A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 8. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1914.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
HALTON (fn. 1)
Halton extends for over 5 miles along the north bank of the Lune, the western limit being marked by the point where Howgill Beck joins the river. For much of the length the bank rises rather steeply from the river, and is clad with trees, so that the view is always pleasant, and often, as at the far-famed Crook of Lune, is beautiful. At this point the river bends south for a quarter of a mile or more to turn round a narrow projecting eminence, and then turns north and west again; the banks on each side are here well timbered. Generally the hilly surface rises towards the north and east, 300, 400 and 500 ft. above sea level being attained at various points near the northern border; but there are numerous valleys, some with woods, down which run becks to join the Lune. The area of the township and parish is 3,913½ acres, (fn. 2) and it had a population of 892 in 1901.
Halton village, with the parish church, hall, castle mound, and St. Wilfrid's Well, (fn. 3) stands beside the river, about a mile and a half from the western boundary. Here Cote Beck joins the Lune. To the east are the mills, now used as a leather cloth manufactory; formerly they were cotton mills. Northwest of the village is Strellas, and over a mile to the north is Stub Hall. Carus Lodge (fn. 4) and Shefferlands (fn. 5) are modern houses. Some distance to the east of the village, in a little clough, is Halton Green, and after passing round the hill to the north-east Halton Park, (fn. 6) in another clough, is reached, with Hawkshead on the further side of it. Still further north-east Lower Highfield, Middle Highfield and Far Highfield are found in turn, being separated by intervals of half a mile each. Another half-mile eastward is situated Aughton hamlet with its church. To the north of it are Sidegarth and the moor.
The principal road is that from Lancaster northeast to Kirkby Lonsdale. It goes along near the river bank till Halton village is reached, a minor road to Kellet branching off to the north; after passing the village its course is inland and upward, past the former moorland. From the village one road goes west to Hest Bank; another south, crossing the Lune by a bridge at the end of which, in Quernmore, is Halton railway station; and a third goes east to Halton Green, and then, turning to the south, crosses the river by a stone bridge (fn. 7) close to the Crook of Lune, and so leads to Caton village. From the principal roads several minor roads go north to Nether and Over Kellet, while another branches off to the east to pass through Aughton towards Gressingham. There are various footpaths; one goes by the river-side for a considerable distance; another goes from Halton Park through the Highfields to Aughton; and from Aughton Church a third goes to Sidegarth. The railway from Lancaster crosses the narrow promontory above described, about a furlong of the line being within Halton; there are in consequence two bridges over the Lune.
Though the remains of an ancient cross in the churchyard have a special interest to the antiquary, (fn. 8) and though before the Conquest Halton was the head of a great lordship, the history of the place is uneventful. The chief foresters of Lancaster had it for their principal manor, but from about 1290, when the Gernet inheritance passed to the Dacre family, the lords of the place do not seem to have resided there. Their manor-house was burnt down in 1322 by the devastating Scots, and it is uncertain whether or not it was ever restored. The rectors, also, who in the absence of the Dacres would be the most influential men in the parish, were often perhaps non-resident, serving the church by curates. Thus the people had only the quiet existence of a rural district.
When the Carus family purchased the manor they made it their residence. They seem to have obtained the old rectory-house and to have turned it into their dwelling-place. (fn. 9) Being hostile to the Reformation for several generations, they also had little influence and fell into decay. The Jacobite army in 1715 passed through the parish on the way to Lancaster.
Agriculture was and is the chief industry of the inhabitants, but there are several residential estates, and some manufactures, as mentioned above, have existed for a century or more. (fn. 10) The soil is loam with gravel subsoil; there are 217 acres of arable land, 3,032½ of permanent grass and 250 of woods and plantations. (fn. 11)
By the county lay of 1624 Halton had to pay £1 15s. 11¼d. when the hundred was called upon to raise £100. (fn. 12)
The Aughton Pudding Feast (fn. 13) was held last century, but has now been discontinued.
