A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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Alvetham, 1256; Altham, 1383.
This township extends from the River Calder southwards for more than 2 miles; the surface gradually rises till near the southern border a height of more than 600 ft. above sea level is attained. Through the centre a small brook flows north to join the Calder; the upper part of its course is down a wooded clough. Shorten Brook forms part of the eastern boundary. The hamlet of Altham stands near the Calder; by the canal are other hamlets called Higher Firs and Head o' th' Town; in the south-west corner is part of the village of Henfield in Clayton-le-Moors. The area is 1,439½ acres. (fn. 1) The population in 1901 numbered 785.
The principal road is that from Clayton-le-Moors to Padiham, which crosses the Calder at Altham Bridge. The Leeds and Liverpool Canal goes through the centre of the township from east to west.
The township is governed by a parish council.
To the county lay of 1624, which was founded on the old fifteenth, Altham paid £1 0s. 2¼d., Clayton 12s. 9d., Old Accrington 14s. 2d. and New Accrington £1 17s. 2d.—a total of £4 4s. 3¼d. when the hundred had to raise £100. (fn. 2)
Coal mines are worked and stone quarries also; bricks are made and there are chemical works. The soil is heavy, overlying clay, and the land is mostly used for pasture, 1,204 acres being in permanent grass and 44 in woods and plantations; there is no arable land. (fn. 3) The Corporation of Burnley have sewage works in the township.
Included in the honor of Clitheroe, ALTHAM was granted by Henry de Lacy, who died in 1177, to Hugh son of Leofwine, together with Clayton, Accrington and a moiety of Billington. (fn. 4) The service to be rendered was that due from half a knight's fee. Accrington and Billington were afterwards separated, but Claytonle-Moors continued to be a dependency of Altham, and the manor was sometimes called Altham and Clayton. Hugh endowed the chapel or church of Altham, (fn. 5) and was succeeded by a son William. He confirmed the grant of Accrington to Kirkstall, (fn. 6) and was followed by Richard de Altham, his son. (fn. 7) Richard's name occurs in deeds of the early years of the 13th century. (fn. 8) He was succeeded by a son Hugh, who made a grant in Clayton to Henry son of Henry the Clerk, (fn. 9) and died before 1242, when his heir was recorded to hold the eighth part of a knight's fee in Altham of the heirs of the Earl of Lincoln; it belonged to the dower of the countess. (fn. 10)
The unnamed heir was a son Richard, who occurs in 1256–8, (fn. 11) and was succeeded in turn by his sons Hugh and William. The latter was in possession from 1275 to 1299 (fn. 12); in his later years he made an effort to recover the advowson of Altham Chapel from the Abbot of Whalley, who had obtained it as appurtenant to the rectory. His successor Simon de Altham (fn. 13) was stated to hold half a knight's fee in Altham and its members in 1302, (fn. 14) while in 1311 he held of the Earl of Lincoln one plough-land in Altham and Clayton by the service of the eighth part of a fee, rendering 3s. 4d. annually and doing suit to the court of Clitheroe. (fn. 15) John de Altham appears in 1327, (fn. 16) and was recorded from 1349 to 1361 as holding the eighth part of a knight's fee, or one plough-land, in Altham. (fn. 17) He died in or before 1371. (fn. 18)
