A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 8. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1914.
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The parish is pleasantly situated on the eastern side of Morecambe Bay. The surface is level near the shore, varied by a number of little knolls or holmes, but rises in a succession of hills on going inland. The area is 8,015½ acres, and in 1901 there was a population of 2,037.
The history of the place is destitute of any very noteworthy event. There is a record of the transfer of the township of Carnforth from this parish, to which it belongs physically as the Keer is the natural boundary, to the parish of Warton. The change took place before the interdict of 1208. (fn. 1) The northern insurgents in the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536 assembled on Kellet Moor, and the Jacobite army in 1745 passed through the parish. The physical condition of the bay and its shore has undergone many transformations, which still continue, from natural or artificial causes. One violent change took place in 1677, as is narrated below, and recent alterations though gradual make great differences in the course of time.
The crossing of the sands from Hest Bank to Kent's Bank on the north shore, (fn. 2) which was once the usual thoroughfare for traffic, has now almost ceased, though guides are still appointed. Probably there were other crossings from Bolton and from Silverdale, for 'chantries' are said to have existed at these places as well as at Hest Bank. (fn. 3) They may have been little wayside oratories where travellers might pray or return thanks before or after the dangerous journey 'over sands.'
The following account of the crossing was written when the tour of the Lakes was a novelty. After directing the traveller from Lancaster to set out with the Ulverston carriers or else take a guide, the writer says:—
On a fine day there is not a more pleasant seaside ride in the kingdom. On the right, a bold shore, deeply indented in some places and opening into bays in others; valleys that stretch far into the country, bounded on each side by hanging grounds, cut into inclosures, interspersed with groves and woods, adorned with sequestered cots, farms, villages, churches and castles; mountains behind mountains, and others again just seen over them, close the fore scene. . . . At entering on the sands, to the left Heysham point rises abruptly, and the village hangs on its side in a beautiful manner. Over a vast extent of sands Piel Castle, the ancient bulwark of the bay, rears its venerable head above the tide. In front appears a fine sweep of country sloping to the south. To the right Warton Crag presents itself in a bold style. . . . Grounds bearing from the eye for many a mile, variegated in every pleasing form by woods and rocks, are terminated by cloud-topped Ingleborough.
A little further, on the same hand, another vale opens to the sands and shows a broken ridge of rocks, and beyond them groups of mountains towering to the sky. Castlesteads, a pyramidal hill that rises above the station at Kendal, is now in sight. At the bottom of the bay stands Arnside Tower, once a mansion of the Stanleys. The Cartmel coast, now as you advance, becomes more pleasing. Betwixt that and Silverdale Nab, a mountain of naked grey rock, is a great break in the coast, and through the opening the River Kent rolls its waters to join the tide. In the mouth of the estuary are two beautiful conical isles, clothed with wood and sweet verdure. As you advance toward them they seem to change their position, and hence often vary their appearance.
At the same time a grand view opens of the Westmorland mountains, tumbled about in a most surprising manner. At the head of the estuary, under a beautiful green hill, Heversham village and church appear in fine perspective. To the north Whitbarrow Scar, a huge arched and banded cliff, of an immense height, shows its storm-beaten front. The intermediate space is a mixture of rocks and woods and cultivated patches, that form a romantic view. At the side of the Eau [eea] or river of the sands, a guide on horseback, called the carter, is in waiting to conduct passengers over the ford. The priory of Cartmel was charged with this important office and had synodals and Peter pence allowed towards its maintenance. Since the dissolution of the priory it is held by patent of the Duchy of Lancaster, and the salary, £20 per annum, is paid by the Receiver-General. (fn. 4)
A full account of the present conditions is given in the Endowed Charities Report for Ulverston issued in 1901. The average number crossing the Kent Sands in the latter half of 1899 was two persons daily.
