severe design, and, with the wide end gables and a smaller one in the centre, produce a very picturesque sky-line. These five gables of unequal size are now quite plain, but the wide end ones appear originally to have had cone-shaped ornaments at the knees, the bases of which yet remain. The house, which has a frontage of 80 ft., was built by Sir T. Walmsley (fn. 59) and on the chimney shaft at the east end is the date 1607 together with the initials T. L., which are said to be those of Thomas Livesey, father of Sir Thomas Walmsley's mother. The front windows are all long and low without transoms but with hood moulds, and there are similar smaller windows at the back. At the west end is a large projecting kitchen chimney, the opening inside measuring 12 ft. 6 in. in width, and there is a smaller one at the east end. The back elevation has four gables, and there is one at each end breaking into the chimneys, the house possessing in all no less than eleven stone gables. A modern wing 75 ft. in length containing the farm buildings runs southwards from the west end at the back.
The porch is open, with a wood seat on each side, and the door is the original oak one studded with iron nails. There is another similar door at the back. The position of the passage-way or screens at the west end of the hall is retained, though a wall has taken the place of the screen. The hall, which has a diagonally flagged floor, was originally 29 ft. by 18 ft., but the east end containing the bay window has been partitioned off. The fireplace, which is 10 ft. wide and has a four-centred arch 5 ft. high, is now built up and the chimney, which on the exterior added greatly to the picturesqueness of the elevation, is broken at the top. On the west side of the passage is the old kitchen, now a parlour, 18 ft. square, with its great four-centre arched fireplace opening 6 ft. high, within which a small modern grate has been inserted. The staircase is at the east end of the house and is of oak, twisting round a central newel but without wall balustrade or any architectural detail. It leads to the top of the house, but the rooms are generally without interest, having been stripped of their oak wainscot many years ago. 'The principal room on the first floor in the east wing was formerly panelled in richly carved oak, one compartment of which bore the arms of Judge Walmsley the builder.' (fn. 60) The room on the top floor extends the full length of the house and measures 77 ft. 6 in. by 12 ft., being lit on the north side by a series of bays in the gables and from each end. It forms a kind of long gallery in the roof, the principals of which are now exposed, and the studding and plaster of the walls has long disappeared.
The mesne manor of Braddyll lies to the west of Hacking, in the north-western corner of the township, intermixed with the ancient freehold of Brockhall. The site of the manor place, now occupied by a farm-house, stands close to the Dinckley Brook, which forms the division from the adjoining township of that name, where lay part of the estate which passed with the mesne manor.
Roger de Bradhull died before 1211 seised of lands here which descended to Henry his son living in 1246. (fn. 61) He is assumed to have been the father of Henry de Bradhull, ancestor of the Braddylls of Brockhall and Portfield and of Walter de Bradhull, who made an agreement with the men of Salesbury in 1258 about the boundary between Wilpshire and Salesbury. (fn. 62) John son of Walter occurs from 1292 to 1325, (fn. 63) and was father of John, Henry and Alice. John de Bradhull was the largest contributor in Billington to the subsidy of 1332, (fn. 64) and as John son of John Watson is named about 1347 as the free tenant of the abbey of his lands called Bradhull held by a yearly rent of 3s. 5d. and of land called Wallbank of 2s. yearly. (fn. 65) He died before November 1348, when his brother and sister are named as executors of his will. (fn. 66) The next step in the descent is uncertain. His heir appears to have married Jordan de Kenyon, whose daughter and heir Ellen married before 1369 Simon son of John de Morley of Mearley and brother of William de Morley, the first of this family who held Wennington. In that year the Bradhull estates in Billington, Dinckley and Kenyon were settled upon Simon and Ellen and their issue. (fn. 67)
Richard Morley, their son, was the father of Richard, who passed his lands in Billington, Dinckley and Kenyon to trustees in 1446 and had issue Richard, called the younger in 1449, and Nicholas. (fn. 68) The last-named Richard by Isabel his wife had Ughtred Morley, father of Robert Morley, who died in 1510 seised of the manor of Braddyll, three messuages and lands in Billington, Dinckley and Kenyon and left issue by Elizabeth his wife Charles and Ambrose, who both died young, Ughtred and Roger. (fn. 69) Ughtred Morley, gent., contributed to the subsidy of 1523–4 and held Braddyll at his death on 24 December 1528 of the Abbot of Whalley for 11s. yearly free rent. Robert Morley, aged sixteen years at his father's death, (fn. 70) had been married the year previous to Isabel daughter of Thomas Grimshaw of Clayton-le-Moors. (fn. 71) He held Braddyll freely for 11s. of the abbey of Whalley in 1538 at the dissolution of that house and 'Walbanck's' land at will for 15s. (fn. 72) He contributed to the subsidies of 1543 and 1564 and died in 1592, being succeeded by his second but eldest surviving son Henry, who was assessed upon lands to the subsidy in 1599. Henry Morley was the last of the Morleys of Braddyll and died in 1603, leaving issue, by Jane his wife, Margaret his only daughter and heir, then aged forty-eight, the wife of Anthony Blewett of Riddington, co. Northants. (fn. 73) Anthony Blewett was assessed to the subsidy of 1611 in respect of this estate and in 1622 was described of Somerby, co. Leic.
