A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 5. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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'Townships: Little, Middle and Over Hulton', in A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 5, (London, 1911) pp. 25-34. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/lancs/vol5/pp25-34 [accessed 1 March 2024]
OVER HULTON, MIDDLE HULTON, LITTLE HULTON
Helghetun and Hulton, 1235 (same document); Hilton, 1288, 1292; Hulton, 1292; the form Hilton continued in use till the xvii cent.
The ancient district of Hulton, having an area of 4,540 acres, in time became three townships. OVER HULTON, the western portion, has an area of 1,316 acres, (fn. 1) and measures about 2 miles from north to south, by a mile and a half across. Hulton Park occupies much of the southern part of the area. The ground slopes from about 500 ft. in the north to 300 ft. in the south.
The road from Deane and Bolton to Atherton and Warrington runs along the eastern boundary, and is crossed about the centre by that from Manchester and Walkden to Westhoughton and Blackrod. The crossing is marked by the hamlet of Hulton Lane Ends. To the north of the road are several collieries. The London and North Western Company's line from Bolton to Kenyon Junction passes along the north-western boundary. There is no village. The population in 1901 was 1,038. (fn. 2) Some portion of the area was in 1898 incorporated in the borough of Bolton, the remainder being added to Westhoughton.
MIDDLE HULTON, over 2 miles from north to south, and a mile and a quarter from east to west, has an area of 1,517 acres. In the northern half of the township a height of over 500 ft. is attained, but at the southern boundary the land is below the 300 ft. line.
The principal road is that from Manchester and Swinton to Westhoughton, which is joined by one from Farnworth passing west through the hamlets of Hollins and Edgefold. Several roads run from north to south. There is no village, but on the northern boundary dwellings are being built, which are an extension of Bolton. In 1901 its population was included with Rumworth.
This township was in 1898 added to the borough of Bolton.
LITTLE HULTON is of irregular shape, part of it cutting Walkden off from Farnworth. Its area is 1,707 acres. (fn. 3) The surface slopes generally from 380 ft. in the north-west to less than 200 ft. above sea level in the south-east.
The principal road, through the centre of the township, is that from Manchester to Westhoughton —on the line of an old Roman road; from it others spread off to Farnworth on the north and Tyldesley on the south. Along it are dwelling-houses almost the whole way. The district called Peel occupies the centre of the southern half; Wharton lies in the south-west corner. The London and North Western Company's Bolton and Eccles line crosses the centre of the township, and has a station on the main road, called Little Hulton. There are a number of collieries in the township, and these are served by special railways. The population was 7,294. in 1901. (fn. 4)
A local board was formed in 1872, (fn. 5) and this was in 1894. replaced by an urban district council, the twelve members being elected by two wards.
There are extensive collieries in Little Hulton and Middle Hulton. (fn. 6)
The hearth tax return of 1666 yields the following: In Over Hulton 41 hearths, with only one large house, that of William Hulton, 9 hearths; Middle Hulton, 66; Little Hulton, 102, the largest houses being those of Roger Kenyon, Margaret Mort, and Robert Mort, with 15, 14, and 6 respectively. (fn. 7)
The early history of the manor of HULTON is obscure. It was held by the Barton family, for the most part in conjunction with Worsley in thegnage. (fn. 8) This was held under them by the Worsley family, who, as to part at least, came into possession about 1200. (fn. 9) Their manor was described as three-fourths of Hulton; (fn. 10) the remainder, two oxgangs, being the lordship of the Hulton family, in Over Hulton.
