A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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LITTLE MITTON, HENTHORN AND COLDCOATS
Little Mitton and Henthorn occupy the southern and northern parts of a strip of land sloping down to the Ribble, which forms the western boundary, and receives the Calder at the southern boundary. On the other side of the Ribble, in Yorkshire, is Mitton proper, or Great Mitton. Coldcoats is a detached portion of the township lying to the east on the slopes of Pendle. The total area is 873½ acres, (fn. 1) and in 1901 the population was 86.
There is a road from Whalley through Little Mitton, crossing the Ribble by a bridge just below Great Mitton Church. A road from Whalley to Pendleton along the side of the hill passes through Coldcoats. There is a footpath from Little Mitton to Clitheroe.
The manor of LITTLE MITTON was held of the lord of Clitheroe by knight's service. There are traces of a family bearing the local name, (fn. 2) but in 1242 John de Pontchardon held the twelfth part of a knight's fee there; the place belonged to the dower of the Countess of Lincoln. (fn. 3) He granted 3 oxgangs of land in Little Mitton to Margaret daughter of William son of Orme at a rent of 12s. (fn. 4) He was followed by Richard de Pontchardon his son, (fn. 5) who married Beatrice daughter of Adam de Blackburn, (fn. 6) and in 1283 claimed a messuage and an oxgang of land in the township tenanted by Richard the clerk of Rimington and Margery his wife. (fn. 7) In 1309 he granted the manor of Little Mitton to Adam de Catterall and Lora his wife, the grantor's daughter; a rent of 10 marks was during his life to be paid to him at Welwyn in Hertfordshire. (fn. 8) This was confirmed by a similar grant in 1313. (fn. 9)
In 1311 Alan de Catterall was recorded as holding one plough-land in Little Mitton by the eighth part of a knight's fee and 10d. rent (fn. 10); at his death, in or before 1322, he was found to hold a capital messuage, &c., by the twelfth part of a fee and 2s. rent, (fn. 11) and in the same year his widow Loretta was said to hold the plough-land by the eighth part of a fee. (fn. 12) Alan de Catterall and Lora his wife in 1315–16 acquired an oxgang of land in Little Mitton from Alice daughter of Margery de Mitton, (fn. 13) but the most noteworthy incident of their time was a dispute with the Abbot of Whalley as to the tenure of Whalley Field (fn. 14); this contest was continued or renewed as late as 1338 between the abbot and Lora as widow. (fn. 15) There is little to show the connexion between the Catterall family (fn. 16) and this manor, (fn. 17) but their successors the Shireburnes were described as 'of Little Mitton,' (fn. 18) and probably made it their chief residence.
Little Mitton was, like Catterall, purchased about 1665 by Alexander Holt, of the Gristlehurst family, and descended to the Beaumonts of Whitley Beaumont, in Yorkshire. (fn. 19) About 1840 it was purchased by John Aspinall of Standen, and Col. Ralph John Aspinall is the present lord of the manor.
Little Mitton Hall stands on an elevated site close to the left bank of the Ribble, half a mile above its junction with the Hodder. The situation is one of much beauty, the view from the house westward across the stream being extremely picturesque, but of this no advantage was taken by the original builders, who erected the building facing eastward, overlooking what was then marshland. The house belongs to the end of the 15th or beginning of the 16th century, and follows the H-type of plan of that period with a central great hall and north and south projecting wings. The interior of the great hall preserves most of its original characteristic features, but the rest of the house has been so much rebuilt and modernized as to have lost almost all its antiquarian or architectural interest. At the beginning of the last century the upper part of the walls was of timber, (fn. 20) but this has entirely disappeared. A great portion of the house was rebuilt about 1844, after its purchase by John Aspinall, and extensive additions were made, including a new wing on the north-west Thirty years later, soon after 1874, further alterations and additions were made by the tenant, who rearranged the rooms in the south wing, through which a passage was formed to a conservatory, and beyond this again a new detached two-story wing containing a billiardroom was erected. The north wing was lengthened on its east side by the addition of a large bay window, the great hall was restored, the recently erected northwest wing was enlarged and a story added, and a terrace with stone balustrade and steps was formed on the west side commanding the view down the valley.
The house is of two stories with attics in the end gables, the walls being mostly covered with yellow rough-cast, some portions, however, including the gables of the south wing, being faced with coursed rubble. The mullioned windows, with two exceptions, are all new, and the roofs are covered with green slates. Externally the building is without architectural interest, but the back elevation, with its gables, central chimney stack and terrace balustrade, is picturesque by reason of its situation when seen from the low ground by the river, though somewhat spoiled by the modern three-story north-west wing which dwarfs it on that side.
