Wednesday 28 October 2020

Chapeltown's Past

This article was written by Robert Walch, one of Turton Local History Society's founder members.  It was published in the Bolton Journal in 1957 as part of a series named 'Historic Turton'.  The photographs and maps illustrating this text have been added in this post, and did not appear in the original article.

High Street, Chapeltown, 1950s
High Street, Chapeltown, 1950s

Farms and Cottage are Oldest Links with Chapeltown's Past

In last week's article, Mr. Robert Walch referred to the building of the Pack Saddle bridge at Turton Bottoms in 1691.  He makes further reference to this and the village of Chapeltown in the week's contribution.

Confirmation that the bridge was built for the corn mill is to be found in the Turton Manor Court records, for in 1740 it is set down as the New Mill bridge, a very satisfactory name for by it we know that the mill here was replacing an older one and secondly that it was built for the New Mill.  An entry in the records reads as follows: "October, 1740.  Also we present Richard Haymer for not repairing his part of the Way leading to the Lord's Mill beginning at Mill Clough and ending at New Mill bridge.  Amercing (fining) him in the sum of five shillings."  Richard Haymer was farmer at Lower Howarths, the site where Vale House now stands.  Mill Clough as we have seen is at Lithermans bridge, and the New Mill bridge is now the Pack Saddle bridge.

The last entry in the records of the New Mill bridge occurs in 1824 and 20 years elapse before there is any other record of it when in 1844 it re-appears under the name Pack Saddle bridge, the entry reading as follows: "Jury find that the Pack Saddle Bridge at the Bottoms in Turton, repairable by the County is in a ruinous and dangerous state and direct proceedings to be commenced against the parties liable to repair the same."  Still using the Manor Court records as our authority we find that by 1808 a new bridge had been built about 200 yards higher up the brook and named the Higher New Mill bridge (now Turton Bottoms bridge) and before this was built, wheeled traffic would have had to ford the brook alongside the Pack Saddle bridge.  Its erection is a sure indication of the great industrial development that must have been taking place here.

Chapeltown & Turton Tower - 1850 OS Map six-inch
Chapeltown & Turton Tower
1850 OS Map six-inch

Old Village

The present village of Chapeltown is largely 19th century but the impression conveyed is that of earlier age, for both the 19th century and some older buildings are of the same local stone.  Nearly all the evidence remaining of the old village is between Chapel House Farm and Chetham Farm, and these two farms together with Meadowcroft Farm and an old cottage are probably the oldest surviving links with the past.

It is likely that they are on the same sites chosen for habitations when the open field system of medieval farming was in being.

The old cottage No. 75 suggests its age not only by its appearance but also by standing forward and at a slant, of a building line which all the other cottages along the street are observing.  This cottage is the surviving portion of a former small farm or holding known as The Tower Field Tenement.  It was not much more than around three acres in size and in 1840 was being farmed by Richard Holt.

Tower Field Tenement, Chapeltown
Tower Field Tenement (right)
High Street, Chapeltown

The Black Bull

The next building of interest is the Chetham Arms built in 1746 by Humphrey Chetham who was a collateral descendant of the more illustrious Humphrey Chetham who had bought the Tower and the Manor from William Orrell in 1628.  Although known as the Chetham Arms and with the arms of the Chetham family cut into the stonework over the door, it was nevertheless known until 1823 as the Black Bull, in which year William Wood had the name changed to Chetham Arms.

One of the sureties for William Wood was Peter Cort, bleacher and part owner of Ainsworth and Cort, Horrobin Mill bleachworks.  William Wood was innkeeper here from 1788 to 1837 the year he died.  In the later years of his life he was also the tenant of the three farms Chapel House, Chetham and Clough House.  In 1764 the Black Bull was taken over by Dionysious Haworth, a man of tremendous bulk weighing nearly 26 stones.  Like William Wood he served on the Manor Court until his death in December 1782 at the age of 48 years, and he was buried in the churchyard on Jan, 1st., 1783.

The years between when Dionysious Haworth died and William Wood became innkeeper were filled by Margaret (formerly Nuttall) Haworth, wife of Dionysious and later a Nancy Nuttall married William Wood who in the marriage register is described as a chapman.

Holcombe Hunt Meet at Chetham Arms in Chapeltown (1958-9)
Holcombe Hunt Meet (1958-9)
Chetham Arms, Chapeltown

An Older Inn

Chetham Farm house and cottage must have witnessed many changes and activities for before the building of the present Chetham Arms this interesting 17th century building had been both farm and the local public house.  It is not known if this old inn had also been known as the Black Bull and the name then transferred to the present Chetham Arms as was the license, or if it had been known as Pilkingtons, the former name of this farm and so described on the Turton Manorial Map of 1830.  A license was granted to Alice Pilkington in 1718 and to James Pilkington in 1722, and they appear to have been farming here until 1772 when Samuel Pilkington, farmer and school-master died.

The name Pilkington appears to be one of the earliest in the village for Arthur Pilkington was in 1542 priest in charge of Turton Chapel

He was still here in 1565 when he was described as "decrepit and sick."  In the churchyard is an old gravestone with the inscription "A.P. 1604" and it is possible that this A.P. was an Arthur Pilkington and near descendent to the one of 1565.

Chetham Farm House, Chapeltown
Chetham Farm House, Chapeltown

Cross and Stocks

The original site of the cross and stocks before they were taken out of the village in the mid-19th century was almost opposite the old inn and it is not difficult to imagine the customers of the old Black Bull or Pilkingtons looking through its windows at someone placed in the stocks, or on some other occasion going outside to listen to the notice of proclamation being read from the cross.

The stocks at Chapeltown
The stocks at Chapeltown 2020