Lancashire Legends, Traditions, Pageants, Sports, &c./Part 1/Towneley Hall Tradition

Part I: Legends and Traditions; Towneley Hall Tradition.


The license for enclosing the old park of Towneley, which lay west from the house, is dated 6th Henry VII. 1490-91. The malice and the superstition of the common people have doomed the spirit of some former and hitherto forgotten possessor of this estate to wander in restless and long unappeased solicitude, crying—

"Lay out, lay out
Horelaw and Hollinhey Clough."

"Lay out" means the reverse of "take in,"—i.e., to throw open, or disappropriate land previously enclosed. To show at once the foundation and the antiquity of this story, as well as to illustrate a remark that traditions, when stripped of the marvellous, have generally their basis in truth, Dr Whitaker quotes the following record:— "By letters patent dated February 28, i James I. (1604), the said King grants unto Charles, Lord Mountjoy, Earl of Devon, in consideration of the good services done by him in the time of Queen Elizabeth and since, inter alia, all that parcel of land called Horelaw Pasture, containing by estimation 194 acres, of 24 feet to every perch, abutting on the north upon a pasture called Hollinhey, parcel of the possession of the Duchy of Lancashire, and formerly enclosed in severalty by John Towneley, knight." This was evidently an encroachment, which had been seized by the officers of the Duchy, and granted out afresh. But the offence was remembered long after it had been redressed, and even when the name of the offending party was forgotten. Enclosures were always unpopular among the common people, who uniformly inflicted upon enclosers that punishment after death which they were unable to do in their lifetime. It is also said that this spirit requires one life every seven years, and that some fatal accident happens at the end of each period.