This last family is obviously of Welsh origin; the first Lancashire members of it—Iorwerth and Madoc, sons of Bleiddyn—are supposed to have been among the faithful vassals of Robert Banastre, expelled from Wales about 1167. (fn. 11) Iorwerth de Hulton held two oxgangs in Hulton, and received from King John, when Earl of Mortain, Broughton and Kersal Wood in Manchester. (fn. 12) Iorwerth was living in 1212, when he held in chief the vill of Pendleton, in exchange for Broughton. (fn. 13) He had a numerous family, (fn. 14) and dying in 1215 (fn. 15) was succeeded by his son Richard, who in 1219 had a lease of the Worsley portion of Hulton, (fn. 16) and about the same time secured from Edith de Barton a confirmation of the two oxgangs in Hulton which his father had held of her; a rent of 2s. was payable. (fn. 17) Richard also had a grant of land in Little Hulton from Richard de Worsley. (fn. 18) He was serjeant of Salfordshire in 1222. (fn. 19)
Richard de Hulton died before 1230, leaving as heir his son Richard, then a minor. (fn. 20) This son appears to have died without issue, and was succeeded in turn by his brothers William and David, who married Beatrice and Agnes, daughters and co-heirs of Adam de Blackburn. (fn. 21) To David de Hulton William de Ferrers, Earl of Derby, in 1251, granted his lands in Flixton and the manor of Ordsall. (fn. 22) David had several children, and was still living in 1282. (fn. 23) About 1285 he died, (fn. 24) being succeeded by his son Richard, (fn. 25) who in 1304 obtained from Edward I a grant of free warren in all his lands of Hulton and Ordsall, also in Flixton and Heaton, outside the bounds of the royal forests. (fn. 26) The 'Park' long continued to be the distinctive name of the estate. Before 1312 he was followed by his son, another Richard. (fn. 27) At this point there is some uncertainty in the succession. Richard son of the last-named Richard, being childless, effected a partition of the estates. (fn. 28) Farnworth and Rumworth went to one branch of the family, while Hulton, with lands in Westhoughton and Rumworth, were bestowed upon Richard de Hulton's uncle Adam, (fn. 29) from whom the hereditary succession is continuous to the present time; Ordsall with Flixton and Halliwell with Blackburn passed to different branches of the Radcliffe family.
Adam de Hulton was in possession in 1335, about two years after the grant by his nephew, (fn. 30) and a settlement was then made of his park in Hulton and Westhoughton, and his lands in Rumworth, Denton, and Manchester, with the manors, mills, and appurtenances. The occasion was the marriage of Adam's son Roger with Aline daughter of Adam de Lever. (fn. 31) Roger had by 1355 (fn. 32) been succeeded by his son Roger, a minor, (fn. 33) and his grandson Adam, (fn. 34) and Adam's son and heir Roger married Ellen daughter of John Hulton of Farnworth. (fn. 35) Their son Roger (fn. 36) had a son and successor, also Roger, who married Katherine, a daughter and co-heir of Sir James Harrington of Wolfage, (fn. 37) and had a son Adam, who married Alice, the daughter and heir of John Hulton of Farnworth. (fn. 38) From this time, and perhaps partly in consequence of the marriages named, the Hultons of the Park became more prominent, and soon outstripped their namesakes of Farnworth.
Adam Hulton was in 1523 summoned to take part in the Scottish expedition led by the Earl of Surrey. (fn. 39) Ten years later a short pedigree was recorded at the herald's visitation. (fn. 40) He was succeeded by his son William, who died in September 1555, (fn. 41) leaving a son and heir Adam, married in infancy to Clemency daughter of Sir William Norris of Speke. (fn. 42) Adam Hulton died in September 1572, (fn. 43) leaving a son and heir William, then of full age, who died in 1624, (fn. 44) having survived his son Adam (fn. 45) and grandson William; (fn. 46) his successor was his great-grandson Adam, born in 1607.
Adam Hulton had livery of his lands in November 1632, (fn. 47) and died in 1652. (fn. 48) He does not appear to have taken any part in the Civil War on one side or the other. (fn. 49) His son and heir William contested the borough of Clitheroe in April 1660; he had a majority of the free burgesses in opposition to William White, elected by the freemen at large, and the latter being unseated on petition, William Hulton represented the borough from July to December 1660. (fn. 50) He recorded a pedigree at the visitation of 1664. (fn. 51) He died thirty years later, (fn. 52) being succeeded by his son Henry, (fn. 53) who died childless in 1737. The manor then passed to William son of Jessop Hulton, Henry's younger brother, (fn. 54) who was in turn succeeded by his son, grandson, and great-grandson, each named William. (fn. 55) The last of these, sheriff of Lancashire in 1810, and constable of Lancaster Castle, died in 1864; his son and heir, William Ford Hulton, (fn. 56) dying in 1879, was followed by his son Sir William Wilbraham Blethin Hulton, also constable of Lancaster Castle, created a baronet in 1905. (fn. 57) He died in 1907, and was succeeded by his son Sir William Rothwell Hulton, the present lord of the manor.