The great hall, including the screens, is 40 ft. long by 23 ft. 6 in. wide, and has an open timbered roof 18 ft. high to the wall plate. The arrangement is similar to that which formerly obtained at Samlesbury, the south end being occupied by a square recess for the dais with a doorway on either side and the north end by the screens. In the south-east corner is a square bay and the fireplace is in the middle of the west wall. The roof has been considerably restored, but the original moulded wall-posts and principals remain in excellent preservation, dividing it into six bays, the two end ones being over the dais and screens respectively. The two end and the middle principals have moulded tie-beams and moulded caps to the wall-posts 12 ft. above the floor, from which height the post is carried up the wall to the underside of the beam with shaped pieces having carved spandrels on either side. Above the tie-beam the trusses appear to be modern, the king-post, if one ever existed, having given place to a series of straight cross braces running parallel with the line of the roof. The two intermediate principals have a simple collar high up with shaped pieces below. At the north end the spurs of the screen stood 3 ft. 3 in. from the walls at each side with a wide opening, the angle posts, deeply moulded with rounds and hollows, being 1 ft. 9 in. square. Originally there may have been a movable screen in the opening as at Rufford and Samlesbury, but if so it has completely disappeared. The gallery may have been added in the middle of the 16th century, when the present screen between the posts was inserted. This screen, which is 8 ft. high and has a central doorway 4 ft. 6 in. wide, is richly carved, five panels on each side of the opening having male and female heads in medallions, possibly intended for portraits, and in others are the initials T.D.H. (fn. 21) The original doorway at the east end of the passage is now built up, and a later door with two-storied porch made within the hall proper at the north end. The other end of the passage-way is now occupied by the principal staircase, which effectually blocks up the first two of the old doors in the north wall, which led originally to the butteries or other offices. There are four openings in all in the end wall, the other two of which are still in use, one to the kitchen passage and the other to the modern dining-room. The whole of the north wall of the hall retains its ancient timber construction, the lower part filled in with ornamental quatrefoils and the upper with diagonal bracings.
The gallery has been continued down the east side of the hall and across the south end over the dais at a later time. It is 8 ft. above the floor, and the front is of comparatively recent date, if not wholly restored, having long turned Jacobean balusters. The original dais recess now forms part of the room without distinction, and from it three modern doors lead into the south wing, one of which, however, by the later alterations, has been rendered unnecessary and has consequently been blocked up. That on the east side of the recess led originally into the morning-room through a small vestibule, but this is now formed into a cupboard, and the morning-room is entered from the passage, which has been taken from it on the north side. The hall is lit on the east by two modern twolight windows under the gallery and a four-light window to the bay, with two low mullioned windows of three lights each above. These windows, which were opened out after 1874, probably belong to a 16thcentury refacing of the hall in stone, and are the only ancient windows remaining in the house, though the mullions of one of them have been renewed. On the west side are two windows, one on either side of the fireplace, high up in the wall. The fireplace was opened out after 1874, having previously been covered over with panelling, and is of stone, the opening being 12 ft. 6 in. wide and 3 ft. 6 in. deep under a four-centred arch 7 ft. high. The hall has been much restored with modern panelling and the roof has been boarded.
The dining-room in the north wing has a panelled dado made out of oak from the old parish church at Bolton-le-Moors, pulled down in 1866, and the door of the morning-room was the vestry door of the church of All Hallows, Bread Street, London, taken down in 1876. The upper rooms are of no particular interest, except the bedroom over the dining-room, which contains some 18th-century panelling of good and simple design.
