Townships: Wuerdle and Wardle

Pages 222-225

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

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In this section



In Wardle the principal manor-house was STUBLEY, the seat of the Holt family, (fn. 1) who, as already shown, acquired a sixth portion of the manor of Rochdale about 1353. (fn. 2) The early history of the family is obscure, (fn. 3) but Thomas Holt, who died in 1494, held five messuages, 60 acres of land, &c., called Little Wardle, of the king as Duke of Lancaster, by knight's service and the rent of 4½d.; and fifteen messuages, 60 acres of land, &c, in Hundersfield of the king by knight's service; also lands, &c., in Spotland and Butterworth, by knight's service and a rent of 5s. 6d. He left a son and heir Robert, thirteen years of age, whose wardship was granted to James Stanley, clerk. (fn. 4) Robert Holt added to the estates by the purchase of Castleton, part of the confiscated Whalley lands, and died in December 1554 holding the manors of Hundersfield, Spotland, and Castleton, with eighty messuages, three water-mills, four fulling-mills, and land, &c., in Hundersfield, Spotland, Bury, Castleton, Butterworth, Middleton, and Tottington; the manors of Hundersfield and Spotland, and other lands there being held of the king and queen by the fortieth part of a knight's fee and the rent of 26s. In 1544 he had made settlements in favour of his nephew Robert Holt the younger and Cecily his wife. (fn. 5) The younger Robert succeeded, but died in November 1556, his heir being another Robert, son of William Holt of Whitwell, aged fifty years. (fn. 6) This third Robert died in 1561 holding the same manors, and leaving a son Charles as heir. (fn. 7)

Holt of Stubley. Argent on a bend engrailed sable three fleurs de lis of the field.

Charles Holt married Mary, one of the sisters and co-heirs of the Robert Holt who died in 1 556, (fn. 8) and died in 1592, leaving a son and heir John, fifteen years of age, already married to Winifred daughter of Richard Assheton of Middleton. (fn. 9) The estates and tenures appear to have remained without alteration. John Holt (fn. 10) died in 1622, leaving, by a second marriage, a son and heir Robert, twenty years of age, (fn. 11) who was in possession when the Survey of 1626 was made. (fn. 12) About this time Stubley was abandoned for Castleton, which became the chief seat of the family. (fn. 13)

STUBLEY OLD HALL stands on the south side of the road between Rochdale and Littleborough about three-quarters of a mile from the latter place, and is an interesting two-story house consisting of three wings built round three sides of a court which is open on the east. The principal front of the house faces west, but whether the present disposition of the building is the original one is uncertain, as a good deal of reconstruction and alteration has taken place of which no record seems to have been kept. Stubley Hall is usually said to have been rebuilt by Robert Holt, c. 1529, but what kind of house stood here before that date is quite conjectural, and the assumption that in the year named Holt rebuilt a timber-framed house in stone and brick seems to be based on no sufficient authority. (fn. 14) The present building is partly timber-framed filled in with brick, and faced on the west side with stone, but the stone and brickwork appears to be much later than 1529, and probably what Holt did was to build a house of timber at that date which assumed its present appearance in the course of the next century.

