Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society

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July 2008


Sun 27 Jul 2008

Society visit to Stonyhurst College and it's links with Chorley.

We arrived at Stonyhurst College in beautiful sunny weather. The college is situated high on Longridge Fell to the west of Whalley. It is a catholic college teaching to Jesuit principles. Tours are only possible during the summer break and we had a conducted tour booked. There were too many people for one guide so we had to split into two parties.
The school was originally founded in 1593 at St Omer in Flanders. At the time penal laws prohibited Catholic education in England. After moving to Bruges in 1762 and Liège in 1773 it finally located to Stonyhurst Hall in 1794. Today the school provides boarding and day education to approximately four hundred and fifty boys and girls aged 13-18. On an adjacent site, its preparatory school, St. Mary's Hall, provides education for boys and girls aged 3-13.
Many notable people have been educated there. Two of the most notable were the actor Charles Laughton (1899 – 1962) and Sir Arthur Conan Coyle (1859 – 1930). Some of Conan Doyles inspiration for his Sherlock Holmes stores, first published in 1887, came from Stonyhurst. At the college with him were pupils called Moriarty, Watson and Sherlock!

Stonyhurst College.

The earliest evidence of a building on the site is from 1372 when John de Bayley was licensed to have an oratory there. The oldest portion of the extant buildings was completed by Bayley's descendents, the Shireburn family. Richard Shireburn began building the Hall, whilst his grandson Nicholas extended it, constructing the ponds, avenue and gardens. Upon his death, the estate passed to his wife and then to their sole heir, Mary, the Duchess of Norfolk. In 1754, it was inherited by her cousin Thomas Weld of Lulworth (see Joan's note at the end), an old boy of the school when it was at Liege. He donated the buildings, with thirty acres of land, in 1794 to the Society of Jesus.

Thanks to Wikipedia for some of the historical info.  B.H.

Part of the Victorian extension.

The magnificently impressive
Sodality Chapel also known as the Chapel of the Angels. One of the first people to photograph it was Roger Fenton (1819 - 1869) a Lancashire born pioneering British photographer and one of the first war photographers. Some of his most notable pictures were taken in the Crimea in 1855.

The courtyard.

Students names carved in an old desk. Just up from the centre is the name A Doyle. Better know in later life as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle the author of Sherlock Holmes.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859 – 1930)

Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes

The Duchess of Norfolk's estates.

Why did the Duchess of Norfolk own land in Chorley? The answer goes back to the 14th century, when the division of the manor gave one share to the Shireburne family of Stonyhurst. Sir Richard Shireburne’s descendant, Mary Shireburne, born in 1692, married Thomas the 8th Duke of Norfolk in 1709, and at the time of their marriage was sole heiress to the Shireburne estates which covered large areas of Chorley, from Market Street to Common Bank and Astley to Gillibrand. When Thomas died in 1732, childless, his widow Mary remarried later that year. She lived, without issue, until 1754. The Stonyhurst estates passed, by the terms of her will, to Thomas Weld, (son of Mary's aunt Elizabeth (Shireburne) Weld,) in 1754. He was already living in Lulworth Castle and not in need of an extra 'house'. Thomas was an 'old boy' of St. Omers, Catholic priesthood, and donated Stonyhurst to the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in 1794. Thomas Weld died suddenly at Stonyhurst where 2 of his sons also died, one of them, John, being it's Rector. Thomas had 9 sons and 6 daughters.

Father John Chadwick, who was ordained in 1752, returned from Douai College in France, to Ladywell nr.Preston, and he was encouraged by Fr. Brockholes, his predecessor at Burgh Hall, to continue the development of that community. The Chapel at the Chadwick family home had become the centre of worship, not only for the local gentry, but also for their tenants and workers. When he came permanently, in 1770, he saw the chapel was too small for the ever growing congregation. So he set about raising money for a more 'comfortable' accommodation for the Catholics of the district, at a suitable site. He approached Edward Weld. a wealthy land owner of these parts who granted him lease of the land and farm called Thurston Hodsons, on the Chadwick estate, for the project. By 1774 having raised money to alter the farm buildings suitably, Fr. Chadwick offered Mass for the first time in the new Weld Bank Church, which was dedicated to St. Gregory the Great. Fr. Chadwick died in 1802 and was succeeded by Fr. Richard Thompson. His first request to buy the land at Weld Bank was refused by Thomas Weld, (other earlier plans had also fallen through) yet in 1810 the son of Thomas Weld, (another Thomas) who was later to become Cardinal Weld, gave Fr. Thompson the title to the lands on which the present church stands.

After a most interesting afternoon at Stonyhurst College we now seem to have the connection between the College and the Weld family and the Weld Bank area of Chorley.

