The parish of Prestwich with Oldham: Great and Little Heaton

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

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'The parish of Prestwich with Oldham: Great and Little Heaton', in A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 5, (London, 1911) pp. 80-82. British History Online [accessed 29 February 2024]

In this section


Heton, 1212—usual; Heiton, 1226; Hetun, Heethon, c. 1250; Heetun, 1319; Holton, Hoton, 1331–2 ; Hey ton, 1447; Heaton (xvi cent.).

Faefeld, c. 1280; Faghefeld, 1331; Faufeld, 1344; Fawfeld, 1368; Falefelde, 1447; Faughfyld, 1586; Fallowfield, modern. Pronounced Fawfield.

These townships, mostly on high ground, which slopes away to the south-east to the River Irk, have areas respectively of 875 and 532 acres. Great Heaton has two detached portions lying on the border of Middleton, and Little Heaton has a small isolated part, occupying the extreme north-east corner of the townships. Formerly the district was called Faghfield, and the places were Heaton upon Faghfield, but in time the present Great Heaton became known as Over Heaton or Heaton Reddish, from the lords of the manor, while Little Heaton was called Heaton Fallowfield. The population in 1901 was not returned separately, but partly with Prestwich and partly with Middleton.

The surface is undulating, varying from 200 ft. to 350 ft. above sea level. The most prominent feature is the large park around Heaton House, now the property of Manchester. The chief road is that from the north of Manchester to Middleton, along the right bank of the Irk. From it roads branch off, making a circuit of the park, and another great highway leads to Heywood. The Lancashire and Yorkshire Company's railway from Manchester to Bury passes through the southern corner of Great Heaton, mostly by a tunnel under the park.

The townships have ceased to exist as such. In 1894 the greater part of the area was added to Prestwich for purposes of local government; the small urban district on the east, known as Rhodes, together with the detached portion of Little Heaton above mentioned, were taken into the borough of Middleton. (fn. 1) A further change was made in 1901, Heaton Park being added to Manchester, on its purchase by the Corporation.

Fifty years ago silk-weaving gave prosperity to the villages of Simister and Bow Lee, but the industry has long been extinct. (fn. 2)

There is a well called the Danes' Well in Simister in Little Hulton. (fn. 3) A place called Clark's Cross is on the highest ground, 350 ft., in Corday Lane in Great Heaton. A curious inn sign, 'The Same Yet,' was noticeable at Great Heaton. (fn. 4)

In 1666 there were fifty hearths in Heaton liable to the tax; William Holland's house had thirteen, and Edmund Heywood's six. In Heaton Fallowfield, out of thirty-five hearths in all James Pilkington's house had six. (fn. 5)


Heaton, held in thegnage of the king, had before 1212 become divided into two portions, held by different families at different rents. One moiety, GREAT HEATON, as 4 oxgangs of land, was then held by Adam de Prestwich, and of him by Adam de Heaton, by a rent of 10s. The other moiety, LITTLE HEATON, also 4 oxgangs, was held by William de Radcliffe, and of him by Gilbert de Notton, of Barton, by a rent of 6s. 8d. (fn. 6)

It is difficult to trace the descent of these separate portions. Of the Prestwich moiety (fn. 7) one portion seems to have been acquired by the Hultons, (fn. 8) and thus passed to the Reddish family, being held by a rent of 6s. 8d.; (fn. 9) the other 3s. 4d. may have been due from Rooden Lane in Prestwich, which seems anciently to have been charged with that rent, (fn. 10) or from lands purchased by Adam de Prestwich and given to his son John, (fn. 11) whose descendants sold it to the Hollands of Denton. (fn. 12) This family also acquired a moiety of the Radcliffe part of Heaton, (fn. 13) the other half apparently descending with Radcliffe; (fn. 14) thus in 1346 Richard de Radcliffe and Thurstan de Holland held Heaton Fallowfield in socage by a rent of 6s. 8d., paying double as a relief; puture also was due. (fn. 15) In later inquisitions the tenure is called knight's service. (fn. 16)

The Heaton family appear throughout the 13th century, but sold their lands to the Prestwiches and others; and part was obtained by the Hollands. (fn. 17) This family became the principal one in the two townships. Their original house, known as the Old Hall, was in Little Heaton, but about 1750 the present Heaton Hall in Great Heaton was built, and remained the seat of the family until its purchase by Manchester. A junior branch of the family was seated at Rhodes in Pilkington. (fn. 18)