John's heir was probably a daughter Joan, who by her marriage with Richard son of John Banastre of Walton-le-Dale began the line of Banastre of Altham. Richard and Joan made a settlement of the manor in 1383 with remainder to their son Lawrence. (fn. 19) Richard was living in 1400, (fn. 20) but Lawrence had succeeded by 1419 (fn. 21) and in 1445–6 held the eighth part of a knight's fee in Altham. (fn. 22) He was found to have died in possession of the manor in 1451, holding it of the king as duke by knight's service and a rent of 3s. 4d. His heir was a grandson Richard, son of his son Thomas Banastre, aged ten years. (fn. 23) Some mistake must have been made, for by a later inquisition it was found that Lawrence Banastre died in 1477 holding the manor by knight's service and leaving a grandson Richard (son of Thomas) as heir, he being then thirty years of age. (fn. 24)
Richard Banastre died in 1510 holding Altham of the king by the eighth part of a knight's fee. (fn. 25) His son and heir Nicholas, then only eight years old, proved his age in 1523, it being testified that he was born on the feast of St. Oswald the bishop, 1501, at Altham and baptized in the church there. (fn. 26) Nicholas died in 1537 holding the manors of Altham and Clayton of the king as duke by the eighth part of a knight's fee and a rent of 3s. 4d. (fn. 27) His son Richard, then eighteen, died in 1552, leaving a son Nicholas, aged ten years; the manor was held as before. (fn. 28) Nicholas Banastre had disputes concerning Henfield moor or waste, tenants of the adjoining manor of Accrington making claims. (fn. 29) He made settlements in 1587 (fn. 30) and 1608, naming in the latter Elizabeth his wife, Nathaniel his son and Nicholas the son of Nathaniel, (fn. 31) and he died in 1612, when the said Nathaniel, thirty years of age, succeeded. (fn. 32)
The heir was a Roman Catholic, and about 1632 compounded by an annual fine of £10 for the two-thirds of his estate liable to sequestration for recusancy. (fn. 33) He had paid a further £10 in 1631 on declining knighthood. (fn. 34) By his wife Elizabeth daughter and co-heir of Barnaby Kitchin he obtained a third part of the manor of Pilling. On the outbreak of the Civil War he took the king's side, and as a 'Papist delinquent' his estates were sequestered by the Parliament. He died in 1649 and was buried at Garstang, and then his son Richard, who was 'conformable to the Church of England' and 'a real Protestant and . . . a friend to the Parliament and their proceedings,' obtained a discharge of the estates. (fn. 35) He recorded a pedigree in 1665, when his eldest surviving son Nathaniel was seventeen years of age. (fn. 36) Nathaniel Banastre's house had ten hearths liable to the tax in 1666 out of forty-six in the whole township. (fn. 37)
Nathaniel, who died in 1669, was succeeded by a brother Henry, (fn. 38) and he by his son Nicholas, the last male heir. At his death in 1694 his sisters Mary wife of Ambrose Walton and Isabel wife of Charles Halsted succeeded. The Waltons on partition in 1699 had Altham. (fn. 39) Mary's son Henry Walton was succeeded by his son Banastre, (fn. 40) and on his death without issue in 1784 Altham passed to his cousin, the Rev. Richard Wroe, (fn. 41) rector of Radcliffe, who took the name of Walton in accordance with Banastre Walton's will. At his death in 1801 he was followed by his son Richard Thomas Wroe Walton, who died unmarried in 1845, his sisters being heirs. One of them died unmarried, and the other, Mrs. Maw, had no children, but they left their estates to distant relatives who were their next heirs, namely two sisters, Mrs. Hallam and Mrs. Fawcett. (fn. 42) These settled the property on their children in equal shares (fn. 43); the son of the former, the late William Hallam of Kirkby Stephen, became patron of the benefice, but the lordship of the manor is held by Mrs. MacDiarmid, Miss Hallam, Mrs. Haworth, Mr. R. T. R. W. Hallam and Mrs. Patton. No courts are held.
