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Hewitson

EXTRACT FROM OUR COUNTRY CHURCHES AND CHAPELS

By A. HEWITSON 1872 LONGTON CHURCH

"They're a queer lot, the Longtoners," said a coolly humorous man to us, and when we asked how that was he continued, "They're the queerest lot alive; nearly every one of them wears clogs, and you may tell them in a minute when they leave home, for they stare about at everything like nickd 'uns, and gape like young throstles." This was rather a rough, unclassical description, and it would probably have been truer 20 years ago than now, for during our visit nine out of every ten persons we met were respectably dressed and, on the whole, kindly and courteous in their manners. In old times Longton, which in appearance was no better than a snipe bog, with deep ditches on each side of its main road, was a supremely rough place - an awful place for fighting and drinking, and quite impervious to the regular influences of civilisation. If a missionary had been sent into the place in those time he would not, perhaps, have been eaten, but he would have been stoned out in a twinkling, and if anybody had found fault with the process, they would have been similarly treated. The people, however, are now living under a better and more wholesome regime, and yet we know there are still some curious beings in Longton - specially rough, don't-care-for-anybody sort of folk -rudely-vigorous, harumscarum souls, who don't want to know anything about parsons, and who would glory in hammering policemen right out of existence. The village of Longton is now one of the prettiest in the country. There are numerous small cottages in it; they seem all clean and tidy; many have attached to them little gardens; and the bulk have flowers growing about them. The better class houses in the village have a cosily-genteel appearance - are partially shrouded with trees, and have roses and honeysuckles creeping up their walls. The high road passes through the centre of the village, in a long winding manner, and it is flanked with the dwellings mentioned. Longton (Longtown, for that is the meaning of the word) is an aged spot. In the reign of William Rufus, Richard Bussel, the second baron of Penwortham, gave two bovates of land in "Longeton" to the abbey of Evesham; in the time of King John, Roger de Lacy, constable of Chester, gave the manor of Longton to Robert, cousin of Hugo Bussel, the last baron of Penwortham of that name. At an early period land in Longton was granted to the church of Penwortham. Before the reign of Edward II a charter was granted, by which three acres of land in the same district were given to the priory of Burscough. In 1372, Sir William del Lee held a quarter of the manor of Longton, and from his family it descended to the Flemings, of Leyland, and from their family the lordship of Longton passed to the Brethertons. Afterwards there was a reversion of the land to the Flemings, and at a later period the property generally got divided amongst various families. Having heard that the afternoon of Sunday was the best part of the day for visiting the church, we kept in the background so far as it was concerned until that particular time, and went in the morning to the Wesleyan Chapel. Right at the other end of the village that chapel stands: it is located down a little lane, past a public-house, and beyond a piece of land, upon which stand the premises of a maltster. The associations, said we, are healthy-orthodox-whatever the "brethren" may be like, and as we advanced the building ahead became more palpable, and, somehow, very whimsical. We had a side view of it, and gazing at two or three windows saw something strangely like a swing-boat in the chapel. We afterwards found out that this was a sloping gallery, the sides of which crossed the windows. The Church of Longton next claims our attention. It is an odd-looking building, and stands close to the roadside, at the eastern end of the village. The probability is, that this church is the successor and stands upon the site of an old pre-Reformation Catholic Chapel. There was a place of worship in existence here in 1517. In 1527 William Walton, a Catholic priest, left by his will "to the chapel of Longton, a Masse boke, a chalyce, and all other ornaments belonging and p'tenyng to the celebracion of masse." In the same will he bequeaths to Robert Farington "ye chauntre which I of late haue puchased, founded, and putt in feoffam't to certen feoffes . . . The which chauntrie is founded for the Chapelle of longeton, wt all mess. tenements, burgages, lands, and other th'app'ten'nce yr unto belonging . . . p'o'ided always that whyles the said Rob't doith want lafull age to be p'st (that is to wete vj years) then I will yt Sir John Walton [Sir was frequently prefixed to the name of a parson in old times] occupye and solempnize dyvine srvice at the forsaid chapelle of longeton." In 1650 there was neither an incumbent nor an