Let’s stick with facts this week and keep the speculations/pointless asides under wraps. People have been complaining, apparently, that I take our local history far too flippantly. Oddly enough, these complaints don’t appear to have originated from anybody who’s tracked down an Iron Age settlement or Roman road recently, but who’s checking? History belongs to everyone, I suppose, even those who consider it to be a matter of life and death, so, tongue out of cheek again sharpish; here’s the serious version of events.
This is Lytham Hall. (Was that formal enough, do you reckon?)
Work began on the building in 1751 from the designs of ‘Carr of York’, and was completed in 1764. The Manor of Lytham itself was originally held by Earl Tostig (King Harold’s rebellious brother killed at the battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066) before being granted by the Lord of Woodplumpton (Richard Fitz Roger) to the Monastery of Durham in 1190. (Is everyone following this closely? There might be questions at the end. Probably not…but you never know.)
The site of the hall became the monks’ priory, but was abandoned before the dissolution reached town, the prior renting the manor off in 1539 to somebody called Thomas Dannett (I don’t know who he was…go and check out the genealogical sites if you’re that interested) on an eighty-year lease.
In 1554, well before the lease had actually expired, Thomas Holcroft (whoever he was as well) bought the manor from the crown.
Green Drive Lodge, shown below (er…obviously) was one of the two gatehouses to Lytham Hall.
The Clifton family (of Lytham Hall…or did I mention that?) also owned nearby Witch Wood on the edge of the estate. The wood, unfortunately, wasn’t frequented by mysterious brunette maidens without their cuddies on (Steady…you’re degenerating into flippancy again! Ed) but was actually named after one of the family’s favourite horses. The Witch’s burial place is marked by a gravestone, and has spooked many an unwitting rambler.
Onwards, to the launch of Lytham lifeboat.
In 1839 John Rye, following the loss of several fishing vessels in Clovelly, founded the Shipwrecked Mariners Society. From 1851 the society operated lifeboats at Lytham, Portmadoc, Hornsea, Tenby, Llanelly, Teignmouth, Rhyl and Newhaven but eventually became two separate organizations, one concentrating on rescuing lives while the other helped bereaved families.
In 1854 the Society transferred its lifeboats to the R.N.L.I.
And finally for this week, the all important (and extremely serious) donkey rides on Lytham Beach.
According to John Porter’s ‘History of the Fylde’ (published in 1876) during the nineteenth century slightly more upmarket races, involving the pick of the local farmers’ horses, were held on the Green every Whit Monday.
The races took place on the sward between the windmill and an old limekiln approximately one mile north towards the hamlet of Saltcotes. Porter records that: “These races, which are described as having being very fair contests, were kept up for many years. The prizes competed for were saddles, bridles, whips etc.”
There…honour satisfied -- an entire article without one flippant remark. Hopefully that should keep those dour antiquarians with nothing better to complain about quiet for a few days at least.