Tue 12 th Feb 2019
Dr Bill Shannon – Hell Holes, Moss Houses & Meanygates.
Bill’s talk stemmed from his interest in the history of maps
and, in particular, dispute maps. These dispute maps were drawn
by either side in a legal dispute over ownership of, or, rights
to access, land.
The dispute map, or maps, in question
relate to a 1596 court case. The dispute was the right of access
to the moss land, known as meanygates, area south of Penwortham.
Peat turf, used by much of the local population for fuel for
heating and cooking, was abundant there but it had to be cut.
On one side of the dispute was William Farington, who
was the farmer of the land on behalf of the landowner, the
On the other side was the mayor and burgesses of
Preston, who fought for the right of townspeople to cut the
Farington was a litigious person who, at any one
time, was fighting several cases.
Both sides had detailed maps drawn
up in order to support their respective cases. These were taken to
London to be used in the case. It is because they were used in a legal
dispute and were retained that they are now accessible from the public
Subsequently, the case was probably settled out of
court, resulting in the townspeople having to pay wayleaves to Farington
in order to access the land and cut the turf.
talk on a particularly local topic consisted of images of numerous 400
year-old maps, which included the sites of ‘helle holes’ in Penwortham,
These were evidence of a form of peat cutting that involved digging
circular holes that, no doubt, in time became mud-filled.