The plan of the building follows in some respects the H type, but with the wings projecting very slightly in front and very considerably at the back, giving it more the appearance of a quadrangular building with the fourth side missing. There seems to be no evidence that the quadrangular plan ever obtained, although the house is said to have formerly been larger than at present. The west or central wing contained the hall, and the kitchen and offices appear to have been to the north; but, the house being now divided into several dwellings and parts used for other purposes, the original distinctions and arrangements are lost. The timber construction of the west and north wings is, however, still visible on the outside at the back, the oak posts showing in the walls, and in the interior the old roof of the hall can be seen in the upper rooms of the west wing. The hall would be about 36 ft. long by 23 ft. wide, but is now divided into two rooms, one of which, belonging to a cottage, retains its tall 17th-century stone-mullioned six-light window; but the other, being the dining-room of a residence which occupies the whole of the south portion of the house, has been modernized. In 1626 Stubley Hall was described as 'an ancient mansion with stables, barns, dovecotes, and water-mill,' (fn. 15) but whether the present stone and brick fronts were then in existence does not appear. The whole of the west front, including the gable ends of the north and south wings, is faced in stone, and all the roofs have stone slates. The north wing being wider than the south has a loftier and wider gable, which retains, along with the north end of the hall, its original six-light mullioned windows, some of which still keep their thick leaded diamond quarries. The whole of the south end of the front has been modernized, new windows having been inserted, and the place of the former great double transomed window to the hall, which went up to the eaves, is taken by two smaller windows necessitated by the introduction of a floor in the hall. The gables are plain without coping. The rest of the exterior is faced with hand-made 2¼ in. bricks which have gone a good colour, the walling at the back being a filling in between the oak posts of the old principals. The north wing has two fine stone chimneys set in the inner angles of two further projecting short wings on that side, one of the chimneys being no doubt that to the kitchen, but in the present altered condition of the building the original arrangement cannot easily be traced. At the back (east side) the north wing projects 37 ft., and the south wing only 30 ft., besides being lower and narrower, but a later addition has been recently built against it on the north side, increasing its width. The south side of the south wing is built of brick on a stone base, but the evidence of the walling suggests that the whole of this end of the building has been reconstructed and may formerly have been much larger. There was originally a domestic chapel in Stubley Hall, and this is likely to have been situated at the east end of the south wing, though its position is now lost. Writing at the end of the 18th century the Rev. T. D. Whitaker stated that the house then contained 'much carving in wood, particularly a rich and beautiful screen betwixt the hall and parlour, with a number of crests, cyphers, and cognizances belonging to the Holts and other neighbouring families.' These, however, have now all disappeared, and the interior of the building has little architectural interest. In the will of Robert Holt, who died in 1561, is an inventory of goods at Stubley Hall in which the following rooms and places are mentioned:—
The great chamber.
My lord's chamber.
The Chappel chamber.
The inner chamber.
The new parlour.
The closet.
The hall.
The inner parlour.
The old parlour.
Sr Myghell's chamber.
The chamber without.

'Syling timber' is also twice referred to.

Robert Holt, at the outbreak of the Civil War, under the influence of the Earl of Derby, joined the king's forces, and appears to have served in North Wales; in 1645 he surrendered, took the National Covenant and Negative Oath, and compounded, his. fine being £1,150. (fn. 16) A pedigree was recorded in 1664. (fn. 17) Robert died in 1673, leaving a younger son James to succeed him, (fn. 18) and James died in 1712, when his four daughters became co-heirs. They were: Frances wife of James Winstanley; Elizabeth wife of William Cavendish; Isabella wife of Delaval Dutton and afterwards of Sir William Parsons; and Mary wife of Samuel Chetham of Turton. The last-named purchased the portions of the other three sisters, aswell as the widow's jointure, and thus acquired the whole estate. He improved Castleton Hall, which became the most important house in the parish, and died in 1744 without issue, having made his brother Humphrey his heir.

By the dispositions of Humphrey Chetham, who died also without issue in 1749, the Castleton estates were to go to cousins—Edward Chetham of Nuthurst, and James Chetham of Smedley, both of whom died unmarried—with remainder to James Winstanley, eldest son of the above-mentioned James and Frances. They thus came into the possession of the Winstanleys, but have been sold. About 1850 Castleton Hall was purchased by James Schofield of Heybrook. (fn. 19)

Part of HAWORTH, now spelt Howarth, wasgiven to Stanlaw Abbey. (fn. 20) The place gave a surname to its possessors; (fn. 21) the last of the family was Dr. Radcliffe Howarth, who died in 1768. The estate was then sold to the Entwisles of Foxholes, who also acquired the estate called Little Howarth. (fn. 22) HAMER likewise gave a surname to a wide-spreading family. (fn. 23) Hamer Hall, a large red brick 18th-century building, was pulled down in 1908. Dearnley, (fn. 24) Hades, (fn. 25) Marled Earth, (fn. 26) Crook, (fn. 27) and Shaw (fn. 28) are other estates in Wardle of some interest.