A number of deeds and other records have been preserved, showing how the Worsleys and their successors dealt with their estate in Hulton. (fn. 58) It has come down, in the same manner as Worsley, to the Earl of Ellesmere. (fn. 59)
In this part of the manor were several subordinate estates or manors. WHARTON or Warton gave its name to the family owning it, (fn. 60) and was afterwards held by the Asshetons of Great Lever and the Morts (fn. 61) It was sold to a colliery company, (fn. 62) and is now owned by the Earl of Ellesmere. (fn. 63) Wharton Hall is a two-story farm-house of brick and timber and plaster construction, facing south. The plan follows the usual type of a central block with gabled projecting wings east and west. The house is in a moderate state of repair, and the half-timber work in the lower part of the east wing, which is coved at the level of the first floor, is original. The north wing is faced in brick, the upper part of which is painted to represent half-timber work, and the gable and upper part of the east wing is similarly treated. The west wing has been extended westward and the pitch of the roof altered, but the line of the old gable still remains at each end. The house has been almost entirely refaced in brick, but the original timber construction shows at both ends of the west wing. With its yellow-washed walls, grey stone slate roofs and red brick chimneys, the house has rather a picturesque if tumble-down appearance, emphasized to some extent on the back by the addition of low modern outbuildings.
PEEL, or Wicheves, was in the 13th century acquired by a branch of the Hulton family, (fn. 64) who appear to have sold it to the Tyldesleys. (fn. 65) From these it passed to Edmund Fleetwood of Rossall, (fn. 66) and afterwards to the Morts. About the middle of the 18 th century Joseph Yates of Manchester purchased it, (fn. 67) and about seventy years later his descendants sold it to Ellis Fletcher of Clifton, a colliery proprietor. (fn. 68) Peel Hall is a modern house erected in 1840 by Matthew Fletcher, from the designs of Sir Charles Barry. It stands in the site of an older hall which was a stone building consisting of a centre and two wings with three gables to the front. All that is left of the old hall is part of the moat, which has been made into an ornamental lake. (fn. 69)
Another PEEL, known as Kenyon Peel Hall, (fn. 70) was about 1600 in the possession of Alexander Rigby; he gave it to a younger son George, (fn. 71) whose daughter and heir, Alice (fn. 72) brought it to her husband Roger Kenyon of Parkhead and his descendants, the present owner being Lord Kenyon of Gredington. (fn. 73)
Kenyon Peel Hall is situated about a quarter of a mile south of the ancient highway, running from Manchester in a north-west direction towards Bolton, and is on the southern slope of the high ground lying between the valley of the Irwell on the north and Chat Moss on the south. Before the locality was given over to collieries and manufacture the situation must have been a pleasant one, but today the house lies amidst surroundings which have robbed the country of any of the beauties it formerly possessed.
The house appears to have been built about the years 1631 to 1634. Both dates are on the building, and probably it was in course of construction for some time prior to the latter year. The gatehouse and other detached buildings were erected shortly after. The house is a highly picturesque half-timbered building on a low stone base, two stories in height, facing the south, and occupies the north side of a small courtyard, to the south of which is a larger courtyard, on to which the stables and outbuildings open. Behind the stables to the south is the stable yard—the whole forming a symmetrical arrangement of three quadrangles which gives to the hall and its outbuildings an appearance of size and importance which with less systematic planning it would not have possessed. Though retaining a great many of the characteristics of the older Lancashire houses, both as regards plan and elevations, Kenyon Peel at the same time exhibits the influence of new ideas, these buildings showing evidences everywhere of a well thought-out plan, and a desire for balance and symmetry. In its general arrangement and appearance the hall is not very much altered from the time it was built, though there was a good deal of work done in the interior in the way of fittings and decorations in the 18th century, and a brick wing was added at the back on the west side of the house at the same period. A later extension at the north-east was made as late as 1870.
Owing to mining operations many settlements have occurred and at one time the house was allowed to fall into disrepair and had to be shored up. It was restored, however, in the early eighties, but the work then done has destroyed a good deal of the original detail and has substituted a rather hard freshness in place of picturesque decay. The half-timber front has been renewed in a manner which does not strictly carry out the design of the old work. All the barge-boards and hip-knobs are new, and the old greystone roof coverings have been replaced by blue slates. The building nevertheless retains a picturesqueness which it owes to its arrangement and plan as well as to its more strictly architectural features.