References, with kind permission from Jim Heyes, 'A History of Chorley'
and also from the Weldbank Story.
Joan D. July 2008

Fri 18 Jul 2008

This is Chorley’s Crown Jewel…or should it be Heapey’s?
by John Harrison

In the adjacent photograph is a pair of Roman Silver Trumpet Fibula brooches on display in the British Museum. Christine photographed them on a visit in May 2008. The display told us that they were 2nd century AD, from Chorley, Lancs! Imagine our excitement!! The display explained that “Many brooches were functional and used for fastening clothing. They were worn by men and women. The fibula (safety-pin) form developed long before the Roman period, and existed in a variety of plain and decorative forms. The wide range of types in the 1st and 2nd centuries included some that were characteristically Romano-British, such as the trumpet (or Backworth) type. The majority of fibulae are made of copper alloys, sometimes enamelled or plated with other metals; precious-metal examples are rare. Note that, when worn, fibulae were normally pinned at an oblique angle with the spring or hinge end downwards. Some types were worn in pairs with a connecting chain or cord.” Adjacent to the display was a board of script headed “Gold and Silver Hoards” which stated that “the precious metal hoards of the first to third centuries AD from Britain, though less spectacular than some of the late Romano-British treasures, are of considerable archaeological importance. The interpretation of hoards is often difficult, and it is seldom possible to infer the ownership and purpose of such a deposit or the reasons for its concealment and non-recovery.”. Below the script a map of Britain identifies the hoards for this period. Chorley is the only place identified in the North West of England.

photo by Christine Harrison

I subsequently emailed the British Museum to see if anything else is known about this piece, whether it was part of an isolated find/gift or whether it was part of a collection of pieces. My reply from the Curator of Romano-British Collections confirmed that they were two identical silver brooches which were found with their linking chain. They were purchased by the British Museum from a Mr. J Hall in 1850, apparently as an isolated item. That was all that I could be told although I was also referred to Catherine Johns book “The Jewellery of Roman Britain” (1996).

The book was certainly useful. It identifies the chain which joins the pair of silver trumpet brooches from Chorley as being silver foxtail and describes it as “a fine specimen”. (Foxtail is a term used by modern Jeweller. They are loop-in-loop chains that give the appearance of a smooth round-sectioned cord with a knitted or plaited surface. Construction was a complex operation.)“ The manufacture of the more intricate foxtail chains would have been more difficult in silver than in gold, and surviving examples are not common.” Silver was less common as a material for chains/necklaces in this period. (Johns pp 91-96).

recent photo supplied by the British Museum.
'Copyright Trustees of the British Museum'

In writing about Trumpet Brooches, Catherine Johns states that although they had identifiable continental predecessors, “in their true form they were a characteristically Romano-British design…they survive in very considerable numbers and were clearly in extremely widespread use during their heyday…. The name derives from the swelling expansion of the head, thought to be reminiscent of a trumpet mouth….Two pairs of trumpet brooches from Lancashire (Chorley)”and Northumberland respectively and a single example from Carmarthen illustrate the type at its finest in precious metal.” The patterns on what Catherine Johns describes as “the beautiful pair of silver trumpet brooches from Chorley” was “cast in crisp relief.”. She believed that the chain was long enough to be worn in a double festoon between the two brooches. “The Chorley brooches are slender and elegant, with sharp fluted mouldings on the lower part of the bow and raised zig-zag and milled mouldings at the central acanthus knob and foot. The one surviving head-loop also has a plate with rows of milled or beaded relief. They give an impression of highly developed and sophisticated taste.” They were found with coins that date their burial to around AD 140. (Johns pp 160-162).

Apart from this rich detail about the chain and brooches Catherine Johns’s book has a photograph of them (owned by the British Museum). It is Figure 7.7 “Pair of silver trumpet-brooches from Chorley, Lancashire, with the fine silver foxtail chain which was worn with them. There is some damage and loss to both the brooches and the chain, but they are of exceptional quality. Length of lower brooch 6.6cm.”

The phrases printed in bold above is my way of highlighting and emphasising the importance of these items particularly to Chorley, but also regionally and nationally.
The story should not stop here .
Who was Mr. J Hall who sold the chain and brooches to the British Museum?
Would it ever be possible to borrow the chain and brooches for display in Chorley, perhaps with an expert to talk about them and put them into context?

Shouldn’t there be copy of Catherine Johns’s book available for Chorley folk to see in Chorley library (second hand copies go at upwards of £40 (p and p included)? My copy had to come from John Rylands Library in Manchester.
Is this truly a “Chorley” find? Jim Heyes in his “History of Chorley” (P5) refers to a chain with two brooches weighing about four ounces having been found with a hoard of roman coins at the top of a stone quarry near Heapey Church. This was a much-publicised find in 1835, ie 15 years before the sale to the British Museum. Jim Heyes refers to the chain and brooches as now being in the British Museum. Should we not be advising the British Museum that although Heapey is now part of Chorley, it has never been part of the historic town and parish of Chorley? In 1835 it would have been part of the parish of Leyland.