Howarth of Howarth. Azure a bend between two harts' heads couped or.

Hamer of Hamer. Sable a bend or between two lions rampant argent.

Rodes in Wardle belonged to the Hospitallers. (fn. 29)

In 1626 the common lands in Wardle were reckoned at 880 acres. (fn. 30) There were also 358 acres of copyhold.

The principal landowners in 1788 were Messrs. Entwisle and Sedgwick, who together contributed a fourth part of the land tax. (fn. 31)


  • 1. Before the Holts acquired it a Stubley family is supposed to have held it; see Raines in Notitia Cestr, ii, 136; Fishwick, Rochdale, 423.
  • 2. See above, and Assize R. 435, m. 18 d. 8.
  • 3. A John de Holt of Colne, and another of Read contributed to the subsidy of 1332; Exch. Lay Subs. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), 85, 86. John son of Hugh del Holt, and Geoffrey del Holt are named in 1333; Cal. Pat. 1330–4, p. 498. Geoffrey son of John del Holt in 1345 purchased lands in Bury which seem afterwards to have been called the 'manor' of Chesham; Final Conc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), ii, 121. John del Holt of Salfordshire and his sons Geoffrey and Roger were among the defendants in the Pilkingtons' claim for the manor of Bury at Michaelmas 1351; Duchy of Lanc. Assize R. 1, m. 7. John and his son Roger appear in the claim to lands in Tottington in December 1355; ibid. R. 4, m. 28 d. John del Holt the elder was a defendant in a Hundersfield and Spotland suit in July 1357; ibid. R. 6, m. 8. Geoffrey son of John del Holt acquired land in Stakehill and Gooden in 1330 and 1357; Agecroft D. no. 336, 338. In 1353, as already stated, he purchased the Lacy of Cromwellbottom share of Rochdale. He was killed at Spotland in 1372, John son of John de Ainsworth and others shooting him with arrows; Coram Rege R. 449, Rex m. 1. His brother, Hugh del Holt, about the same time acquired Ashworth. Robert son of Geoffrey del Holt in 1388 made a settlement of his messuages and lands in Hundersfield, Castleton, Spotland, Middleton, Bury, and Heaton Norris; Final Conc. iii, 31, and Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xi, no. 15. The remainders were to John de Holt, younger brother of Robert, to James de Holt, and others, including the Holts of Ashworth. John del Holt of Chesham died in 1386, leaving a grandson and heir Robert (son of Geoffrey), then sixteen years of age, who married Margaret daughter of Richard de Holland, and was still in possession in 1434–5, when inquiry was ordered; Dep. Keeper's Rep. xxxiii, App. 34, 35, 36. The lands were in Kershaw, Little Wardle, Hundersfield, Spotland, and Butterworth; Lancs, and Ches. Rec. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), ii, 330. The Robert grandson of John may well be the Robert son of Geoffrey of the preceding fine; but as a Geoffrey son of John appears as early as 1330 there were probably two of the name. During the 15 th century the descent is obscure. James Holt, one of the justices of the peace, complained in 1429 that a number of persons had broken his close at Castleton; Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 2, m. 1, 4, 6b. Christopher and Geoffrey del Holt were tenants of Tottington in 1443; W. Farrer, Clitheroe Ct. R. 507. James son of Ralph Holt of Bury had a dispute with Richard son of Christopher Holt of Hundersfield in 1465; Pal. of Lanc. Writs Proton, file 6 Edw IV, b. According to the pedigree of 1664 the succession was: John — s. Geoffrey — s. Robert —s. Christopher —s. Thomas; Dugdale, Visit. (Chet. Soc), 151.
  • 4. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. iii, no. 46.
