Townships: Great Harwood

A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.

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'Townships: Great Harwood', in A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6, (London, 1911) pp. 337-344. British History Online [accessed 11 April 2024]

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Harewude, xii–xiii cent.; Harewode Magna, xiii– xv cent.

The township lies on a ridge which is severed from Billington Moor by Dean Brook, and has elevations of 772 ft. above the ordnance datum on Harwood Ridge and 650 ft. on Bowley Hill. From the latter a wide landscape towards Pendle Hill may be seen over the deep gorge of the River Calder, which forms the northern boundary. Elsewhere the land slopes gently to the Hyndburn, a tributary of the Calder, on the eastern and south-eastern boundary, and to Norden Brook on the south. On the north-west the boundary runs almost in a straight line along the ridge of Billington Moor, terminating in the Calder half a mile above Whalley Bridge. On the southeastern slope stands the town of Great Harwood, and here the subsoil consists of the Coal Measures, but elsewhere of the Millstone Grit. The soil varies from gravel to clay. The area is 2,863 acres and in 1901 the population numbered 12,015 persons. (fn. 1) The land consists of meadow and pasture; but on the high ground the herbage is principally bent grass. There is a considerable area of woodland in scattered plantations. (fn. 2) The high road from Clitheroe to Accrington passes to the west of the town, with a branch road leading through it to Rishton and Blackburn. The old and almost disused road from Clitheroe to Blackburn crosses the extreme western angle of the township at Dean Head. The Great Harwood loop of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Co.'s line from Blackburn passes through the south side of the town, where there is a station, and continuing passes through Padiham to rejoin the main line at Rose Grove.

The township was formed into a chapelry out of the ancient parish of Blackburn in 1837. The Local Government Act, 1858, was adopted in 1863, (fn. 3) but under the Local Government Act, 1894, the town is now governed by an urban district council. A town hall was erected in 1900. The council purchased the weekly market from the ladies of the manor about 1896. The town is well paved and supplied with gas and water by the Accrington District Gas and Water Board, whose extensive reservoir is at Dean Head in the township. The principal industry is cotton spinning and weaving, (fn. 4) and there are also collieries, an iron foundry and quarries of good stone. A fair is held annually in the second or third week of August. An agricultural society formed in 1857 holds a show yearly.

The area of the township corresponds with that of the civil parish and urban district.

The demesne of Martholme, an ancient seat of the Heskeths, occupies the low ground on the left bank of the Calder. The mill and its weir are in ruins, but the weir was in working order till about 1885. The sewage works of the Great Harwood and Clayton-le-Moors Joint Sewerage Board are at Martholme. Cliffe is a suburb of Great Harwood, near All Springs. At Cock Bridge, where the road to Whalley crosses the Calder, there are a few houses.

There is a cemetery with mortuary chapel on the road to Rishton, near Lidgett.

John Mercer, calico printer and chemist, inventor of the 'mercerising process,' was born at Dean in Great Harwood in 1791, and died in 1866. He was a Wesleyan in religion. (fn. 5) The clock tower in Towngate was erected in 1903 as a memorial to him.


GREAT HARWOOD, rated as two plough-lands, probably formed part of the hundredal demesne after the Conquest, though some part may have been held in thegnage by the family which afterwards bore the local name. By Henry de Lacy (1146–77) it was granted to Richard Fiton to hold by knight's service and confirmed to him about 1180 by Robert de Lacy to hold for the fourth part of a knight's fee. (fn. 6) Richard Fiton died about 1190, for whilst John Count of Mortain held the honor of Lancaster, Richard Fiton, son and heir of the last-named Richard, recovered possession of the wood of Harwoods Holme in the count's court by writ of mort d' ancestor. He lost possession when John was deprived of the honor in 1194, but paid a fine to John when king in 1200 and again recovered the wood. (fn. 7) His brother John Fiton obtained lands here before 1200 and probably resided in the township. Before 1220 he exchanged certain lands adjoining the Milne Brook, Hindburn and Gamelsgate (fn. 8) with Henry son of Hugh de Elvetham for 2 oxgangs of land here which Henry held of him. He frequently attested charters whilst Gilbert de Notton and Geoffrey de Dutton were seneschals of Blackburnshire. (fn. 9)

A few years before his death, which occurred in 1246, Richard Fiton gave the manor to his son Hugh with the service of his nephew Richard son of his brother John Fiton. Hugh is named in the inquest of the Gascon scutage taken in January 1243 as holding of Edmund de Lacy the fourth part of a knight's fee in this place. (fn. 10) In 1246 Hugh Fiton recovered common of pasture in the wood and moor of Harwood against Richard son of John Fiton, but shortly after he released to his cousin land called Fulache which he had wrongfully withheld from him. (fn. 11) Hugh Fiton was succeeded before 1271 by his son Edmund, who gave the manor to his kinsman Richard Fiton before-mentioned for a yearly rent of 30s. and died in 1296, when the interest of the Fitons of Bollin in this manor practically terminated. (fn. 12)

Richard Fiton, kt., the grantee was living in 1283, but died before 1288, having probably survived his only son William, whose widow Margaret then held the third part of the manor in dower. She afterwards married Alexander Hurel. In or before 1288 a partition of the manor was made between the three daughters and co-heirs of Richard Fiton and their respective husbands, namely, William de Hesketh and Matilda, Edmund de Leye and Amabel, Roger Nowell and Elizabeth. (fn. 13)

