A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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The township of Whalley lies along the Calder as it flows north and west on its way to the Ribble. The parish church, surrounded by the village, stands near the north bank of the river in a central position, and has the ruins of the once great abbey to its west. Moreton lies in the south-east corner of the township, with Portfield a mile to the north and Clerk Hill, on a spur of Pendle, still further north. Nethertown and Shawhouses are hamlets to the north-west of Whalley village. The area of the township is 1,603 acres, (fn. 1) and in 1901 there was a population of 1,100.
The principal road is that from Blackburn, which crosses the Calder at the village and then goes north to Clitheroe; a branch turns off to the north-west to cross the Ribble at Mitton. The Blackburn and Hellifield branch of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway crosses the Calder valley by a viaduct and runs north through the township; there is a station to the west of the village.
The agricultural land in Whalley, Wiswell, Pendleton, Mitton and Coldcoats is thus occupied: arable, 5 acres; permanent grass, 4,327; woods and plantations, 472. (fn. 2) In Whalley proper, apart from considerable plantations, the land is chiefly in pasture; the soil is a loam, overlying gravel and clay. An agricultural show is held in August. The corn-mill is worked by steam.
There were formerly some minor industries such as bobbin turning and nail making. (fn. 3) More recently bricks and tiles have been manufactured.
Apart from the abbey there is little to relate of the history of the place. The remarkable ancient crosses have already been described. (fn. 4) Another cross, on the bowling green, was destroyed in the first part of the 17th century. (fn. 5)
One of the monks, William Haydock, was executed at Whalley in 1537 in a field called Little Imps, for his share in the Pilgrimage of Grace. (fn. 6)
The county lay of 1624, based on the old fifteenth, required the chapelry to raise £3 3s. 9d. towards each £100 levied upon the hundred. The townships contributed thus: Whalley, 10s. 7½d.; Mitton, &c., 19s. 1½d.; Great and Little Pendleton, 14s. 10½d.; Wiswell, 19s. 1½d. (fn. 7)
The Civil War was marked by a fight near Whalley on the border of Read on 19 April 1643, when the Earl of Derby marching towards Padiham was defeated by the Parliamentary forces. By the latter, inferior in numbers, an ambush was formed; the king's troops, attacked unexpectedly at close quarters, fled back to Whalley, where the earl himself made resistance for a time. At last, however, horse as well as foot were driven over the Calder and the earl's design was frustrated. (fn. 8)
The hearth tax return of 1666 quoted below shows that Whalley was then a place of much greater relative importance than in more recent times, though Clitheroe with 198 hearths against 121 surpassed it. Two halfpenny tokens were issued at Whalley in 1667–71.
Nonconformity found a leader in Thomas Jollie of Wymondhouses, but the case of the Surey Demoniac in 1689–90 did not altogether tend to its credit. A certain Richard Dugdale of Surey near Whalley was long subject to fits, which were attributed to possession by an evil spirit. His parents, poor people, tried various remedies, and one time took him to Henry Crabtree, the curate of Todmorden, described as 'no great scholar, a blunt but an honest man [who] served a poor place for about £12 a year, which he augmented by venturing to give physic to the country people'; he told the Dugdales a cure was possible if they could pay for it. Then the Nonconformists of the district held prayer meetings and exorcised the man for about twelve months, when he was said to be cured. The ministers chiefly concerned in these exercises were Thomas Jollie and John Carrington, and the latter, afterwards stationed at Lancaster, in 1697 published an injudicious narrative of the event (fn. 9) tending very much to his own glorification. The slight on the Church of England implied by the alleged success of the Nonconformist ministrations brought out a reply or examination by Zachary Taylor, one of the king's preachers and curate-incharge of Wigan. This is a specimen of the worst kind of controversy, that in which the writer, without any sincere conviction, tries merely to annoy his opponents. Though his title, The Surey Impostor, (fn. 10) and most of his argument urge that the fits were mere tricks by Dugdale, he yet questions the cure, cites Crabtree's statement that the man might have been cured naturally and prints a certificate from a local doctor that the man had been cured by medicine he had given. (fn. 11) Several pamphlets were issued on both sides. (fn. 12)
