People > Reminiscences and Family Stories > Recollections of Great Harwood 1 -- 2 -- 3 -- 4


Preston Guardian , May 13, 1876 ; Issue 3301

Recollections of Great Harwood

By an East Lancashire Man

Article IV

Time was when Great Harwood had its share in the Wittenagemote, but after the Norman Conquest the manor passed into the hands of the Henry de Lacey, of Clitheroe Castle . He parted with Harwood to a Norman, named Fitton, whose second daughter married Adam Nowell of Great Mearly. A fine old mansion still lingers at this place; it's remnants being alike remarkable for their grandeur and their firmness. The Manor of Great Harwood subsequently passed to the Heskeths, in whose possession it remained till 1772, when it fell into the hands of the Lomaxes. The first lord of the manor was Grimshaw Lomax, a gentleman very fond of the Pendle Forest Harriers, and who enjoyed the sports of the field in a long red topcoat, the laps of which flared in the wind like two great red banners as his horse mounted the fences. No one in the district was better known than Grimshaw Lomax, Esq. At his death the manor passed to John Lomax, Esq., a gentleman who, as an otter hunter, possessed an European reputation. The Lomaxes are an old Roman Catholic family. They were related to the Townleys and the Trappeses, who in their day took an active part with the Hammertons and others in the "Rising of the North". The present lord of the manor built and endowed the Chapel of our Lady and Saint Hubert in 1859, solely at his own cost. In some old records it is asserted that John Nowell did homage for his estate in the chapel of Great Harwood so long ago of 1389; but Harwood church is of anterior date to this period. Its ancient fairs were held in April and August. The Nowells of Mearly, the Nowells of Read, the Grimshaws of Mearley, the Starkies of Huntroyde, the Rigbys, the Kirbys, and the Knowleses took such an active part in church affairs as to precipitate the ejection of 2,000 ministers in the year 1662. The Walmesleys of Showley were very active. They were the cousins of Sir Thomas Walmesley, son of Thomas Walmesley, an attorney at Cold Coates, under Wiswell Moor. This family of Walmesleys have long been extinct. Bains, the historian, says of Sir Thomas Walmesley that government employed him to aid in the dissolution of monasteries and the sequestration of abbey lands - especially in regard to Whalley Abbey. The monks gave Sir Thomas Walmesley a retainer to look after their interests in the retention of their estates, which he secretly accepted. When, however, he gave his decision the monks were denuded of their abbey lands; the ultimatum being that Sir Thomas got paid from both sides. It is difficult to say to what order of religionists he belonged; he certainly was not a Roman Catholic. At Langho there was a very ancient little church held and engaged by the Protestants; but the Walmesleys of Showley took possession of it and turned it to Roman Catholic purposes, on the plea that the stones of which it was built had been stolen from Whalley Abbey. In this way the chapel was held by the Walmesleys until a royal decree was issued for its restoration, and it subsequently was given up to the Protestant party. The Walmesleys of Showley had not exceptional good luck, for several of them were charged with high treason, and one of them suffered for it. Yet in 1662 they bore down upon the Rev. Mr. Sandford, incumbent of Great Harwood, and bundled him out of his living the neck and crop. He died in exile. His prosecutors were not a bit too careful in filling up his place. Until 1859 Catholic worshippers had to go to Enfield , where the Rev. Mr. Leadbetter ministered in that spirit of unobtrusive zeal which is beyond all praise, living in peace and in piety with all other religionists. There are a few old notables who must not be forgotten. One of these was George Howarth, of "Load of Mischief", Enfield . He was proprietor of an opposition coach that ran between Accrington and Clitheroe. Who that ever knew John Higham, can have forgotten him? He kept the Hare and Hounds, Enfield . He was the most sprucely dressed man of his time, giving one the idea of his being a duke's coachman. He wore a showy long frock coat, an elegant neck tie, fastened with a horse shoe brooch; scrupulously clean top boots. He was a great whip and a great horseman. A steeplechase was held in the district in 1844 at which Mr. Higham rode a tall horse belonging to Tom Thornber of Colne. One of steeds managed to measure a fence, the hind legs being at one side and the front legs on the other side; the rider sat on its back resembling "Patience on a monument". Mr. Higham followed, and made his horse overtop rider, horse, and fence; the rider, however, settled his head on the chine of his horse, or it might have been caught. There was a great shout of applause at Mr. Higham's dexterity; but the extra effort lost him to race, for, on going to the scales it was discovered that he had scattered some shot in the fields, that had served as a "make weight". The second horse was decided the winner. Another remarkable man was Robert Riding, of Cock Bridge , innkeeper. His house, as a roadside inn, was a pattern of cleanliness and good order, and a huge otter hound kept watch and ward at the back door. At a time when coals were sold at 3d per hundredweight, Riding was a partner in a colliery, and he drew out without observing the form required by law. Twenty years afterwards he was sued for the debt of his old partners, and came to grief; but he lost not his reputation, for he started the world anew and again succeeded. Horse races were held in a field next to his house. One of the patrons of the turf was "Touch" Duckworth. With his "Clear the Kitchen" he managed to clear away the important prizes; but on one occasion he took with him a little mare - high in bone and low in condition. A man of colossal proportions, from Hurst Green, looked with admiring wonder at the lean racer, which was increased by "Touch" taking out a pair of pincers, with which he took off the horse's shoes; this was done because of the slippery nature of the course.