Few of the minor tenants appear in the records. (fn. 44)
The lands of the church appear to have been occupied by the lords of the manor. (fn. 45) In 1298 William de Altham claimed a moiety of the manor against the Abbot of Stanlaw. (fn. 46) The lands are described in a memorandum of the time of Henry V, printed in the Whalley Coucher. (fn. 47) An inquiry was made about them in the time of Cardinal Pole, when it was found that they were dispersed in the town fields. In 1616, at another inquiry, it was found that the scattered portions had been occupied by the lord of the manor or his ancestors for many years. In that way they were lost. (fn. 48)
There appears to have been a religious house of some kind at Altham, its advowson being granted to Hugh son of Leofwine together with the manor about 1165. (fn. 49) Nothing further is known of it, but Hugh founded a chapel and endowed it with 4 oxgangs of land, designing to have a separate parish formed. (fn. 50) He obtained the assent of Geoffrey dean of Whalley and placed in it as vicar Geoffrey's son or brother Robert. A rent of one pound of incense was to be given to Whalley Church yearly on All Saints' Day (fn. 51) by Henry de Clayton, who about 1220 succeeded Robert as vicar, (fn. 52) but in 1249 Peter de Chester, having been appointed rector of Whalley, claimed Altham as a chapel appurtenant to his church, and succeeded in establishing his right. (fn. 53) The matter was again called into question after Whalley had been given to the monks of Stanlaw, but the jury decided that Altham was only a chapel of ease. (fn. 54) This continued to be its status for some centuries, the vicar of Whalley nominating the chaplains or curates.
The church of ST. JAMES, formerly known as St. Mary's, (fn. 55) stands on low ground in a rural situation close to the left bank of the Calder at the extreme north-east of the township. It consists of chancel 25 ft. by 17 ft. 6 in., clearstoried nave 43 ft. 6 in. by 15 ft. 6 in., with north and south aisles 7 ft. 6 in. wide, south porch, and west tower 10 ft. 6 in. by 12 ft. 6 in., all these measurements being internal. There is also a small vestry on the north side of the tower. Though the foundation is an ancient one the present structure has so little ancient work that nothing can be said of the development of the plan. What appears to be a late 12th-century tympanum, however, is built into the lower part of the south aisle wall under one of the windows, but this is the only fragment now remaining of the original church. It is a semicircular-shaped stone 4 ft. 2 in. in diameter and 2 ft. high, covered with star diaper pattern. Under another window on the same side is an incised grave slab with plain Calvary cross, and there are other somewhat similar slabs used as lintels to the south door and to the east window of the north aisle. These probably belong to a later church which was pulled down about the end of the 15th or the early years of the 16th century to make way for the present building. To this structure also probably belonged the east window of the north aisle, which is different in character from all the others, but whether the church occupied the same space as at present can only be conjectured. The rebuilding at the beginning of the 16th century comprised the whole of the nave and probably the chancel, though the date of this is not certain, as no record of it has been kept. At the beginning of the 19th century the chancel was described as 'long since dilapidated and visible only by the foundations,' (fn. 56) but during the incumbency of the Rev. William Wood the old walls were pulled down and a new chancel built, a belfry or turret was added and a gallery erected at the west end. This work, however, seems to have been badly done, (fn. 57) as in 1848 the building was in a dilapidated state, a portion of the belfry had fallen away, and the porch was in a ruinous condition; the interior of the building was covered with whitewash. The restoration begun soon afterwards comprised the rebuilding of the chancel, the addition of a west tower and the thorough overhauling of the nave and aisles, the ceiling and gallery being pulled down, and the old seating and three-decker pulpit removed. The work was brought to a conclusion in September 1859, when the building assumed its present aspect. Only the nave and aisles of the church, therefore, are ancient and dating from the 16th century.
The walling is of rough local greystone in long and narrow pieces, and the roofs, which have overhanging eaves, are covered with stone slates. The work is generally of a plain description and all the old windows, with the exception of the one already mentioned, are of three round-headed lights under a square head with external hood mould.
The chancel being modern has no antiquarian interest. It is built on the old foundations and has a three-light pointed window with traceried head at the east end and two pointed windows of two lights and traceried heads in the north and south walls. The chancel arch was discovered in 1859 in making the connexion between the new chancel and the nave and consists of two chamfered orders springing from moulded imposts. A small piscina, 16 in. wide by 8 in. high, with ogee head, has been built into the north wall 3 ft. from the east end. Externally the roof is much lower than that of the nave, and the chancel is architecturally without any very distinctive features, the gable being quite plain and the height of walling above the windows together with the rather slight projection of the eaves producing a flat appearance.