In 1066 the church had two ploughlands in WHALLEY, (fn. 13) and these seem to have formed the later manor which with the rectory passed to the monks of Stanlaw and Whalley. (fn. 14) Peter de Chester, as rector, obtained in 1284 a grant of free warren in the demesne lands of his church. (fn. 15) After the confiscation of the abbey's estates in 1537 the Crown held the manor till 1553, when it was purchased for £2,132 by Richard Assheton, younger son of Ralph Assheton of Great Lever, and John Braddyll of Brockhall in Billington. (fn. 16)
Richard Assheton, later in the service of William Lord Burghley, acquired great wealth, and purchased also the manor of Downham and other estates (fn. 17); on his death in 1579 without issue, his property was divided among relatives, the manor or moiety of Whalley being given to his nephew Ralph Assheton of Great Lever, with remainder to Ralph his eldest son. The manor was said to be held of the queen in chief by the fortieth part of a knight's fee. (fn. 18) Ralph Assheton the elder died in 1587 holding the 'manor or house and site,' and was succeeded by his son Ralph. (fn. 19) This Ralph died in 1616 holding Whalley by the above tenure, and leaving a son Ralph, (fn. 20) whc was created a baronet in 1620, (fn. 21) and made Whalley his principal residence, selling Great Lever in 1629.
In 1635 he had some trouble with Archbishop Laud concerning the lease of the rectory, (fn. 22) and about the same time the Star Chamber fined him £300 for various acts of adultery and incest. (fn. 23) Like other members of the family he took the Parliamentary side on the outbreak of the Civil War, and was appointed a justice of the peace and sequestrator by the Parliament. (fn. 24) He died in October 1644 and was buried at Whalley.
His son Sir Ralph, born about 1605, was educated at University College, Oxford, (fn. 25) and admitted to Gray's Inn. He represented Clitheroe from 1640 till he was excluded from the House in 1648. (fn. 26) He was a Parliamentarian like his father and appointed on the committee of the county in 1645 (fn. 27); he was also a member of the Presbyterian Classis in 1646. He succeeded to Downham in 1657. At Whalley he pulled down what remained of the abbey church and tower in 1661–2. (fn. 28) He died in London in January 1679–80 and was buried at Downham. (fn. 29) His brother Sir Edmund succeeded, and at his death in 1695 was followed by another brother, Sir John; he died the following year, when the baronetcy became extinct, and on a division of the estates the manor of Whalley went to his nephew Sir Ralph Assheton of Middleton, (fn. 30) son of his sister Anne, and descended to the Curzon family, who alienated it. (fn. 31)
The Braddyll estate, or moiety of the manor, on the death of John Braddyll in September 1578, descended to his son Edward, then aged forty-four. (fn. 32) Edward Braddyll acquired the Portfield estate, (fn. 33) which became the chief residence of the family, and died at Billington in 1607, leaving a son John, aged fifty. (fn. 34) This John died at Portfield in 1616, leaving a son of the same name, aged twenty-five or more. (fn. 35) In 1633 a settlement of the manor of Whalley and various lands was made by John Braddyll and Margaret his wife. (fn. 36) On the outbreak of the Civil War he took the Parliament's side, (fn. 37) and his eldest son John at once raised a company of 'stout men' who made a name for themselves, (fn. 38) but their captain was killed in July 1643 at the siege of Sir William Lister's house at Thornton in Craven. (fn. 39) John Braddyll the father survived till 1655, and was followed by his son Thomas, who recorded a pedigree in 1664, (fn. 40) and lived to see the Revolution, dying in 1706, aged eighty-four. (fn. 41) His son John, who married Sarah Dodding, the heiress of Conishead, lived at Ulverston, and his descendants retained it till some fifty years ago. The Whalley estate was sold by Wilson Gale Braddyll to James Whalley of Clerk Hill. Thus in 1794 the lords of the manor were Penn Assheton Curzon and James Whalley. (fn. 42) No manor is now known.