Before the Conquest HALTON appears to have been a place of considerable importance, and in 1066 was the head of a fee or lordship held by Earl Tostig, the brother of King Harold. It was then assessed as six ploughlands, (fn. 16) afterwards reduced to three. As Count Roger of Poitou and his successors preferred Lancaster, the prominence of Halton was lost, but it became the chief manor of the extensive though scattered fee of the chief forester of the honour. (fn. 17) This fee was in the 12th century held by the Gernet family, (fn. 18) and in 1212 Roger Gernet held the fee of one knight by the office of forester. (fn. 19) Ten years later, though much had been granted out, he held the three plough-lands in Halton by serving as chief forester throughout the county. (fn. 20) He died in 1252, being then described as 'forester of fee to keep vert and venison in the forest of Lancaster.' The issues of the forest were valued at 64s. 3d. yearly, and when a forge was raised in the forest Roger's share of the iron was worth 9s. a year. In virtue of his office he held of the king the three plough-lands in Halton, one of them pertaining to the church, of which Roger had the advowson; there were two water corn mills and one fulling mill. He also had the moiety of the Lune fishery at that part of the river. He was succeeded by his son Benedict, then of full age. (fn. 21)
Benedict Gernet (fn. 22) in 1280 surrendered his tenement to Edmund lord of Lancaster in order that the tenure might be modified; thenceforward Halton and the other manors were to be held of the earl by the fourth part of a knight's fee and the rent of £5 yearly. (fn. 23) Soon afterwards, before 1292, (fn. 24) by the marriage of Joan daughter and heir of Benedict (fn. 25) to William de Dacre of Dacre Halton passed to this family, the said William in 1297 holding the fourth part of a fee in Halton and Fishwick. (fn. 26) He obtained a grant of free warren in 1303. (fn. 27) Though the Dacres and their heirs held Halton for about three centuries, (fn. 28) their history belongs to Cumberland and there is little trace of their interest in Lancashire. (fn. 29)
A survey made early in the 16th century recounts the tenure of the manor—viz. by a knight's fee, paying to Lancaster Castle £6 13s. yearly—with its liberties including free warren. A tenant farming a tenement, 'grisland,' or cottage at death owed a heriot to the lord before that due to the church. The tenants were bound to do suit to the lord's mill to the thirteenth measure. (fn. 30) The bounds were defined in 1553; they began on the Lune at Baxtongill at the north-east end, and went north-west by the Standing Stone to Burthryke Beck, then south-west by Swarthbeck by the bolthole in Dunnel Mill dam to Shawsbeck, turning round the west side of the old house of the Stub, and going through Styrleys (Strellas) and by Beaumont Close (cote) to Thevesay Lane, and down this line to Holgill Beck and the Lune. (fn. 31)
In November 1583 Christopher Carus, William Wolfall and William Heysham purchased the manor of Halton, the advowson of the church and various lands from Philip Earl of Arundel and Anne his wife. (fn. 32) A division was probably made, (fn. 33) for Christopher Carus and his descendants held the manor and advowson afterwards. (fn. 34) In the year of his purchase Christopher and his wife Elizabeth were brought before the Ecclesiastical Commission as recusants, but were returned as 'conformed.' (fn. 35) From the subsequent history it is clear that the conformity was only temporary. (fn. 36) Christopher Carus died in 1631 holding the manor of the king as of his duchy by the fourth part of a knight's fee. His son Thomas, then aged fifty years, succeeded. (fn. 37) He was returned as 'a Papist,' (fn. 38) but was too old to take part in the Civil War, though he lived till 1656. (fn. 39) He gave the manor to his son Thomas, who took arms against the Parliament and had his estates sequestered. There was no religious difficulty, for he took the National Covenant in 1646 and at length was admitted to compound at a fine of £467. (fn. 40)
He recorded a pedigree in 1665, his son Christopher being then twenty-eight years old and having a son Thomas, aged three. (fn. 41) From this time, however, there is little to record of the family. (fn. 42) Christopher Carus was regarded as a Jacobite in 1690. (fn. 43) When the Jacobite army reached Kirkby Lonsdale on 6 November 1715, it is related that 'Esquire Carus and his two sons, Thomas and Christopher, all Papists, who lived at Halton Hall, joined them,' and gave information of the unprepared state of Lancaster. (fn. 44) Thomas Carus, Christopher's grandson, (fn. 45) who became a Protestant, (fn. 46) sold the manor to William Bradshaw in 1743. (fn. 47) The purchaser's niece Sarah married Robert Fletcher, rector 1777 to 1795; to her son William Bradshaw the Halton estate was bequeathed in 1774. He took the surname of Bradshaw, and in 1815 was succeeded by his son William Fletcher Bradshaw. Through loss of fortune his estates had to be sold in numerous parcels in 1836. Halton Hall, with the manor, was purchased by John Swainson, and after his death in 1 868 was sold to Major Robert Whitle. The present owner, by purchase from the last-named, is Mr. Edmund Sharpe, who resides at the Hall. (fn. 48) Most of the land has been gradually enfranchised, but a little remains copyhold. Court records from 1743 to the present time are preserved. (fn. 49)
Halton Hall stands close to the right bank of the Lune to the south of the church. It is said to have been built by one of the last of the Carus family on the site of the ancient manor-house of the Dacres, (fn. 50) but this is very doubtful. It has been much altered and modernized and additions were made during the last decade of the 19th century.
