Monthly Archives: May 2013

High Royd Pitch and Putt – watch out for the wolf

Before the Deans of Whalley were granted land for a hunting lodge at Towneley, around 1200, the people of Burnley were sharing land there as common pasture for cattle. Then it was called Tunleia and since then has been written in many ways including Tunlay, Thonlay, Touneley and Townley. It means the clearing belonging to the town.

The area was mainly woods and wet boggy ground were little grew. Cattle were taken to pasture on the hills in the summer and returned to lower land before winter. Young animals needed constant protection from wolves and so clearings were made in the woodland and enclosed with fences to prevent the cattle roaming. A woodland clearing was called a rode or royd. High Royd was probably one such an enclosure and these enclosures caused all the surrounding area to be named Tunleia.

The original grant of land from around 1200 no longer exists but another grant from 1273 records land owned by Gilbert de la Legh lying on both sides of the River Calder and named Weterode and Waderode.


Manuscript DDTo O/1/12 dated 1273 in Latin [Lancashire Record Office]

Around 1304, Cecilia de Thonlay, widow of Richard, brother of Roger, the last Dean of Whalley, gave to John de la Legh, son of Gilbert de la Legh, the land she held at Towneley.  John de la Legh had married one of her three daughters, also called Cecilia and John’s second son Richard took de Towneley as his surname and his descendants continued at Towneley for another 600 years.


Manuscript DDTo 25/11 dated 1303-4 [32 Edward I] in Latin [Lancashire Record Office]

There is nothing apart from legal documents to give any details about Towneley itself early in the 14th century but two documents dating from 1296 and 1305 give a clearer picture of the state of agriculture across East Lancashire as a whole at this time.  These are the accounts of the Lancashire and Cheshire manors of Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln. They record Gilbert de la Legh was a farm manager for Henry de Lacy and show that in 1295 Gilbert paid a man 14 pence to guard calves from the wolves on the farms in Rossendale. It is likely that cattle were prey to wolves across East Lancashire well into the 14th century. { Chetham Society OS 112 Two compoti of the Lancashire and Cheshire manors of Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, 24 and 33 Edward I [1294-6; 1304-5] (ed. P.A. Lyons, 1884). }