The parish contributed as follows to the county lay of 1624, which was based on the old' fifteenth': Bolton, £3 14s. 9¾d.; Slyne-with Hest, £1 4s. 8¼d.; Nether Kellet, 11s. 3¼d.; Over Kellet, £1 11s. 6½d.; making a total of £7 2s. 3¾d. towards each £100 required from Lonsdale. (fn. 5)
The bounds of the parish were perambulated in 1819, beginning at Meresbeck on the border of Carnforth. (fn. 6)
The following is the present distribution of the agricultural land of the parish (fn. 7):—
|Arable land ac.||Permanent grass ac.||Woods and plantations ac.|
The church of ST. MICHAEL (fn. 8) or HOLY TRINITY stands at the south end of the village and consists of a chancel 22 ft. 6 in. by 21 ft. with north aisle 9 ft. 6 in. wide, nave 72 ft. 9 in. by 21 ft., with north aisle 15 ft. wide, south porch, and west tower 12 ft. 6 in. by 13 ft., all these measurements being internal. There is also a vestry to the north of the chancel aisle. The nave arcade and the west tower are practically all of the old church now left, and are of late 15thcentury date; the extent of the church remains much the same as at that period with the exception that the north aisle has been widened and the chancel probably lengthened about 8 ft. The original arrangement of the chancel and nave seems to have been altered, the wide pier now between the first and second bays of the nave from the east having apparently originally marked the beginning of the chancel, which would then consist of two bays of equal width. When the chancel was lengthened the size of the building was not increased, its western bay being thrown into the nave, giving it its present rather disproportionate length. (fn. 9) The church, however, has undergone so much rebuilding and restoration in the 19th century that it is somewhat difficult to state exactly what the 15th-century building was like, nearly everything in the structure except the parts already mentioned being modern. In 1813 the nave was rebuilt, (fn. 10) and in 1827 a wide transept was erected on the north side, the third pier of the nave from the west being removed for the purpose and two arches thrown into one. In 1836 the door of the south porch was walled up and the tower door made the main entrance, and in 1846 the east wall was taken down and a new chancel built. The nave roof was opened out in the following year, a flat ceiling being removed and the building otherwise much improved. Another restoration was carried out in 1880, when the north aisle was widened, the transept pulled down, the gallery removed, (fn. 11) the destroyed pier of the arcade replaced and the two former arches rebuilt, the vestry and a new south porch erected, and pointed windows chiefly of four lights with perpendicular tracery inserted in the south wall of the nave in place of the original square-headed lights. The present south wall is that built in 1813, and covered with roughcast, and the building has slated roofs with overhanging eaves, the roof of the chancel being lower, but of steeper pitch, than that of the nave. The porch is of oak on a stone base. (fn. 12)
The chancel has a three-light modern east window with two pointed windows each of two lights on the south side. On the north it is open to the aisle by two arches of two chamfered orders, of unequal width, the easternmost one being only 6 ft. 6 in. wide, springing from a modern pier and moulded corbel on the east. The walls throughout the church are plastered, and the chancel arch and all the fittings are modern. The reredos is of alabaster, erected in 1898 in memory of the Rev. J. D. Grimke. The east end of the aisle is used as a clergy vestry, and the west end is occupied by the organ. The aisle is divided from that of the nave by a stone arch.
The nave is of five bays with a north arcade of pointed arches of two chamfered orders springing from octagonal piers with moulded capitals and bases and from a similar respond at the west end, two of the arches and one of the piers, as already mentioned, having been rebuilt in 1880. The aisle is lit by square-headed windows of two, three and four lights, and has a plaster barrel-vaulted ceiling under a separate gabled roof. The roof of the nave is a modern one of open timber divided into nine bays. (fn. 13)
The tower, which is 61 ft. high and appears very lofty in proportion to the height of the building, is built of large dressed sandstone blocks with moulded plinth, and has a projecting vice in the south-east corner, and diagonal angle buttresses on the west side of seven stages going the full height to the embattled parapet. The west doorway has a four-centred arch with double hollow-chamfered jambs and head and external hood mould, and the west window is of three lights and similar in detail. Above the window and on the other three sides the wall is quite plain up to the belfry windows, and the internal stages are unmarked by any string course or other moulding. There is a clock dial on each side, and on the north and south small square-headed openings to the ringing chamber. (fn. 14) The belfry windows are of three lights similar in detail to the west window of the tower, and have stone louvres. The tower arch is of two chamfered orders dying into the wall at the springing, the lower stage of the tower, which is used as a baptistery, and the walls of which show the bare rubble masonry, being open to the church. The floor of the baptistery is 15 in. below that of the nave, and the font is modern.