This estate was probably severed from that of Braddyll and bestowed upon Henry de Braddyll, the supposed younger son of Henry de Braddyll of Braddyll. (fn. 74) He occurs from 1302 to 1319, and held part of Wilpshire at the death of the Earl of Lincoln in 1311. (fn. 75) John his eldest son released his right in lands in Billington to Richard de Topcliffe, brother of the Abbot of Whalley, by deed dated at Whalley in January 1333, and sealed with the arms of Braddyll. (fn. 76) He was probably the father of William de Bradhull, who held this estate in 1347 of the Abbot of Whalley. (fn. 77) He was succeeded by his son John, who gave his lands in Billington and Chippingdale to feoffees in 1383, and was probably father of John Braddyll of 'Brockhole,' who settled his estates upon his son John at the latter's marriage in December 1411 to Margaret daughter of Robert Simondston. (fn. 78) Richard Braddyll succeeded and died before 1478, leaving by Joan his wife John, his son and heir, (fn. 79) whose grandson, John Braddyll, entered his pedigree in Flower's visitation in 1567. (fn. 80) The last-named died 16 September 1578 seised of Brockhole in Billington, and of many other estates, including the manor of Simonstone. (fn. 81)
The seventh in descent from John Braddyll was Thomas, third son and heir of Dodding Braddyll, who died without issue in 1776, having devised his estates to his cousin Wilson Gale of Conishead Priory, who assumed the name of Braddyll by royal warrant in 1776. (fn. 82) Brockhall was about 1800 purchased from him by James Taylor of Moreton Hall, Whalley, from whom it has descended to Mr. Henry Wilson Worsley-Taylor, the present owner.
Robert de Cundeclyve held estates in Billington and the adjoining township of Wilpshire before 1246, and attested local grants to Stanlaw Abbey during the time of Henry III. (fn. 83) He derived his name from a small estate in Rishton called Gundeclyf or Cundeclive, which he held of Edmund de Lacy in 1258 for 2s. rent. (fn. 84) Robert his son occurs in 1276, and appears to have held for life the manor of Lostock in Deane parish, in which he had acquired an interest before 1288, probably by marriage. (fn. 85) Another Robert succeeded and died before 1319, when the wardship of Robert his son was claimed by Simon de Holand in respect of half the manor of Anderton. The last-named Robert had been married in his father's lifetime to Alice daughter and heir of Stephen de Hamerton of Tadcaster, the patrimony in Billington, Wilpshire and Salesbury being settled upon them and their issue. (fn. 86) He held a parcel of land in Billington of the Abbot of Whalley in 1347, (fn. 87) and settled his mesne manor of Ladyhalgh, or Ladyhall, in Anderton upon his son Robert and Margery his wife.
