Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society

News and Views

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Jan 2010 Feb 2010 Mar 2010 Apr 2010 May 2010 Jun 2010
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Oct 2010

Tue 12 Oct 2010
Charles Crosbie – Rufford Old Hall and the Hesketh Family

Charles Crosbie said he would concentrate on the history of the Hesketh family rather than Rufford Old Hall. However, this did not detract from what was to be an interesting look at the fascinating history of this local family.
Charles is the Education Officer at the National Trust Tudor great hall that is, Rufford Old Hall. He arranges school visits to the hall and manages a team of volunteers involved in the teaching programme.
The Hesketh family can trace its connection with Rufford Old Hall back almost 700 years. Charles, though, started with the current Lord Hesketh, which gave a flavour of the background to this aristocratic family. Educated at Ampleforth, a minister in, both, Thatcher’s and Major’s government, a former country seat in Northamptonshire, and a financial backer of the Hesketh Team, the 1970s Formula 1 winning racing team, which included the driver, James Hunt. Lord Hesketh, however, is now resident in St Tropez.

Charles Crosbie

Rufford Old Hall

Rufford Old Hall

Back to the mid-13th century, though, and it all started with a Hesketh from Hesketh Bank that purchased land next to Martin Mere to profit from the fish and fowl. There followed, over generations, a series of descendants marrying into rich families. The Hesketh’s could claim connections with kings and queens down the centuries, though it never reached the ‘premier league’ of the Grosvenor and Devonshire families.

The Hesketh’s can rightly claim a Shakespeare connection. They had set up a company of actors, which he was part of but he was principally employed principally as a tutor to the children.
Time constraints meant Charles had to ‘skip’ about 300 years but did say they were traditionally a strong Roman Catholic family. By 1861 they were Anglican and a family member, Thomas George Hesketh, became MP for Preston. His marriage into the Fermor family in 1867 created the link with the family home in Northamptonshire.
A later Thomas George, educated at Eton and Sandhurst, fought in the Zulu War in late 19TH century but went to Africa by yacht, the ‘Lancashire Witch’. Later adventures took him to the USA and married into a rich American family.

Rufford Old Hall

Along with the description of colourful family characters down through the ages Charles also explained the social and economic background that dictated the environment these people lived in.
It was because the family was based in Northamptonshire and the imposition of taxes that led to the first Baron Hesketh giving Rufford Old Hall to The National Trust in 1936.
Charles’ sweep through the Hesketh family history proved to be a success highlighted by a lively question and answer session.

Peter Robinson

Tue 12 Oct 2010
Planning meeting Chorley Town Hall

Below are two photographs taken in 1980 of the interior of the old Clayton Reservoir adjacent to Back Ln., Clayton-le-Woods. The owners, United Utilities, have submitted a planning application to demolish it and use the site for new houses. The reservoir was built in 1884 to provide storage for clean water for Leyland. It is the oldest and last surviving example of brick vaulted reservoir construction in the area. Rosemary Boyd attended a planning meeting this evening to discuss the planned development. Everyone expected the scheme to be approved with little objection but Rosemary and others put such a strong case for preserving the reservoir in some useful and economic form that the plan was deferred awaiting a site inspection. This good news will allow time for a reasonably practical alternative to be discussed.



plan of the area in 1884

plan of the area c2009

aerial photo c1962