HENTHORN, assessed as one plough-land, was held in thegnage by a rent of 6s. (fn. 22) by a family using the local surname. In 1274 Margery widow of Adam de Henthorn claimed dower there against Peter de Chester, rector of Whalley, and he called Henry the son of Adam to warrant him. (fn. 23) Others of the name are mentioned. In 1276 Jordan son of Richard de Henthorn held a messuage in Henthorn of the Earl of Lincoln, and wished to alienate it. Richard's mother Agnes held part in dower, and he had granted it to his daughter Agnes and her husband Ellis. Henthorn was described as a hamlet of Mitton. (fn. 24) The assign of Alice daughter of Jordan de Henthorn in 1295 claimed a messuage and land of Adam son of Master Henry de Clayton. (fn. 25)
Henry de Henthorn in 1311 held half a ploughland of the Earl of Lincoln in thegnage by 3s. rent, and his son Henry held the other half by the same tenure. (fn. 26) The father died in or before 1324, when Henry paid relief on succeeding. (fn. 27) Henry son of Henry de Henthorn was one of the defendants to a claim in 1338 made by Margaret wife of Roger le Mazon against John de Henthorn, tailor, and others concerning a messuage in Henthorn. (fn. 28) In 1343 and later Roger Martel of Walton and Margaret his wife claimed two messuages in Little Mitton against Henry de Henthorn and another against John son of William de Clitheroe and Isabel his wife. Margaret was the daughter of Adam son of Agnes daughter of Richard de Henthorn, which Agnes, as above stated, had married Ellis de Colthurst. (fn. 29)
Shortly afterwards, perhaps by marriage, Henthorn passed to Lawrence de Bailey and Alice his wife, who in 1360 made a settlement of their messuages, &c., there. (fn. 30) The estate passed by their daughter Alice's marriage to her son John Standen. (fn. 31) His heir was a daughter Alice, who married John Whitaker and had a son James, (fn. 32) who died in 1500 holding the moiety of two messuages, &c., in Little Mitton and Clitheroe of the king in chief by knight's service and the rent of 3s. His son and heir Henry was of full age in 1508. (fn. 33) Henry Whitaker contributed for his lands to the subsidy of 1524. (fn. 34) He died in or before 1531 holding the same estate; the next in blood was James Whitaker, clerk, but the kinship is not recorded. (fn. 35) Henthorn passed to Nicholas Whitaker, who died in 1551 holding it by the fortieth part of a knight's fee and 10d. rent; he also held messuages in Clitheroe in free burgage. His son John was eighteen years of age. (fn. 36) A similar record was made after the death of John Whitaker in 1585; his heir was his son James, aged twelve. (fn. 37)
The James who died in 1500 had by Felicia Grimshaw two daughters, Lettice and Sibyl, who married respectively John Nowell and Thomas Holden. In 1496 the other moiety of Henthorn was assigned to them, (fn. 38) and its descent can be traced, at least in part, for some time. (fn. 39) Part was acquired by Robert Shireburne, and became merged in his Little Mitton estate. (fn. 40) Another part seems to have been joined to Coldcoats. Robert Leigh held a part in 1614. (fn. 41)
A few other holdings in the main portion of the township are recorded. (fn. 42)
COLDCOATS, originally a part of Great Pendleton, (fn. 43) which it adjoins, has long been included with Little Mitton and Henthorn. (fn. 44) Roger de Lacy confirmed 4 oxgangs of land in Coldcoats to Geoffrey son of Robert Dean of Whalley, which Geoffrey had received in free marriage. Lands in Towneley and elsewhere were included in the grant. The feeding of Geoffrey's hunting dogs was the reason for the gift. (fn. 45) It is obvious that these lands were not granted to Geoffrey as dean, and they were alienated by his descendant Roger, a later dean. (fn. 46) The whole was held of the Lacys as the tenth part of a knight's fee. (fn. 47) Coldcoats was occupied by a family which used the local name, (fn. 48) and in 1363 Richard de Coldcoats gave to Whalley Abbey all his lands there, with the licence of Gilbert de la Legh, the superior lord. (fn. 49)
At the suppression of the abbey there were three tenants in Coldcoats, paying £4 6s. 2d. in all. (fn. 50) It was sold by the Crown in 1542 to Robert Holt, (fn. 51) and shortly afterwards Anthony Watson is found in possession. (fn. 52) He died in 1568 holding a capital messuage in Little Mitton, called Coldcoats, of the queen by knight's service and 8d. rent; also other messuages and lands in Wiswell and Downham. (fn. 53) His heir was a son Thomas, then aged twenty-eight, who died in 1579 holding the same estate and leaving a son and heir Anthony, aged twenty-one. (fn. 54) Shortly afterwards, in 1586, Anthony Watson and Dorothy his wife sold their estate in Coldcoats and Henthorn to Robert Walmesley. (fn. 55) The new owner died in 1612, when his son Thomas, aged ten, was found to be his heir; the tenure was recorded as before. (fn. 56) Thomas Walmesley was still living in 1664, when a pedigree was recorded. (fn. 57) His descendants retained it till the middle of the 18th century, when it was purchased by Piers Starkie of Huntroyde. (fn. 58) It is still part of the Huntroyde estates.
The house (fn. 59) stood high on the right of the road from Wiswell. From what remained in 1883 of the east and west wings it appeared to date from the middle of the 16th century and was evidently E-shaped in plan. It faced north but was sheltered by a large and substantially built outbuilding. Externally the house presented the customary central portion connecting two gabled wings, but all the middle part had then disappeared, leaving the wings isolated. The west wing was used as a farm-house and the eastern wing as part of the farm buildings. Most of the original windows were bricked up, but the labels and jambs remained. A stone in the kitchen bore the initials I.W. and another built into the walls of an out-house R.W.
There were only twenty-two hearths liable to the hearth tax in 1666, and of them Alexander Holt's house accounted for half and Thomas Walmesley's for five more. (fn. 60)
In 1788 the chief landowners were Beaumont, Starkie and Shuttleworth. (fn. 61)