A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 7. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1912.
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This small parish, definitely separated from Poulton in the 17th century, has become distinguished by the growth of Blackpool into a leading place among seaside pleasure resorts. The area is 3,983 acres, and the population in 1901 numbered 40,674, of whom all but a thousand were within the borough of Blackpool.
The Pool or the Blackpool in Layton often occurs in 17th-century documents (fn. 1); it was a peaty-coloured pool of water, discharging by a little stream which ran into the sea south of Fox Hall, (fn. 2) a mansion of the Tyldesleys of Myerscough erected about 1660 (fn. 3) and still standing in part. (fn. 4) About 1730 the place began to be a local sea-bathing resort in the summer time, (fn. 5) but William Hutton's description of his visit to it in 1788 made it known through a much larger part of the country. (fn. 6) At that time about fifty houses were scattered along a mile of the sea bank from Fox Hall northward, and the visitors numbered about 400 in the height of the season. They were largely from Manchester. The attractions were then as now the beach, the breeze and the bathing. Amusements were provided by strolling players who gave performances in a barn. (fn. 7) The development of the place was hindered by the selfish policy of house-owners who objected to the building of new dwellings lest their existing houses should suffer for lack of visitors, (fn. 8) and by defective communication, the only approach being from Preston by roads unfit for vehicles. (fn. 9)
A 'commodious public room,' furnished with books, magazines and papers, was erected about 1800. (fn. 10) A free school was built in 1817 (fn. 11) and a chapel of ease to Bispham in 1821. (fn. 12) About 1825 there were three coaches to Preston daily and a daily postal delivery. (fn. 13) An outbreak of cholera in 1832 raised the reputation of Blackpool, which was quite free from the plague. (fn. 14) The Preston and Wyre railway brought passengers to Poulton in 1840, and six years later a branch line was formed to Blackpool itself; a second and more direct line through Lytham was opened in 1861, and a third, through Marton, in 1903 for the summer traffic.
These facilities have brought a continuously increasing number of visitors, and improvements in the town itself have kept pace with the requirements of the times. In 1847 water was supplied by the Fylde Waterworks Company—since 1898 taken over by a public board—and in 1853 gas was introduced by the local board. The electric light is now used in the principal streets. An electric tramway was opened in 1885. The Parade or Promenade along the sea front, one of the original features of the place, was extended and improved in 1870, when a formal opening took place. More recently it has been further extended and greatly increased in width, and now has a length of over 3 miles. The North Pier was opened in 1863, the Central Pier in 1868 and Victoria Pier, South Shore, in 1893. (fn. 15) The tower, which was formed in 1891 and rises about 500 ft. from the ground, and the great wheel, about 200 ft. in diameter, 1896, are other popular attractions. Raikes Hall, first built about 1760, (fn. 16) and the residence of the Hornbys from 1834 to 1860, was for that time the principal mansion. It was afterwards used in various ways, the grounds becoming pleasure gardens. Claremont Park was formed in 1862. There are theatres and opera houses, winter gardens and other places of amusement; also markets, hospitals, technical school and free libraries. The cemetery, north-east of the town, was opened in 1873.
South Shore, formerly a separate village to the south of Blackpool, (fn. 17) has shared in the growth of the latter, and now forms one town with it.
