Saturday, April 25, 2009

Chipping away at History

The village of Chipping is an obscure and uninteresting place, on the west bank of a rivulet, which divides it from the estate of Leagram Hall, at the foot of the lofty and black elevation of Parlike Pike.
Baines’ ‘History of Lancashire’

The residents of Chipping might well deservedly take offence at the ‘uninteresting’ adjective ascribed to their picturesque and history-bloated village there. Chipping’s actually a fascinating place. So much so, in fact, there’s a house for sale in the middle of it that we wouldn’t mind owning ourselves. (Of course we’d have to sell a lot more books first, several million of them probably, but what the heck, we’re allowed to dream aren’t we?)
Here’s a photograph of our (potential) future cottage for you:

We like Chipping a lot, and Baines committed a massive injustice with his somewhat too succinct appraisal of the place.
There’s history aplenty in this tiny corner of the Wyre, as John Weld (Chipping’s most prominent Victorian antiquarian) discovered when he wrote his book ‘Weapons and Implements. Prehistoric and Ancient Races. Volume Two’. Unfortunately, to the best of our knowledge, it was never published (possibly because of it’s rather unappealing title – something like ‘Death and Slaughter in the Fylde’ might have worked better for the publishers), but we were lucky enough to be shown the original when we visited the Harris Museum a couple of years ago. (And before anyone runs off to complain about us illegally tramping through the vaults of the Harris Museum, we were invited -- officially and legally -- so stick that in your pipe and smoke it.)
There’s reckoned to be barrows, ancient and mysterious, in the fields behind St Bartholomew’s according to John Dixon and Jaana Jarvinen’s ‘Historic Walks Around Bleasdale’. Or, at any rate, you have to ‘…follow the hollow-way on, passing mounds, to go over the stile in the fence.’ So we’re assuming they’re barrows of some description. Whatever the case, we couldn’t see them from the churchyard anyway, as the photograph below demonstrates.

And there’s a yew tree, old and massive, said to have been standing (with a little help from some much needed supports in recent times) for at least seven centuries. Baines might not have found that interesting, but we did. That’s why we took a photograph of it.

It’s an ugly old sod, but so would you be if you’d been lurking there, come rain, snow or shine, since the early mediaeval period with only the occasional courting couple or the odd stray dog emptying its bladder against you for company.
There are lots of ghosts in Chipping, too. One of our favourite stories concerns a barmaid from the Sun Inn. Her name was Lizzy Dean. One morning Our Lizzy looked out of her window at the sound of the church bells pealing, only to discover her fiancé emerging from St Bartholomew’s porch married to another girl. In her anguish she hanged herself, requesting in her suicide note that she be buried beneath the church path, so that her ex-fiancé would be forced to walk over her corpse every Sunday. (There’s nothing like a woman scorned, eh?) The vicar, apparently, thought better of her suggestion, and had her interred in one corner of the graveyard instead…which, to be honest, casts some suspicions over the authenticity of this tale. Suicide was considered an unholy act by the church and people who took their own lives were generally laid to rest – or ‘unrest’ as the case might be – in unconsecrated ground. But this is a ghost story, so we won’t let minor quibbles get in the way of telling it.
Because her last request was never granted, her spirit still haunts the Sun Inn to this day…allegedly.
Want to see a photograph of the melancholy spot? We thought you might, which was why we took one.

There it is, as seen from the church steps where Lizzy first saw her bridegroom metamorphose into a sod. If you look closely enough, you might just be able to see a pale, female face at the window.
That’d be Michelle consuming her second pint and a meat and tatty pie.
Enough! No doubt we’ll have more to tell you about Chipping at some point, but for now it’s time for breakfast.


Andrew said...

WTF is Chipping? Back to the maps. Ok, the other side of the M6 in the middle of nowhere. So as it was last time with town name confusion, there is another Chipping close to Fleetwood?

Brian Hughes said...


It's not in the middle of nowhere. It's in Lancashire, which as any good Lancastrian will tell you, is the centre of the universe.