In 1289 Hesketh became possessed of two-thirds of the manor, having acquired from Edmund de Leye and Amabel their portion of the Fiton inheritance. (fn. 14) In 1310 for £23 he purchased from John son of Edmund Fiton the lordship of the manor, including his own service of 20s. per annum and other 10s. due yearly from Adam son of Roger Nowell. (fn. 15)

In 1306 a dispute between the lords of this manor and Adam de Huddleston, kt., lord of Billington, touching the share of the wastes belonging to each manor, which had been commenced in 1301, was terminated in the presence of the Earl of Lincoln at Altofts. (fn. 16) This was followed in 1310 by the concession to the monks of Whalley of common of pasture and estovers which they and their predecessors had enjoyed time out of mind in the waste lying between the boundary of Billington and Roulegh Clough in Harwood. (fn. 17)

In 1313 John de Hesketh and Adam Nowell were complaining of the waste made in the manor by their respective parents, who held their tenements by the courtesy of England, in felling timber, (fn. 18) and in 1324 an inquest was held by the king's order to certify to the King's Bench what waste Margaret relict of William Fiton had made in tenements belonging to the inheritance of Adam Nowell. He recovered the tenements and obtained a verdict for £6 7s. damages against her. (fn. 19) Margaret died shortly before August 1324, when the lands she had held in dower were divided between Hesketh and Nowell. (fn. 20)

Upon the collection of a subsidy in 1332, John de Hesketh contributed 6s. out of 23s. levied upon twelve persons in this township. Six years later Adam Nowell obtained a grant of a weekly market on Thursday and a yearly fair on the day of St. Lawrence in his manor of Netherton in recognition of his services in Scotland, and in 1339 William de Hesketh obtained a grant of free warren in this township. (fn. 21) Some dispute about the 'outfields' called Tynuldefeld, Denefeld, land towards Leghshagh Brook and the land of Dobbe Emmesone, was arranged in 1332 by a friendly division between Adam Nowell and John de Hesketh, kt., of certain inclosures adjoining those fields called Wythineheved, Wikestubbing and Dobbes Hope. (fn. 22)

Hesketh. Argent on a bend sable three garbs or.

On Easter Monday, 1390, John Nowell, son and heir of Lawrence Nowell, came to Harwood Chapel and did homage and fealty to Thomas de Hesketh for the lands which he held of him in chief by knight's service. (fn. 23) The superior lordship descended in the Hesketh family until 1818, like the manor of Rufford, whilst the mesne manor of Netherton descended in the Nowell family, like that of Read, until 1772.

In 1380 a puture rent of 7s. 2d. was levied here yearly; whilst Hesketh paid 20d. and Nowell 10d. at Midsummer for castle-guard rent. (fn. 24) In 1421 John Nowell demised to his son Nicholas a water-mill upon Shaw Brook and a hey called the Denefeld. Again in 1429, as John son and heir of Lawrence Nowell, he did homage and fealty to Thomas Hesketh, son of Nicholas Hesketh, for his lands here on the occasion of a wapentake court being held at a place called Billingehill in Witton. He died four years later, well advanced in years. (fn. 25) Thomas Hesketh, esq., having pulled down the 'teynde barne on the fermet lande' of Ralph, Abbot of Whalley, in 1445 by the award of an arbitrator was constrained to permit the abbot to rebuild it and to deliver up the timber and provide six 'sappelinges' for the work. In another dispute touching the boundaries between Harwood and Rishton, in 1457, John Bradshaw of Bradshaw awarded to Thomas Hesketh common of pasture in Harwood, beginning at the foot of the North Deyne, ascending the same water westward to a little beck running 'auretwert'—that is athwart—Dungecarre, ascending the beck beneath the Taghed stone as far as it lasts, and thence unto the head of Rede Brook. (fn. 26) The dispute was renewed in 1491, when an award was made that the tenants of Thomas Talbot, kt., and Nicholas Rishton, esq., in Rishton, and of Thomas Hesketh and John Nowell, esqs., in 'Mikill Harwood,' should inter-common with all their cattle upon the common in variance as they had used in times past. Notwithstanding the grants of Henry and Robert de Lacy to Richard Fiton, the parcel of common on the north side of Norden, above Tottleworth, has long been reputed to be part of Rishton. (fn. 27) In 1490–1 an award was made in a dispute touching rights of way, by which a way on horseback and foot from Martholme through Mr. John Nowell's ground called The Park (fn. 28) was awarded to Mr. Thomas Hesketh. Further, Mr. Nowell and his tenants and servants were inhibited from using a way with cart, horse or on foot through Mr. Hesketh's grounds called the Lymetrough, Hyefurlong and Thyring (Thrunny) Moor, whilst Hesketh was inhibited from using a way through Nowell's ground to a ford called Sheyford without the latter's permission. (fn. 29)

In 1567 Thomas Nowell of Read, esq., son and heir of Roger Nowell, esq., acknowledged at Preston that he held his lands in Harwood of Thomas Hesketh, kt., by knight's service-namely, by the fifth part of a knight's fee and 10s. yearly rent—and did homage and fealty for the same. (fn. 30) During the 16th century the manor court was held in Hesketh's name only, Nowell and his tenants being called as suitors. (fn. 31) In 1598 agreement was made between Mr. Justice Walmsley, Robert Hesketh and Roger Nowell, esqs., for a division of the moors and wastes of Rishton and Great Harwood. (fn. 32) To confirm his position as lord of the manor, Robert Hesketh in 1615 obtained a grant of view of frank-pledge in the town and manor of Much Harwood, otherwise the Over Town and 'Laugher' Town of Harwood, and in the hamlet and manor of Tottleworth. (fn. 33)

Nowell of Read. Argent three covered cups sable.