endowment at Longton Church. The Fleetwoods, of Penwortham, claimed part of the tithes of Longton at one time. In 1770 the church was rebuilt; since then it has undergone various alterations; and yet it is at present only a clumsy, architecturally lumpish sort of building. The bulk of its exterior is cased with cement or plaster, and the roof is of the ordinary country barn type. At the western end there is more relief. The entrance to the church is here, and being filled in with overhanging foliage the effect is somewhat pleasing. The building, however, although its architecture at this end is more enlivening than that of the general edifice, is very in and out, and eccentric. In the centre there is a porchway: on one side there is the vestry; and on the other what appears to be a gallery entrance. Gazing steadily upwards we behold an antiquated turret, containing a bell of the fire brigade station type. Above it there is an old N.S.W.E. arrangement; and beyond this a powerful looking spread eagle, intended to show which way the wind blows. On this same side, and in proximity to the turret, there is a clock which sends into the shade all other clocks, including even that at Strasburg. It originally belonged to either a stable or a mechanics' shop in Preston, and as the owners had tried in vain to manage it, they at last sold it to the authorities of Longton Church, who fixed the horologue in the place referred to. It has one dial which looks towards the setting sun; the figures upon it are nearly all worn out; and it keeps time in what may be called the standing joke style. We passed it just before eleven o'clock, and knowing that country folk are slightly ahead in time, did not feel surprised to see its fingers fixed at five minutes beyond that hour. But in two hours, when we returned, those said fingers were fixed at the same place. "How long has this clock been standing?" said we to a Longton gentleman, and he answered "Three years, to my knowledge." We asked another Longtoner the same question, and he replied: "Why I've known it to have been stopped for four years." Then we made a similar inquiry in another quarter, and the man we interrogated said, "Six years to my recollection, and the last time I heard it, it struck ninety, and kept going on till I got tired and went away!" The burial ground surrounding the church is very rustic in appearance - has grass in it of all lengths, and tombstones in it of all sizes, and in all postures. They lean in every conceivable direction. None of them bear old dates. The most prominent stone in the yard is in the shape of an obelisk, and it also leans on one side. It is at the eastern end of the burial ground, and was erected a while back "as a token of esteem to the memory of Thomas Burnett, who for many years efficiently discharged the duties as second master of Hutton Free Grammar School," and who died in September, 1866. There is the head of an old pilgrim's cross lying amongst the grass at the western end of the yard. The base of a similar kind of cross may now be seen at the top of a lane near the high-road between Hutton and Penwortham. Close to Longton churchyard there is a portion of the old stocks which were often used in former days by way of taming down rough villagers. This reminds us of another practice which formerly prevailed at Longton. In old times-yes, within the past 80 years-females guilty of improper conduct had to go to church, in white garments, and do penance for their irregularities! We are, however, forgetting the church. The Wesleyan Methodist Church ( 1872 ) in Marsh Lane supplanted the earlier Chapel seen on the left ( 1807 / 1833 ) which was remodelled into a schoolroom. It was here, outside the former chapel on 26th December 1837, that American Mormon Elders Orson Hyde and Heber Kimball preached to a great crowd. According to Hewitson, " At Longton, nearly everyone went into raptures over the new doctrine. Mormonism fairly took the place by storm; it caught up and entranced young and old, married and single, pious and godless." He continues by reporting that ten people were baptised the following day "in the cold brine of the open sea when the temperature was such that fresh water streams were frozen thick with ice"... and that "during the crusade, both the Protestant church and the Wesleyan chapel of the village were for a time rather seriously shattered. The Wesleyan place of worship was nearly emptied". A Primitive Methodist Chapel also existed in the early 19th century in Chapel Lane. On entering it we are struck with its simplicity, its ancient plainness of style, its innocent clumsiness of arrangement and finish. Like the Methodist Chapel, it wants supplanting with a new building. Its walls are common; its windows plain and tasteless; its ceiling flat and white; its chancel ordinary looking, and flanked with the Ten Commandments, etc. On the southern side of the church there are two mural monuments of white