Of the other estates in the township but little is on record, (fn. 51) though Stub, (fn. 52) Highfield, Aughton and Sidegarth are mentioned. Furness Abbey had an estate. (fn. 53) Land called the Stub, occupied by Thomas Curwen, and recently belonging to St. Christopher's chantry, was in 1564 sold to Richard Robson. (fn. 54) The freeholders in 1600 (fn. 55) were Thomas Bland (fn. 56) and James Thornton (fn. 57) of Halton Park, Edmund and Thomas Barwick, (fn. 58) Robert Burton (fn. 59) and William Heysham of Highfield, (fn. 60) and Thomas Wolfall of Aughton. There was a dispute as to Sidegarth in 1593. (fn. 61) Edmund Raft died in 1614 holding land in Aughton of the king by the twohundredth part of a knight's fee. (fn. 62) The Crofts of Claughton had land in Aughton. (fn. 63)
An inclosure award was made in 1800, (fn. 64) an Act for the purpose having been passed in 1797.
There was until 1858 a peculiar jurisdiction for granting probate of wills and letters of administration. (fn. 65)
The church of ST. WILFRID (fn. 66) stands at the west end of the village on somewhat precipitous ground on the north bank of the Lune, the high road from Lancaster to Kirkby Lonsdale skirting the churchyard on the south side. The church consists of a chancel 25 ft. by 18 ft. with north organ chamber and vestry, nave 49 ft. 9 in. by 18 ft. 9 in., with north aisle 11 ft. 9 in. wide, south porch with room over, and west tower 12 ft. 10 in. square, all these measurements being internal. With the exception of the tower the whole of the building, which is of yellow sandstone with red tiled roofs and in the style of the 14th century, was erected in 1876–7. (fn. 67) The tower belongs probably to the first half of the 16th century, (fn. 68) but the church (fn. 69) of which it formed part was pulled down in 1792, and a new building in the style of the time, rectangular in plan, without chancel and with large round-headed windows on each side, was erected and stood till 1876. Some fragments of 12th-century masonry, found at the time of the last rebuilding and now built into the walls of the porch, would point to a church on the same site at that period, and the crosses in the churchyard go back to a still earlier date.
The tower is 55 ft. in height, built of rubble with dressed quoins, and has diagonal buttresses of five stages at the west side going up its full height and a projecting vice in the north-east corner. The parapet is embattled and has angle pinnacles, and the belfry windows are square-headed of two segmental lights with hood mould over. The tower was formerly covered with rough-cast, but except on the west and south, where it is covered with ivy, the walling is now bare. The west window is square-headed, of two lights with hood mould, above which is a single pointed light with square label. The west doorway is modern, and the north and south sides are plain except for two small single-light windows on the south side. The tower arch, which was opened out in 1877, is segmental in form and consists of a single chamfered order carried down the jambs to the ground. The line of a former pointed roof shows above the arch. The fragments of two ancient crosses (fn. 70) are preserved under the tower, which is open to the nave and used as a baptistery. The fittings are all modern. The font and cover date from 1848. In the east wall of the porch, the upper story of which is of timber and plaster, are built two fragments of sculptured grave slabs.