The agricultural land remaining in the parish is thus occupied (fn. 18):—
|Arable land ac.||Permanent grass ac.||Woods and plantations ac.|
|Bispham and Norbreck||200½||946||1|
The county lay fixed in 1624 provided that Bispham and Norbreck should pay £2 3s. 4d. and Layton with Warbreck £2 6s. 6½d. when £100 was levied upon Amounderness. (fn. 19) The more ancient fifteenth required £1 5s. 4d. and £1 7s. 2½d. respectively, showing the same relative valuation. (fn. 20)
The early history of the church or ALL HALLOWS (fn. 21) is obscure. It appears to have been a parish church reduced to the condition of a chapel after its grant to Lancaster Priory. (fn. 22) A chapelry it remained until the 17th century, being so described in the Church Survey of 1650. (fn. 23) Both before and afterwards Bispham is found more or less clearly recognized as an independent parish, (fn. 24) and one Richard Higginson, citizen of London, 'out of a pious sense of the great blindness of the parishioners,' having rebuilt the church, offered in 1658 to provide a free school and to settle £40 a year 'towards the maintenance of such godly and painful preacher of the Gospel as shall be from time to time settled there.' (fn. 25) The church appears to have been but irregularly served, either then or after the Restoration, when it again became a chapel under Poulton, being so described at the bishop's visitation in 1677. Ten years later, however, it was called 'the parish church of Bispham.' (fn. 26) No Act of Parliament seems to have been obtained.
That the patron of Poulton concurred in, or more probably obtained the separation which gave him an additional piece of patronage, is shown by the gifts of Richard Fleetwood, which in 1717 constituted the greater part of the endowment. The certified income at that time was only £8 a year. (fn. 27) The present income is said to be £200 a year. (fn. 28) Mr. C. H. Fleetwood-Hesketh is the patron.
The church stands at the north end of the village, and is a stone building erected in 1883 on the foundations (fn. 29) of an older structure. It consists of chancel, with organ chamber on the north and vestry on the south side, wide aisleless nave, south porch and west tower. The building is of a rather plain Gothic style with rough stone facings and blue slated roof, and the tower, which is 61 ft. high, has angle pinnacles. No authentic record has been preserved of the old church, but that a structure of some importance stood here in the 12 th century is evident from the Norman doorway which still remains within the south porch. The church as rebuilt by Richard Higginson is said to have consisted of a chancel, (fn. 30) nave, south porch and a low but strong west tower and to have been constructed of red sandstone from Furness It had a double gabled roof supported at the junction of the gables by a row of black oak croob, or piers down the centre, (fn. 31) and the east window was of three narrow lights. The pews were of black oak, and there was a gallery at the west end. This building, however, was unroofed and gutted in 1773, practically only the tower and the Norman arch being left untouched, and a new wide aisleless nave erected. The chancel seems at the same time to have been either curtailed or pulled down altogether. The 18th-century church finally gave place in 1883 to the present building. No sufficient evidence exists to enable us to trace the development of the old plan, but the position of the tower, which is considerably to the south of the centre line of the nave, suggests that the mediaeval building was a narrow aisleless church, occupying approximately the south half of the present nave, its south wall being in the same position. The position of the Norman door further suggests that the mediaeval church was largely a rebuilding of the 12th-century one, a tower being added on the west end, and in later times the structure being enlarged northward by a widening of the nave. During the demolition of 1883 the head of a three-light window, apparently belonging to the 17th-century building, was found in one of the walls, and it is now built into the north wall of the porch. The Norman arch appears to have stood untouched till 1883, when it was pulled down, the stones numbered, and rebuilt again in its original position. It had been long covered with whitewash, and when this was removed it was discovered that the stones forming the middle order had carved upon them the signs of the Zodiac. (fn. 32) The crab, the bull, the virgin could be easily recognized, the scales and the scorpion were less distinct, and the rest were almost defaced. The arch consists of three orders, the inner one being quite plain and the outer carved with the cheveron ornament. The two outer orders spring from circular shafts with cushion capitals and moulded bases. Unfortunately in the rebuilding the whole of the stonework was rechiselled and the Zodiacal carving was entirely recut. (fn. 33)
An ancient stoup of roughly hewn stone, which for many yean lay in the churchyard, has been built into the north wall of the tower in the interior, and on the north wall of the nave are four 18th-century brasses to members of the Veale family of Whinney Heys, and a chest in the vestry has the initials of the four churchwardens, together with the figure 12, probably for 1712. (fn. 34)
The plate consists of a chalice of 1608, inscribed 'The gift of Ann, daughter to John Bamber, to ye churche of All Hallows in Bispham. Delivered by John Corrit 1704'; a silver-gilt chalice of Sheffield make, 1908, and a plated paten and flagon.