marble, one referring to the Rev. L. Preston, who was incumbent of Longton for eighteen years, and died in 1869, and the other to his wife, Elizabeth, who died in 1859. On the west side there is a heavy gallery, put up in 1772; and on the northern side there is another gallery, erected in 1815, when the Rev. Mr. Law, nephew of Dr. Law, Bishop of Chester, was incumbent. The pews are of various dimensions, and the better sort are lined with red cloth. The church will hold 390 persons, and the average attendance is about 300. There was a numerous congregation when we were at the church; and both modern and ancient times were duly represented in the dresses of those present. In hats there was much diversity; one old blade, sitting towards the north-west corner, had the biggest castor we ever had the pleasure of seeing. The pew he sat in would just hold the hat and its owner; and how he got the article through the doorway without asking for help, puzzles us. A circular marble font, given to the church by "H. Fleetwood," in 1725, stands just within the entrance. It was found in the coal-hole of the church, not long ago, by the present incumbent. When it was put there, and by whom, and for what purpose, are questions which we cannot solve. The pulpit stands in the south-eastem corner, just under a window. It is a lofty affair, and forms the head of an old "three- decker." The singers sit in the western gallery, near an old-fashioned organ. The vocal and instrumental music is moderately good. The name of the saint to whom this church was originally dedicated is lost. L. Rawstorne, Esq., of Hutton Hall, is the patron of the living, which is worth about £190 a year. The Rev. C. J. Astbury is the present incumbent. Mr. Astbury is the son of a successful Manchester merchant, who was well known in the neighbourhood where he lived for his open-handed liberality to the poor, and for his generous support of the Church and her educational institutions. The mantle of the father seems to have fallen upon the son, whose exertions for the amelioration of the condition of the poor and for the spread of religious education according to the principles of the Church of England have, since he went to Longton, been indefatigable, as is evidenced by the increase in the congregation and the number attending the schools. Mr. Astbury was educated at a private school in London, the Sheffield Collegiate School, and at Rossall College, whence he went to the University of Oxford. He is an M.A. of Brasenose College, having taken his B.A. degree in 1859, and his M.A. in 1862. He was ordained in 1861, by the late Archbishop of Canterbury (Dr. Sumner) to the curacy of Deal, near Sevenoaks, in Kent. Afterwards he was curate of Walton-le-Dale. He resigned his post there for the senior curacy of the Parish Church, Preston, which he held for four years, till appointed to his present living in 1869. From the congregations of the different churches at which Mr. Astbury has in the past officiated, he has received handsome testimonials. In figure Mr. Astbury is tall, slender, and clerically genteel; he is dark-complexioned; is slightly bilious in texture; has raven black whiskers, well combed out, and a good moustache; is rather delicate in health, and looks gentlemanly, tender, and languid; has a most kindly, amiable disposition; has a polished drawing-room air with him; would have made a first-class gold-stick-in-waiting; is a good scholar, a cultured, courteous, earnest-minded man, and yet we are afraid he has hardly sufficient "weft"-stamina in him for a place like Longton. It is not as intractable as it once was, still it is a big, strong, masculine place. The Rocky Mountain blacksmith who used to knock the grace of the Lord into sinners with his sledge hammer, and put them under his pump if they neglected saying their prayers regularly, is the sort of pastor they want at Longton. Still, taking everything into account, Mr. Astbury has made considerable headway in the district. He has many kindly, decent people around him; he has also in the locality some of the most obstreperous, cast-iron fellows in existence, and he would impress them best if he tried to preach in big bob-nailed boots, with a horsewhip in one hand and a hedge-stake in the other. There is no parsonage-house at Longton, but Mr. Astbury gets on very contentedly without one. He resides in a portion of the Mansion House, the region of which must by this time have got duly consecrated, for in it formerly there lived two or three incumbents, and near it a similar number. There are excellent schools, recently extended and remodelled, through the exertions of Mr. Astbury, near the church. The attendance at them on Sundays averages about 140; whilst on weekdays it is 121. The little free Grammar School of Hutton is founded upon the same trust as that which supports the school at Longton; but how it is getting on deponent knoweth not.
LongtonOnline.co.uk
© LongtonOnline.co.uk