The Cistercian 'Locus Benedictus de Whalley' was founded in 1296, and none of the buildings on its site are anterior to that date. (fn. 43) Gregory de Northbury, Abbot of Stanlaw, with twenty monks, on 4 April 1296 took up his residence in the old parsonage pending the building of the new abbey. The site of this parsonage is probably marked by the early 16th-century building which was the abbot's lodging at the time of the forfeiture in 1536, and became the residence of the Assheton family.
The first stone of the buildings was laid on the morrow of St. Barnabas (12 June), 1296, by Henry de Lacy, and in 1306 'a great part' of the abbey and the whole precinct were consecrated by Thomas Bishop of Whithern. (fn. 44) The 'great part' did not include the church, the frater or refectory, or the monks' dorter, which were not yet begun. Probably it consisted of the north-west gateway, the marking out of the precinct and the plotting of the cloister with its surrounding buildings, and the crection of the lower portion of the south wall of the church, the southern end of the lower stage of the east range, with its external stage, and the reredorter adjoining it.
In the succeeding decade it seems likely that a temporary oratory was built, pending the completion of the quire, for a magnum altare was consecrated by a suffragan of Walter de Langton, Bishop of Lichfield, who died in 1321, before the high altar of the church could have been consecrated.
In 1319 the grant of a quarry from Adam de Huddleton indicates building activity. In 1330 Abbot Robert de Topcliffe began the building of the church, (fn. 45) and further grants of three quarries were made to the abbey in 1334 and 1336. There are no exact data as to the completion of the church, but it would appear to have been finished about 1345. The sacristy was probably built at the same time as the south transept. The tiles in the quire discovered by Whitaker in 1798 appear to have been of the latter half of the 14th century, and John de Kuerdale was buried in the new church in 1345. In 1339 a licence was obtained to build and crenellate a stone precinct wall. From 1339 to 1425 building operations around the cloister were continuous. The frater and kitchens, forming the south side, were followed late in the 14th century by the chapter-house, adjoining the sacristy on the south and another chamber to the south again, completing the east side of the cloister. Next the upper stage of this range, being the monks' dorter, was completed from end to end. The 'new dorter,' which was consecrated in 1425, may be either this upper stage or the whole building of the west range, commonly known now as the dormitory.
The Lady chapel was added to the church by Paslew, the last abbot, between 1521 and 1536. He also rebuilt the abbot's lodging about the same time. The north-east gateway is of his time or a little earlier.
The actual remains at present are small. The church is all gone, except the south jamb of a window at the west end of the south aisle, which abuts against the west wall of the western range, a portion of about half the length of the south wall of the church, and of the south-west walls of the south transept. The general lines of its plans were recovered by Whitaker. The whole of the west range of the cloister is standing and is still roofed. The lower portion of the frater wall and the ground stage of the eastern range and the reredorter are still above ground, as well as the stair to the destroyed dorter, between the dorter ground stage and the site of the frater. The gatehouses are both standing, the north-west gate-house are nearly, and the north-east quite, to the full height. The abbot's, lodging, which became the residence of the Asshetons after 1536, is practically intact in its north and east portions. The south and west sides, which contained the infirmary, and are earlier than the lodging, are ruined, but standing to some height, and the northwest angle has been added since the Dissolution. The abbey mill, to the south-east of the lodging, has been destroyed since 1818.
The destruction in 1536 was not so complete as this. In 1661 and 1662 Sir Ralph Assheton pulled down the 'old steeple and the walls adjoining,' the 'high cloister, walls, next the dove-cote' and the 'great window or door at the head of stairs in the cloisters'—doubtless the dorter door.