John Harrison
18 July 2008

Another photo of the brooch which was in the CHAS
archive some years ago but is now 'lost' to the society.

Fri 18 Jul 2008

A visit to the Heritage Cubes Project, Beamish Museum Regional Resource Centre, County Durham.
by Boyd Harris

On Wed 18 June 2008 I attended the Community Archives Development Group conference at the University College, London. One of the speakers was Helen Barker of the Beamish Museum Regional Resource Centre, County Durham. The subject was the ‘Heritage Cubes Project’ which meant nothing to me. Within a short time I knew what it was all about. At the Regional Resource Centre is a huge building of 3 massive climate controlled rooms. These are used for storage for museums and libraries in the region. However, part of the space has been made available for local groups to store their artefacts safely. I contacted Helen about visiting the project to see it first hand. On Fri 18 July I arrived for my pre-arranged visit. Those artefacts which local groups used to keep in members’ attics, spare rooms and under beds are now stored in freely available metal containers (heritage cubes). The service is provided free to the groups and publicly accessible exhibition space is also provided adjacent to the store.

a heritage cube.

One of the climate controlled rooms.
The Heritage Cubes are stored on the shelves on the right.

The exhibition room.

The Research Centre reception and  computer room.

 While I was there a local group were in the process of accessing their cube and preparing an exhibition. It was interesting to see that most organic material such as wood, textiles and paper has to be frozen for about 2 weeks before storage. This kills any microbes which may cause the artefact to deteriorate in storage.
Some groups with cubes are Durham Scouts, North East Police History Society, Embroiderers Guild and the Northern Archaeology Group. As far as I am aware this is the only example of a cubes project. Wouldn’t it be great if Lancashire had one?
The Resource Centre also holds the photographic and sound archives for the area. These are accessible on computer terminals and are fully searchable by location and key words. I was particularly impressed with the sound archive which has the ability to listen to the recording via headphones (unfortunately not working when I was there) and also the transcript of the recording available on screen.

The rest of the huge Beamish museum is adjacent to the Resource Centre but I didn’t have time to visit it. A good excuse to return in the future.

One of the Beamish exhibits.

Mon 07 Jul 2008

Glen Atkinson at Leyland Historical Society

Glen Atkinson visited Leyland Historical Society to give his presentation. ‘Victorian Paper’ or more accurately ‘What the Victorian Newspapers said’
For historical research the local newspapers are a goldmine of information and Glen said that whatever you are looking for you will always find something else twice as interesting. So many fascinating and amusing articles were referred to. Our current ‘blame and claim’ culture is nothing new. The Victorians got there first with such claims as injury because of the sudden braking of a train in 1886.
Justice was swiftly administered and one case was detailed of a man who killed a woman with a shotgun. He was tried, sentenced and hanged within three weeks.
In 1858 there was even a celebrity steeplejack. After successfully repairing the Farnworth Gasworks Chimney he did acrobatics around the top of the chimney and then slid from the top to the ground on a rope, suspended by one hand and setting fireworks off with the other. It was conducted in front of a public audience and people were asked for cash donations to witness the spectacle.

Glen in relaxed pose

Leyland Historical Society on the Shield Room, Civic Centre, West Paddock, Leyland.

Wed 02 Jul 2008

At Wigan Archaeological Society.
Bernard Champness of Manchester Regional Industrial Archaeological Society presented “St Francis of Ancoates, a history of the early development of the Internal Combustion Engine and the Crossley Brothers”.n

Crossley Brothers was set up in 1867 by brothers Francis (1839-97) and William J.(1844-1911). Francis, with help from his uncle, bought the engineering business of John M Dunlop at Great Marlborough Street in Manchester city centre, including manufacturing pumps, presses, and small steam engines. The early development of the internal combustion engine was a mix of ideas and research by various people and one person can't be credited the invention. Nikolaus August Otto (1832-1891) gave his name to the four-stroke engine cycle which he developed with Eugen Langen (1833-1895) in 1876.


One of many Crossley legacies, a Crossley bus.
Thanks to the Crossley-Motors website for the image.

An 1890s half horsepower hot tube ignition gas engine

Francis Crossley died in 1897 and an estimated 10-15,000 mourners lined the route to Philips Park Cemetery. He did many good works during his life and was even known to give £20 notes to the poor. Unfortunately some were then accused of theft as that amount of money could not have been legitimately earned by them in those days.