Hewitson

EXTRACT FROM OUR COUNTRY

CHURCHES AND CHAPELS

By A. HEWITSON 1872

LONGTON CHURCH

"They're a queer lot, the Longtoners," said a coolly humorous man to us, and when we asked how that was he continued, "They're the queerest lot alive; nearly every one of them wears clogs, and you may tell them in a minute when they leave home, for they stare about at everything like nickd 'uns, and gape like young throstles." This was rather a rough, unclassical description, and it would probably have been truer 20 years ago than now, for during our visit nine out of every ten persons we met were respectably dressed and, on the whole, kindly and courteous in their manners. In old times Longton, which in appearance was no better than a snipe bog, with deep ditches on each side of its main road, was a supremely rough place - an awful place for fighting and drinking, and quite impervious to the regular influences of civilisation. If a missionary had been sent into the place in those time he would not, perhaps, have been eaten, but he would have been stoned out in a twinkling, and if anybody had found fault with the process, they would have been similarly treated. The people, however, are now living under a better and more wholesome regime, and yet we know there are still some curious beings in Longton - specially rough, don't-care-for-anybody sort of folk - rudely-vigorous, harumscarum souls, who don't want to know anything about parsons, and who would glory in hammering policemen right out of existence. The village of Longton is now one of the prettiest in the country. There are numerous small cottages in it; they seem all clean and tidy; many have attached to them little gardens; and the bulk have flowers growing about them. The better class houses in the village have a cosily-genteel appearance - are partially shrouded with trees, and have roses and honeysuckles creeping up their walls. The high road passes through the centre of the village, in a long winding manner, and it is flanked with the dwellings mentioned. Longton (Longtown, for that is the meaning of the word) is an aged spot. In the reign of William Rufus, Richard Bussel, the second baron of Penwortham, gave two bovates of land in "Longeton" to the abbey of Evesham; in the time of King John, Roger de Lacy, constable of Chester, gave the manor of Longton to Robert, cousin of Hugo Bussel, the last baron of Penwortham of that name. At an early period land in Longton was granted to the church of Penwortham. Before the reign of Edward II a charter was granted, by which three acres of land in the same district were given to the priory of Burscough. In 1372, Sir William del Lee held a quarter of the manor of Longton, and from his family it descended to the Flemings, of Leyland, and from their family the lordship of Longton passed to the Brethertons. Afterwards there was a reversion of the land to the Flemings, and at a later period the property generally got divided amongst various families. Having heard that the afternoon of Sunday was the best part of the day for visiting the church, we kept in the background so far as it was concerned until that particular time, and went in the morning to the Wesleyan Chapel. Right at the other end of the village that chapel stands: it is located down a little lane, past a public-house, and beyond a piece of land, upon which stand the premises of a maltster. The associations, said we, are healthy-orthodox-whatever the "brethren" may be like, and as we advanced the building ahead became more palpable, and, somehow, very whimsical. We had a side view of it, and gazing at two or three windows saw something strangely like a swing-boat in the chapel. We afterwards found out that this was a sloping gallery, the sides of which crossed the windows. The Church of Longton next claims our attention. It is an odd- looking building, and stands close to the roadside, at the eastern end of the village. The probability is, that this church is the successor and stands upon the site of an old pre-Reformation Catholic Chapel. There was a place of worship in existence here in 1517. In 1527 William Walton, a Catholic priest, left by his will "to the chapel of Longton, a Masse boke, a chalyce, and all other ornaments belonging and p'tenyng to the celebracion of masse." In the same will he bequeaths to Robert Farington "ye chauntre which I of late haue puchased, founded, and putt in feoffam't to certen feoffes . . . The which chauntrie is founded for the Chapelle of longeton, wt all mess. tenements, burgages, lands, and other th'app'ten'nce yr unto belonging . . . p'o'ided always that whyles the said Rob't doith want lafull age to be p'st (that is to wete vj years) then I will yt Sir John Walton [Sir was frequently prefixed to the name of a parson in old times] occupye and solempnize dyvine srvice at the forsaid chapelle of longeton." In 1650 there was neither an incumbent nor an endowment at Longton Church. The Fleetwoods, of Penwortham, claimed part of the tithes of Longton at one time. In 1770 the church was rebuilt; since then it has undergone various alterations; and yet it is at present only a clumsy, architecturally lumpish sort of building. The bulk of its exterior is cased with cement or plaster, and the roof is of the ordinary country barn type. At the western end there is more relief. The entrance to the church is here, and being filled in with overhanging foliage the effect is somewhat pleasing. The building, however, although its architecture at this end is more enlivening than that of the general edifice, is very in and out, and eccentric. In the centre there is a porchway: on one side there is the vestry; and on the other what appears to be a gallery entrance. Gazing steadily upwards we behold an antiquated turret, containing a bell of the fire brigade