Lancashire Legends, Traditions, Pageants, Sports, &c./Part 5/Proud Preston—Christ's Croft

PROUD PRESTON.

Proud Preston, as the town has long been termed, was probably so called from its being the residence of genteel families in days of yore, before the introduction of the cotton trade; having been, as Dr Whitaker says, "the resort of well-born but ill-portioned and ill-endowed old maids and widows." The paschal lamb couchant, with the letters P.P. (for Princeps Pacis, Prince of Peace), form the armorial bearings of the town. Hence, perhaps, the old lines—

"Proud Preston,
Poor people;
High church,
Low steeple."

The name in the first line yet adheres to the place. The prefix in the second is no longer strictly applicable. Nor is the last line now true; for in 1815, the tower of the church, which was then only about the height of the nave, was pulled down, and a new one of proportionate size erected. In 1853, the old church also disappeared, and the present beautiful structure was built on the same site.




CHRIST'S CROFT.

Roger de Poictou, for the services of his family to Duke William, in the Norman conquest of England, received all the lands between the Ribble and the Mersey, as a gift from the Conqueror. Lancashire does not appear in the Domesday survey as such, but these lands are described as "inter Ripa et Mersham." Subsequently the appellation "Christis Crofte" was given to this extensive portion of South Lancashire, and it is celebrated as a place of security in troublesome times, probably from its being comparatively wild and uninhabited—

"When all England is alofte,
Safe are they that are in Christis Crofte;—
And where should Christis Crofte be,
But between the Ribble and Mersey."