The house itself consists of a main block standing east and west, with three projecting gabled bays, the middle one of which contains the porch. At either end of the main front is another projecting bay, the whole forming a kind of irregular [capital letter M] shape. The principal front thus has seven gables, five facing south and one at each end facing inward to the courtyard. These many gables, especially when seen at a distance from the south-east in conjunction with the gatehouse, give a broken and irregular skyline which is very pleasing. The return ends of the two outer wings are faced with stone, and the remainder of the sides and the whole of the back elevation is in brick. A portion of the timber framing, however, shows at the back of the hall. A lead spout-head on the west side of the house bears the date 1741 and the initials G K P.
The plan of the house itself shows the influence of the old ideas, the great hall occupying the central position, with a passage answering to the screen at the west end opposite the porch. The porch and bay window of the hall are under the central projecting gable, the unusual position of the bay being due to considerations of symmetry in the external arrangement. The great hall, which is in no way emphasized in the exterior elevation, is a low room, 30 ft. in length (including the passage) by about 20 ft. wide, with a bay window 6 ft. wide and 8 ft. deep at the south-west corner, and mullioned windows on the north and south with a fireplace at the north-west. The room was probably used much as a modern diningroom, but is now the drawing-room. The ingle nook in the north-west is now built up and a modern fireplace inserted. There are windows on both sides of the room. The hall is panelled all round, with classic pilasters to the bay window and to the doorcases at the east end. Most of the panelling is the original oak wainscot, but it has been repaired with pitch pine, and the whole is now painted white. The ceiling, which is only 8 ft. 6 in. high, is crossed by four beams and is quite plain. Beyond the hall on the east end of the house is the present dining-room, a small room 17 ft. square, looking on to the inner courtyard. It is lined with 18th-century panelling and has a semicircular recess on each side of the fireplace. Beyond is the main staircase, with twisted balusters and square newels, and half balusters against the walls. Behind the dining-room is another smaller room looking east, also lined with 18th-century panelling and now called the housekeeper's room. At the other side of the staircase, at the end of the east wing, is the oak parlour, or smoke room, which, as its name implies, is also panelled, and has a fine Jacobean chimney-piece, the upper part being divided into three panels by four allegorical female figures. The centre panel has the arms of Kenyon quartering Rigby.
To the west of the great hall are rooms corresponding to the dining-room and oak parlour, called respectively the pomegranate room and the library. The pomegranate room takes its name from the plaster ornamentation of the ceiling, but is otherwise plain. The library is lined all round with deep bookshelves with wooden fronts of 18th-century date, and there are cellars under these two rooms. Upstairs there are portions of oak panelling in some of the bedrooms, but nothing of special note except in Lord Kenyon's bedroom, over the oak parlour. This room contains some very good 17th-century oak panelling, with richly carved upper panels and cornice. Over the fireplace, forming part of an elaborately carved mantelpiece, are two painted armorial panels with the date 1637. The ceiling, which is plain, is arched in section, and the door is 18th-century work. The bedroom over the drawing-room has also an arched ceiling with plaster ornamentation near the springing. The floors all over the house are very uneven owing to the settlements. There is a second staircase on the west side of the house with old oak treads but modern varnished balusters. The whole plan indicates the period of transition in manners which in other parts was much earlier than 1630, but which was necessarily delayed in the country districts. There are no corridors in the house, most of the rooms being more or less passage rooms.
In a document dated 1783, now at the house, the courtyards are called the 'green court' and the 'flag court,' the former being apparently the outer. The portion of the grounds between the house and the road on the east side is called the 'wilderness,' and mention is made of 'barns, stables, shippons, fold, &c.,' on the south side. The wilderness was an irregularlyshaped triangular piece of ground bounded on two sides by the road, and on the west by a fence wall, with gateways leading to the entrance-way from a lane at the back of the house. In the outer angle of the wilderness was a brick 'arbour,' built presumably in the 18th century, and a small pond. The gardens proper lay along the full length of the west side of the house and outbuildings, with a private walled-in garden directly to the west of the hall.
