Townships: Heyhouses

Pages 513-514

A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.

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Heyhouses is a small extra-parochial place of 322 acres, including 6 acres of inland water, lying in the valley between Pendle Hill and the ridge at the north of Padiham. Through this valley flows Sabden Brook west and south-west to the Calder, and it is augmented by other brooks descending from Pendle. The town of Sabden (fn. 1) is partly in this township, but chiefly within the adjacent Pendleton and Read. The population in 1901 was 23. The road from Clitheroe to Padiham passes through Sabden. The old packhorse road from Clitheroe went over Read Height to the bridge at Altham, thence south over Hameldon. (fn. 2)

Pendle cross stood on the top of the hill above Wellsprings Inn.

A cotton factory was established at Sabden about 1790, the purity of the water attracting the calicoprinter. In 1808 Miller, Burys & Co. had extensive works, nearly 2,000 persons being employed in printing calicoes by block work and hand-pencilling; the works were considered the most efficient in the county. (fn. 3) In 1830 they were sold by the Forts to Richard Cobden, and in his hands, in association with the late Mr. George Foster, attained great prosperity. The trade still continues.

A new township called Sabden was in 1904 formed from Heyhouses, which has ceased to be a township, and parts of Pendleton, Higham, Wiswell, Read, Northtown (in Padiham) and Goldshaw Booth. It contains the whole of the valley from Dean Farm to Green Bank. It is governed by a parish council.


There is no manor of Heyhouses, but in 1342 Richard de Radcliffe held 80 acres of waste in Sabden within Pendle Chase at a rent of 26s. 8d., due at St. Giles's Day. (fn. 4) His son Christopher died in 1385–6 seised of the tenement, which as Sabden Hey was in 1387 demised by John Duke of Lancaster to Christopher's brother Thomas at the doubled rent of 53s. 4d., with a condition that the house there should be kept in repair by the tenant. (fn. 5) This was one of the earliest demises of copyhold tenements in the forest. In 1463–4 Richard son of Sir Thomas Radcliffe paid the 53s. 4d. rent for Sabden Hey, (fn. 6) and about the same time was presented 'for making a town upon a tenement called the Heyhouses, where he had no right without the king's staff.' (fn. 7) It does not appear that there was ever any 'town' there.

Heyhouses continued to descend in the family of Radcliffe of Winmarleigh. Thus the heirs of Thomas Radcliffe in 1527 paid 53s. 4d. for Sabden Hey and 13s. 4d. for Rede (or Reedley) Hallows. (fn. 8) Then in 1540 William son and heir of Thomas Radcliffe, while in ward to the king, had a dispute with Roger Nowell and others as to common of pasture in Sabden Hey. (fn. 9) The estate and the dispute were Gilbert Gerard's in 1561 in his wife's right. (fn. 10) Soon afterwards it was sold, apparently in parcels. John Halliday was assessed upon lands there in 1597, (fn. 11) and about 1600 Roger Nowell of Read became a purchaser. (fn. 12) In a rental of 1618 the three tenants were Ralph Assheton, paying 22s. 3d., Roger Nowell 20s., and John Halliday 11s. 1d. (fn. 13)

Under the Commonwealth the estate of John Halliday of Heyhouses was sequestered for 'delinquency.' He was regarded as 'a man of a factious and turbulent spirit,' and his allegation that the people of Heyhouses were subscribing 2s. a week to relieve him was not believed. (fn. 14)

The landowners in 1787 were Le Gendre Starkie and William Assheton, (fn. 15) the former holding apparently the estates of Nowell and Halliwell. Mr. Starkie in 1801 purchased the Assheton portion, so that the whole of Heyhouses has since been included in the Huntroyde estate. (fn. 16)

According to a survey made in 1617 Heyhouses contained 160 customary acres of the annual value of £53 6s. 8d. The inhabitants had common of pasture upon certain adjoining moors in Read, Pendleton and Padiham. (fn. 17)

There were sixteen hearths assessed to the tax in 1666, but no house had more than two hearths. (fn. 18)

St. Nicholas's, Sabden, was built in 1841 in connexion with the Church of England; a district was assigned in 1849. The patron of the benefice, which is styled a vicarage, is Mr. E. A. Le Gendre Starkie of Huntroyde.


  • 1. Sapedene, 1296; Sapenden Haye, 1387. The bridge is mentioned in 1425 and its repair about 1580; note by Dr. Laycock of Sabden, to whom various other details are due.
  • 2. Dr. Laycock.
  • 3. Britton, Beauties of Engl. 'Lancs.' 136–8.
  • 4. Mins. Accts. bdle. 1091, no. 6.
  • 5. Duchy of Lanc. Mins. Accts. bdle. 76, no. 1498; Pal. of Lanc. Chan. Misc. bdle. 1, file 12, no. 48.
  • 6. Whitaker, Whalley, i, 358.
  • 7. Ibid. 300.
  • 8. Duchy of Lanc. Rentals, bdle. 5, no. 12.
  • 9. Ducatus Lanc. (Rec. Com.), ii, 66. Nowell of Mearley had rights in Sabden Wood, derived from the charter of Jordan son of Ralph le Rous; Inq. p.m. 20 Edw. II, no. 43. Similarly Radcliffe of Todmorden had Sabden Chase in 1498; Pal. of Lanc. Writs Proton. 13 Hen. VII. But it does not appear that the wood or the chase extended into the hey.
  • 10. Ducatus Lanc. ii, 242; Sabden Hey alias Heyhouses.
  • 11. Lay Subs. Lancs. bdle. 131, no. 274. An earlier John Holliday or Halliday of Heyhouses was a juror between 1514 and 1533; Whalley Act Bk. (Chet. Soc.).
  • 12. Note by Dr. Laycock. Roger Nowell was plaintiff in 1602; Ducatus Lanc. iii, 469. Some of the depositions in the various disputes were printed by Dr. Laycock in the Burnley Express of Oct.-Nov. 1898. They arose from doubts as to whether Heyhouses was in the forest or not.
  • 13. Dr. Laycock. There was a dispute between Halliday and Nowell respecting lands in Heyhouses; Lancs. and Ches. Rec. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), ii, 245. John Halliday was assessed to the subsidy of 1626 for his land; Lay Subs. Lancs. bdle. 131, no. 317.
  • 14. Royalist Comp. Papers (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), iii, 249; Cal. Com. for Comp. i, 538.
  • 15. Land tax returns at Preston.
  • 16. Information of Mr. Howsin.
  • 17. 'Honor of Clitheroe' MS. (in possession of W. Farrer) 57.
  • 18. Lay Subs. Lancs. bdle. 250, no. 9.