One Thomas Barcroft, a priest, (fn. 34) resided with Dame Alice Hesketh at Martholme for some time during 1590. She was assessed to the subsidy levied in 1599–1600 on lands valued at £16. Three years later her second son Thomas, a recusant, notified the curate of Harwood of his coming to dwell with his mother at Martholme. In 1634 he was attached under pain of £200 fine to answer charges of recusancy, having for some time avoided arrest. (fn. 35)

Dame Jane Hoghton widow of Robert Hesketh held Martholme and the Great Harwood estate at the commencement of the Civil War. In 1647 they were sequestered for her alleged recusancy, but on appeal to the barons of the Exchequer she cleared herself of the charge. Robert Hesketh, jun., brother and heir of the late Thomas Hesketh, had leased the lands from her for £92 6s. 5d. per annum. In 1651 her estate was again secured by the County Commissioners on pretence of her delinquency for engaging with the King of Scots. The year following she sought to contract for two-thirds of her estate here and in Tottleworth, worth £67 per annum. Martholme Mill formed part of the sequestered estate. The weir, being decayed, had been repaired and raised by the County Committee. In 1651 Robert Cunliffe of Sparth claimed damages for injury caused to his land, which lay on the south side of the weir, by flooding due to the elevation of the weir. (fn. 36) John Molyneux, who had married Lucy relict of Robert Hesketh, occupied part of Martholme Hall in 1666, the tenant of the demesne lands, Widow Mercer, occupying the remainder. Thomas Hesketh paid land tax in 1788 amounting to £2 19s. 8d. upon lands lying in the higher division only. (fn. 37)

His son Sir Thomas Dalrymple Hesketh, bart., sold his two-thirds of the manor in 1818 to Richard Grimshaw Lomax, whose father James Lomax, who died in 1792, had, it is believed, purchased the Nowells' third part of the manor in or about 1766. (fn. 38) Mr. Lomax thus became possessed of the entire manor, which had been subdivided between the heirs-general of Richard Fiton in the time of Edward I. James Lomax, youngest son and eventually heir of the above-named Richard Grimshaw Lomax, died in 1886, leaving daughters Helen and Mary, and the manor is now held by the former (Mrs. Trappes-Lomax) jointly with the latter's daughter (Mrs. David Howell). Mrs. TrappesLomax married in 1866 Thomas Byrnand Trappes, and in 1891, the year of her husband's death, assumed by royal licence the additional name of Lomax. (fn. 39)

Courts were held till about 1886, but had long ceased to serve any useful purpose.

MARTHOLME (fn. 40) lies in a low situation on the south bank of the Calder about 1½ miles north-east of Great Harwood, close to the railway viaduct where the line curves sharply eastward towards Padiham, and is approached by a rough by-road half a mile in length leading from the high road from Accrington to Whalley. The present building, which is used as a farm-house, is only a fragment of the original structure, the whole of the great hall and west wing having disappeared. What remains is the 16th-century east wing and gate-house, together with an outer gateway of early 17th-century date. Of the original house no traces remain, and what is left of the great hall belongs probably to a 14th-century building which took its place. The house appears, from depressions round the site, to have been protected by a large moat, the river forming a natural defence on the north side. The plan of the 14th-century building probably followed the usual type of the manor-houses of the period with centre hall and end wings. Part of the east end of the great hall remains under a lean-to roof on the west side of the building, the pointed doors at the end of the screens being still in position, as well as two doorways in the end wall to the kitchen and offices. What remains shows the hall to have been 21 ft. in width, so that it may be assumed that its length was about 30 ft.; the appearance and size of the hall and the house in general, however, can only be surmised.

Sir Thomas Hesketh, who died in 1588, 'greatly repaired the house at Martholme,' and the present building together with the gate-house is his work, though some of the outside walling and a window at the back which appears to be of older date than the others may belong, like the west wall in which the doorways from the screens occur, to the older house. The building, however, has been much modernized, the walls being now entirely covered with rough-cast and the roofs with blue slates, (fn. 41) and has consequently lost much of its picturesqueness. The old mullioned windows, however, remain as well as the stone terminals to the gables. The house faces south and consists of two blocks, a smaller and a larger, side by side, with gables north and south, the eastern block projecting some 12 ft. at each end beyond the other, which is narrower and has an attic in the gable. The windows in the west gable are of three roundheaded lights without hood mould, and there is a two-light transomed window over the door, but those in the east gable are of four lights with hood moulds. Over the first floor window of the west gable is a stone panel dated 1577 with the arms and initials of Thomas Hesketh. The interior is modernized and of little interest. The middle room in the east block has an ingle-nook 10 ft. 4 in. wide and 5 ft. 8 in. deep, and the two pointed doorways already mentioned show in the lower rooms to the left of the entrance. The passage to the screens is paved with cobbles and has a wall built on the west side, in the position of the screen, which, continued northward, forms the outer wall of a later north-west wing. The old north doorway in the screens is therefore now entirely within the house; the south door, however, forms a distinctive feature of the principal front, and above it is a two-light built-up mullioned and transomed window with hood mould in what is now a screen wall.