'Tis slippery ground, mind where you set your feet.

After the sagacious brute had been stripped of its shoes, the Hurst Green Solon exclaimed , "Kon that owd rip run onny". "Touch" couldn't stand that, so he placed himself before the Hurst Green giant in boxing attitude, but the giant stood with his hands in his trouser pockets. "Touch" now carried out his "fisticuffing" operation, planting all sorts of hits on the giant's breast and stomach, for he could not reach higher. At length the giant said, "Ol stand this no longer", and fell upon "Touch" with the weight of his body, which brought him to "Mother Earth", and suffocation would have been his fate if some of "Touch's" gang had not threatened to bring out a bear, which was fastened to a tree, and which "Touch" took with him to his horse riding exhibitions. The giant was induced to rise to his perpendicular, but it was some time before "Touch" came around. His horse was matched by some showy animals, all in vain, for it came in first - it started first and ended first. Another extraordinary man was John Moore, of Great Harwood, - well read, thoughtful, and intelligent to the last degree. He was a man of most extended views, both in religion and politics. Although he was fond of a practical joke, he had a religion which rose up within himself, and illustrated itself in his everyday life. He died about 1850, quite 80, or more, and the Rev. Dr. Bayley read his funeral service. He was a great "Oracle" in his neighbourhood, and consulted on remarkable occasions. Two women had been at the Wesleyan Chapel, and had heard the preacher expatiate on "Great Jehovah". A great contention ensued as to what " Jehovah" consisted of. So a visit to Mr. Moore ensued. On being appealed to, he said, "It means a corner cupboard from top to bottom". This was a clencher, and one of the women said she had said so all along. Two hand-loom weavers behind Rowley were very frugal, and they bought land from Grimshaw Lomax, and on it erected a house, making Mr. Moore into the architect. They built it themselves, but to their horror, they discovered, that on putting the last flag on the chamber floor, there was no staircase. They went to Mr. Moore, and he told them that they must put a staircase outside the house, and cover it with a porch. "All right", said they, "it will suit us exactly." They broke a doorway through the outside wall, and approached it with a porch, which may be seen at the present day. "With what must I cover my field to make the grass grow", asked a sleepy farmer, of Moore , one day. Moore replied, "Cover it with man-ure". The farmer took this to mean the human hair. He cut off his wife's hair, and scattered it about the ground. No change of was produced, so to Moore he went again, and related what he had done. He replied, "Did I not tell you man-ure. "Oh" he says, "I see I have used woman's 'hure' - it might well not do." He went home and cut off the hair from the head of his boys, and cast it over the pastures. He was a shoe maker, in a good way of business, and one day a beggar called, who said she came from Syke Side, near Haslingden. Moore had said to one of his apprentices, "Go to Syke Side, and see if her tale is correct - if it is not I will strap her". The apprentice pulled off his leather brat and darted off, apparently to Syke Side; but the apprentice knew better; but when he darted out of the door, the woman waxed furious, and with tears and entreaties of all kinds interceded with Mr. Moore to let her go. This he did ultimately, but not without telling her a bit of his mind. On being released, she did not permit the grass of Great Harwood to grow under her feet. The apprentice slipped back again by side door. There was a smith at "Clinkhome", which derived its name from clink, the place where the metal was hammered, and "home", its residence. John Moore would go at times and read the paper - or affect to read it - when it was wrong side up. "Re-call of the French ambassador from London - re-call of English ambassador from Paris ", would be his first words. Joan o' Letts would be in the smithy, and would jump about wild with delight. Another character was there, named Edwards Smith, who had fought in the Peninsular war and also at Waterloo . He wore a medal and enjoyed a pension. From his hair to the top of his nose there was a deep indentation, that had been skinned over. Joan would turn to Smith, and exclaim, "Tha cast off tool of no harrystockracy; tha hes put a fresh warp into looms today, but thal never ged to weave it - French is at Preston Marsh, mon". Smith with glowing indignation, would reply, "I fought for thee when thou wert skulking at Cliffe. Thou hast not a heart bigger than a cockle shell. Thou old Tom Painer and leveller". With intense delight Moore would listen to the war of words, and decide in favour of Smith, who would indignantly exclaim, "As for French coming here - never, never, never; sooner I would fight 'em again; they should walk over my dead body again". Joan would reply, "Moar pigs and less parsons - daen wi' all harrystockracy". More than a generation of men have passed away since that period, but the old highways of Great Harwood, with their narrowness, their awkwardness, and jump - jack character, still remain. Its lovely plains, its trout streams, and sylvan nooks, have lost none of their loveliness. Its government - that of cliques and coteries and absolutism, embodied in all paternal governments - still remains, and if it ever changes, it will be one of the blissful changes of the "good time coming".


(Thanks for this to Bob Calvert)


People > Reminiscences and Family Stories > Recollections of Great Harwood 1 -- 2 -- 3 -- 4


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