Monthly Archives: June 2013

The second largest deer park in Lancashire – 1577


Christopher Saxton’s Map of Lancashire, published in 1577, shows Towneley’s large park, not at Towneley but at Hapton Tower. Throughout Lancashire, only Knowseley Park, home of the Earl of Derby, was greater in size. After the Civil War, Hapton Tower was abandoned and a deer park was established on the Brunshaw side of the Calder.

At Manchester on August 10th 1517 Sir John Towneley and others were required to enquire into enclosing a park at Whalley made by the abbot of Whalley. This enquiry was also to consider other enclosures in the area including a park at Hapton (12 Hen.VII), containing 40 acres of arable land & 10 acres of wood & moor & 200 acres of waste; and another park at Towneley (6 Hen.VII) containing 30 acres of arable land & 40 acres of wood & pasture [LRO DDTO O 1/65].

The best evidence of the state of Towneley at the end of the mediaeval period comes from the Rent Roll of Sir John Towneley dated 1st January in the 27th year of Henry VIII (1535-6). The vellum roll was given to Chetham’s Library [E.6.10 (3) ] by Francis Raines in 1878. Raines published the contents in full in Chetham Miscellanies VI, Chetham Society, o.s. vol. 103 (1878). It lists Towneley’s lanes, orchards and gardens along with the old park, the little park and the intakes of the old park. In accompanying notes, Raines wrote they “may simply signify enclosures, …. No deer are named in this rental, nor was a park mentioned in the great surveys of the demesne in 1603 and 1612.” Towneley field names in the Rent Roll still in use today are High Royd, Broad Ing and  Castle Hill. Fisher Ing is now the site of Higher Towneley Playing Fields and the Chapel Lee the site of Offshoots.

Across the Calder in Brunshaw was Argam Rode and three “water earths”. Their location can be seen on the copy of Lang’s survey map of 1735 and are recorded as fields K22 and K3 to K5 on Hamilton’s map of 1661. The nature of these long and narrow water earth fields has never been described by later historians. Raines reported that Argam Rode was elsewhere written as organroode and suggested organ was another name for a freshwater ling. The Riverside Car Park now takes up part of Argam Rode, whilst the rest of it and the water earths stretch west across the land now occupied by Unity College. All this land, along with much of Fulledge, is part of the Environment Agency Flood Plains Zone 3.

Today little can be added to the Raines account of Towneley Park at the end of the mediaeval period. Stuart Wrathmell’s 1982  evaluation survey of archaeological remains in Towneley Park identified remains of ridge and furrows that may date from mediaeval times but much of the park has been subjected to mining subsidence during the first half of the 20th century making it harder for a casual observer to distinguish possible mediaeval features. A site assessment of the Triangle and Avenue in September 2004 [Professional Sportsturf Design (NW) Ltd] reported – “Visual examination of surface levels indicate that they undulate considerably, … possibly associated with mining.”