The nave is of three bays with pointed arches of two chamfered orders springing from responds and octagonal piers 18 in. in diameter with moulded caps 7 ft. 6 in. from the ground. Over each arcade is a clearstory of square-headed three-light windows, three on each side, with external hood moulds and rounded heads to the lights. The roof is a restoration and consists of five principals and spars plastered between, with similar lean-to roofs to the aisles. On the north and south sides the aisles are lit by two three-light windows similar to those in the clearstory, the westernmost, however, owing to the position of the south door, not being opposite one another. The south aisle has a similar window at each end, that at the east being differentiated externally by the character of the termination of the hood mould, which has shields held by an angel. The east window of the north aisle, as before stated, probably belongs to an older building, and is of 15th-century date of two cinquefoiled lights under a square head without a hood mould. The west wall of the north aisle against which the vestry is built is blank.
The south porch has been rebuilt and is very plain in character with a wide four-centred arch with flatpitched gable over. In the north-east corner is what appears to be an early font now mutilated, rent away on one side so as to form a seat.
The font is octagonal and is said to have been given by John Paslew, last Abbot of Whalley. Its sides are carved with the emblems of the Passion and the sacred monograms AΩ, MR, IHC.
At the west end of the nave is a gallery containing the organ, approached by a stone stair from the floor of the tower. The gallery front projects only 4 ft. 6 in., however, into the nave, the length of the plain wall space before the first opening of the arcade, the greater part of the organ being situated within the tower.
The tower is of three stages with diagonal buttresses and embattled parapet. The belfry windows are of two lights under a pointed head, with similar but larger windows to the stage below and a single-light window on the south side on the ground floor. There is no vice, the belfry, which contains one bell, being approached only by a ladder.
The fittings all belong to the time of the restoration of 1859, the pew-ends having tall cast-iron poppyheads, rather disturbing in their effect, and painted to look like wood. On the easternmost pier of the south side is a brass plate to John Cunliffe of Woodhead, who died in 1695, and Mary (Cheetham) his wife, who died in 1677, with coat of arms, and on the west pier on the north side a brass to James Walmesley, who died in 1761. There is a later brass to Thomas Royston, who died in 1809, and his daughter Anne, and in the chancel are modern mural tablets to members of the family of Lomax of Clayton Hall. In the nave between the clearstory windows are hatchments of the Forts of Read Hall and the Rev. Thomas Wroe Walker of Marsden Hall (d. 1845), to whom also there is a monument in the south aisle. At the west end of the south aisle is a painted board with coat of arms in memory of Elizabeth Cowper, born Lonsdall.
In the vestry is preserved an old sculptured stone with indistinct letters or numerals and the letter M at the top, probably of early 16th-century date; the two lower groups perhaps form the date 1512.
The plate consists of a chalice of about 1600 with engraved pattern below the rim, and a chalice, paten and flagon of 1887. There are also two pewter plates inscribed 'Altham Chappel 1745,' and a pewter flagon inscribed 'Altham Chappel.'
The registers begin in 1596.
The churchwardens' accounts began in 1732, but have been lost.
The commissioners of Edward VI took away a chalice, a bell and some vestments. (fn. 58)
The churchyard, which is principally on the south side of the building, was greatly enlarged in 1830 and 1900.
The old stipend of £4 (fn. 59) was increased to £10 before the Civil War, as in other cases; the parliamentary committee of the county gave £30 additional out of the sequestrations, (fn. 60) and this was in 1650 replaced by £50 a year out of the rectory of Kirkham, sequestered from Thomas Clifton of Lytham. (fn. 61) On the restoration of the old order in 1660 only the £10 remained, but fees brought the stipend of the curacy to £11 15s. in 1717. (fn. 62) Nathaniel Curzon in 1722 gave £200 towards the endowment, becoming patron instead of the vicar of Whalley. (fn. 63) Assistance from Queen Anne's Bounty and other sources has from time to time been given, and the net value is now £267 a year. (fn. 64) Earl Howe sold the advowson about 1820, (fn. 65) and the present patron is the representative of the late Mr. William Hallam of Kirkby Stephen.