On the north side of the chancel, under the easternmost arch, is a large stone slab to the memory of Robert Cole (d. 1642), with his arms and crest in the dexter top corner, and an inscription in good 17th-century round lettering which records that 'it is supposed that he lived above 100 yeares.' On the north wall of the chancel aisle, behind the organ, and now difficult to see, is a brass to Thomas Cole of Beaumont Cote, who died in 1691, with a long inscription recording his virtues and attainments: 'he was a Person of comely presence & Deportment & of so great Endowmts of mind yt 3 successive Kings thought him worthy of ye trust and authority of a Magistrate. . . .' (fn. 15)
There are three bells, the oldest of which is inscribed in black-letter characters, 'Haec Campana sacra fiat Trinitate Beatamacr;,' and bears the founders' mark of Our Lord Crucified and a growing lily. It is probably of 15th-century date. The treble is a recasting by Samuel Smith of York in 1724 and is inscribed 'Gloria in Altissimis Deo'; and the middle one was recast at Wigan in 1694, probably from a pre-Reformation bell, and bears the inscription, 'In Dulcedine vocis cantabo tuo nomine.'
The silver plate consists of a chalice of 1725 inscribed 'Bolton-le-Sands in Com. Lanc. 1725' (fn. 16); a chalice of 1851 of similar pattern and with the same inscription given by Robert Green Bradley of Slyne House; and a breadholder of Newcastle make, without inscription. There is also a plated flagon and paten. (fn. 17)
The registers begin in 1653. Terriers (fn. 18) of 1728 and 1778 are preserved at the church; they give details of the vicarage-house, glebe lands, small tithes, mortuaries and other dues. The tithe map is kept at the church.
The church existed in 1094., having an endowment of half a plough-land, and was then given to St. Martin's Abbey at Sées by Count Roger of Poitou. (fn. 19) The half plough-land was the rectorial manor. Disputes afterwards arose between the monks and the Archdeacon of Richmond as to this and other churches in his archdeaconry, and in 1246 a compromise was made by which they surrendered all their right in Bolton Church—including the patronage and a pension of 3 marks from it—in return for the archdeacon's consent to their appropriation of a mediety of the church of Poulton-le-Fylde. (fn. 20) Bolton was then (1250) ordered to be annexed to the archdeaconry. (fn. 21) This arrangement was not carried out at once, but in 1336 a vicarage was ordained there. (fn. 22) On the creation of the diocese of Chester by Henry VIII the rectory and advowson of Bolton, as appropriated to the archdeaconry, became part of the possessions of the new see. (fn. 23) Since the division of Chester diocese in 1847 the Bishop of Manchester collates to the vicarage. (fn. 24)
The benefice was not taxed in 1291 because of the appropriation, but in 1341 the ninth of sheaves, &c., was returned as worth £10 6s. (fn. 25) This was for the rectory. In 1527 the rectory was considered to be worth £30 a year and the vicarage £10 (fn. 26); but in 1535 the value of the latter was estimated at £4. 15s. (fn. 27) The rectory and manor were usually let on lease. In 1650 Sir Henry Compton, a Royalist, had held them, but they had been sequestered and let out to farm at £310 a year; the vicar's income was about £20 a year, including the vicarage-house and 17 acres of glebe, but it had been augmented by £100 a year out of Sir Henry's sequestrated estate. (fn. 28) The value of the vicarage had by 1717 increased to £28 3s. 4d., this including a pension of £6 13s. 4d. out of the rectory. (fn. 29) This pension was changed to a tithe-rent charge of £94 17s. 8d. in 1881. (fn. 30) The net value is now given as £220. (fn. 31)