At the beginning of the 17th century the Hollands of Denton seem to have acquired the inheritance of the Reddish family in Great Heaton, (fn. 19) and from that time chose Heaton for their principal residence. (fn. 20) In 1684 Elizabeth, sister and heir of Edward Holland, married at Prestwich Sir John Egerton of Wrinehill, (fn. 21) and her son Holland, born two years afterwards, (fn. 22) inherited the manors of Heaton and Denton. (fn. 23) He was succeeded in turn by his sons, Sir Edward and Sir Thomas Grey Egerton, (fn. 24) and his grandson Sir Thomas Egerton, created Earl of Wilton in 1801. (fn. 25) His daughter and sole heir Eleanor married Robert, Earl Grosvenor, afterwards Marquis of Westminster, and the Heaton estates went to her second son, Thomas, born in 1799, who by a special remainder succeeded his maternal grandfather in 1814 as second Earl of Wilton. He assumed the name of Egerton, and dying in 1882, (fn. 26) was succeeded by his eldest surviving son, Arthur Edward Holland Grey Egerton, who died without issue in 1885. His heir was his brother, Seymour John Grey Egerton, fourth earl. He died in 1898, and his son, Arthur George Egerton, in 1901 sold Heaton Park and some adjacent lands to the Corporation of Manchester, the price being £230,000. All rights, such as minerals, &c., were included in the purchase. The park was opened to the public on 24 September, 1902. (fn. 27)

Heaton House stands on an elevated situation in Heaton Park, and was built in 1772 by Sir Thomas Egerton (afterwards first Earl of Wilton), James Wyatt being the architect. It is a low classic structure facing south with a circular projection in the centre surmounted by a dome, and east and west wings connected with the main building by colonnades. (fn. 28) There is a circular temple to the south-east of the house, and later extensions were made on the east side by the addition of conservatories. The building, in which the Ionic order is used, is a good specimen of the early work of Wyatt, and is now used by the Manchester Corporation for exhibition and other purposes in connection with the park.

The land tax returns of 1787 show that Lord Grey de Wilton paid about half the sums collected from Great and from Little Heaton. (fn. 29)

In 1852 the whole of the land in Great Heaton belonged to the Earl of Wilton, except one cottage with its garden plot; 'this cottage, situated at Catty green, is claimed by the township as the representative of its former owner, who upwards of a century ago, mysteriously disappeared, leaving no traces of his destination, and, what is more remarkable, no heirs to succeed to his property.' (fn. 30) This lies on the edge of a detached portion of Great Heaton, as also do parts of Bow Lee and Rhodes. (fn. 31) Of Bow Lee, however, it is said that the cottages built there about 1800 stood on neutral ground, no decision being given as to whether they were in Prestwich or in Middleton; hence they escaped local rates, and no relief was given by either parish. (fn. 32)

In Little Heaton the hamlet of Simisters Lane takes its names from James Somister, who about 1730 purchased a small farm there, and prospering, afterwards added three others, his estate reaching 52 acres. He died in 1780. (fn. 33)

From a feoffment of 1681 it appears that Robert Lever of Alkrington owned the old hall of Heaton, with its demesne lands. (fn. 34)

For the worship of the Established Church All Saints' was built at Rhodes in 1864; the rector of Middleton is the patron. There is attached the school church of St. Thomas, Bow Lee.