The gate-house stands about 75 ft. in front of the present house, with which it is connected by modern fence walls forming a kind of forecourt paved with cobbles, 26 ft. in width. It is a large building of two stories 43 ft. 9 in. long by 20 ft. wide, with central arched entrance 8 ft. 3 in. wide, built in irregular courses of stonework, the walls being 2 ft. 2 in. thick and the roofs, which have overhanging eaves and a gable at each end, are covered with stone slates. On each side of the entrance is a large room on the ground floor, the original inner timber walls of which have been filled in or built over with brickwork. The interior is now in a state of dilapidation and practically open to the roof, the decayed joists of the upper floor being still in position. In the middle of the entrance passage is the heavy oak frame on which hung the gate, with styles 11 in. by 6 in. thick, the head-piece of which has a depressed arch with spandrels carved with shields and foliage. One of the shields has the Hesketh garb and the other a cross fleury, and in the centre over the arched head are the initials THR. The opening in the south side has a stone threecentred arch with hollow moulding much weatherworn, but that on the north side facing the house is plain chamfered. There are two windows of three lights on the ground floor facing south, one on each side of the archway, and on the upper floor over the opening one large four-light transomed window now built up, and a smaller window of three lights on each side without transoms. The lower windows have been altered and that on the west is blocked up. On the north side is a large three-light transomed window over the archway, and a three-light window on the ground floor on the west side. All these windows are square-headed with round-headed lights. Over the archway on the south front is a sunk panel on which is carved a blank shield with helm, Hesketh crest, and mantling, together with the date 1561 and the initials of Thomas Hesketh. At the east end of the building the square chimney with wide moulded plinth remains, and the west gable has a ball termination. At the north-east angle a small addition has been built to the gate-house at a later date.

The outer gateway is 65 ft. 6 in. in front of the gate-house and was erected in 1607, the date being carved over the archway together with the arms and initials of Robert Hesketh. It is a picturesque structure with stepped gable and ornamental finial over a threecentred arched opening 8 ft. wide and 9 ft. 6 in. high in the middle of a high rubble fence wall inclosing a grass forecourt the width of the gate-house, and forming with it a very charming picture. The feature of the two courts, however, belongs only to the late 16th and early 17th-century building, and the position of the gate-house, the opening through which is opposite the old arched doorway to the screens on the lower end of the hall, seems to imply that at that date the arrangement of the original plan had been altered, the east wing, originally the servants' part of the house, being then apparently put to other uses.

In 1192 Thomas the Priest gave to Gilbert de Lacy 2 oxgangs of land in Harwood held of Henry de Elland; a rent of 3s. and spurs worth 3d. were to be given. The grant was of importance, for it was made in open court, and the witnesses included 'the wapentake.' (fn. 42)

The principal families of yeomen settled here in the 16th and succeeding centuries were those of Cockshutt, Duxbury, Feilden and Mercer. In 1523–4 Lionel Foole and Roger Cockshott were assessed upon lands to the subsidy then collected. Twenty years later James Dobson, Nicholas Duxbury and Edward Mercer were each assessed upon goods valued at £5, and Robert Brown, Lionel Foole, Robert Norham, Thomas Peacock and Ralph Pollard each on £3 value. In 1599–1600 Lawrence Duxbury paid upon lands valued at £3 per annum, and in 1626 John Pickoppe on goods of £4 value. In 1666 hearth tax was levied upon fifty-six hearths in Martholme and the Overtown, the hall representing five and the tenements of Alexander and William Mercer and Nicholas Sudell three each. In the Lower Town out of forty-two hearths Edmund and Thomas Cockshutt together paid on eleven and Robert and Henry Feilden on seven hearths. In 1788 John Smalley was the largest contributor to the land tax after Mr. Hesketh. (fn. 43)


The church of ST. BARTHOLOMEW stands on high ground at the north end of the town and consists of chancel 26 ft. by 17 ft. 6 in. with organ chamber on the north side, clearstoried nave 66 ft. 9 in. by 15 ft. 6 in., with north and south aisles 7 ft. 6 in. wide, south porch, and west tower 9 ft. by 10 ft. with vestry on the north side, all these measurements being internal. The chancel and organ chamber are modern, having been erected in 1881, but the tower is of 15th-century date and the nave belongs to the 16th century. The east wall of the tower shows internally the line of an older highpitched roof presumably belonging to a 15th-century or earlier nave, but the plan and extent of the former building can only be surmised. In the 16th century rebuilding the nave and sanctuary were included under one roof in a rectangular building without structural division, and so remained till the modern chancel was added. The walls of the nave and aisles are constructed of long thin stones, and the roofs which overhang are covered with stone slates, the work being of a very plain character. The windows to both aisles and clearstory are square-headed, each of three lights with four-centred heads, except on the north side, where three of the aisle windows have trefoil-headed lights.

The new chancel has a four-light east window under a segmental head with perpendicular tracery, and two segmental-headed windows of two lights on the south side. On the north it is open to the organ chamber, the east wall of which is constructed with the stones of the old sanctuary and including the 16th-century three-light square-headed window. The chancel arch is of course modern and of two moulded orders.

The nave consists of five bays with an arcade of low pointed arches almost semicircular in form, of two chamfered orders springing from octagonal piers with moulded caps and bases. There are five clearstory windows on each side and all the internal walls are faced with rough stone. The roof, which dates from 1864, is of flat pitch and consists of nine principals, forming eight panelled bays. The east end of the south aisle was formerly the Hesketh chantry, and two fragments of ancient glass with the Hesketh garb and the initials of Thomas Hesketh remain in one of the windows. There is also a recess, probably a piscina, in the south wall. The doorway in the north aisle is now built up.

The tower has a projecting vice in the south-east angle and diagonal buttresses of five stages. The west door with flat four-centred arch is now built up. The west window is a pointed one of three trefoiled lights with tracery, moulded jambs and head, and external hood mould, and above is a canopied niche. The north and south sides are plain to the belfry stage. There is no clock. The belfry windows are pointed and of two lights with hood mould and stone louvres and the walls terminate in an embattled parapet without pinnacles. The tower arch is lofty, of two chamfered orders dying into the wall at the springing, and is open to the church.

