Saturday, March 28, 2009

King’s Map of 1682: From Poulton to Mains

We haven’t had an ancient map on this board for ages, so it’s about time we rectified this situation with the following offering courtesy of Frank Smith (Wyre Archaeology Committee Member for Aerial Reconnaissance). It might look a bit scratchy (hardly surprising when you consider it was drawn with a quill) and it might not be as accurate as the modern Ordnance Survey stuff, but it is a good ’un.
But first, let’s have a bit of history about its creator.

Gregory King was born at Litchfield, the son of a surveyor and landscape gardener. At the age of fourteen he became a clerk to Sir William Dugdale, the antiquary and herald. In 1672 he moved to London to work for John Ogilby, surveying and engraving maps. (We’ve probably reproduced one of Ogilby’s maps on this board before. I’m not entirely certain about that and, to be honest, I can’t be bothered checking.) In 1677 King was appointed Rouge Dragon Pursuivant in the College of Arms (don’t ask), became Lancaster Herald in 1688 and finally dropped dead in 1712. King's manuscript "Natural and Political Observations and Conclusions upon the State and Condition of England, 1696" (not the catchiest title ever perhaps) contained estimates of the population and wealth of England at the close of the 17th century, featuring the demographics of the British population at the time regarding age, gender, marital status, number of children, servants etc, and, more importantly, the amount of beer annually consumed. In other words, the bloke was a statistician.

But enough about that, let’s get on with the map, which I had to reassemble into some sort of order because King’s original version was, quite frankly, all over the place. Then I chopped it in half again, and then into quarters, and finally into eighths, being there no other way to fit into this article all in one go.

I also ought to add that, because of potential copyright infringement, Frank wrote back to the Lancashire Records Office and there doesn’t seem to be a problem, but for the record, the following map has been reproduced by the kind permission of the County Archivist, Lancashire Record Office’:

Right, this first section then deals with the route from Poulton market place to about halfway down the Breck. Observant readers might have noticed that it’s running from the south at the top to the north at the bottom (or, to put it another way, it’s upside down). Unfortunately, if I’d placed it the right way up then all of the writing would have been upside down instead. That would have looked rubbish and given our reader a severe crick in his/her neck, no doubt, so you’ll just have to bear with it.

A couple of bits and pieces deserve a mention, starting right at the top with ‘The Bull Ring in ye middle of Poulton Markett Place’.

I can’t help wondering how they managed to squeeze a bullring into the market place with all that mediaeval furniture already in there. Ahem…better not go there, eh? I’ve got myself in trouble before for bringing up that particular subject, so let’s move on.

Next up, the houses shown as standing in front of St Chad’s on King’s map are, of course, no longer there. Anyone who knows Poulton will be aware that the graveyard surrounding the church simply drops down to the pavement on Tithebarn Street.

And, before anybody starts hollering that the Thatched House is still there actually, thank you very much…well, strictly speaking, it isn’t. The following photograph is probably the version of the Thatched House recorded on King’s map, not the more familiar hostelry we know today:

Ignoring King’s road running to ‘Carlton & Biston’ (obviously it’s meant to be Bispham…presumably King never visited Bispham to find out), we head down the Breck past Mr Horsons, or Mr Hortons, or Mr Something-or-other-like-that (who cares…he’s been dead for four centuries) and on to the rather enigmatic Brock Hall.

We’re assuming, because of its situation, that it was probably actually called Breck Hall and that King just recorded it wrong. He might not have done, of course, but we’re antiquarians and we can assume whatever we like.

Not that this provides us with any more information about the place, regardless. We’ve never heard of Breck Hall before. Anybody reading this who knows something we don’t (and, let’s face it, that wouldn’t take much)…postcards, usual address, you know what to do.

It’s time for the second section, tracing the route from ‘Breck/Brock Hall’ to Old Mains Lane.

Right next to Brock Hall we find James Parr’s Farm, which we particularly like, because Wyre Archaeology’s first citizen of patronage (i.e. the bloke who let’s us use the café at Wyrefield Farm) is also called James Parr…and, of course, he’s also a farmer. Farmer Parr, in fact.