From Robert and Margery de Cunliffe this and the other estates of the family descended to their elder son Adam, whose son and heir Robert was in possession in 1394. Robert resigned his interest in the manor of Pleasington in 1396 to John Ainsworth, and died without issue before 1399, when his uncle Roger Cunliffe, a younger son of Robert and Margery, succeeded to the Anderton estate by virtue of some settlement, and apparently to the greater part of the family estates also. Although Roger had a daughter Ellen, wife of Peter Talbot, (fn. 88) the heir to the estates after Roger's death, which occurred before Christmas 1409, was his sister Margaret, wife of Adam de Lever, who at the date named was in possession in right of his wife of 'Cunliffe,' in the town of Billington, and of lands in Wilpshire and Tadcaster, co. York. (fn. 89)
Peter Talbot, ancestor of the Talbots of Carr Hall in Wilpshire, a younger son of Richard Talbot of Slaidburn, in right of his wife Ellen became possessed of the Cunliffe estates in Billington, Wilpshire, Salesbury and Tadcaster, except the messuage of Cunliffe, which by some means passed to Alan Cunliffe, possibly son of Richard brother of the half blood to Roger Cunliffe. Robert son of Alan Cunliffe, gent., was described as of Billington in 1468, and with Robert Cunliffe of Dinckley was a juror upon an inquest taken in 1477. (fn. 90) The year following he appears as tenant of the Abbot of Whalley of lands called Broadmeadow and Greenhey. (fn. 91)
Robert Cunliffe of Wilpshire, gent., was outlawed in 1514 for the murder of Elias Wood of Dinckley, at which time he held a messuage in Billington of the Abbot of Whalley, a tenement and 103 acres of land in Wilpshire held of the king by 12d. free rent, and another in Dinckley of the king in socage. (fn. 92) In 1521 his lands were in the hands of the abbot by forfeiture, but in 1538 Robert Cunliffe of Billington, gent., held his lands of the abbot freely by a yearly rent of 25s., and in 1543 was assessed to the subsidy in respect of lands here. (fn. 93) Richard Cunliffe, gent., was in possession in 1562, and with Anne his wife passed his estate to trustees in 1587, (fn. 94) by whom it was sold in or before 1591 to Thomas Walmsley, Justice of the Queen's Bench, (fn. 95) who leased it to John Talbot of Whalley, gent. By his will dated in 1594 Mr. Talbot assigned to Elizabeth his wife the 'farming houses and grounds' which he had by lease of Mr. Justice Walmsley in Billington and Wilpshire, late the inheritance of one Richard Cunliffe, together with his lease of the tithe corn of Cunliffe. In 1662 Cunliffe House paid duty upon four hearths. Since then this estate has passed with the manor.
DEAN HILL AND TOWNWORTH.—Toneworth, 1292. The family of Dean have been associated with lands in this township since the beginning of the 13th century. Ranulf living in the time of King John was the father of Elias de Tonworth, also called 'de Dene,' who occurs in 1246. (fn. 96) Richard the son of Elias held land here of Mabel de Billington, the wife of Oliver de Stansfeld, lord of Worsthorne, whose son William had a grant of a messuage in Tonworth from his father in 1294, and was assessed to the subsidy of 1332 as one of the most substantial householders. (fn. 97) In 1347 Alexander de le Dene held his lands (of Dean Hill) freely of the Abbot of Whalley for 4s. yearly. (fn. 98) Robert Dene, yeoman, was in possession of Dene Hill in 1444, and William Dean of one-half of Townworth in 1487. (fn. 99) William Dean married Agnes daughter and heir of —Wrightington. Henry their son married Maud daughter of William Ambrose, by whom he had issue John, (fn. 100) who held Dean Hill, half of Townworth and Hodgehouse of the Abbot of Whalley freely in 1538. (fn. 101) He died the same year seised of these and other estates, William being his son and heir. (fn. 102) John Dean, son of William, in 1573 passed by fine to John Braddyll, esq., seven messuages in Billington and Townworth, (fn. 103) and from that date the greater part of the estate of this family descended with the Braddyll estates.