  • 5. Ibid, x, no. 48; there was a remainder to Alan Holt, younger brother of Robert Holt the elder. Robert Holt's will is printed in Piccope's Wills (Chet. Soc), ii, 14–16. In 1533 the herald recorded the arms of the family, but 'Robert Holt of Stubley married an old woman by whom he had no issue, and therefore he would not have her name entered'; Visit, of 1533 (Chet. Soc), 47. The rent of 26s. would include the 20s. due for the sixth part of the manor of Rochdale.
  • 6. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m, x, no. 7. Alan Holt must have died without male issue, as William Holt of Whitwell was next in remainder. Robert Holt made a feoffment of the third part of all his messuages, &c., in Stubley, Hundersfield, Naden, Spotland, Chesham, Bury, Middleton, Butterworth, and Castleton, for the benefit of his wife Cecily, and to provide for the portions of his daughters Alice (wife of John son of Thomas Greenhalgh), Agnes, Mary, Elizabeth, and Dorothy. The will of Robert Holt (1556) is printed in Piccope's Wills, ii, 87–90. Whitwell, or Whitwall, is in Walmersley, near Bury.
  • 7. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xi, no. 15. In the pedigree above quoted William, the father of Robert, is called son of John, younger brother of Christopher. The fine of 1388 is referred to in this inquisition. For Robert Holt's will see Piccope's Wills, ii, 171–4.
  • 8. See the erroneous pedigree recorded in 1567; Visit. (Chet. Soc), 13.
  • 9. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xvi, no. 55; Charles Holt had just before his death settled his estates on his son John, with remainder to his own brother Francis and his uncle Charles. John Holt, in conjunction with Henry Tonge and Mary his wife, made a settlement of the manors of Naden, Chesham, &c., in 1601; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 63, m. 177.
  • 10. A pedigree was recorded in 1613 (Visit. Chet. Soc. 91), when John's wife was Dorothy Banastre.
  • 11. Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), iii, 334–8.
  • 12. Raines MSS. (Chet. Lib.), xxi, 89; the area is given as 117 acres. Robert Holt also had ' True Love Hustead ' under a charter to Geoffrey Holt, dated 1470; a rent of 12d. was payable; ibid. 83. Also further lands in Little Wardle; ibid. 95, 98. A moiety of Little Wardle had belonged to Whalley Abbey, having been granted by Henry son of Peter, son of Orm de Wardle; a rent of 12d. was due to the chief lord of Liversedge; Whalley Coucher (Chet. Soc.), i, 156, 157 ; see also iii, 783. A feoffment of messuages, &c., in Little Wardle was made by Charles Holt in 1571; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 33, m. 10.
  • 13. Raines in Notitia Cestr. ii, 126. Robert Holt acquired the manor of Marland from the Radcliffes of Langley.
  • 14. 'This house appears to have been built in the reign of Henry VIII by Robert Holt Esq. and . . . is the first specimen within the compass of our work of a stone or brick house with a centre and two wings only.' Whitaker, Hist, of Whalley (3rd ed. 1818), 453. Later he says: 'The first instance of an entire hall-house of brick and stone is Stubley near Rochdale, unquestionably of that period' (i.e. Henry VIII).
  • 15. Survey of 1626, quoted in Fishwick's Rochdale.
  • 16. Roy. Camp. Papers (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), iii, 257. A will of Robert Holt's, made in 1654, is among the Clowes D. 25.
  • 17. Dugdale, Visit. 151.
  • 18. James Holt in 1677 made a settlement of his manors of Naden and Chesham and lands in Hundersfield, &c.; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 198, m. 92.