Are, or rather were, the two of them related in some manner? Well, very probably, yes.
They might even be the same person for all I know, although if they are, then James has aged extremely well. (Possibilities of vampires spring to mind, but, again, let’s not go there.)
Onwards then, down the Breck (the Norse name for a steep hill, which is what the Breck is) to the junction with Skippool Road, described on the map as, ‘to Thornton or to scribble Stauna’ (Skippool Road, in case you’re lost, is the one with Thornton Lodge on it nowadays), turning east along Mains Lane, past the River Wyre hotel and over Skippool Bridge whilst admiring Mains Windmill on your right.

Yes…Mains Windmill, another building we had no idea ever existed.

There’s a bit of confusion here. The only reference to any mill whatsoever in this area, we found tucked away at the bottom of a list of archaeological sites somewhere. It referred to the ruins of a mill, which, by our calculations, originally stood smack bang in the middle of our Bronze Age settlement at the gymkhana field.

According to the document, the remains of said mill are still visible today. (That’s news to me. We’ve never seen them, but then again, we’ve never looked.) This doesn’t tie in with the location of Mains Windmill on King’s map, however. Perhaps the document has recorded the grid reference incorrectly. Perhaps King’s map is a bit misleading.

It’s all very enigmatic; so we’ll leave that for now and just continue with our ramble.

And so to the third, and final section (for this particular article at any rate – there’s a lot more of the map to go after this, but three instalments should suffice for now).

Down Old Mains Lane we head, turning east along the riverbank (noting the doodled calculations of King somewhere in the vicinity of Point Shard – he wasn’t half a messy cartographer), pulling up short at the rear of Mains Hall (which, in those days, was the front of Mains Hall). Mains Hall appears to have been owned at this juncture (if the map is to be believed – and I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be) by a certain Mr. Hoskins.

I wonder if Adele, Mains Hall’s current owner, has seen this map? Perhaps I ought to send her a copy.

Let’s have a photograph of Mains Hall then, if only to break up the monotony of all this writing:

Now, intriguingly, at this point, our main highway crosses the river, not by Aldwath ford (which, presumably, is located at the three scratch marks further back along the bank to the west) but immediately opposite Mains Hall itself. So, either everybody travelling this route was expected to climb down off his or her horse at this location and swim the perilous depths of the river, or there was a ferry/ford hanging around somewhere close by.

Our best guess would be the latter. Adele told us once that she’d discovered some large, suspicious looking boulders running into the river at this location, and that sounds like a long since abandoned ford to me.

Right, that’s enough for one article. We’ll continue our jaunt into 17th Century Hambleton in the next exciting episode…whenever and wherever that might actually be. (Not just yet, that’s for certain. One run at this map is enough for the time being.) Try not to lose too much sleep with the anticipation of it all in the meantime, will you?


Jayne said...

Great article :)
The misspellings are easily explained (as anyone who's traced a family tree would know) - he was writing down the names as he was hearing them spoken, with heavy local dialects/accents, without having checked the correct spelling.
Or there's been a huge upheaval in names in your neck of the woods!

Brian Hughes said...


Language (along with spelling and grammar) is constantly evolving, although I still can't figure out how we got to Cleveleys from Ritherham, local accents taken into account or not.

Anonymous said...

A good article, Brian. I'm interested as to why they drew the map 'upside down'. I know North and South are abitrary directions (Northern Hemisphere Chauvinism, no less), but this is quite intriguing.

Jayne said...

Because he was like some men I know who don't listen to what's being said, maybe? :P

Have no idea how far away this is from you but found this in the news header on my blog just now about historic Shipley Mill shutting down.

Brian Hughes said...


Possibly because he sharpened the wrong end of his quill? Actually, most mediaeval maps ran from east to west rather than south to north. I think King was just being awkward.


Nowhere near us that one...which is perhaps as well because we've got enough history to try and save as it is.

John said...


What's a Bull Ring, and can you show us a photo of the market?

Also, how would a ford have looked in the day, how constructed, and how would you get a horse to cross one? I can't imagine getting a horse to skip across a river one boulder at a time. :0)

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Brian Hughes said...


A bull ring is...or in Poulton's case 'was'...just what it - a enclosed ring where the bulls that were up for sale were paraded.

Right...a piccy of Poulton market. How's this one?

