Notes on the development of  Astley parklands, by Joan Dickinson

In 1963 burial unearthed of the Middle Bronze Age - as early as 1400 BC.

Documents associating Astley with the Charnocks appear from the Middle Ages onwards.

The Charnocks paid rent for the estate to "Hospital of "St. John of Jerusalem"

Tudor period - brickmaking. As Brick Kiln Field appears on the estate maps to the N.E. of the hall, we may surmise that one of the estate kilns was there.

Confirmation of the presence of deer is given in 1752 (to Rob Butterworth for mowing two crofts at Astley for the deer.)

A survey of the Brooke estates was made by R.& J. Lang in 1760. It details property in Chorley, Whittle-le-Woods, Euxton and Charnock Richard etc. where a coal mine had been worked for the Charnocks for over a century. So far as Chorley is concerned a substantial number of farms were on the estate. Halliwell Farm (mentioned in mediaeval deeds), its near neighbour Kingsley Tenement (now South Cottage), Lions Tenement (from which Lyons Lane is named) was near the top of the lane on the South side. Harpers Tenement was at the foot of Lyons Lane, straddling the now, Morrisons store.

In a 1760 survey Canon Porteus' transcript explains that Astley Mill was South of Mill Croft and S.W. of Far Old Orchard, which is on the site of the River Chor. This Watermill must have been in the same location for many centuries.

In the survey of 1760, reinforced by later evidence, reminds us that Astley was a working agricultural and industrial estate.

Astley Hall farm was not accessable to the public until after 1970. The fact that the farmhouse is visible from the adjacent footpath reinforces the point that Astley Hall was dependant upon, and the centre of, an agricultural estate. In 1571 an inventory was made by George Brown and Roger Allanson of Chorley detailing the property of Thomas Charnock of Astley, the livestock included: 37 sheep: 11 hogs: 6 young pigs: 1 old gelding and 3 mares: and 6 pairs of oxen, which would have been used for ploughing. When the farm was let for tender it consisted of just over 55 acres with pasture and meadow, then tenanted by James Clieveley The land agent was Thomas Gaskell who had offices in Bolton St. Chorley.

The gardeners of Astley were busy in the 18th century with its ornamental gardens, orchards and later, deer parks. One account from the last century refers to large areas of woodland disappearing from the park in the early 1800s

Moated sites: other local moated sites included Astley Hall, but unfortunately this has long since disappeared

The Gillibrands of Astley had a variety of fruit trees at Astley Hall in the 1710s and James Talbots Bagganley Farm were able to supply a succulent table of fresh food.

The compact demesne lands of the Chorley and Gillibrand families, and to some extent the Astley Hall lands, were farmed for the immediate needs of their owners. When the town fields were built over, a mediaeval trackway, now known to be Lidyate Lane, also disappeared. Lidyate Lane is a common name, originally meaning a lane with a swing gate to stop cattle straying, and bounded by ditches and hedges to protect the land on either side. A reference in 1731, in township papers says that; "The Bailiffs do give notice to all persons, complaint being made to this jury, that ye hedges on both side Lidyate Lane down to Astley Wood, be cut in all such places as the same in granting by the owners thereof."

There are several 'greens' in the area now, but there were more in past centuries. They are considered by M.A.Atkin to be a major element in the agricultural system of mediaeval south lancs. The oval stock enclosures which she (M.A.Atkin) found in the Leyland Hundred, were linked by tracks for the movement of livestock. She identifies 4 enclosures in Lancashire namely: Astley, Gillibrand, Healey Park and Kingsley. A relic of the past, still found in Chorley until 1864, was the Pinfold (used for penning stray livestock) near the modern entrance to Astley Park May, 1813, saw the construction of the Lodge at the entrance to Astley Park, and the removal of the towns Pinfold, near Astley entrance. A Pinfold of some sort, however, must have survived until 1864, as a advertisement in the Chorley Standard informs its readers of a stray donkey being kept there.

In Henry VIIIs reign Thomas Charnock was plaintiff against Richard Haydock and others, over neglect of the ring hedges in Astley Manor. Thomas Charnock of Astley was in dispute with his neighbour William Chorley over a boundary hedge in 1554.

According to the 1801 census, new streets were being laid out, for example: Halliwell Street and the new road through Astley Park across the Farthings.

In a 1780 reference to Astley Park Mill it mentions a working 'carding engine', which was associated with the Townley-Parkers.

10.10.03 Extracted from "A History of Chorley" by Jim Heyes, with permission