Houses of Interest: Lancashire
Updated: added Church Of St Leonard, Middleton
Whilst writing the Prince Rupert travelogue I became aware of a number of houses which had some link to the Civil Wars, but were not tied to Rupert's advance north. Nor could they claim a close connection to a particular battle, such as Bolling House's role in Adwalton Moor.
In this series you'll find houses that didn't fit the Rupert narrative very well; were closed to the public at the time of writing Rupert; or, I hadn't known about a Civil Wars connection. I propose to write one entry per county*, and will update each entry as I expand my visits. I will change the date stamps of updated entries so subscribers (hello both of you) will be informed of updates. Initially I will look at the counties most local to Château KeepYourPowderDry - Derbyshire, Cheshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire.
And so we turn to Lancashire...
One such house is Hoghton (pronounced Horton) Tower an Elizabethan fortified manor house. Strong connections to James I who stayed for three days, bankrupting the owners and knighting a loin of beef. (Yes, the story of how sirloin got its name is true and took place at Hoghton Tower.)
The Hoghton family were Royalists (and Papists to boot) as was much of the County. The Tower had a small garrison of about 30 musketeers. Sir Gilbert de Hoghton had a larger force, with which he was causing a bit of a nuisance in the Blackburn Hundred. So much so that in February 1643 Captain Nicholas Starky of Huntroyd led a 'small expedition of 300 men' from Blackburn to besiege Sir Gilbert's base. Sir Gilbert and his troops weren't at home, so the garrison capitulated after a very brief siege
Starky's soldiers moved into the Tower, and in particular the peel tower which was home to the garrison's powder store.
What happened next varies depending upon which source one reads - the Parliamentarian pamphlet "Punctuall Relation" claims that the Tower's defenders lit a "a traine of powder laid" which blew up the peel tower and Starky and about three score of his men: "afterwards (we) found, some without armes and some without legges, and others fearefull spectacles to looke upon".
Another Parliamentarian pamphlet "Lancashire's Valley of Anchor" claimed that Starky's troops caused the explosion by their "own sin and laxity". In other words they were drunk and smoking pipes.
The Tower is still occupied by the de Hoghton family, guided tours are available from April to October. Gardens, tea rooms and gift shop are a given. Sadly no real Civil War artefacts, but a beautiful bit of architecture, lots of James I anecdotes, a witch's mark and priest holes.
The approach to Hoghton Tower
Next on our itinerary is Turton Tower, originally a medieval peel tower two cruck framed buildings were attached to the tower in Tudor times. During the Civil Wars the Tower was owned by Sir Humphrey Chetham, Parliament's Treasurer of Lancashire. Sadly no discounted entry was available for descendants. Whilst the Tower wasn't besieged it was entered three times by rampaging armies who seemed to have had a habit of knocking down fences and requisitioning cattle.
What's there today? Turton Tower feels very authentic. Lots of dark oak Tudor/Jacobean/Carolian furniture on loan from the V&A including some wonderfully carved four posters. There are three suits of cuirassier armour on display as well as a number of swords, muskets and blunderbusses. A cafe, play park and gift shop? Goes without saying.
Well worth a visit.
St Leonard's Church in Middleton is surprisingly a gem of a fifteenth century church on the edge of Manchester. The church is famous for having a wooden belfry, an original part of the church not an addition done 'on the cheap'.
Inside make your way to the altar, to the left is the 'Flodden window' which commemorates the Middleton archers who took part in the battle of Flodden. The window is claimed to be the world's oldest war memorial.
Just in front of the altar are the Assheton brasses - a number of monumental brasses commemorating the Assheton family, including Colonel-General Ralph Assheton, commander-in-chief of Parliamentarian forces in Lancashire. Interestingly Ralph's memorial brass is the only brass in the UK of a Civil War officer in full armour.
After the self-denying ordinance was passed in April 1645, Assheton took command of his father's regiment of foot, commanding them at the Siege of Chester.
Please note: the church has very limited opening hours - check their website for details.
Postcodes for SatNavsTurton Tower BL7 0HG
Hoghton Tower PR5 0SH
Hoghton Tower PR5 0SH
St Leonard's Church, Middleton M24 6DJ
* The recent Bolsover Castle entry has been reorganised and renamed, and is the first entry in the Derbyshire entry.