The church consisted of a quire of three bays, with north and south aisles, central tower, north and south transepts, each with an eastern aisle of three bays divided into chapels, and a nave and aisles of ten bays. (fn. 46) The vaulting of the aisles was supported on corbels, of which two remain on the north wall of the west range. The west wall of the south transept also shows the vaulting corbels, indicating that the transept was vaulted in three bays, the vault resting on an arcade on the east side of three arches opening to as many chapels. The south wall of the transept has a doorway to the sacristy. A night-stair descends in the south-west angle of the transept from the dorter. In the exterior of the west wall are two book-closets, and a third in the exterior of the sacristy west wall, which is continuous with that of the transept. Beside it is a door from the cloister to the sacristy with shallow continuous mouldings. The interior partitions of the range have disappeared. A wide doorway with a series of continuous hollow chamfers, of which two are filled with flat flower ornaments, is flanked by two pointed two-light windows with a quatrefoil in the head, and shafted jambs. This doorway led to the chapter-house, or more probably to a vestibule opening into the chapter-house, as in the opposite (eastern) wall of the range is a corresponding doorway, with a moulded rear arch and shafted exterior jambs, which is contemporary with the building. If this is so, however, all trace of the chapter-house itself is lost. To the south of the chapter-house group of door and windows on the cloister side is another doorway, of the same height, but narrower, moulded with three hollow chamfers, which entered a room, probably the parlour, as there seem to be traces of a fireplace on its south side. It has a three-light window in the east wall, which appears to replace an original doorway. In the walls of the remainder of the ground stage are various openings not corresponding to one another in the two walls. On the east side are four two-light windows, and in the middle, backing against a buttress between the second and third windows, was a fireplace; last, to the south is a doorway opening to a dog-leg passage, lighted on the north, south and east by loops, which leads to the reredorter. In the south wall was a wide three-light window, now converted into a door. The south-west angle has right-angled buttresses, and there are two more buttresses on the west wall, between the angle and the south wall of the dorter-daystair, with three two-light windows between them. All along the interior of the east wall are plain corbels, at a height to support an upper floor, just clearing the heads of the chapter-house and parlour doors. In the southern portion of the range another row of corbels at a lower level perhaps indicates an original intention to vault the ground stage, abandoned as the work proceeded further northward. Above the floor level of the upper stage are indications of window openings, but the walls of this stage, which stand to about one-third of their original height, are so overgrown as to render reconstruction impossible.
The door leading from the east end of the south wall of the cloister to the dorter stairs, which are now gone, is high and pointed with shafted jambs, and has a moulded hood mould like that of all the openings on the cloister side of the east range. Next to it is a much smaller plain pointed doorway, probably that of the warming-house, which is, however, wholly gone, though a small broken spur of wall just to the west of it on the south side of the wall may indicate its western, and the continuation of the south wall of the dorter stair its southern limit. Again, to the west of this doorway, in the south wall of the cloister, which stands to about 10 ft. for its whole length, is a wide segmental-headed recess with continuous mouldings, which was the lavatory. Nothing remains of the frater, but if it followed the usual Cistercian plan it ran southward from about the middle of the south cloister wall. The doorway, about two-thirds westward of the length of the wall, would then be either a direct entrance to it, as at Waverley, or may have opened to a lobby or stair to an upper story, the latter being likely if, as in other instances, a misericorde was placed in the ground stage. At the western end of this side is another doorway, which would lead to a kitchen court, the kitchens being in the destroyed southern portion of the west range, of which only two buttresses and two windows remain. The whole range from this angle to the south wall of the church is complete, and consists of a building of two stages with seven buttresses on the west wall, having a window between the southernmost pair in each stage, a door with a window above between the next two, and one window in each stage between each succeeding pair of buttresses, making thirteen windows and a door in all on the west. All the windows are of two trefoiled lights in segmental heads with hood moulds, and all are now blocked up to the tracery, the mullions being gone. The southernmost is converted into a door, and the fourth from the north is quite gone, a large rectangular opening in the wall occupying its position. The original door, which formed the principal entrance to the cloister from without, has a moulded two-centred arch and jambshafts. A roughly moulded plinth runs at the sill level of the windows. On the cloister side are no buttresses, but in the upper stage are, or were, windows like those on the west. A door in the east wall opposite that in the west indicates that this portion formed a passage through the range. Another door, opposite the second window from the north in the west wall, suggests the position of a partition to the south of it occupying about one-third of the ground stage. The remainder was probably the cellarium, or possibly the frater of the servants, there being most likely no conversi. The upper stage was probably at this date the servants' dorter, or may have been used for storage.