The south porch is very plain with a wood gabled roof resting on side walls. In it is preserved a 15thcentury stone font with traceried panels.

The font now in use stands under the tower, and has on one of its eight sides the initials and date I E 1662. The other sides have traceried panels. The fittings are all modern, but under the tower is preserved an old oak bench with poppy end, on which is carved 'Orate p' a[nim]ab[us] Hugois Stanworth et Letecie uxor' ei' qui fieri istu . . .' (fn. 44) There is also an old oak chest in the vestry 8 ft. 6 in. long, with three locks, and at the west end of the north aisle a rather good 18th-century monument 7 ft. 3 in. high with fluted columnto the memory of Thomas Whalley, who died in 1724.

The tower contains one bell by Mears & Stainbank, 1866.

There is a silver chalice of Newcastle make, 1809, with the mark of Langlands & Robertson, and a silver-gilt communion set of Birmingham make 1894, consisting of chalice, flagon, paten and bread holder, the bequest and in memoriam of Thomas Haworth. There is also a plated paten.

The registers begin in 1560.


The parochial chapel of St. Lawrence has been mentioned under the date 1390 on the occasion of John Nowell rendering homage and service to his chief lord Thomas Hesketh before a gathering of friends and neighbours. By his first will, made in 1521, Thomas Hesketh founded a chantry in the chapel of St. Lawrence at Harwood and endowed it with lands to the value of £4 6s. 8d. per annum to support an able priest to pray and say mass and other divine services there. (fn. 45) It was dedicated under the invocation of St. Bartholomew, and was erected at the east end of the south aisle. Richard Wood was the chantry chaplain in 1534; the endowment produced £4 7s. 8d., of which 6s. 8d. was distributed among the poor on the anniversary of the founder's death. The year following the chantry was assessed by the subsidy commissioners at 8s. 1½d. for the tenth and 7s. 3½d. for the subsidy. (fn. 46) The commissioners of 1546 certified that Richard Wood, priest, was incumbent of the chantry; he had licence to christen, marry and bury and to minister the sacraments to the neighbouring inhabitants, who numbered 400 'houselinge people.' The endowment produced £4 13s. 8d. per annum. (fn. 47)

The Bishop of Chester's visitation lists show three priests at Harwood in 1548 and 1554. Richard Wood was still the curate, but Richard Dean had succeeded him before 1563 and subscribed to the royal supremacy. Dean's was the only name in that visitation list. He was still curate in 1565, (fn. 48) and died in 1578. William Herries succeeded and continued until his death in 1621. (fn. 49) John Nowell occurs in 1627. His successor Richard Hargreaves was suspended in 1631 for having made clandestine marriages, for drunkenness and for being 'a common ale-house haunter.' (fn. 50) William Kippax, his probable successor, occurs in 1638, and in 1646, on the institution of the Lancashire Presbytery, Richard Worthington, minister of Harwood, is found a member of the third or Blackburn classis. At the visit of the commissioners in 1650 there was no minister; the maintenance consisted of £4 per annum paid out of the issues of the duchy of Lancaster; the population consisted of about 200 families with the inhabitants of Tottleworth and Rishton town, who desired to be annexed to Harwood Church and to be made a parish with competent maintenance provided for a minister. The matter was still under consideration in 1658. (fn. 51) Mr. Sandford is said to have been ejected in 1662 under the Act of Uniformity, but the name does not occur locally. Thomas Bentley was the first minister after the Restoration, and continued to serve the cure until his death in 1674. William Coulton, B.A., curate of Blackburn Church in 1682, served this chapel and Darwen for some years prior to 1688, when he obtained the joint curacy of Low Church and Samlesbury. In 1684–5 reports were made to the Primate Sancroft touching the endowment and maintenance of the minister, (fn. 52) which resulted in an augmentation of £6 per annum, since increased.

From 1688 to 1690 Edward Sherdley, described as a 'conformable' minister, (fn. 53) held the joint cures of Harwood and Langho with a maintenance of £35 per annum. His successor John Barlow of Church Kirk held the joint curacy until 1706, conducting the service here in the morning and at Langho in the afternoon, save occasionally in winter, when short days and the badness of the ways might hinder the conduct of both services. In 1714 the maintenance was returned to the governors of Queen Anne's Bounty as £14 15s. 6d. per annum. A benefaction of £200 in 1735, made by James Whalley, with a similar grant from Queen Anne's Bounty, increased by another £200 in 1772 to meet a benefaction of £100 made by Richard Cottam and William Aspden, and another £100 from Mrs. Pyncombe's trustees, almost trebled the value of the living, (fn. 54) which is now given as £430 a year. (fn. 55) The vicar of Blackburn presents. The ancient invocation of the chapel has long been changed to that of the Hesketh chantry, St. Bartholomew.