The courtyard in front of the house is about 80 ft. by 50 ft. It is partly inclosed on the east and west by the projecting wings of the house, and beyond, by a high stone wall. In the middle of the south side is the gatehouse, a two-story building with a central gateway, and one room on each side. The upper floor consists of one apartment, said to have been a court-house, but now used as a servants' dormitory. The gatehouse is a solidly built structure of stone with mullioned windows, a grey stone-slated roof finishing with a stone gable at each end, and at each corner of the building is a tall brick chimney, square at the bottom and set diagonally above. On the ridge of the roof is a bell-cote, now boarded up, and till lately containing a bell reputed to be of silver. It was made by Abraham Rudhall of Gloucester in 1731, and was inscribed, 'Come away make no delay,' but was stolen some years ago at the time when repairs to the house were being made. The two bottom rooms of the gatehouse are entered from the inner court only, and not from the gateway passage. The oak doors hung midway in the gateway passage are double hung, and have a wicket. On their top rail is carved 'GRB Peace be within these walles 1637.' The initials are those of George Rigby and Beatrix (Hulton) his wife. On each side of the inner quadrangle leading to the gardens beyond are stone doorways with picturesquely stepped gables of good early Renaissance type, with spiked finials. The gateway on the east side of the court has the date 1631 with the arms of Rigby on the lintel, and the initials G R on a panel in the gable above. The doorway of the opposite side has the initials G R B on both sides, and facing the courtyard the date 1634. These little stone gateways flanking the inner courtyard, taken in conjunction with the rather severe mass of the gatehouse and the black-and-white work of the house, are very effective, and seem to put a touch of refinement into the building which it otherwise would lack. The courtyard itself, crossed in each direction by flagged paths between squares of grass, has a formality quite in keeping with the Renaissance spirit of the gateways.
The outer courtyard is 130 ft. long from west to east and about 70 ft. wide, its area being thus more than double that of the inner courtyard. It extends up to the road on the east side, having a wide entrance gateway with massive stone piers surmounted with balls, and narrow side gates, facing to the road. There is a mounting-block outside the side gate nearest the house. On the west side is a wall with a central stone alcove, surmounted by a figure of a boy, and in front of this a sundial on a pedestal. The court is partly turfed, and has a curved carriage drive, which takes away somewhat from the formality which the classic style of the alcove would suggest as necessary. The range of stable buildings which bounds the quadrangle on the south side is a massive stone structure with a gable at each end facing north, and good mullioned windows with hood-moulds. There has been a good deal of alteration, and the old flat-arched doorways are built up. But generally the building retains its original appearance, and in the part now called the Shippon is a central stone pillar. On its eastern gable is the date 1668 with the arms of Kenyon impaling Rigby. The roofs at this end of the building, together with the great barn, are of grey stone slates, while the rest of the buildings are covered with blue slates. The south front of the stables faces the lower or stable-yard, which has a fine stone-built barn with massive buttresses on its east side. The west side of the yard is bounded by a high brick boundary wall separating it from the house gardens, and the south-west corner is occupied by a picturesque brick dove-house presumably of 18th-century date, with stone dressings and grey stone-slated pyramidal roof. The west end of the stable range facing the garden was erected in 1722 by Lloyd Kenyon, and rebuilt again in 1864, as an inscription sets forth. On this side of the building also is an elaborate shield of arms with helm, crest, and mantling, carved in stone. The Rigby arms occur again on the head of a gate in the fence wall to the north-east of the house.
The land tax returns of 1789 show that in Middle Hulton the chief contributors were the Rev. Mr. Bagot and his tenants, who paid over one-fifth; the Duke of Bridgewater, Miss Killer, and others paid smaller sums. In Little Hulton in 1788 Joseph Yates and his tenants paid more than half, the remainder being contributed by Mrs. Ann Kenyon, the Duke of Bridgewater, the Rev. Walter Bagot, Peter Shakerley, and others. In Over Hulton in 1802 the trustees of William Hulton seem to have been the sole proprietors. (fn. 76)
In connexion with the Established Church Peel Chapel, St. Paul's, was built in 1760 by Joseph Yates; several of the Yates family are buried there. (fn. 77) It was rebuilt in 1828 and in 1876, a district chapelry having been formed in 1874. (fn. 78) The patronage is vested in Lord Kenyon. Services are held in St. Andrew's School, Over Hulton.
The Presbyterian Church of England has the old Wharton Chapel, the congregation originating with the Nonconformists of 1662, under the protection of the Mort family; the chapel was rebuilt in 1723. The Moravians held services in it from 1755 till about 1800; afterwards the Congregationalists used it till in 1860 it was given to the Presbyterians. It had been very poorly attended. (fn. 79) A new church was built in 1901.
The Wesleyan Methodists' Chapel dates from 1817, and that of the Primitive Methodists from 1823, Each denomination has since added another.
The Roman Catholic Church of St. Edmund, King and Martyr, was opened in Little Hulton in 1876, (fn. 80) and rebuilt in 1899.