|Instituted||Name||Patron||Cause of Vacancy|
|—||Simon (fn. 32)||—||—|
|c. 1216||Henry (fn. 33)||—||—|
|c. 1226||Roger de Derby (fn. 34)||—||—|
|oc. 1250||John de Mortonteri (fn. 35)||—||—|
|c. 1254||John le Romeyn (fn. 36)||—||—|
|30 Apr. 1286||Thomas de Castroforti (fn. 37)||Abp. of York||prom. J. le Romeyn|
|—||John Roud (fn. 38)||—||—|
|? 1328.||Thomas de Woodhouse (fn. 39)||—||—|
|19 July 1336||Hugh de Tunstall (fn. 40)||Archdeacon of Richmond||—|
|oc. 1349||John Rylyng (fn. 41)||—||—|
|oc. 1366–77||Adam de Kirkham (fn. 42)||—||—|
|—||Thomas de Catterick (fn. 43)||—||—|
|12 July 1398||Roger de Catterick||Archdeacon of Richmond||res. T. de Catterick|
|12 Jan. 1399–1400||Thomas Toller (fn. 44)||"||res. R. de Catterick|
|14 Aug. 1414||William Eslake||"||res. T. Toller|
|29 Oct. 1424||John Gressingham||"||res. W. Eslake|
|31 Oct. 1427||Richard Gressingham (fn. 45)||"||res. J. Gressingham|
|9 July 1440||Edmund Southworth (fn. 46)||"||d. R. Gressingham|
|oc. 1474||Richard Garth (fn. 47)||—||—|
|oc. 1535||Roger Otway (fn. 48)||—||—|
|1561||Richard Godsalfe (fn. 49)||Christopher Bland||d. R. Otway|
|15 July 1566||James Baines (fn. 50)||James Otway||d. R. Godsalfe|
|7 Apr. 1587||George Chichley (fn. 51)||Bp. of Chester||—|
|27 Feb. 1587–8||John Ashworth (fn. 52)||"||—|
|1591||William Owborne, M.A. (fn. 53)||"||—|
|16 Apr. 1613||Talbot Porter, M.A. (fn. 54)||"||d. W. Owborne|
|4 May 1618||Miles Dawson, M.A. (fn. 55)||"||d. Tobias (sic) Porter|
|oc. 1639||Charles Knott (fn. 56)||—||—|
|23 Mar. 1640–1||Richard Collingwood (fn. 57)||—||[d. C. Knott]|
|? 1644||John Jacques (fn. 58)||—||—|
|28 Nov. 1660||William Ainsworth (fn. 59)||Bp. of Chester||d. last incumbent|
|7 Nov. 1664||Martin Briggs, M.A. (fn. 60)||"||—|
|1 Aug. 1688||Thomas Garforth, B.A. (fn. 61)||Bp. of Chester||—|
|18 Nov. 1690||John Sparke, B.A. (fn. 62)||"||—|
|27 Aug. 1703||William Barton, B.A. (fn. 63)||"||res. J. Sparke|
|11 Apr. 1706||Francis Bryer, B.A. (fn. 64)||"||res. W. Barton|
|11 Jan. 1732–3||Richard Thompson||"||d. F. Bryer|
|16 Dec. 1740||Felix O'Neill (fn. 65)||"||d. R. Thompson|
|26 June 1769||James Thomas, B.A. (fn. 66)||"||d. F. O'Neill|
|11 Mar. 1824||Robert Gibson, M.A. (fn. 67)||"||d. J. Thomas|
|10 Nov. 1826|
|1874||Alfred Birley, M.A. (fn. 68)||Bp. of Manchester||d. R. Gibson|
|1890||St. Vincent Beechey, M.A. (fn. 69)||"||res. A. Birley|
|1 Oct. 1899||Arthur Roger Tomlinson, M.A. (fn. 70)||"||res. St. V. Beechey|
The vicar of Bolton and the curate of Kellet seem to have been the only clergy in the parish before the Reformation as well as later, for, though chantries of Bolton and Hest are mentioned, (fn. 71) nothing seems to be known of them beyond a statement in 1564 that lands with a rent of 14s. 10d. had been formerly given to the use of ' Our Lady's Priest ... to say Our Lady's mass' at the parish church. (fn. 72)
A free school was founded at Bolton in 1619. (fn. 73)
Official inquiries were made into the charities of the parish in 1826 and 1899; the report of the latter includes a reprint of the old one. In addition to the school the benefactions for the poor are numerous and valuable; some are applied to apprenticing children, some are given in money gifts, but most in food, fuel or clothing. (fn. 74)