The 'Abbot's Lodging' is of two principal dates, with 17th-century additions at the north-west. It consists of a central court with north and east sides consisting of the 16th-century building of Abbot Paslew. The east and north sides are still occupied. A modern bay window has been added to the north end of the east part, but the rest retains its 16thcentury character, having a small four-centred doorway (which has a modern sash window over it), three four-light square-headed windows in the lower stage, and three large five-light square-headed windows in the upper story, all with two transoms. Projecting eastward at the southern end is a building of two stages, which contained two chambers on each floor communicating with one another and having traceried windows of early 15th-century character. This formed part of the old infirmary, and probably contained its chapel. The old south range is much ruined and built over, but the portion abutting on the south end of the present house contains one large chamber and has several three-light windows in square heads.
At the south-west angle a block known as the 'Abbot's Kitchen' projects over the watercourse. In its interior west wall are a wide low recess and a vice leading to a garderobe. In the south wall are two three-light windows between buttresses, and in the south end of the east wall is a doorway to the open. The rest of the east wall is occupied by two wide splayed recesses. A three-light window is in the west wall, and to the north of it two small recesses and a doorway to the open. North of this block is the so-called 'long gallery,' which was partly repaired by Sir Ralph Assheton in 1661, but has since been again ruined at its south end and absorbed into the house. It was the infirmary hall, and opened on to its cloister by two doors on the east, and to the south of each door was a large three-light window. Opposite these in the thickness of the west wall is a long recess about 2 ft. deep. A door in the south wall leads to the kitchen. It seems likely that before the destruction of the monastery this hall had been subdivided and put to other than its original use, or it may be that the infirmary proper was in the upper stage.
Of the two gate-houses, that at the north-west is of early 14th-century date. It stands east and west, and is about 75 ft. long by 33 ft. wide. Its east and west entrances are wide two-centred archways with single-shafted jambs, and about one-third of the length from the east end are the customary large and small entrances, the former a segmental arch at the north and the latter a pointed arch at the south side of the passage. Both the larger and smaller portions of the passage are vaulted, the former in five and the latter in three bays, the ribs springing from moulded corbels, and the wall ribs forming an acutely pointed wall arcade. In the north and south walls of the eastern portion are blocked pointed doorways. A similar doorway in the north wall of the larger portion is open. In the upper stage are three threelight windows on each side and similar windows at the east and west ends. It is conceivable that this important and well-lighted room may have served as a capella extra portas. The windows at the sides all retain their mullions and tracery, except the westernmost on the north side and the middle window on the south. This tracery consists of three trefoiled lights, the centre ogeed and the flanking lights round, with two bowed quatrefoils and a true quatrefoil over in a two-centred head. The east window is an elaborated version, on a larger scale, of the same arrangement, but the west window is quite plain and of one light. The upper stage was reached by a stair from the blocked doorway in the north wall of the ground stage leading to a doorway between the two easternmost windows of the north wall above.
The north-east gateway is of the 15th century, and is of two stages, with angle buttresses. It stands north and south, and has wide two-centred arches with heavy jamb-shafts at each end, and has larger and smaller entrances exactly midway. In the southwest corner of the inner portion is a vice to the upper stage, which has a high embattled parapet carried also round the heads of the diagonal buttresses. On the north face of the upper stage are three niches, the central one canopied and lower than the others and containing a later figure. It is also flanked by two shields of arms.