The churchyard lies on the south and east sides of the building, and was enlarged in 1872 and 1901, a further extension eastward being made and a lychgate erected in 1907. On the south side stands the Anglo-Saxon cross already described and illustrated. (fn. 71) It was restored and erected in its present position in 1891. The sundial plate which at one time stood on part of the cross shaft (fn. 72) is now mounted on a new pedestal near the porch. It bears the inscription 'For Saint Wilfrite Church at Halton 1635. Pereunt et imputantur.' The gnomon is missing. There is a headstone with a brass to William Richardson of Halton (d. 1691) against the east wall of the chancel, and on the north side of the building is a large stone mausoleum in the classic style of the day, erected to the memory of William Bradshaw of Halton Hall, who died in 1775.
There are three bells, two of which are apparently of pre-Reformation date. The smaller is inscribed in Gothic characters' See. Petre o.p.n.' and the second 'See. Johannes o.p.n.' The large bell is dated 1597, with the inscription in Roman letters: 'Respice finem Maria.'
The plate consists of a chalice of 1697–8 inscribed 'Halton in Comitat Lancaster'; a breadholder and flagon of 1714–15 inscribed 'The Gift of Thomas Withers to Halton Church in Lancashire anno 1715,' with the maker's mark of Edward York; a chalice of 1740–1 made at Newcastle, with the maker's mark I. L.; and a chalice and paten of 1897.
The registers (fn. 73) begin in 1592.
The church may have existed before the Conquest, but the records do not go further back than 1190. (fn. 74) The advowson was appurtenant to the manor until the beginning of the 18th century, when it was sold, and has since passed by descent and sale through many hands. (fn. 75) It was purchased in 1854 by John Hastings of Downpatrick and the present patron is the rector, the Rev. J. H. Hastings.
The value of the rectory in 1291 was estimated at £12, but this was reduced to £3 7s. 3d. owing to the devastation wrought by the Scots in 1322, (fn. 76) and the value of the ninth of sheaves, &c., in 1341 was likewise given as £3 7s. 3d. (fn. 77) In 1527 the benefice was worth 40 marks, (fn. 78) but the clear value in 1535 was recorded as less than this—viz. £20 0s. 6d. (fn. 79) The clear profits of the parsonage were recorded as £80 in 1650, independently of a suit respecting alleged glebe land then in progress (fn. 80); but in 1717 the certified value was much less—viz. £57 17s. 9d. (fn. 81) The net value is now given as £314. (fn. 82)
|Instituted||Name||Patron||Cause of Vacancy|
|c. 1190||Benedict Gernet (fn. 83)||—||—|
|c. 1206||A. (fn. 84)||—||—|
|oc. 1253||Thomas (fn. 85)||—||—|
|oc. 1296–1304||Eustace de Cottesbech (fn. 86)||—||—|
|oc. 1323–9||William de Tatham (fn. 87)||—||—|
|oc. 1352–63||Robert de Killum (fn. 88)||—||—|
|oc. 1376–1407||Thomas de Huyton (fn. 89)||—||—|
|oc. 1419–39||Richard Garth (fn. 90)||—||—|
|oc. 1476–91||Edmund Southworth (fn. 91)||—||—|
|c. 1510||Christopher Cansfield (fn. 92)||—||—|
|c. 1520||John Robinson (fn. 93)||Sir William Dacre||—|
|1 Aug. 1542||Rowland Threlkeld, LL.B. (fn. 94)||William Lord Dacre||d. J. Robinson|
|10 Oct. 1565||William Battie (fn. 95)||Thomas Lord Dacre||d. R. Threlkeld|
|10 Feb. 1570–1||Ambrose Hetherington||Thomas D. of Norfolk||depr. W. Battie|
|30 Nov. 1591||James Thornton||Christopher Carus||d. A. Hetherington|
|Feb. 1605–6||William Sawrey, M.A. (fn. 96)||d. J. Thornton|
|14 Feb. 1609–10||James Redmayne, M.A||William Lord Mounteagle||d. W. Sawrey|
|2 Jan. 1620–1||Daniel Meyre (fn. 97)||Thomas Carus||d. J. Redmayne|