The families of Bolton and Chew were ancient freeholders in this township; of the latter Mr. Abram gives some account in the History of Blackburn. (fn. 104)
The hearth tax return of 1666 records 115 hearths in the township. The largest house was that of John Hayhurst, with eight; there were two of five, three of four, and four of three hearths. (fn. 105)
The land tax returns of 1788 show that Lord Petrc, Assheton Curzon and J. Braddyll were the chief owners. (fn. 106)
The chapel of ST. LEONARD stands on the north side of Langho Green close to the western boundary of the township, and is on plan a plain rectangle 56 ft. long internally by 24 ft. wide, with south porch and north-west vestry. The building is of 16th-century date, built of large blocks of gritstone and with a stone slated roof, but having fallen into a state of disrepair was restored in 1879, when the interior was reseated and rearranged, a new east window inserted, the vestry rebuilt on a larger scale, the west wall reconstructed and the wood bell-cote on the west gable replaced by one in stone. A local tradition states that the chapel was built from stones taken from the dismantled abbey at Whalley, (fn. 107) and the evidence of the building, in the walls of which there are a great many earlier carved stones, seems in some measure to support the story, though nothing very positive can be stated one way or the other. The large stone blocks of which the walling is constructed are, however, probably in any case of no earlier date than the building of the chapel, but many of the moulded and carved fragments undoubtedly belong to some older structure, but whether on this site or at Whalley it is impossible to say.
Before the restoration the chapel was seated with long narrow pews erected towards the end of the 17th century, with four square ones at the east end, two on each side of the sanctuary north and south of the altar, which had a rail on three sides. The font stood in front of the altar rails, and the pulpit and desk were between the windows on the north side. When the pews were removed and modern benches inserted the old carved ends, many of which are inscribed with the initials of the owners and with various dates from 1688 to 1692, were retained. The east end is now raised two steps and rearranged as a sanctuary.
The east window is modern, of three cinquefoiled lights with tracery under a four-centred head, and there are two square-headed traceried windows on each side of the building towards its eastern end of three cinquefoiled lights. (fn. 108) These windows have elaborately moulded jambs and heads both inside and out, and internally equally elaborately moulded sills, all of which have the appearance of having been formerly put to other uses. The mouldings of the heads and sills do not mitre with those of the jambs, though the sills are all in one piece, the whole having rather a clumsy appearance. The west window is the old one of four lights reinserted in the rebuilt wall.
A piscina remains in the south wall and has a pointed trefoiled head with label over, quatrefoil bowl, hollow chamfered jambs and projecting moulded sill. Immediately opposite on the north wall is an elaborately carved stoup, a little more than half an octagon in plan, projecting 14 in. from the wall and 3 ft. in height from the floor to the top. The bowl is 9 in. in diameter, and the corbel below is enriched with carved trail foliage and circular and four-leafed flowers. The stoup, as well as the piscina, is probably a fragment from Whalley. The font is at the west end and is modern, and there is now no pulpit.
The porch has a stone seat on each side with an outer opening under a flat four-centred arched head cut out of one stone. The inner doorway has a segmental arch with moulded jambs and head. In the west jamb of the outer opening is a large stone carved on three faces with shields and quatrefoils within a circle, only one of the shields, however, which has a lion rampant, being now decipherable. Inside the porch is a small carved stone on the west side and two other Gothic fragments on the east wall.
The other carved stones on the outside of the building comprise the fragments of a 15th-century carved canopy to a niche over the east window, and on either side of the window itself two carved heads, apparently stops to a hood mould. On the south side, between the porch and window, is a stone 18 in. high by 13 in. wide with shield and traceried carving above, and another boldly projecting shield which has been the termination of a hood mould. Both these shields are obliterated, and there is another indecipherable one built into the west wall.
The interior is faced with rough stone and the floor is tiled. The roof is divided into five bays by four oak principals, and is plastered between the spars. Some fragments of old coloured glass have been collected in the top lights of the two easternmost windows north and south of the sanctuary, but the rest of the glass is modern.
Externally there is a moulded plinth on the south side only between the porch and the east end, and the east wall has three square 2-in. sets off 3 ft. 10 in. in height, the lower one of which is carried round on the north side for a distance of 9 ft. At the west end is a moulded string-course under the window stopped by a block at the north end and cut off at the south, but the rest of the walls all round are quite plain. A cross was placed on the eastern gable in the restoration of 1879.
