A Description of Hoghton, printed for J Heseltine.
Back in 2012 I discovered an interesting document about Hoghton through an online search. To my delight JSTOR or digitised documents, John Ryland's library and University of Manchester, came up with “A Description of Hoghton" printed for a J Heseltine in MDCCCLVII or 1857 in simpler terms!
Who is J Heseltine? The answer is, - I’m not very sure! The cover says “ printed for J Heseltine”. Does this imply that he is not necessarily the true author? I have been unable to find any reference to other publications he may have written.
There is a passage in the book which describes the rear east garden of Hoghton Tower, formerly known as "the wilderness", in which he says that "under the management of Mr Heseltine it has become'nearly an acre of well cultivated garden ground". Is this Heseltine the same one who had the book printed? Mystery! However, on page 15, the author says that he himself is a “complete stranger to the De Hoghton family”. He is obviously a learned man, knowledgeable in history and geography, conversant in Latin, with extensive knowledge of the area. I have quizzed several people about this J Heseltine who, I am presuming was a man, including my late uncle, Herbert Miller-Crook, who had extensive knowledge of Hoghton and any publications concerning it.
Mr Heseltine would have been a contemporary of the Reverend Jonathan Shortt vicar of Hoghton for 46 years (until his death 17th May 1899). Although I suspected in the beginning that the author could have been J Shortt, who was a great historian as well as a clergyman, I don’t think he would describe himself as a "stranger to the De Hoghton family".
The author seems to have walked from Preston to Hoghton Tower, describing his journey, through Walton, passing Moon's Mill, Brindle Lodge, the Boar's Head pub. He could have turned down Chapel Lane, although disappointingly does not mention the Blacksmiths workshop, (which would become my own grandfather’s business from 1924). I think he is more likely to have taken a lane parallel to Chapel Lane, known as Walks End on the 1845 Ordnance Survey map, which lead to Park Gate Fold, (no longer exists) since he mentions arriving at the foot of the hill via a footpath on the north side immediately below the Tower (page 6).
The book includes many interesting and detailed descriptions of the area, especially of the views from Hoghton Tower. Standing by the sundial on the front sloping lawn facing W.N.W. he says it is possible to see Preston with its lofty chimneys, the Fishwick "big" factory and Mr Clay's house - East Cliffe. I'm not sure which house this is. Although I immediately thought of The Park Hotel at East Cliff, it was opened in 1883 so this is after the book was written (1857).
From the south side (page 18) he mentions being able to see the seat of William Fielden Esq, at Feniscowles, "so deeply nested in the wooded valley, that the top of the building alone is visible". He can also see Pleasington Priory, the factory chimneys of Grimshaw Park and Nova Scotia on the outskirts of Blackburn. Beyond "Causeway Farm", further back and to the left he mentions Stannith Farm noted as one of the largest in the part of the country being of 365 acres. The south side buildings are occupied by the tenant of the surrounding farm.
On page 16, we hear how how the hamlet of Riley Green got it's name. Under the reign of Charles I, a Lancashire family resided there, known as “Riley, of the Green".
Holy Trinity Church is described as “a modern gothic building, ornamental, with corner pinnacles. Opposite to which, stands Hoghton School, “recently built"! We know the school was built by Henry de Hoghton in 1837 and church in 1833 and later modified.
All the interior rooms of the Tower are described in detail, and despite the decay, there are portraits hanging on the walls, including one of Mary Queen of Scots. In the Guinea Room he mentions the family motto which is painted over the fireplace “Malgré le tort”. Although my knowledge of French translates this as “despite the wrong", the author says this means “Thence to right"!
In the King's drawing room he mentions that all the windows are built up.
Page 9, the north side buildings are said to be roofless at that time, so this is the era of disrepair.
Page 19, the author mentions Hoghton workhouse (Vale House Farm, Valley Road) and describes the beautiful hamlet of Hoghton Bottoms with it’s whitewashed cottages, sheltered from “the warring winds". He says there are two “manufactories" and the ruins of another recently destroyed by fire”. We learn that a Mr Lomax built “The Hall" at “considerable cost" and lived there having built “the works” below.
The hamlet is referred to as having “ lower”, and “higher” mills. He sees an abandoned print work in “lower bottoms" and visits a power loom factory with “large cheerful rooms where mainly females are employed at the looms”. They were weaving fabrics of “unusual fineness". This factory had a water wheel 18 feet in diameter and 9 feet in width.
Returning up the valley he describes the cotton spinning “higher mill” with its row of cottage houses for the work people. He mentions the extensive lodge on the south side. Mr Turton lived in the farmhouse on the hill looking down the valley while he occupied the mill.
Surprisingly the ravine which the river Darwen passes through, the locals apparently called “the Horr", it had “the appearance of the mountain having been cleft in twain by some supernatural power". He says that the length of the Horr may be a quarter of a mile, terminating at a caul. “The caul is topped by horizontal doors, which are lowered during floods”.
The visit of King James I of England IV of Scotland, in August 1617 to Preston is described in detail (although no mention of his source is given). The aldermen were "caparisoned and bedizened" like lords of the realm. The extensive banquet menu will interest those keen on cooking! After the banquet, the king is handed a golden bowl of "metheglin" and he drank "Health to his loving subjects at Preston". From there he moved on to Hoghton Tower.
He gives a lengthy description of the King ’s visit, the hunting and banquet. He relates how the attendants upon the King at Hoghton Tower consisted of no less than 100 heads of Lancashire families, gentleman of great estates. He mentions that due to a petition presented to the king he later granted them in 1618 the ancient use of keeping up “vaulting, dancing, May games, Quintain, Whitsun ales and morrice dancing, and setting up May-poles and other sports". However, "this was restricted only to those who had first served God in the church on the Sabbath. Popish recusants were not allowed, according to the tenor of the proclamation to enjoy these recreations.”
The last chapters mention other interesting buildings in Hoghton including – Mintholme Academy, a boarding school for boys run by a Mr W Johnson. (One of my ancestors, Thomas Miller-Crook, of Riley Green, was educated here)
Pleasington Priory. There is a long description of the laying of the foundation stone of Pleasington Priory by John Francis Butler Esq in 1816. Again we do not know from which source.
The "magnificent edifice" of Woodfold Park, “recently erected", home of Henry Sudell Esq is also briefly described.
I hope to find out more about the author - J Heseltine. Would anyone with information, please email me? firstname.lastname@example.org
04th May 2023 - Update on this post:
Kathy Brown (née Bycroft) stumbled across the above post whilst researching her maternal ancestors' history.
She tells me that the book was printed for John Heseltine, her four times great-grandfather! John Heseltine and his wife Margaret were both born in Wensleydale near Aysgarth. In 1871 he was the keeper of the Red Lion in Bedale and a farmer. They were the last tenants of Hoghton Tower before the de Hoghtons came back to start the renovation. He is listed on the 1861 census at Hoghton Tower, as tenant and farmer of 160 acres. John Heseltine died in 1880, the year that my own maternal ancestors, the Windles, came over from Thornton in Lonsdale to live at Home Farm, Hoghton Tower. No doubt they had known the Heseltines, and Margaret Heseltine must have employed them! Margaret's daughter, also a Margaret, married James Greaves at Holy Trinity in 1865. Her brother, James Heseltine, was an engineer. Two other children were butchers and farmers.
Kathy Brown's Aunt, Rosie Junemann, has written a fictional family history which covers the lives of Margaret Heseltine (née Whitton), John's wife and their children. Her novel covers the time the family spent at Hoghton. I haven't yet seen a copy but am looking forward to reading it in the near future.