|24 Nov. 1630||Richard Jackson, M.A. (fn. 98)||Henry Parker||res. D. Meyre|
|12 Mar. 1634–5||The king|
|oc. 1644||Thomas Whitehead, M.A. (fn. 99)||—||—|
|25 Feb. 1660–1||Edward Lawrence (fn. 100)||Thomas Carus, jun.||—|
|? 1672||William Winckley, B.D. (fn. 101)||—||—|
|29 June 1677||Thomas Withers, M.A. (fn. 102)||Thomas Butler||d. W. Winckley|
|16 Oct. 1706||George Rishton||Thomas Moor, M.B.||d. T. Withers|
|6 Aug. 1747||Christopher Wetherherd, B.A. (fn. 103)||James Wetherherd||d. G. Rishton|
|1 June 1749||George Wilson, M.A. (fn. 104)||Hastings Wetherherd||d. C. Wetherherd|
|20 Dec. 1762||Christopher Wetherherd, M.A. (fn. 105)||Deborah Wetherherd||res. G. Wilson|
|31 Dec. 1777||Robert Fletcher, B.A. (fn. 106)||Chr. Wetherherd||res. C. Wetherherd|
|10 Apr. 1795||James Stainbank, M.A. (fn. 107)||Wm. Bradshaw Bradshaw||d. R. Fletcher|
|16 May 1825||Thomas Mackreth, D.D. (fn. 108)||Robt. Fletcher Bradshaw||d. J. Stainbank|
|8 Nov. 1870||Samuel Hastings, M.A. (fn. 109)||Samuel Hastings||d. T. Mackreth|
|17 Mar. 1902||David Mathews Thomas, B.A. (fn. 110)||J. H. Hastings||d. S. Hastings|
|2 Nov. 1903||John Harold Hastings, M.A. (fn. 111)||res. D. M. Thomas|
There are no names in the list calling for special notice, though Eustace de Cottesbech was an active royal official and John Robinson was Prior of Lanercost. The normal pre-Reformation staff seems to have been the rector and his curate, but the former was not always resident. After the Reformation the career of William Battie is of some interest, and the exact position of Thomas Whitehead in the Commonwealth period requires to be made clear. In 1706 the churchwardens reported that the rector duly performed his office, wearing a surplice at the reading of divine service and administration of the sacrament, observing holy days, and instructing the youth of the parish in the Church Catechism. (fn. 112)
There was no endowed chantry in the church, but a hermitage of St. Helen existed in the 16th century. (fn. 113)
The chapel at Aughton was probably older than the Reformation, for it was not described as anything new in 1650, but it had no endowment, (fn. 114) and was probably used only occasionally. It was partially endowed by Robert Burton and others in 1697 and later, (fn. 115) and about 1716 was rebuilt by the inhabitants (fn. 116) and called St. George's. The certified income was £24 in 1722. (fn. 117) It was again rebuilt in 1864 and called St. Saviour's. The curacy has been held with the rectory since 1889; the value is given as £120. During the time it was a separate benefice the incumbents were presented by the rector of Halton. The following have been in charge:—
|c. 1720||John Hadwen, B.A. (fn. 118) (Christ's Coll., Camb.)|
|1740||Joseph Nicholson (fn. 119)|
|oc. 1793||Jacob Fletcher|
|1856||Thomas Procter Rigby, M.A. (fn. 120) (St. John's Coll., Camb.)|
A schoolmaster occurs at Halton in 1639, (fn. 121) and an endowment was given about 1700. (fn. 122) The curate of Aughton was, by the terms of Robert Burton's will, obliged to teach school freely. (fn. 123)
Official inquiries were made into the charities of the parish in 1826 and 1898, and the reports of both were printed in 1899. The educational endowments amount to £82 18s. a year; for the poor are sums of 10s. a year due to Thomas Withers, a former rector, (fn. 124) 4s. due to an unknown donor, (fn. 125) and £10 10s. from money bequeathed by Richard Sparling Berry in 1837 for poor persons meritoriously educating and training their children. These sums are distributed in money gifts to the poor.