  • 19. The later descents have been taken from Fishwick, Rochdale, where a full account may be seen (pp. 427–9, 308–10). For the Chethams of Turton and Castleton see E. Axon's Chetham Gen. (Chet. Soc. new ser.), 53–4, 63. Among the Clowes D. is a copy of Humphrey Chetham's will.
  • 20. Two oxgangs in Haworth were part of the grant by Henry de Wardle recorded in a previous note; see Whalley Coucher, i, 157–8. The abbey also received land called Cho in Wardle from Award son of Swain de Wardle, and Swain son of Ailsi de Salesbury confirmed this grant by his freeman Award; ibid, i, 159–60.
  • 21. See Fisbwick, op. cit. 413–22, where there is a pedigree. Abstracts of the Haworth or Howorth D. are transcribed in Raines MSS. (Chet. Lib.), xi, 2–112, A share in the two oxgangs in Haworth was granted to the monks of Stanlaw, a rent of 2s. being payable to the chief lord; Wballey Coucber, i, 156. Many members of the family are named in the charters in the same work. The foul life of Thomas Haworth, who died about 1460, led to the censures of the Church and to doubts about the succession, but a son Edmund acquired the estate. Thomas son of William Haworth, and Hugh and Edmund his sons, are mentioned in the Plea Rolls of 1444–8; Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 8, m. 9; 12, m. 23b, 3, 29b. Edmund Haworth died in 1554–5 holding ten messuages, &c., in Hundersfield of Sir Henry Savile in socage, by a rent of 5s. 10d.; also an acre of the king and queen in socage. His heir was his grandson Robert (son of Robert), aged twentythree years; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. x, no. 6. Soon afterwards James and Arthur Haworth acquired a message in Hundersfield from Robert Haworth; Margaret Haworth, widow, is mentioned in the fine; Pal. of Lanc Feet of F. bdle. 16, m. 89. Robert Haworth occurs among the freeholders in 1580; ibid, bdle. 42, m. 72. His son Edmund recorded a pedigree in 1613; Visit. (Chet. Soc), 3. In 1626 Robert Haworth son of Edmund held 299 acres, paying a rent of 5s. 10d. to the Savile representatives, and 6d. to the king; Surv. in Raines MSS. xxi, 90. His father Edmund had died the year before, holding Haworth Hall, &c., the acre called Birchamhead in Hundersfield, lands called Gooseholme, Arthurgapp, and Holcroft in Rochdale, and messuages in Boochey; also Clegg Hall, &c., in Butterworth. Robert died in 1639 at Haworth, leaving a son and heir of the same name, three years old; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xxvii, no. 66. The estate, however, passed to Robert's brother, Theophilus Haworth, M.D., who recorded a short pedigree in 1664, he being then fifty and his son Henry eleven years of age ; Dugdale, Visit. 156. Henry's sons Henry and Radcliffe died unmarried in 1764 and 1768 respectively; Fishwick, op. cit. 421.
  • 22. See Fishwick, op. cit. 419. William Butterworth held 48 acres in 1626, paying a rent of 14d. to Holt; Surv. ut sup. 91.
  • 23. See Fishwick, op. cit. 395–407, with pedigrees. The will of Henry Hamer of Hamer, 1573, is printed in Piccope's Wills, ii, 204–5; he mentions his sons Giles and Ellis, and bequeathed money for the repair of Hamer Mill Bridge and Heybrook Bridge. Ellis Hamer had sons Edmund and Samuel; Fishwick, loc. cit. Edmund Hamer of Hamer Hall died in 1598 holding messuages, water-mill, &c.; his son and heir Samuel was only three years of age. A fourth part of the estate was held of John Holt (a minor in the queen's custody) by the fortieth part of a knight's fee and a rent of 7½d.; the remainder of Sir John Byron by the twentieth part of a knight's fee and a rent of 22d.; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xvii, no. 17. Samuel Hamer was in possession in 1626; Surv. ut sup. 83. In 1631 he paid £10 for declining knighthood; Misc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 216. The estate remained in the Hamer family till 1810, when it was sold to the Entwisles; Fishwick, op. cit. 400. In 1626 Ralph Hamer, grandson of Ralph, held 30 acres in Wardle, paying a rent of 13½d. to Savile; Surv. ut sup. 91.