The following have been curates of Harwood:—

oc. 1505 Edward Hesketh (fn. 56)
oc. 1534–54 Richard Wood (fn. 57)
oc. 1563–78 Richard Dean
1578 William Herris
1621 John Nowell
c. 1630 Richard Hargreaves
1631 William Kippax
1646 Richard Worthington
to 1662 — Sandford
1662 Thomas Bentley
1675 Nicholas Piele, M.A.
1676 Nathaniel Rothwell, B.A. (Queens' Coll., Camb.)
to 1688 William Coulton, B.A. (Brasenose Coll., Oxf.)
1688 Edward Sherdley (fn. 58)
1691 John Barlow
1706 Arthur Tempest, B.A. (Trinity Coll., Camb.)
1717 George Brown
1720 John Smith, B.A. (Jesus Coll., Camb.)
1773 Thomas Elleray
1780 Basil Cane
1781 William Greenwood, B.A. (St. John's Coll., Camb.)
1789 Borlase Willock
1803 William Barton, B.A. (Sidney-Sussex Coll., Camb.)
1819 Robert Dobson
1861 Wm. Maude Haslewood, B.A. (fn. 59) (St. John's Coll., Camb.)
1888 Arthur Frederic Johnson, M.A. (Caius Coll., Camb.)

The temporary iron church of St. John, opened in 1898, served as a chapel of ease till an independent parish was formed for it in 1908. The vicarage is in the gift of trustees.

Wesley is said to have preached at Great Harwood —once in a cottage in Church Lane, when he was stoned by the rabble, and a second time in the house of Mr. Francis Clayton at 'Back-o'-th'-Bowley.' Great Harwood was a preaching place in the Blackburn Circuit in 1787. Services were conducted in a room at Cross Gates, afterwards in a schoolroom at Cliffe. In 1822 the first chapel was built at Butts, but was appropriated by the seceders in 1849. A new chapel was erected in 1853 in Chapel Street, and enlarged in 1857, to which schools have been annexed. (fn. 60)

The United Free Methodists held services in the chapel at Butts from 1849, and from 1864 in a new chapel called Mount Zion, erected in Cattle Street, with schools adjoining. (fn. 61)

The congregation of Independents was founded here by Mr. Roger Cunliffe in 1812. Previous to the erection of the present chapel in Queen Street in 1837 services were held in a small room, at which students from the Independent College at Blackburn were the usual preachers, until the removal of the college to Manchester in 1842. School buildings were erected in 1854. (fn. 62)

Jubilee Chapel, belonging to the Primitive Methodist Connexion, is in Mercer Street, and was erected in 1860.

The Great Harwood James Barlow Chapel was erected for the Baptist Connexion in 1903.

For the Roman Catholics the beautiful Gothic church of Our Lady and St. Hubert was erected by Mr. James Lomax, from designs by E. W. Pugin, and consecrated in 1859. (fn. 63) There are memorial windows of the Lomax and Walmsley families, and a Gothic cross in the churchyard erected in 1888 in memory of the Very Rev. Canon Dunderdale. Adjoining the church are the presbytery and elementary schools.


A poor's stock for Great Harwood was begun by a gift of £30 by Sir Edmund Assheton before 1690, and augmented by many subsequent benefactions, including one of £173 by Mary Nightingale, who thus founded a bread charity. The Dole House estate and other lands were purchased, and in 1826 the gross income was £31. Of this £6 1s. 4d. was paid for fourteen 2d. loaves distributed at the chapel every Sunday to poor people attending divine service; the remainder of the net income was given on 26 December in gifts of 1s. to 3s. Another sum of unknown origin is now represented by £104 India Stock, producing £3 2s. 4d. yearly, administered with the income from the poor's land. The bread charity is continued, but the church attendance is no longer required. Some of the income goes to the school and some to the vicar. The remainder available is given in small doles of money and in flannel or calico. Robert Clayton Mercer in 1880 bequeathed £25 a year to the poor, and this is distributed on 21 December in gifts of tickets of the value of 4s. each.

He left a similar sum for the poor of Rishton, and it is distributed in the same way, except that the tickets vary in value from 2s. 6d. to 10s. In Rishton there is another charity, for Ellen wife of Thomas Darwen in 1776 left £120 for a bread charity, half for this township and half for Church (Oswaldtwistle); 3d. loaves were to be given, to such poor persons as might desire the same, on the first Sunday of each month. The capital is intact and produces £2 8s. a year; it is distributed in bread to eight poor persons on the second Thursday in each month.