I can't recall any other Chippings anywhere nearby. There's Chipping Sodbury, and Chipping Norton...both in other counties that don't count...but none in the Wyre to speak of.

Jayne said...

Ooooooooo I do like that house!
Though the cobbles would be a tad dangerous in wet weather so you won't be able to trip about in your high heels!

There was a great TV series "The Trees that shaped Britain" and the first ep they went and inspected all different yew trees, ancient old gnarled buggers with enough character to breathe life into the royal family.

Brian Hughes said...


The cobbles wouldn't be a problem for me. Our house is surrounded by cobbles as it is, and I hardly ever wear high heels.

As for ancient trees, when we lived in Kidderminster, just down the road from us next to the mediaeval keep, there was what was reckoned to be the largest magnolia tree in the world. It was a great monstrous bugger, all propped up with old beams. The local firemen, for some reason, had adopted it.

Jayne said...

So you've given up the thigh-high leather stiletto boots for Lent again, Brian?

That cemetery is beautiful, bizarrely it has a view to die for!

Brian Hughes said...


One of the oddities I've noticed about the British psyche is that we always choose a burial plot that's got a nice view. I reckon they ought to fit graves with little windows in them...just in case they might be right.

JahTeh said...

That laneway looks a wee bit too small for this Melbourne backside. One bad turnaround and I could knock down several walls.

Brian Hughes said...

To be honest Witchy I reckon my cat'd get wedged in it. Still, not much chance of through-traffic.

DaveH said...

The cobbled cul-de-sac in Brian's first pic is called 'Back Windy Street'. In 1989 I put in an offer on the end cottage of the terrace facing the camera - just round the corner to the left. The cottages were once a nail factory and also in '89 home to a protected colony of bats.

There's no vehicle access to Back Windy Street and the only parking is at the public car park about 300yards away. The '89 asking price for the 2 bed cottage with rustic stable door but shared garden was £86,000!

They turned down my hopelessly optimistic offer!!

(Chipping comes from an OE word meaning 'market' as in Cheapside which also gave us 'shop' and 'cheap').

Jayne said...

Crikey, I assume the protected colony of bats had better luck with their offer, Dave?!

DaveH said...


I was relieved - I could never have afforded it. And th elack of parking would drive me mad. BUT the cottage in Brian's pic is on market for just under £250K with no mention of bats (or parking).

John said...

Excellent post, me laddo!

Although I would love to hear more about those barrows... seems this site tends to downplay your ancient history in favor of the more outrageous behavior of your more recent priests and parishoners. Recent meaning within two to three hundred years.

More stone age stuffs!

But great post nonetheless. More ghosts, as well.

Heck, a stone age ghost would just make me giddy!

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Brian Hughes said...


If I'd have known that about the bats I could have gone for squatters rights. The lack of parking facilities wouldn't have bothered me, of course. The cul-de-sac we currently live in is about the same width and just as deadly where the cobbles are concerned. At times we have to lever the cat out of the road with a broom handle so's we can get in through our own front door.


Those bats get all the government breaks. Now if only they'd get off their backsides and earn a proper batty-style living I wouldn't mind so much.


Next time we go to Chipping we'll take a closer look at the barrows for you. There is a second half to this posting somewhere...I'll dig it out and put it up at some future date.

Jayne said...

Dave - I found one going for a shade under £175,000 and it comes with a lovely red front door, balcony and "log cabin" (which would double nicely as the hidey-hole for the mother-in-law or to store archaeological gear )

Brian Hughes said...

So much for the downturn in house prices...

shirley said...

Hey we are going to Chipping today for our freshly laid chukkie eggs. I love the graveyard and the village. Hurrah for Chips !!!!! Shirley

Brian Hughes said...


Whilst you're there can you ask those people who own that cottage if they'd consider dropping the price by about 100 grand so that me and Michelle could afford it?

Reuben said...

You have good taste in housing, Brian. However, I hate ugly vegetation and would seek to have that tree shielding from little children's eyes.

Brian Hughes said... you see, I like ugly plants, Reuben, although, having said that, I still won't be voting for Susan Doyle.