  • 24. The surname occurs in the 14th century; thus Roger de Dearnley contributed to the subsidy of 1332; Exch. Lay Subs. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), 34. At Michaelmas 1351 Richard son of William de Bury did not prosecute his suit against John del Dearnley and others respecting a tenement in Hundersfield; Duchy of Lanc. Assize R. 1, m. 5 d. In 1360 Adam de Dearnley was a plaintiff, John de Dearnley being one of his pledges; ibid. R. 8, m. 4d.; see also Dep. Keeper's Rep. xxxii, App. 342. In 1400 it was stated that Henry de Dearnley had been outlawed in 1372 at the suit of Henry de Haworth for trespass, and that his land in Hundersfield had passed into the hands of the Ashton family; Pal. of Lanc. Misc. 1/9, m. 87–8; Dep. Keeper's Rep. xl, App. 536. Sir John de Ashton held land in Wardle in 1429 of James de Buckley, by a rent of 1s. 2d.; Lanc. Inq. p.m. (Chet. Soc.), ii, 22. A later Sir John, 1507, held of Thomas Buckley by the same rent; ibid, ii, 138. Sir Thomas Ashton of Ashton died in 1514 holding lands in Hundersfield of the heirs of James de Buckley in socage; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. iv, no. 80. In 1444 Roger Whitehead and Margaret his wife, together with Ellen Dearnley, recovered a moiety of two messuages, 40 acres of land, &c., in Hundersfield and Spotland, which Roger Dearnley had given to John Dearnley and his issue, and which after the death of John's son Geoffrey should descend to Margaret and Ellen, daughters of Geoffrey; Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 6, m. 12. The same plaintiffs claimed the other moiety against Alexander son of Roger Butterworth; he replied that there was another daughter of Geoffrey, viz. Mary, still living at Newcastle on Tyne, but they said she had died at Chadderton in 1442; ibid. m. 12b. The estate was claimed as late as 1580 by a Roger Dearnley against Arthur Whitehead; see Fishwick, op. cit. 422 (quoting Duchy of Lanc. Plead. Eliz. lxxxi, D. 7). There are a number of fines respecting Arthur Whitehead's estate. He was in 1589 joined with Edmund his son and heir apparent respecting eight messuages, &c., in Hundersfield; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 51, m. 178. Edmund Whitehead held 45 acres in Wardle in 1626 ; Surv. ut sup. 95. This was no doubt the son of Edmund Whitehead who died in 1621 holding a messuage in 'Hastinges' in Hundersfield of the king as of his manor of Rochdale by a rent of 1d.; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), ii, 254.
  • 25. James Fielden of the Hades occurs in 1626; Surv. ut sup. 96. See Fishwick, op. cit. 431.
  • 26. Ibid. 429–31.
  • 27. John Butterworth of Turnagh held the Crook in 1626; Surv. ut sup. 98. The Butterworths of Belfield, however, seem to have had most of the land; see Fishwick, op. cit. 433–35. Edward Butterworth of Belfield in 1626 held 120 acres called Starring, paying 21d. to Savile and 6d. to Holt; also 225 acres called the Steed; Surv. 89, 95.
  • 28. In early times it appears to have given a surname to its owners; cf. Michael de la Shaw in the Buckley charters below. Alexander Scholefield held it in 1626; Surv. 91. See the account of Tong End in Spotland.
  • 29. Two messuages &c. there were about 1540 held by the heir of Richard Butterworth, by a rent of 12d.; Kuerden MSS. v, fol. 84.
  • 30. Manor Surv. 102.
  • 31. Land Tax Ret. at Preston.