  • 1. Local Govt. Bd. Orders, 31625, 32103.
  • 2. Nicholls, Prestwich, 55.
  • 3. Ibid. 147.
  • 4. Pal. Note Bk. iii, 260.
  • 5. Subs. R. bdle. 250, no. 9, Lancs.
  • 6. Lancs. Inq. and Extents (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 87.
  • 7. Thomas, lord of Prestwich, granted to Joan his daughter, about 1260, half of Heaton, formerly held by Thomas son of Alexander; Harl. MS. 2112, fol. 148/184. In 1346 Richard Radcliffe, then in possession of the Prestwich manors, held 'Prestwich' by a rent of 20s., &c. The rent shows that Prestwich included Heaton. In 1325 it was found that Joan, wife of William de Holland and later of William de Multon, held the third part of a messuage and lands, and 10s. rent, in Heaton near Fallowfield, of Alice widow of Adam de Prestwich by the service of the third part of 2s.; Inq. p.m. 19 Edw. II, no. 96. Hugh the chaplain, brother and heir of Thomas de Heaton, granted to William de Holland in 1309 all his manor of Heaton, together with the service of John son of Adam de Prestwich; Harl. MS. 2112, fol. 148/184. Heaton is not mentioned in the later Langley inquisitions.
  • 8. In 1301 Richard son of David de Hulton brought an action concerning disseisin of 4 oxgangs of land in Over Heaton against Richard de Hulton the elder (brother of David), Richard and John his sons, Adam de Radcliffe, and William and Thomas sons of Thomas de Urmston; the plaintiff claimed under a charter of his uncle Richard, who denied that it was genuine; Assize R. 418, m. 5. At the same time Agnes, David's widow, claimed dower in certain messuages and lands in Over Heaton, which were held by Richard de Hulton, senr.; ibid. m. 1. In 1331 Richard son of Richard de Hulton of Reddish claimed the manor of Heaton super Fallowfield against William son of Richard de Hulton; De Banco R. 287, m. 236 d. In a further pleading the plaintiff, who recovered, stated that Richard son of David de Hulton had granted the manor to his brother David, with remainder to Richard brother of David; and as David died without issue, it should descend to Richard son of Richard; De Banco R. 294, m. 242 d. Richard son of Richard de Hulton [of Hulton] was fined for opposing. Richard de Reddish held five messuages, 100 acres of land, &c., in Heaton, formerly part of the estate of Richard de Hulton of Ordsall; Assize R. 1435, m. 40.
  • 9. The township was called Heaton Reddish in 1522; Misc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 144. Richard de Reddish died in 1404 seised of the manor of Heaton on Fallowfield, held of the king in chief by knight's service and a rent of 6s. 8d.; Lancs, Inq. p.m. (Chet. Soc), i, 80. In 1522 the tenure was called socage, the rent being 6s. 8d.; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. v, 48. This statement was repeated in 1559, when the manor was called Over Heaton on Fallowfield; ibid, xi, 60. In 1613, however, the rent due from the Reddish estate (not called a manor) in Heaton was 1d. only; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 253. By this time probably the main part of their inheritance had passed to the Hollands. It appears from the inquisition after the death of Sarah Coke in 1630 that lands in Crumpsall and Heaton Fallowfield, known as the manor of Crumpsall, had recently been purchased from William Sedley— probably in 1608; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xxvi, S3 ; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 70, no. 82. The 'manor of Heaton' continued to descend with Reddish, and is named in a settlement by Sir Robert Coke in 1685; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 217, m. 20.
  • 10. See the account of Prestwich.
  • 11. A grant by Robert son of Robert de Nettleham to Adam de Prestwich in 1297 is given in Harl. MS. 2112, fol. 164/200. In the same year Adam de Prestwich granted to John his son all the lands in Heaton, a hamlet of the vill of Prestwich, which he had acquired from Adam son of the widow of Heaton, and from Robert de Nettleham, with common of pasture, &c., in Awekeshowe; a rent of 40d. was payable to the grantor; Lord Wilton's D. By earlier deeds Alexander son of Adam de Heaton had granted part of his land to Christiana daughter of Alan de Harwood; the bounds touched Sandyford, Teribrook, the ancient mill-site, Ithek, Mereshawbrook, and the great road; and Thomas the son of Alexander de Heaton gave to Robert de Nettleham the same piece of land, described as lying in the vill of Heaton upon Fallowfield, a member of Prestwich; ibid.
  • 12. John de Prestwich in 1321–2 granted to John his son certain lands in Heaton in Prestwich; and in 1329 the younger John granted to his son, also John, all his lands in Heaton, Salford, and Manchester; Harl. MS. 2112, fol. 164/200. A few years later (1338) John son of John de Prestwich gave a rent of 40s., charged on his lands in Salford and Heaton, to Margaret, who had been the wife of Henry de Worsley; ibid. fol 146b 182b. This was followed in 1343 by a grant to her of all his lands in Heaton; ibid. fol. 148/184. In 1368 and later Thurstan son of John de Prestwich made several grants and releases to Thurstan de Holland; ibid. 148/184, 154b 190b, 164/200.
