Townships: Thornham

Pages 173-174

A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 5. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.

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Thorenham, 1243; Tornetun, c. 1230, 1335.

Thornham appears to have been called Thornton also. It measures about 1½ miles from north to south, by about 2 miles across. The area is 1,936 acres. Tandle Hill, the highest point of the hilly surface, nearly 700 ft., is central; there are good views from the summit; the surface descends from it all round, but more particularly towards the south-west, where the level is under 400 ft. The population in 1901 was not returned separately.

The road from Middleton to Rochdale, along which runs a light railway, passes along the western border, having the hamlets of Slattocks and Trub Smithy, formerly Smithy Ford, upon it. Near the eastern border the road from Oldham to Rochdale passes through, having the hamlets of Thornham Hill, Gravel Hole, and Buersill Head upon or near it. There are three cross roads connecting the former roads. Thornham Fold is a hamlet near the centre of the township, and Stake Hill lies to the south-east of Slattocks. The railway and canal from Manchester to Rochdale both cross the extreme south-west corner.

The soil is sandy with a subsoil of clay; the chief crops are wheat and pasture. There is abundance of good coal, and a colliery at Hanging Chadder. Fustian cutting is carried on. At Stake Hill there are bleach works.

In 1666 there were fifty-four hearths assessed to the hearth tax; James Hilton's house had six. (fn. 24)

Thornham has ceased to exist as a township since 1894, when it was divided between Middleton, Royton, and Rochdale. (fn. 25)


As in the case of Pilsworth, there does not seem to have been a manor of THORNHAM, the hamlet being held as part of the manor of Middleton. (fn. 26) Joseph Milne, in 1862, purchased from Peto and Betts the estate formerly belonging to Lord Suffield, as heir of the Assheton family, comprising nearly the whole of the land. (fn. 27)

Hanging Chadder (fn. 28) and Stakehill (fn. 29) gave names to their possessors in the 14th century.

The Parliamentary Commissioners, in 1650, recommended that a church should be erected at the tithe barn in Thornham, (fn. 30) but no further steps were taken. In connexion with the Established Church the school chapel of St. James, Gravel Hole, and the old school are used for service. (fn. 31)

Near the same place is a chapel of the Wesleyan Methodists.

The Roman Catholic Church of St. Gabriel and the Angels, Trub Smithy, on the border of Castleton, was built in 1884. (fn. 32)


  • 24. Subs. R. bdle. 250, no. 9, Lancs.
  • 25. Loc. Govt. Bd. Orders 31625, 32287. Trub Smithy and Buersill Head are now in Castleton; Slattocks, Thornham Fold, and Stake Hill, in Middleton; Gravel Hole, Hanging Chadder, and Thorncliffe, in Royton.
  • 26. It is so named, e.g. in 1619 in the inquisition after the death of Richard Assheton of Middleton; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), ii, 105. Sir H. Harbord paid four-fifths of the land tax in 1787; Returns at Preston.
  • 27. Baines, Lancs. (ed. 1868), i, 481; the area was 1,794½ acres. Mr. Milne died in 1898, and his trustees are the present lords.
  • 28. Land in this place belonged to the church of Middleton, as may be seen in the charter quoted in the account of the parish church. Adam de Hindley and Joan his wife, in 1313, claimed the latter's dower in Middleton against Robert son of Roger de Middleton, and John de Hanging Chadder; De Banco R. 201, m. 2. Richard de Hanging Chadder contributed to the subsidy, 1332; Exch. Lay Subs. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), 36. Messuages and land there, held of the lord of Middleton, belonged in 1612 to the Hopwoods of Hopwood; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 204, 207. A family named Jones was long resident at Hanging Chadder. There is an account of the family in Notitia Cestr. ii, 102 n. Henry Jones, by will in 1678, was a benefactor to the poor. Edmund Jones in 1696 names his son Richard in his will; and Richard Jones, whose will was proved in 1722, names his son Edmund. There were also Fittons there and at Snipe Lache in Thornton.
  • 29. In 1330 John de Stakull and Agnes his wife released to Geoffrey son of John de Holt all right in lands in Stakehill in the vill of Middleton for the term of John's life; Agecroft D. 336. See the account of Gooden in Hopwood. Henry de Stakehill contributed to the subsidy in 1332; Exch. Lay Subs. 36. Roger Holt of Bridge Hall in Heap held in 1594 two messuages in Middleton called 'Starkhull"; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xvi, 6. Johnson of Henry de Stakehill in 1338 granted Whitaker in the hamlet of Thornham to his brother Adam, and Adam four years afterwards granted all his lands in Thornham to Sir John de Byron; Harl. MS. 2112.
  • 30. Commonw. Ch. Surv. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), 24.
  • 31. See Endowed Char. Rep. for Middleton, 1901, p. 31.
  • 32. The mission was founded in 1879; Kelly, Engl. Cath. Missions, 119.