Fords were/are pretty much bog standard round these parts...a load of stones laid across the river to form a road. You'd have to wait until the tide was out and the water was low to get across of course. Stepping stones, on the other hand, would have been quite a different matter.

Jayne said...

I can see there'll be "rationalisations" happening with govt grants and in museums across the world soon with this rubbish economy.
They need to listen to Show of Hands song Roots

Brian Hughes said...


My own personal belief is that the only industry left in Britain nowadays is tourism, and tourism in Blighty is powered 100 per cent by history and heritage. The long term damage that local councils and government are creating by their incosiderate and near-sighted get rich quick schemes will be massive. However, I don't have any kids, so it's their offspring who are going to suffer not mine.

John said...

Hear, hear, Brian.

Once upon a time we would visit the UK for things like Irish Linens, Scottish wool, Haggis, and bad pasta. Nowadays, you can get anything at your local MegaMart.

History and scenery are the two things left to see in the UK, and once they disappear, well, what would be the point?

Not to diminish all the other fine things there are to see over there, but once your place looks like my place, and I can get the same stuff, well... air travel just isnt that fun in itself.

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Brian Hughes said...


There's always our cheap fags and booze of course...oh...wait a minute that's France. Well, there's the fine cuisine on, that's France as well. In that case, there's the glorious weather and...nope...still France.

Actually I might just emigrate. The French seem to have it all sewn up. Except that France is full of French people, of course...

John said...

yeah... that's the problem with France. They do have a Disneyland, though. :0)

The best thing about England is the English, of course. Well, some of them. The nice ones, that is.

And the history! Where else can you find a church built on the ruins of an older church, that was built on the ruins of something else that was built on the ruins of a stoneage settlement. I mean, in one spot you can dig up Roman stuff, Viking stuff, stoneage stuff, and other stuff.

After you move aside the cigarette butts, beer cans, and assorted cadbury packets. :0)

Just kidding... don't want to have to apologize to anyone. ;0)

JOHN :0)

Brian Hughes said...

"Where else can you find a church built on the ruins of an older church, that was built on the ruins of something else that was built on the ruins of a stoneage settlement."


The trouble with France is their pop music.

I'd better stop now before somebody complains about Xenophobia, which is a small village full of people wearing berets and playing boules in the south of France, of course.

chris2553 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chris2553 said...

I think that Jayne's got it bang on the button. A later article will show the the passage of the route through the village I was born in - Stalmine (unless Brian decides to skip Stalmine, in which case I know where he lives :-) King has labelled it as Stawmin, which represents exactly as my Grandad pronounced it. Moreover, King labels a sideroad as being to Preesa, which, again, is exactly how my Grandad pronounced Preesall.

With regard to crossing the Wyre near Mains Hall, Greenwood's map of 1818 and the OS map of 184x both show that there was a Shard Ferry at roughly the point where today's bridge crosses the river.

Hennet's map of 1829 shows the mill at Skippool as being adjacent to what must be Skippool Flu. Interestingly, he appears to label the Skippool area as Means whereas Greenwood labels it Skippool and has Means as what appears to be a hamlet just to the west of Mains Hall (they both label the Hall as Means Hall).

Brian Hughes said...


We reach 'Stawmin' in part three (it's Hambleton in part two), which is as far as I've written to date, although I thought that I'd stagger posting the articles. (Not by much...just didn't want too many of 'em running one after the other, in an attempt to keep this board eclectic.)

Incidentally, the stumps belonging to the ferry jetty can still be seen at Shard (on the Shard side of the river). They're very close to the west side of the bridge.

As for the name 'Means', on one map it seems to refer to a farmhouse down Shard Lane. As far as I can tell, 'Means' is a Saxon word meaning 'shared land'. (Common or mean land, perhaps?) Presumably it dates back to before 'Means' or 'Mains' Hall was built.

frank smith said...

I think the bull ring referred to is a metal ring set in the town square to which a bull would be tethered for the gentlemans pastime of bull baiting. I have seen one if not in Poulton then in the market square in Preston.

Brian Hughes said...


Could be...although when we lived in Worcestershire there was a bull ring there which was, literally, a ring shaped fence to parade the bulls around on market day. However, your idea would make more sense than mine, given the somewhat crowded nature of Poulton market square.