  • 13. How they acquired it is not clear, but in 1402 Richard de Holland of Denton died seised of a moiety of the manor of Heaton upon Fallowfield, holding it of the king in chief by the service of 40d. a year; Towneley MS. DD, no. 1461. The difficulty of distinguishing between the various parts of Heaton is increased by this rent being the same as that for the lands of John de Prestwich, as recorded in a preceding note. Sir Robert de Holland in 1319 granted to Thurstan de Holland son of Margaret de Shoresworth all his lands and tenements in demesne and lordship in Heaton on Fallowfield, and the services of all the free tenants and others, rendering 5 marks a year for ten years and then only 1d., and rendering to the chief lords the services due; Lord Wilton's D. About 1348 Margaret de Shoresworth recovered seisin of her free tenement in Heaton, Denton, &c., of which she alleged that Thurstan son of Sir William de Holland (and her son also) had disseised her; Assize R. 1444, m. 7 d.
  • 14. It is not mentioned in the Radcliffe inquisitions, but from that after the death of Sarah Coke, quoted above, it appears to have been included with the Radcliffe manor of Crumpsall, and purchased by Alexander Reddish. In 1329 Roger de Reddish made complaint against a number of persons who had carried away his goods from Heaton; De Banco R. 279, m. 391 d.
  • 15. Add. MS. 32103, fol. 146; it is called 6 plough-lands instead of 4 oxgangs. This seems to prove that Thurstan de Holland held part of the Radcliffe manor; the charters above quoted refer to the Prestwich moiety.
  • 16. Thus in the inquisition of Robert Holland, taken in 1514, his seven messuages, 60 acres of land, &c., in Heaton were stated to be held of the king, as of his duchy of Lancaster, by knight's service; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. iv, 58. So also a century later; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec Soc. Lanes, and Ches.), ii, 141.
  • 17. The charters previously quoted show this. To Cockersand Abbey Alexander son of Edward de Prestwich, with the assent of Adam his heir, about 1200 gave an acre and toft of his land in Heaton, between Terebrook and Mereshaw, next to his mill; Cockersand Chartul. (Chet. Soc.), ii, 723. This heir was no doubt the Adam de Heaton of 1212. One charter of Alexander son of Adam de Heaton has been noticed; by another he gave to Peter son of Adam de Radcliffe his part of Puchlincheles in Heaton, the boundaries beginning at the brook and going across to the bounds of Middleton, thence to Hich and down to Puchlissale brook, and up the brook to the starting point; the rent was 40d., and a third part of the forinsic service for the vill was also due; Wilton D. Thomas de Prestwich was a witness to this grant. To Alexander, Thomas his son succeeded. In 1292 Thomas de Heaton and Joan his wife secured two messuages, a mill, and lands in Prestwich and Heaton from William son of William de Hopwood; Final Conc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 171. There is one other early fine relating to this township; ibid, i, 66.
  • 18. A number of entries in the parish registers referring to them are printed by Booker, Prestwich, 176, 177. There is a reference to them in Visit, of 1533 (Chet. Soc), 218.
  • 19. In 1619 Richard Holland's estate in Heaton was described as seven messuages, 60 acres of arable land, &c., in Heaton on Fallowfield, held of the king by knight's service; and 12 acres of land, meadow, and pasture in Over Heaton lately purchased from Oswald Mosley, tenure unknown; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), ii, 142, 146. A like statement was made as to his brother Edward's estate in 1636; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xxvii, 42.
  • 20. See the account of Denton for this family; also Booker, Denton (Chet. Soc.), 16. The Prestwich registers began in 1603, and the Hollands of Heaton seem to have been buried in the church from 1616 onwards. Thomas Holland, of the Old Hall in Heaton, had a son baptized in 1627, and was buried in 1651; Booker, Prestwich, 176, 177. As 'Holland of Heaton' they recorded a pedigree in 1664; Dugdale, Visit. (Chet. Soc.), 146.
  • 21. Booker, op. cit. 178. Sir John Egerton and Elizabeth his wife were the deforciants in a fine concerning the manors of Denton, Heaton, &c., in 1685; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 214, m. 41. For Sir John Egerton and his family see G.E.C. Complete Baronetage, i, 108. Lady Elizabeth died in 1701.
  • 22. Baptized at Prestwich 6 Jan. 1686–7, having been born 18 Dec 1686; the younger children of the marriage do not appear in the Prestwich registers. On entering Brasenose College, Oxford, in 1704, he was called fifteen years of age; Foster, Alumni. He succeeded his father as fourth baronet in 1729.