CLERK HILL, the ancient Snelleshou, (fn. 47) was in 1553 sold by Assheton and Braddyll to John Crombock, (fn. 48) whose descendants retained it until 1699, when it was sold to Thomas or James Whalley. (fn. 49) The above-named James Whalley, who succeeded to Clerk Hill in 1780, was one of his kinsmen, (fn. 50) and in 1797 took the additional names of Smythe Gardiner on the death of an elder brother, whom he succeeded as second baronet. (fn. 51) The estate was in 1871 sold by the trustees of his grandson's only daughter to Solomon Longworth and Richard Thompson (fn. 52); the trustees of the former of these are the present owners. Lower Clerk Hill was long the property of the Hammond family. (fn. 53) John Hammond, LL.D., was baptized at Whalley in 1542, became a civilian and master of Chancery, and was one of the commissioners who examined Edmund Campion and others under torture. He died in 1589. (fn. 54) He was grandfather of the celebrated Anglican theologian Dr. Henry Hammond (1605–60).
Moreton (fn. 55) was formerly owned by the Nowells of Read. (fn. 56) The estate is now owned by Mr. Henry Wilson Worsley-Taylor, who resides there. (fn. 57) Moreton Hall is a modern building in the Elizabethan style erected in 1829 by John Taylor in place of an older structure on a commanding site on the right bank of the Calder. (fn. 58)
The Subsidy Roll of 1626 gives the landowners as Sir Ralph Assheton, John Braddyll, George Shuttleworth, Roger Kenyon and Richard Crombock, who was in ward. There were thirteen non-communicants. (fn. 62)
A number of houses of fair size are shown by the hearth tax list of 1666. Sir Ralph Assheton's house had eighteen hearths, Richard Crombock's ten, Thomas Braddyll's nine, and those of Richard Haworth, Richard Horrobin, Margaret Shuttleworth and Richard Waddington seven each; one house had five hearths, two four and one three, the rest being smaller. The total for the township was 121 hearths. (fn. 63)
The chief landowners in 1789 were P. A. Curzon, James Whalley and Robert Isherwood. (fn. 64)
Thomas Dugdale had his barn in Whalley licensed for Presbyterian meetings in 1689. (fn. 65)
Inquiries into the charities of Whalley were made in 1826 and 1901. The report of the latter, including a reprint of the earlier report, was issued in 1903 so far as concerns the eight townships contributing to the repair of the parish church. The educational endowments amount to £160 a year and All Saints', Pendleton, has £182. Apart from these the following are the only charities existing:—
For the eight townships a fund long accumulating amounted to £441 by 1771, (fn. 66) when it was applied to purchase land in Great Harwood. Part of the capital was for the school, and other parts were intended for apprenticing children of Whalley township and for the purchase of blue cloth for the poor. The land was sold in 1895 for £1,000. Thomas Braddyll in 1776 gave an annuity of £10 for apprenticing poor children of Whalley township. These charities are administered together. By a scheme of the Charity Commissioners made in 1886 the apprenticing charities were added to the endowment of the grammar school. For the general charities known as Chewe's dole, &c., a capital of £477 consols remains, producing £13 2s. a year. Of this £1 4s. is distributed in doles by the vicar as Kenyon's charity; £1 8s. each is sent to Read and Wiswell, and is distributed in doles of money or goods; and the remainder is given to poor persons in the township of Whalley in doles of cloth. The other five townships now receive no share.
Sir Ralph Assheton of Downham in 1679 left money to 'gratify two able and orthodox ministers' who were to preach two sermons each at Whalley and Downham, and a further sum for the poor of the same places, particularly those who were 'constant comers to church.' This endowment is represented by a rent-charge of £8 on the Starkie estate in Pendleton, £4 going to Whalley and £4 to Downham. At the former place £2 is paid to a special preacher on 5 February and the rest in gifts of 5s. to eight poor women.
Adam Cottam in 1835 gave land at the Grange in Whalley and bequeathed about £1,800 for almshouses for poor persons of Whalley township. Some additional gifts were made by Miss Isabella Riley (1855) and George Haworth (1896), and the gross income is £84 2s. There are six almshouses in one building, each having living room and bedroom and a plot of land. Women to occupy them are nominated by the trustees, and each has 18s. a month and a small coal allowance.
There was an old almshouse in Pendleton of unknown origin. (fn. 67) The building fell into ruin before 1850 and the land is now unoccupied.