  • 1. Survey of 1895 gives 2,868 acres, of which 68 are inland water; Census Rep. 1901.
  • 2. The agricultural returns for 1905 give arable land ¼ acre, permanent grass 2,187 acres, woods and plantations 164 acres.
  • 3. Lond. Gaz. 4650.
  • 4. The manufacture of rough linen cloths, checks or plaids was conducted in the houses here 250 years ago. Early in the 19th century many people were employed in their homes in weaving handloom-made calico and in printing works at Oakenshaw, in Clayton-le-Moors, half a mile from the present town of Great Harwood. The first cotton mill was erected by Mr. Lawrence Catterall about the year 1846; Abram, Hist. of Blackburn, 529–30.
  • 5. Dict. Nat. Biog. There were several Mercer families in the township; Abram, op. cit. 543–4.
  • 6. Close, 25 Eliz. pt. v; Harl. MS. 2074, fol. 55. The boundaries of the 'Land of Much Harewude' are specified in the confirmation as follows:—'Beginning at the head of the Redbrok (Dean Brook) eastward to the Denecrage (near Dean Head), thence upwards towards the thorn brake on the west to the Stonerake in the common highway and along the same to the foot of the Risshequam (i.e. rushy swamp) on the north side of the highway, thence to the Lawe beneath Sircliffe (Shawcliffe), to the Nabbenoke (near Whalley Nab), down to and along the little brook beneath the Fallingstone (in Nab Wood) to the water of Caldre, ascending the water (of Calder) to the foot of Hindeburne Water, up the same to the foot of Northdene (Norden), ascending that water westward to a stream running across Dungecarre (Dunscar, in Rishton), following that stream beneath the Taggetstone (near Height House) whilst it continues and then straight to the head of the Redbroke.' From this it will be seen that a portion of Rishton lying to the west of Tottleworth—once the property of the chief lord of Great Harwood—at this time formed part of the 'land of Much Harwood.'
  • 7. Farrer, Lancs. Pipe R. 115.
  • 8. Gamelsgate is the highway between Whalley and Accrington.
  • 9. Hesketh D. in Towneley MS. DD, no. 1735–7; Whalley Couch. (A.D. 1200–14), pp. 836, 1069–73.
  • 10. Towneley MS. DD, no. 1723; Lancs. Inq. (Rec. Soc. xlviii), 151.
  • 11. Assize R. (Rec. Soc. xlvii), 38; Towneley MS. DD, no. 1705. To his cousin William de Harwood he released land in the tenure of John son of Clibard; ibid. no. 1703.
  • 12. Towneley MS. DD, no. 1726; Abbrev. Rot. Orig. (Rec. Com. i), 93–4.
  • 13. Whalley Couch. 116; Hesketh D. DD, no. 1697–1700. Hesketh received the manor of Marketholme, now Martholme, with Hesillache, the Threnokedshaw, Hasilineshaw, Hindeburneshaw to Leweshaw Brook, the demesne lands belonging to the oxgangs of the Overton and the old Markedholme, the service of the heirs of Richard son of Margery and a third part of the great Hey, of the mill and of the wastes of the Overton and Netherton. Nowell received the Netherton of Harwood with the park, the Hey acres, the Brigeshaw, the Fulelacheshaw, the rent of Chirche and a third part of the Hey, mill, &c. Leye received the Overton with the riddings at that time asserted and a third part of the Hey, mill, &c.; DD, no. 1700.
  • 14. Ibid. no. 1699; confirmed by fine in 1298; Lancs. Feet of F. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches. xxxix), 183.
  • 15. Towneley MS. DD, no. 1722–8. Alex. Hurel and Margaret his wife joined in the sale to Hesketh. John Fison writes from Bollin to his dear cousin Adam Nowell directing him to answer for his services henceforward to William de Hesketh and John his son; DD, no. 1718.
  • 16. Assize R. 419, m. 7 d.; Towneley MS. DD, no. 1741. The boundary between Harwood and Billington was now fixed as follows:—'Ascending from Calder by an old hedge on the bank thereof beneath the Falling Etrekar to a brook near Robert Speks' tenement in Billington, and so towards the summit of the hill called Belesetenabbe by a new-made ditch, thence by ditches and stones to the Horelowe (Shawcliffe), and thence by new-made ditches and stones set there to Snodwrth, lying on the west side of the boundary.' Cf. Whalley Couch. 1012.
  • 17. Ibid. 1009. The lords of Harwood reserved 60 acres of 24 ft. to the perch within the specified region as their severalty except in the open season, namely, 13 acres in the Fayrehurst, adjoining on the north one of the new fields of Harwood, 3 acres by Rouleghclough, 6 acres in the Whitekar, and 38 acres bounded west by Snodworth, south by Rouleghclogh, and by Billington to the north.
  • 18. De Banco R. 201, m. 314 d. It was alleged that they had felled 400 oaks worth 6d. each, 60 saplings at 1d. each, 6 white-thorns at ½d. each.
  • 19. Ibid. 256, m. 213. She had pulled down and sold one hall valued at 5s., two chambers at 8s., a grange at 4s., a kitchen at 4s. 6d., a bakehouse at 2s., an oxhouse at 2s., and had felled and sold 18 oaks at 8d. each, 40 alders at 1d. each, and 3 ash trees at 6d. each.
  • 20. Hesketh D. DD, no. 1701. In the agreement for division of the dower lands mention is made of land of Dowe Emmesone, which Roger Nowell had given to William de Hesketh to do suit for the manor at the court of Clitheroe. John de Hesketh now grants licence to Adam Nowell to approve the common waste of 'Graunt Harrewode' towards Cundecliffe to the value of 9d. yearly.
  • 21. Lancs. Subs. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches. xxxiii), 80; Chart. R. 12 Edw. III, m. 15; 13 Edw. III, no. 13.
  • 22. Hesketh D. DD, no. 1720.
  • 23. 1729. The proceedings which took place before Roger de Etheliston, Henry de Rishton, Robert and Henry de Tounlay were certified by ten neighbours as follows: Hesketh having turned towards the west with a hat upon his head, Nowell uncovered before him (both standing face to face) and held his hands clasped between Hesketh's hands and said, 'I become your man from this day forth and will bear you fealty (foy) for the lands which I hold of you in Harwood, saving the fealty which I owe to our lord the king.' Having so spoken Hesketh kissed him, and after a book had been put before them, Nowell placed his right hand upon it and spoke as follows: 'Hear, my lord Thomas, that I John will be loyal and true to you, and will bear you fealty for the frank tenement which I hold of you in Harwood and loyally will do all the customs and services which I ought to do at the terms appointed, so help me God and the saints.' Then Nowell kissed the book in our sight and in the sight of many others.