  • 23. In 1711 a settlement of the manors of Heaton, Denton, &c., had been made, Holland Egerton and his brother Edward being deforciants in the fine; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 267, m. 34. Sir Holland was a distinguished antiquary. He appears to have resided usually at Heaton Hall, as his children were baptized at Prestwich. He died at Heaton, 25 Apr. 1730, and was buried at Madeley.
  • 24. Sir Edward Egerton, the fourth son, was baptized 2 June 1719; matriculated at Oxford (Brasenose College), 1736; Foster, Alumni. He died of smallpox, unmarried, on 16 Feb. 1743–4; his monument in Prestwich Church records the virtues by which he adorned an ancient and illustrious family. His brother and successor, Sir Thomas Grey Egerton, was baptized 7 Nov. 1721, and entered Brasenose College in 1740. He was one of the Tory members for Newton, 1747 to 1754; Pink and Beaven, Parl. Repre. of Lancs. 289. He died at Heaton 8 July 1756, and was buried at Prestwich, his epitaph stating that he was pressed to continue to represent Newton, but preferring the satisfaction of a private station declined it and retired to his country seat, where he made great improvements, and lived usefully, hospitably, and charitably amongst his neighbours.' Some of his benefactions are recorded in the account of the charities. His widow Katherine, a daughter of the Rev. John Copley, fellow of Manchester, lived till 1791.
  • 25. He was baptized 10 June 1749, at Prestwich; educated at Christ Church, Oxford; M.A. 1769; Foster, Alumni; knight of the shire for Lancashire, 1772 to 1784, being a Tory; Pink and Beaven, op. cit. 86–7; created Baron GreydeWilton in 1784, and Viscount Grey de Wilton and Earl of Wilton of Wilton Castle, Herefordshire, in 1801, this creation having a special remainder, failing his issue male, to the second and younger sons of his daughter in tail male; G.E.C. Complete Peerage, viii, 161. In 1779 he paid a rent of 6s. 8d. for the manor of Heaton; Duchy of Lanc. Rentals, 14, 25 m. In the same year he raised a corps of infantry—the Royal Lancashire Volunteers —the expenses being borne by himself and other private persons; Drill Field, between High Bank and Sedgeley Park, being used for one of the companies for drill. He was commander of the regiment as lieut.colonel. It was disbanded in 1783, but another was afterwards raised, of which Lord Wilton was colonel; he accompanied it to Ireland, and was stationed at Dublin Castle in 1801, at the proclamation of the Union; Nicholls, Prestwich, 57–63. He died 23 Sept. 1814, and was buried at Prestwich; his countess, Eleanor, a daughter and co-heir of Sir Ralph Assheton of Middleton, died 3 Feb. 1816.
  • 26. G.E.C. Complete Peerage, loc. cit. He was a keen sportsman, being fond of hunting and yachting; for a few years, 1827 to 1838, races were held at Heaton Park. He was also devoted to music, encouraged glee-singing, and was a good organist; Nicholls, Prestwich, 42–8, with portrait. He composed the tune called ' Prestwich.' His countess, a daughter of the twelfth Earl of Derby by his second wife, Miss Farren, was the Lady Bountiful of the district, 'idolized by the gentry and tenantry, as well as by the poorest.' Private Acts of Parliament concerning the disposition of the estates were passed in 5 Geo. IV, cap. 11, and 1 Vict. cap. 37.
  • 27. Nicholls, op. cit. 111–15. The full extent of the purchase is 693 acres. There is a herd of deer in the park.
  • 28. There is a brief description of the hall, with a view (1795), in Aikin, Country Round Mancb. 236.
  • 29. Returns at Preston. There was no other considerable holder, but in 1784 Sir Assheton Lever had paid a quarter of the tax for Little Heaton.
  • 30. Booker, Prestwich, 78.
  • 31. Richard son of Thomas the Choffer of the Rhodes (Rodis) demised for life to John the Keuer a house with inclosed curtilage and a piece of land on which Richard's chamber formerly stood; this was in 1336; Lord Wilton's D.
  • 32. Booker, op. cit. 81. Bow Lee Common is in a detached part of Little Heaton; Bow Lee Farm in Middleton. In 1587 Richard Holland of Denton, being by descent seised of a moiety of the manor of Heaton and a third part of a certain waste ground called the 'Balle Lye,' parcel of the said manor, in the parishes of Prestwich and Middleton, complained that while certain of his tenants dug turves in the Balle Lye, according to custom, John Hopwood, Isabel Hopwood, and others had entered Balle Lye by night and cut those turves in pieces, claiming the ground, or at least common of turbary therein, by certain deeds of which they had possessed themselves; Duchy of Lanc. Plead, cxlii, H. 4. The Hopwoods of Rhodes Green are noticed in Booker, op. cit. 230.
  • 33. Ibid. 80.
  • 34. Raines D. (Chet. Lib.). In a later deed (1699) in the same collection Robert Lever speaks of the dwelling house purchased from Thomas Hilton, the lands purchased from (1) James Lightbown, (2) John Dauntesey, Otho Holland, and Robert Ravald, and (3) Robert Johnson, all in Heaton; as well as others in Prestwich, purchased from Edmund Ashton. As early as 1621, however, Robert Lever of Darcy Lever had held lands in Heaton Fallowfield of the king in socage; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), ii, 255–7.