For the whole parish Thomas Greene in 1809 bequeathed £100 for a Sunday distribution of bread to poor persons attending the parish church, preference to be given to those living in Slyne-with-Hest. The capital is invested in consols, and the income of £5 10s. a year is used as intended, twenty-eight loaves being given every Sunday morning to about four recipients. Members of the Chambers family of Halton are stated to have given small annual sums for the poor, but these had been lost by 1826. John Sparling in 1796 left £150 for a Christmastide distribution; the capital was invested in consols and produces £6 8s. 8d. a year, given in sums of 2s. 6d. to 6s.; the township of Over Kellet has never participated in this charity. Thomas Sandham of Rugby in 1882 left £100 railway stock, the interest of which was to be divided equally each half-year between four needy men over sixty years of age and not earning more than 16s. a week; this is carried out accordingly.
For the township of Bolton there is an ancient rent-charge of 20s. on a field at Thwaite Brow, called Poor Thwaite, given to the poor in sums of 2s. each on St. Andrew's Day. Robert Mayor in 1705 left a rent-charge of 20s. on lands in Quernmore for apprenticing poor boys or for the poor; the charge was in 1878 redeemed and is now represented by £33 consols, producing 18s. 4d. a year. As there are now no candidates for apprenticeship the income is given in doles. Richard Sparling Berry in 1837 left money to reward 'such poor honest and industrious persons ... as should without parochial relief or assistance meritoriously educate their children and train them in the path of piety and honesty.' The endowment is represented by £383 consols, yielding £10 10s. 4d. a year; this is given in sums of 2s. 6d. to 10s. 9d. to parents of children attending the school. Thomas Sandford of Liverpool, a native of Bolton, left £1,500 for food and clothing for the poor residing ' in or near' Bolton-le-Sands. The capital is invested in railway debentures and yields £61 8s. a year; distributions of coal and clothing worth 15s. to 30s. are made in February and October yearly. Edmund Jackson in 1877 left Ivy Bank House to secure a Christmas distribution of £10 worth of coal to the poor; the remainder of the rent, after providing a reserve fund and repairs, was to be given in bedding or clothing. (fn. 75)
Elizabeth Bradley in 1838, in fulfilment of the desire of her mother Margaret Bradley, gave £300 consols to provide coal or fuel for poor householders of Slyne-with-Hest; and by her will of 1869 left £600 consols for blankets and winter clothing. These funds now produce £8 5s. 4d. and £16 10s. 8d. respectively, used according to the donor's intention. A sum of 2s. 6d. a year is paid from the Scargill estate at Halton to the oldest deserving poor widow of Slyne; the origin of this payment is unknown. The township owns two cottages, the rents of which go to general purposes; the origin of the ownership is unknown in this case also.
In Nether Kellet John Rippon in 1713 left a rentcharge of 10s. from the rent of a piece of land called Shaw Lanes Head for the poorest families. In 1826 it was found that the owner, Thomas Butler Cole, had refused to pay, and the gift was lost. One Lodge (fn. 76) left £20 for clothing for the poor; this with other sums (fn. 77) was used to buy a piece of land, known as the Poor Field, which now yields a rent of £6. Clothing is distributed every two years. Elizabeth Bateson in 1886 left a sum of money yielding £4 8s. 10d. a year to supply the children attending the Congregational Sunday School with Bibles, &c.