  • 24. Survey of Clitheroe, MS. penes W. Farrer, 135. These rents were paid in 1662, the constable assessing and collecting the puture rent; ibid. 122.
  • 25. Towneley MS. DD, no. 1734, 1742. Thomas Hesketh had proved his age the year before; Lancs. Inq. (Chet. Soc. xcix), 21.
  • 26. Hesketh D. DD, no. 1739–40. See the boundaries in Robert de Lacy's grant.
  • 27. Ibid. no. 1714.
  • 28. Now represented by Park Farm.
  • 29. Add. MS. 32104, fol. 278. Richard Shireburne and John Southworth, kts., Mr. Assheton of Whalley and Mr. Braddyll acknowledged Sheyford to be a way at sufferance, and sought permission to use it.
  • 30. Hesketh D. DD, no. 1731. At this time the liability to do suit at the court of Clitheroe for Great Harwood was in dispute between Hesketh and Nowell; Add. MS. 32104, fol. 276.
  • 31. An old out-building at Martholme is called the Court House.
  • 32. Add. MS. 32104, fol. 277–8; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 60, m. 63; Towneley MS. DD, no. 1710.
  • 33. Pat. 12 Jas. I, pt. xii.
  • 34. He was of the diocese of Chester, educated at Rheims and Douay, ordained priest in 1589, and sent to England; he was reported at Clerkenwell by a spy in 1591; Douai Diaries, 187, &c.; Foley, Rec. S. J. vi, 164.
  • 35. Cal. S. P. Dom. 1591–4, p. 149; 1634–5, p. 108; Par. Reg. In 1626 Thomas Hesketh, his wife, Thomas and John Hesketh, Robert Squier and Ellen Mercer were taxed as noncommunicants; Lay Subs. Lancs. bdle. 131, no. 317.
  • 36. Cal. Com. for Comp. 2561–3.
  • 37. Land tax returns at Preston.
  • 38. a Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 376, m. 18—one-third of the manor of Great Harwood, thirty messuages, 500 acres of land, meadow and pasture by Alex. Nowell, esq., and Charlotte his wife to Robert Moss; Aug. 6 Geo. III. In 1788 Jas. Lomax paid land tax of 16s. 9d. in the lower division of Harwood.
  • 39. b Information of Mr. Trappes-Lomax.
  • 40. See an account of the house by J. A. Waite in Trans. Hist. Soc. (new ser.), xiv, 91–5; a view of the outer gateway is given.
  • 41. The old stone slates remain in the west side.
  • 42. a Pontefract Chartut. (Yorks. Arch. Assoc.), ii, 325, 526. The subsequent history of the land does not appear, but the grant may have been connected with the chapel.
  • 43. Lay Subs. Lancs. bdies. 130, no. 82, 125; 131, no. 274, 317; 250, no. 9. Mr. Abram notices most of the families here named in the Hist. of Blackburn, 541–5. Numerous references to the local family of Harwood during the 13th and 14th centuries occur in the Assize R.; Whitaker, Whalley (ed. 1876), ii, 393.
  • 44. Ibid. Note by Mr. Allen.
  • 45. Towneley MS. C 8, 13 (Chet. Lib.), p. 606.
  • 46. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), v, 230.
  • 47. Lancs. Chant. (Chet. Soc., old ser. lix), 145. The endowment comprised tenements in Oswaldtwistle, Croston, Wigan and Ashton-in-Makerfield. That in Ashton was sold to Christopher Anderton of Little Bolton, gent., who sold it in 1564 to Thomas Gerard of Brynn, kt.; Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 215, m. 6 d. The utensils consisted of a silver chalice of 8 oz., a vestment of tawny camlet and another black, two bells weighing 8½ cwt. worth 82s. 6d.
  • 48. Visit. Bks. at Chester; Ches. Sheaf (Ser. 3), i, 34.
  • 49. About 1610 it was said to be 'maintained by the king,' but no minister's name is given; Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. xiv, App. iv, 9.
  • 50. Abram, Blackburn, 546; from Harl. MS. 2103, fol. 85.
  • 51. Commonw. Church Surv. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches. i), 161; Plund. Mins. Accts. ii, 242.
  • 52. The annuity of £4 6s. 8d. given by Edward VI or Queen Elizabeth was collected with difficulty from the chancellor of the duchy; it was unknown who held the principal which yielded 42s. given by the ancestor of Mr. Thomas Cockshutt; marriage and other dues produced £2. There were obstacles in the way of the inclosure of 30 acres of common which had been awarded irregularly. The inhabitants promised six fifteenths yearly, making £10, which the lords of the township would make binding upon the existing tenants' successors; Mrs. Fleetwood promised £2, and a subscription of £20 per annum from Mr. Hesketh of Rufford was hoped for. In a petition to the primate the inhabitants state the value of tithe collected in the chapelry as £60 per annum; they plead that, being much decayed of late in their estates, they are unable to increase the maintenance of Mr. Coulton, who serves the chapelry well, but cannot continue much longer without an additional maintenance; Abram, Blackburn, 548–9, from Sancroft Trust Bk. vol. i, at the vicarage house, Blackburn.
  • 53. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. xiv, App. iv, 229.
  • 54. a Abram, op. cit. 550–1, where full particulars of the more recent augmentations are given.
  • 55. Manch. Dioc. Dir.
  • 56. Edward Hesketh, chaplain in the chapel of St. Lawrence the Martyr in Great Harwood, occurs in a feoffment; Add. MS. 32108, fol. 301b.
  • 57. In 1550 Henry Ramsbottom, priest, appears to have had some chantry or office at Harwood; Clitheroe Ct. R. 4 Edw. VI (Halmote of Accrington). He occurs also at Haslingden.
  • 58. The church papers at Chester Diocesan Registry begin with this curate.
  • 59. Perpetual curate of Tockholes 1857– 61.
  • 60. Abram, op. cit. 553.
  • 61. Ibid.
  • 62. Ibid. 552; Nightingale, Lancs. Nonconf. ii, 149.
  • 63. The mission was established in 1857.