The first direct reference to the chapel of Langho is in the will of John Braddyll, 1578; by it 10s. a year was to be paid to the repair of the chapel during his lease of the tithe corn of Brockhall, 'if the said chapel so long do continue and have divine service in the same.' (fn. 109) As there was no endowment there does not appear to have been any regular service maintained (fn. 110) until the Commonwealth time, when in 1646 it was ordered that £50 a year should be paid out of the rectory of Deane, sequestered from Mr. Anderton, recusant. (fn. 111) Mr. James Chrichlowe was the minister in 1650, but there is nothing to show how long he stayed. (fn. 112) It 1658 it was proposed to make a separate parish for the chapelry, (fn. 113) but nothing seems to have been done. On the Restoration the old arrangements would return, and in 1684 it was recorded: 'No curate because no maintenance,' but some subscriptions had been promised. (fn. 114)
In this little-used chapel Bartholomew Walmsley of Dunkenhalgh about 1680 held his manor courts from time to time, and after the accession of James II he became bold enough in 1687 to seize the building as an appurtenance of his manor and fit it up for Roman Catholic worship, and it is said that it was used for mass for a short time. The vicar of Blackburn, having failed to procure a friendly settlement, appealed to the Court of Chancery in 1688, and having a clear case recovered possession at once. (fn. 115) He was warned by the incident to serve the chapel more efficiently, and in 1717 the chapel was served every other Sunday, (fn. 116) the curate of Great Harwood being usually in charge. At that time the certified income was £7 6s. 8d. In 1749 and later augmentations were obtained from Queen Anne's Bounty in response to local subscriptions, and in 1823 the income was about £105. (fn. 117) It is now £274. (fn. 118)
The township was made into the ecclesiastical parish of Langho in 1842. (fn. 119) The church of St. Leonard, built of local and Stourton stone, was consecrated in 1880; the old St. Leonard's is now a chapel of ease to it. The living is a vicarage, with the ancient incumbency annexed, in the gift of the vicar of Blackburn. The registers commence in 1725. There is a mission room near Whalley Mill.
The church papers at Chester diocesan registry begin in 1720, when John Smith was licensed to Great Harwood and Langho. Four years later a separate minister was assigned to Langho, and the list of incumbents from that time is as follows:—
|1724||William Knowles, B.A. (Sidney-Sussex Coll., Camb.)|
|1746||Christopher Whitwell (fn. 120)|
|1750||Robert Smith, B.A.|
|c. 1773||Barton Shuttleworth, B.A. (fn. 121)|
|1794||William Barton, B.A. (Sidney-Sussex Coll., Camb.)|
|1814||Thomas Henry Backhouse, B.A. (Pembroke Coll., Camb.)|
|1822||John Rushton (fn. 122)|
|1828||Robert Nowell Whitaker, M.A. (fn. 123) (St. John's Coll., Camb.)|
|1840||Charles Arnold Chew, M.A.|
|1845||John Fayrer Coates, B.A. (St. Cath. Coll., Camb.)|
|1859||Dudley Hart, M.A. (T.C.D.)|
|1868||Matthew Hedley, M.A. (Pembroke Coll., Camb.)|
|1895||Frederick George Chevassut, M.A. (T.C.D.)|
|1901||John Fleming French|
A hermitage by the rocks on the eastern side of Billington is named in a charter of 1308. (fn. 124)
In 1672 licence was granted for the use of a newbuilt house on Langho Green for Congregationalist worship. (fn. 125)
The Roman Catholic chapel of St. Mary, near Dinckley Bridge, opened in 1836, is served from Stonyhurst College. (fn. 126)
A number of gifts for the poor of the township were made from 1671 to 1684, and land at Dinckley Moorgate was purchased in 1715. The farm was sold in 1890 and the money invested in India stock, producing £21 12s. 4d. a year. This is distributed on 21 December, chiefly in gifts of flannel, clothing, &c., but partly in money doles.