Lancashire Legends, Traditions, Pageants, Sports, &c./Part 1/Lostock Tower—"too late"


Lostock Tower lies about four miles to the west of Bolton. It was formerly an imposing structure, formed mainly of wood and plaster, and surrounded by a moat. There is now little left except the gateway, which occupies the site of a much more ancient building. This is mostly built of brick and stone, interspersed with string-courses and mouldings. The windows are very large, and are divided into compartments by strong mullions. Over one of the upper windows there is a deep panel containing a coat of arms, now almost obliterated. On the front of the house there is the date "A.D. 1591;" and a panel over the doorway, on which is the inscription "S. F. A. 1702," obviously marks the period when this portion of the Hall was either enlarged or repaired. This characteristic residence was not very judiciously situated, according to modern ideas. There is much low ground in the neighbourhood, which contains several rather picturesque sheets of water, and it is, besides, in the immediate vicinity of the boggy tract known as Red Moss. The river Croal rises from this marshy ground, which, after passing through Bolton, falls into the Irwell; the far-famed Douglas, also, has its origin in the same Moss, and, after flowing through Wigan, falls into the Ribble near Hesketh.

Lostock Tower formerly belonged to the Andertons, but has since merged into the hands of the Blundells of Ince. There is a story of wrong connected with one of the early Andertons, which has passed into a tradition, and is even yet a source of heart-burning to a family named Heaton resident in a neighbouring township of the same name. This tradition states that one of the Heatons was an improvident man, and wasted much of his patrimony. He became deeply involved in debt, and mortgaged his township to Anderton of the Tower. The day for payment duly arrived, but the Heatons had not raised the money. The evening passed on, and at a somewhat early hour the Andertons retired to bed. They had not lain long before the Heatons were thundering at the doors; for they had raised the amount at the last moment, and were ready to pay. The owner of the Tower, however, coveted the property, and refused to let them in because they ought to have been ready before the going down of the sun. On the morrow he said they were too late, and declared that the mortgage was foreclosed. The wrong done to the Heatons was never forgiven, for the family was utterly ruined; and it is stated that the soul of the wrongdoer is doomed to revisit the scene of his crime until the property is restored. It is also affirmed that no horse from the Tower, so long as it was occupied by an Anderton, could ever be forced to cross the stream into the manor of Heaton. Sir Francis Anderton took part in the Rebellion of 1745, and soon after lost his estates. In 1750 he was reported to be over sixty years of age, and childless; his property was held by the crown under trustees, and eventually passed to the Blundells, he living in retirement until his death. This gentleman's fate is considered to be an act of retributive justice for the wrong done to the Heaton family by his ancestor of the Tower.