Category Archives: Edward Lovat (1773-1841)

Edward Lovat was land agent at Towneley from 1803 and planted many trees at Towneley, as recorded in his plantation book in 1836.

1801 – The Great Oak West Walk

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Robert Lang drew a map of Towneley after the death of Richard Towneley in 1735. The original map has been lost but there is a copy in Lancashire Record Office (DP322). This copy was made by Edward Lovat for Charles Townley (1737-1805) in 1801. The map shows a path from the Hall to Causeway End. The map is damaged, showing only –useway — wood but purchase deeds in Lancashire Record Office for the period 1719-1726 records a farm at Causeway End. [DDTO D 9/1-5] .The path was described in 1735 as “new avenue west of Park”. Charles Townley recorded it in his diary as “the great oak west walk”. [ 22 August 1801, British Museum  TY 1/16].

On the 1661 estate map this area was covered with oak trees and there was no path shown. In 1715, Richard was present at the Battle of Preston on the side of the defeated Jacobite army. He was arrested and tried for treason in London in 1716. Richard managed to get acquitted and the Family History records: “He cut down a fine wood of oaks near to the mansion, to pay the expenses incurred in his defence”. This was Old Parkwood, now part of the golf course.

Local historians have often tried to link Causeway End with the Long Causeway, which runs from Mereclough in Cliviger to Blackshaw Head in Hebden Bridge and is thought to date back to the Bronze Age.  Walter Bennett in his History of Burnley claimed “Before Towneley Hall was built, the road from Causeway End proceeded through Causeway End Wood in the Park and thence to Mereclough” [History of Burnley , part 3, 1948, page 20-21]

In 1903, a Burnley Express reporter enquired “Why Causeway End, and where is the Causeway of which this was the end? Many people, no doubt suppose that it got its name from the fact that it was here the causeway beside the turnpike ended. That is not true we believe. It is said that it was the end of the causeway which led through the woods towards Todmorden. [Burnley Express, page 3, June 6th 1903]

The Express reporter was correct that Causeway End had nothing to do with the turnpike, as Causeway End was first mentioned around 1719 almost 100 years before the building of the turnpike to Bacup in 1817. Bennett on the other hand had no evidence to support his claim for a road through Causeway Wood to Mereclough before Towneley Hall was built. Rather there is evidence that in mediaeval times, the road passed south of High Royd and on to Cliviger Mill. This is recorded in Lovat’s Timber Account book of 1836 as High Royd and Old Lane.

On the day of the opening of Towneley Park in 1902, the dignitaries after entering at Causeway End rather than walking directly to the Hall, “proceeded through the woods which surround Higher Royd Meadow. Thus the party approached the hall by passing the Foldys Cross and proceeding round the building.” [Burnley Express, page 3, July 2nd 1902] The newspaper article went on to explain that this route was along the old highway and descended to the original Boggart Bridge, where “the scene was one of exceeding beauty”.

The direct path from Causeway End to the Hall was never referred to as the Causeway in any of the Towneley family papers. Early in the 20th century, the Parks Committee simple called it the approach road. In 1913, the committee considered a complaint as to the state of the footpath from Causeway End to Towneley Hall but no action was taken on account of the subsidence in the footpath caused by the working of the minerals underneath. The committee appear to have had little further to do with the approach road until 1963 when the Street Lighting Sub-Committee discussed the possibility of the lighting of the Towneley Hall approach road with antique lamp standards. In October 1963, approval was given at the same time as plans were made to conserve the ice house.

The first Towneley Park Management Plan of 1994 divided the woodland into a number of compartments for ease of management and description. Compartment 12 was described as “the narrow compartment of the avenue through Causeway End Wood, leading to the Hall”. Before 1998, it was given the name “The Causeway” and was so named by English Heritage in the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens as list entry Number 1000954 . Perhaps it is time for it to return to the name of “West Walk” as given it by Charles Townley (1737-1805) in 1801.

Monk’s Well

Reconstruction of Monk's Well in Thanet Lee Wood, June 2009Originally providing watering for young trees, it got the name “Monk’s Well” in the 1930s, when it was called a 19th century folly.

The well in Thanet Lee Wood is shown on the Ordnance Survey map of 1893 but not on the first OS map of Towneley of 1848, nor on any earlier estate maps. On the OS map of 1912 it is marked as Well (covered). There is no mention of it in any of the Towneley family papers. Burnley Corporation bought Thanet Lee in August 1927 but did not open it as part of Towneley Park until 1930.

monkswell_1930On 3 January 1932, the Burnley News published an article Interesting Find in Thanet Lee Woods reporting a Burnley Corporation employee discovering an old well. It was described as having “the appearance at the first glance of a cairn of stones, but on closer inspection it is a cunningly built affair, the stones being cleverly built together“. The article continued “A Burnley man now living in Cheltenham, who has seen the structure, says there is a similar one near Cheltenham, which is known as the Monks’ Bath.

Within a few years, this “cunningly built affair” was in a state of collapse as described in an article by Ian Williamson in the Burnley Express on 3rd April 1955 under the title Mysteries Of Townley Park. By then it had been allowed to fall into a ruinous state. Here the ‘Monks’ Well’ was described as a rectangular corbelled hut, with a floor one foot below ground level, consisting of a rectangular stone trough, similar to a large horse trough. The use and age of this place was a mystery, though there appeared to have been little evidence for it being a “monks’ well”. It was very doubtful if the building was more than 200 years old. Was it a 19th century ‘folly’ built to amuse some little daughter of the then master of Townley?

stages_of_constructionThe structure then became overgrown and mostly forgotten about until the site was cleaned up by the Blackburn College Archaeological Group in August 2003. They made carefully measurements that show the well, rather than being a folly built for amusement, was a well-constructed structure whose purpose was to provide a water reservoir for use during drought.The group suggests that the well was constructed in several stages and it is likely the corbelled hut described in the 1932 newspaper article was added much later. The “cunningly built” cairn of stones recorded in 1932 could have been devised by Blackadder’s Baldric. The stones appear too clean to have been there for long. They fell down within a few years, probably not because of vandalism but due to the weather. In winter, rain water between the stones freeze and pushes the stones apart when the ice starts to melt.

The construction of Monk’s Well

Behind the stone trough, the Blackburn group found a large capstone that covered a cistern. This cistern collects water from a surface spring and channels it into the trough.

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monk's well

There is no evidence to date the well but there are records showing the site was part of two fields belonging to Hecklehurst Farm until 1790. At that time, Charles Townley (1737-1805) turned the Hole House brook away from Broad Ing so that it flowed through what then became Thanet Lee. He planted large numbers of trees in and around Thanet Lee and needed to water the trees during any summer droughts. His diary entry for 11 August 1801records “opened a hole 4 foot 10 inch deep in Broad Ing half way between oak clumps and haha, all springs being low at this long drought and this hole soon filled with 10 inch deep of water“. Ponds were an alternative to wells when watering was needed for tree plantation and there were several fish ponds at Towneley at the end of the 18th century.

Edward Lovat (1773-1841), was land agent at Towneley from 1803 and continued to plant trees at Towneley for more than 30 years after the death of Charles Townley. He is another possible candidate as the builder of the covered well in Thanet Lee. At this time it was commonplace for people to create water storage systems at the site of surface springs and there are many reference to surface springs in Towneley records. Some Towneley maps in the first half of the 19th century record a pond called Lovat’s Pond on what is now Woodgrove.

green_wellThere are two possible reasons for the well being covered. First it would reduce evaporation during hot weather, second it would avoid the standing water being covered in green algae. This photograph of the trough in May 2004 shows what happens to stagnant water in sunlight.