As there was no endowed chantry, it is probable that before the Reformation there was usually only one resident priest, though two names are recorded in the visitation list of 1548. In later times the chapelry seems to have shared the services of the curate of some neighbouring chapel, Altham and Church being served together in 1690 and Goodshaw and Altham in 1717. Even after the augmentation the curacy was sometimes held by a neighbouring clergyman, who employed an assistant curate for this chapel. A parish was formed in 1866, when the benefice was called a vicarage. (fn. 66)
The following have been curates and vicars:—
|oc. 1535||John Radcliffe (fn. 67)|
|oc. 1541||Lawrence Hey (fn. 68)|
|oc. 1575||John Martin (fn. 69)|
|oc. 1592||James Metcalfe (fn. 70)|
|oc. 1597||Thomas Barker (fn. 71)|
|oc. 1608||William Westby (fn. 72)|
|1610||Thomas Hamelton (fn. 73)|
|oc. 1619||— Worthington (fn. 74)|
|oc. 1622||— Postlethwaite (fn. 75)|
|1649||Thomas Jollie (fn. 76)|
|oc. 1671||Elisha Clarkson (fn. 77)|
|1676||John Taylor (fn. 78)|
|oc. 1718||Nicholas Houghton (fn. 79)|
|1730||John Anderton (fn. 80)|
|1742||Ashton Werden, B.C.L. (fn. 81) (T.C.D.)|
|1760||Charles Pindar, B.A. (fn. 82)|
|1761||Richard Longford (fn. 83)|
|1804||John Adamson (fn. 84)|
|1823||William Wood (fn. 85)|
|1848||William Sharp (fn. 86)|
|1891||Henry Haworth, M.A. (fn. 87) (St. John's Coll., Camb.)|
|1896||Walter Herbert Green, B.A. (Lond.)|
|1904||James Robinson, M.A. (fn. 88) (Peterhouse, Camb.)|
|1909||Harold Hindle Whittaker, M.A. (Dur.)|
There is no other place of worship in the township.
In recent times considerable gifts have been made to the poor of Accrington, amounting to more than £150 a year, and there is another of £20 for Clayton-leMoors. There are also educational and ecclesiastical funds. Official inquiries were made in 1826 and 1899, the report of the latter, with a reprint of the older one, being issued in 1900. The following details are taken from it.
The only ancient charity known was a gift by Mrs. Catherine Cunliffe, who died in 1756, for Bibles and Prayer-books for Accrington; it seems to have been extinct before 1826.
The Accrington Cross Street charity was founded by Adam Dugdale of Dovecote House, near Liverpool (£100), and others, property being purchased in 1840 for £230, which is now represented by £2,665 India stock, producing £79 19s. 4d. This is distributed in March and December each year in doles of 2s. to a number of poor elderly persons. The surplus of the Accrington Cotton Relief Fund of 1862, amounting to £420, was invested in a mortgage, producing £21 a year; this is given in food and clothing, maintenance in convalescent homes and pensions, but there is a considerable surplus unexpended. Elizabeth Hopwood, spinster, in 1856 left £500 for a distribution to poor persons, members of the Church of England, on Christmas Day, at the appointment of the incumbent and wardens of St. James's, Accrington. The will was proved in 1879, and the income, £13 14s. 4d., is given on Christmas Eve in doles of 5s. each. William Smith in 1897 gave £1,000 as a Jubilee Poor Fund, for the general benefit of the poor of Accrington; the income of £40 is given partly in pensions, partly in food and clothing and partly in money. James Duxbury by his will (1892–7) left £3,000 to the poor of Accrington, but the bequest does not take effect during his widow's lifetime.
For the poor of Clayton-le-Moors Robert Clayton Mercer in 1880 bequeathed £25 a year, to be spent in coal, clothing or food. The sum invested now produces £20 12s. 4d., which is distributed at Christmas through the district council in tickets for goods worth 5s. each.