The register of baptisms begins in 1599, but after 1603 nearly thirty years are missing, after which the entries continue till 1652, and are then wanting till 1661. They are also missing between October 1670 and June 1672. There is no register of marriages till 1632, and between 1645 and 1697 only one marriage is recorded. The burials begin in 1632, but are missing between 1651 and 1678. (fn. 35) The first five volumes (1599–1754) have been printed. (fn. 36)
The churchyard has been twice enlarged, on the north-west in 1888 and on the south-west in 1902. On the south side is a sundial on a stone shaft, which is probably a portion of the old churchyard cross. It stands on two steps, the lower one of which is circular and the second octagonal on plan. The plate bears the date 1704, together with the motto 'Die dies Truditur,' and the name of John Hull and that of the maker, Jon Heblethwaite. John Hull was probably the donor of the dial, the initials I.H. being carved on the north side of the stone shaft. On the west side, nearer the bottom, are the initials R.B. roughly cut in an upright position. (fn. 37)
The following have been curates (fn. 38) and vicars or rectors:—
|oc. 1598||Michael Rigmaiden (fn. 39)|
|oc. 1610||— Walkden (fn. 40)|
|oc. 1614||Robert Brodbelt (fn. 41)|
|oc. 1634–44||Robert Freckleton (fn. 42)|
|oc. 1646||John Sumpner (fn. 43)|
|oc. 1648||John Fisher (fn. 44)|
|oc. 1651–4||John Berkeley (fn. 45)|
|? 1674||Robert Wayte (fn. 46)|
|1690||Thomas Riley (fn. 47)|
|1692||Thomas Sollom (fn. 48)|
|1693||Jonathan Hayton (fn. 49)|
|? 1725||Christopher Albin, B.A. (fn. 50) (Brasenose Coll., Oxf.)|
|1753||Roger Freckleton, M.A. (fn. 51) (Emmanuel Coll., Camb.)|
|1760||Ashton Werden, LL.B. (fn. 52) (T.C.D.)|
|1767||John Armetriding, B.A. (Trinity Coll., Camb.)|
|1791||William Elston, B.A. (fn. 53) (Brasenose Coll., Oxf.)|
|1831||Charles Hesketh, M.A. (fn. 54) (Trinity Coll., Oxf.)|
|1837||Bennett Williams, B.A. (fn. 55) (Queen's Coll., Oxf.)|
|1850||Henry Powell (fn. 56)|
|1857||William Abraham Mocatta, M.A. (fn. 57) (T.C.D.)|
|1861||James Leighton (fn. 58)|
|1874||Charles Stead Hope, M.A. (fn. 59) (Sidney Sussex Coll., Camb.)|
|1876||Francis John Dickson, M.A. (fn. 60) (Trinity Coll., Camb.)|
|1885||George Leighton, M.A. (Dur.)|
The school above named, which was not the first, (fn. 61) was founded in 1659. (fn. 62) Provided by a Puritan, it is noteworthy that it was in 1689 licensed as a meeting-place for Presbyterians. (fn. 63) They probably obtained another building, the existence of which was remembered in 1837. (fn. 64)
The Wesleyans and the Congregationalists (fn. 65) now have churches within the township of Bispham.
Apart from educational and religious benefactions the only charities (fn. 66) endowed are the Foxton Dispensary and the Victoria Hospital, both of recent foundation in Blackpool. The former is due to a bequest of £6,000 in 1878 by Mrs. Catherine Dauntesey Foxton of Agecroft Hall; the dispensary in Clifton Street, Blackpool, is for the benefit of the poor of the borough and of the parish of Poulton. The endowment fund of the hospital amounted to £5,422 in 1898.