LAS Visit to Hurst Wood and the Weavers’ Triangle

On Saturday 24th September we visited the above locations. It was a trip of contrasts. In the morning we had a guided walk of the 16th century hamlet of Hurstwood and the surrounding landscape where we saw the remains of extensive quarrying and evidence of the building of two reservoirs set in the atmospheric uplands surrounding the hamlet. Indeed we were told by our knowledgeable guide Mr. Ramon Collinge that many birdwatchers visit to see twites, a relatively rare upland bird.

The stone used in the buildings in the hamlet  was quarried in the hills above, as we later saw during our walk. The buildings are very interesting being wonderful examples of  domestic architecture of the gentry at the time. Hurstwood Hall was built by Bernard Townley a scion of the Townley family of Townley hall . Bernard Townley was an architect who is credited with links to Sir. Christopher Wren but as he died in 1602 it is likely that any connection would have been brief at best and could be mistaken. Mr. Collinge related to us the history of the house which has seen dramatic events including the death in a fire of one of the residents in the 1920’s.

Perhaps the most famous house in the settlement is Spenser’s House where it is reputed that the poet Edmund Spenser resided for two years although the evidence is somewhat flimsy. It is a very beautiful house and as all the houses are there it is roofed with the heavy millstone grit which was quarried locally. There were other houses of historic interest e.g. Tattersall’s Tenement – a sometime owner was a Jacobite and after the failure of the ’45 rebellion moved to the south and subsequently became a leading bloodstock entrepreneur in Suffolk and also tangentially  the originator of the Tattersall check shirt.

The hamlet was set on the packhorse route served by “lime galls” Galloway ponies. Their load was mainly lime that was extensively traded for mortar and for the fields. He showed the route they followed and pointed out the lime hushings and a restored lime kiln. There was a string of 12 packhorses here. Up by the reservoirs we learnt about the navigators camps and the goings on there and where there were wonderful views of the quarrying and the surrounding area.

In the afternoon our trip took us to the Weaver’s Triangle. Here we encountered 19thcentury archaeology. As we  walked along the towpath we were shown interesting relics of a not-so-distant history such as the ramps to help horses which inadvertently fell into the canal; on at least one occasion when the horse fell asleep. We saw the warehouses along the way and the bridges which connected the sides of the canal. There is a wonderful example of workers’ cottages built in the 1850’s over warehouses which have been restored but our now being used for offices. The milestone markers on the towpath are also being repaired and restored. After our walk down the towpath we visited an engine house   which architecturally looks like a Victorian chapel. A wonderful building in its own right. The engine works and has been converted to electricity and we were treated to a demonstration. Even at half speed the power is awesome.

The last part of the day was tea and biscuits in the parlour of the recreated Victorian house in which were displays on the vernacular history of Burnley residents of the 19th century.

It was a really interesting and rewarding visit to see and learn about the long and varied history of this area.

Posted by Jeanette Dobson.

See images from the day here

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