Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society

News and Views

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Nov 2016

Thu 10 Nov 2016
Lizzie Jones - And a new costume dramalogue
'Margaret Paston' a mediaeval wife based on the ‘Paston Letters’


St Laurence’s parish church was again the venue for Lizzie Jones’ latest dramalogue. Lizzie said the Paston letters dated from 3 generations of the Paston family from near Norwich. Written during the Wars of the Roses they amounted to over 1,000 documents; letters to and from family members, associates and workers.
Margaret, Lizzie’s subject matter, married John Paston and were the middle of the 3 generations. Although written in times of conflict they were not political in tone. They did, though, shed light on matters that affected a landowning, property owning family.
As was typical with their class, there’s was an arranged marriage, which produced 6 children. John was said not to be romantic but they both cared for each other. John worked in law and spent much time away in London.
Their letters illustrated the lawless times they lived in.

Lizzie Jones

Through acquisitions they owned several properties, Caister Castle, for one. They were subject to attack and occupation by powerful claimants to the properties. Circumstances meant that Margaret was alone in the properties when they were under threat.
The family eventually died out in the late 18th century when the letters were discovered.
Life was tough for much of the population, even if you owned land and property.
Once again, in her inimitable style, Lizzie brought to life a character mentioned only in letters dating back 500 years.

Peter Robinson



Tue 08 Nov 2016
Ian Bagshaw - Lancashire Hotpot

Ian announced his return to the society and said he would cover 3 aspects of Chorley; people, places and artifacts.
He showed an image of a blue plaque at Hollinshead School, stating Sir Norman Haworth, a Nobel prize winner in chemistry in 1937, attended that school. Born in 1883, his working life started aged 14 at a local bleach and dye works. He was encouraged into further education and his brilliance in organic chemistry led to an outstanding academic life. His research on carbohydrates and vitamin C led to his Nobel prize.
A more unconventional character was Leonora Carrington. Daughter of a wealthy local mill owner, she was by all accounts a strong-minded child. Difficult to control at school her abiding interest was art. Her education in art took her to Chelsea and Florence and her style developed into surrealism. Her colourful life saw her marry 3 times, escape from wartime Europe to Mexico where she became a much-loved and important surrealist artist being awarded an OBE. She died aged 94 in 2011.

Sir Norman Haworth

Ian’s third local person, Stanley Hough, was of much lower profile but a no less interesting life. Documents found in an envelope documented Stanley’s life through school in the 1930’s. Starting with a, not too, positive report but leading to one the school’s best performers. An engineering apprenticeship led to a notable career on the railways, not only in the UK but China too.
Ian’s places of interest included Chorley’s town hall and the changes to the streets around it that have occurred over the years.
His most interesting artefact, still with a town hall connection, was a solid silver cradle presented to a mayor, John Fernhead, in 1921. It was presented to him by the town council as he had become the first serving mayor to become a father.
Ian concluded his interesting Chorley Hotpot talk by explaining what Chorley Heritage Support Group does and how we could help.

Peter Robinson