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Preston Guardian April 22, 1876; Issue 3298

Recollections of Great Harwood

(By an East Lancashire Man)

Article II.

The man shouted to John Hindle to come down from the hay mow. The appearance of a glorious phalanx led on by John Hindle might strike panic into the other side; they might surrender at once; and then no plasters would be needed. "No", said John, "it will not do for me to head you up, lads; I am too kense, mark ( well known), and if anyone is shot it will be me; nobody could miss me that tried to hit me". The disappointed patriot retired to his companions, and after telling them the result of the interview with Joan o' Letts, the result was the delay of any fighting enterprise until a more convenient season. Sometimes the travelling doctor was reminded of the haymow story, but only by persons who stood at safe distances, otherwise they would have had to taste of a stout hazel walking stick that Joan always carried with him. In after life he cautiously abstained from offering his services as a fighting general, although he often repaired to a roadside smithy to hear a schoolboy read the Northern Star by the light of the smithy fire, to whom he would give a few words of encouragement, such as "crash 'em daen, lad; crash 'em daen; kill o' place hunters. Not one shall be left." With great delight he viewed the turbulent demonstrations at Winny Hill in his own neighbourhood, and always rejoiced at signs of the French invasion or physical revolution. At 70 years of age he was as "fresh as paint", and at about 80 he gave up the ghost at Cliffe, where it is believed he was born like Dr Clayton, he carried the "cooler" secret to his grave. Another remarkable native of Great Harwood was William West. He kept the Brownlow Arms in Clitheroe for a great number of years, and died very well off; but in the terrible times of 1826 his affairs went wrong. He could neither read nor write; so he sent a friend round to invite all his creditors to meet at his house on a given day. They came at the time, and West took his seat amongst them as if nothing had happened, and some time was spent in silence. At last a creditor asked if West had turned Quaker, and had called a meeting in that capacity? What was he going to say? West replied that Samson was a strong man, and Solomon was a wise man, but neither of them could pay money if they had it not. A burst of merriment filled the room, and West was asked for an offer, which was made and accepted, and he ultimately paid everybody what he owed and had something handsome to spare. It was a favourite expression of his to say, "If I live and be well I will be buried at Harwood". All his customers heard him say this, and they too were smitten with the notion of being buried at Harwood. If there is such a thing as a nice a burial ground it is at Great Harwood. It commands a view of all the hills and dales in East Lancashire. A celebrated chemist, named Hummel, often visited Harwood, and thought that it resembled some of the famous eminences in his native land - Switzerland; so he resolved that he would be buried at Harwood. In the first week in September, 1849, the, Asiatic cholera broke out at Clitheroe, and Hummel thought it best to seek a safe retreat, selecting Harwood, accompanied by his father and mother, and sister-in-law. On reaching Harwood they were all attacked with cholera and died this same day. Hummel was interred there, and a fitting tribute to his memory is inscribed on his tomb stone. Hummel was one of the greatest chemists that Switzerland ever produced, and was one of the selections of Mr. Thompson, of Primrose, who spared no expense in pursuing the trade of block-printing, as one of the fine arts. One of Mr. Hummel's friends was Mr. Cunel, a German, who had a head-dress richly adorned with beads. He wore a long red gown, bound round the waist with a belt, black trousers, and his feet were encased with Wellington boots. He went into a house, where he saw some oatcake, and asked how many eggs there were in those fried pan cakes. He asked for some bacon, which was broiled and set before him. On tasting the oatcake he spat it out, and as to the bacon he had no idea of eating it, for he allowed the fat to run out at each side of his mouth. He sat down on the floor, and reached out a long pipe, the head of which rested on the floor, while with the other end he smoked. This was an illustration, he said, of one of the customs of Faaderland. He made love to a very pretty young lady, and if tears, and prayers and entreaties denoted love, he was deeply in its meshes, sure enough. The fair one replied, "How do I know what you are or who you are?" When this fair speech was interpreted poor Cunel was crazy. He sent to Faaderland for an elegant work-bag, with which he presented the fair one, but she was inexorable.

The district of Cliffe is a very remarkable. Originally common land, it was in turn granted to some one by the lord of the manor, or it might be a feudal baron, one of whose descendants is the Duke of Buccleuch. At the Cliffe there is an ancient hostelry, having a sign that has not its equal in England - "Dog and Otter". How a dog could get to Cliffe is well understood, but the otter - the great weazel of the deep - is not likely to have sought the shelter of the Cliffe. It may have wandered from the river Hyndburne to the head of the trout stream long before a tall chimney was erected or the gathering together of the dead sea of impurity in the rocky bed of an old stone quarry. The filthy quagmire is outside the boundary of the Local Board, otherwise that loyal corporation, with the impartiality that signalises all their public acts, would long since have removed the reeking abomination. The stone house in which in "Joan -o' Lets" was born, and lived, and died still stands; but his spirit - resonant with rubbing bottles, blisters and cooler has ceased to walk the earth, though not without hundreds sighing to know how he made his "cooler" that mollified every putrefying sore, of which there are plenty of specimens to be still found in the world. There is another remarkable cliffe in the neighbourhood - Shearcliffe. Its name has been corrupted into "Shirtley". In the spring of 1848 two men were crossing a wall - a man named Dobson and another when the wall fell, and out came two hundred spade ace guineas. This treasury trove was claimed for the Crown by the Chancellor of the Duchy; the Queen being the duchess of Lancaster. William Lomax, lord of the manor of Great Harwood, put in a claim; Mr. Dixon Robinson, of Clitheroe Castle, asserted the right of the Duke of Buccleuch to it as the owner of the honour of Clitheroe a wonderfully wide domain, larger, perhaps, than many small kingdoms. An inquest was held at Whalley, which was closed by a great feast, and the awarding of the treasury trove to the Duke of Buccleuch. Probably the money had been stowed away during the great panic, caused by Cromwell, and at a time when he marched across the higher bridge in Hodder up "Birdie Brow", and over the fell to Longridge. The church at Great Harwood is a great curiosity. Its outward appearance is according to some well-known style, but inwardly the sacred edifice appears to have been taken in in numbers. A parliamentary grant was obtained for its repairs in 1860, and John Taylor, Esq., of Moreton, gave a handsome sum of money, but only on condition that high backed pews and downy couches should be repudiated - nothing but plain seats in which the coal pit fashion was observed of first come, first served; but the seats are still obtained either by meal or by malt. Once upon a time it had two great friends in the persons of Mr. Shuttleworth, M.P., and Mr. Assheton, M.P., at which time marriages were made into matters of civil contract by the banns being published and the bargain completed at the town's cross. They bequeathed to posterity, sums of money for a dole which was applied to the wants of the aged, the infirm, and the destitute. The ancient bequest is distributed either annually or otherwise. The two most ancient public houses are "The Judge" and "Cross Axes". The latter denoted that the forest had been cleared and the axes rested in peace. Judge Walmsley, who owned much property in Harwood, had a dreadful imputation aimed at him by Bains, the historian, which was neither denied nor resented by his next of kin. Time was, when a sign professed to give a personal portrait of his lordship, but it must have been intended for "Tim Bobbin", for it laughed and leered at spectators from every point of the compass. Perhaps the picture was emblematical, enforcing the notion that justice was neither lame nor blind where Sir Thomas ruled the roast. "The Wellington", "The Plough," "Lomax Arms", and "Commercial" have become competitors with their ancient prototypes.


To be continued


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