station type. Above it there is an old N.S.W.E. arrangement; and beyond this a powerful looking spread eagle, intended to show which way the wind blows. On this same side, and in proximity to the turret, there is a clock which sends into the shade all other clocks, including even that at Strasburg. It originally belonged to either a stable or a mechanics' shop in Preston, and as the owners had tried in vain to manage it, they at last sold it to the authorities of Longton Church, who fixed the horologue in the place referred to. It has one dial which looks towards the setting sun; the figures upon it are nearly all worn out; and it keeps time in what may be called the standing joke style. We passed it just before eleven o'clock, and knowing that country folk are slightly ahead in time, did not feel surprised to see its fingers fixed at five minutes beyond that hour. But in two hours, when we returned, those said fingers were fixed at the same place. "How long has this clock been standing?" said we to a Longton gentleman, and he answered "Three years, to my knowledge." We asked another Longtoner the same question, and he replied: "Why I've known it to have been stopped for four years." Then we made a similar inquiry in another quarter, and the man we interrogated said, "Six years to my recollection, and the last time I heard it, it struck ninety, and kept going on till I got tired and went away!" The burial ground surrounding the church is very rustic in appearance - has grass in it of all lengths, and tombstones in it of all sizes, and in all postures. They lean in every conceivable direction. None of them bear old dates. The most prominent stone in the yard is in the shape of an obelisk, and it also leans on one side. It is at the eastern end of the burial ground, and was erected a while back "as a token of esteem to the memory of Thomas Burnett, who for many years efficiently discharged the duties as second master of Hutton Free Grammar School," and who died in September, 1866. There is the head of an old pilgrim's cross lying amongst the grass at the western end of the yard. The base of a similar kind of cross may now be seen at the top of a lane near the high-road between Hutton and Penwortham. Close to Longton churchyard there is a portion of the old stocks which were often used in former days by way of taming down rough villagers. This reminds us of another practice which formerly prevailed at Longton. In old times-yes, within the past 80 years-females guilty of improper conduct had to go to church, in white garments, and do penance for their irregularities! We are, however, forgetting the church. The Wesleyan Methodist Church ( 1872 ) in Marsh Lane supplanted the earlier Chapel seen on the left ( 1807 / 1833 ) which was remodelled into a schoolroom. It was here, outside the former chapel on 26th December 1837, that American Mormon Elders Orson Hyde and Heber Kimball preached to a great crowd. According to Hewitson, " At Longton, nearly everyone went into raptures over the new doctrine. Mormonism fairly took the place by storm; it caught up and entranced young and old, married and single, pious and godless." He continues by reporting that ten people were baptised the following day "in the cold brine of the open sea when the temperature was such that fresh water streams were frozen thick with ice"... and that "during the crusade, both the Protestant church and the Wesleyan chapel of the village were for a time rather seriously shattered. The Wesleyan place of worship was nearly emptied". A Primitive Methodist Chapel also existed in the early 19th century in Chapel Lane. On entering it we are struck with its simplicity, its ancient plainness of style, its innocent clumsiness of arrangement and finish. Like the Methodist Chapel, it wants supplanting with a new building. Its walls are common; its windows plain and tasteless; its ceiling flat and white; its chancel ordinary looking, and flanked with the Ten Commandments, etc. On the southern side of the church there are two mural monuments of white marble, one referring to the Rev. L. Preston, who was incumbent of Longton for eighteen years, and died in 1869, and the other to his wife, Elizabeth, who died in 1859. On the west side there is a heavy gallery, put up in 1772; and on the northern side there is another gallery, erected in 1815, when the Rev. Mr. Law, nephew of Dr. Law, Bishop of Chester, was incumbent. The pews are of various dimensions, and the better sort are lined with red cloth. The church will hold 390 persons, and the average attendance is about 300. There was a numerous congregation when we were at the church; and both modern and ancient times were duly represented in the dresses of those present. In hats there was much diversity; one old blade, sitting towards the north-west corner, had the biggest castor we ever had the pleasure of seeing. The pew he sat in would just hold the hat and its owner; and how he got the article through the doorway without asking for help, puzzles us. A circular marble font, given to the church by "H. Fleetwood," in 1725, stands just within the entrance. It was found in the coal-hole of the church, not long ago, by the present incumbent. When it was put there, and by whom, and for what purpose, are questions which we cannot solve. The pulpit stands in the south-eastem corner, just under a window. It is a lofty affair, and forms the head of an old "three-decker." The singers sit in the western gallery, near an old-fashioned organ. The vocal and instrumental music is moderately good. The name of the saint to whom this church was originally dedicated is lost. L. Rawstorne, Esq., of Hutton Hall, is the patron of the living, which is worth about £190 a year. The Rev. C. J. Astbury is the present incumbent. Mr. Astbury is the son of a successful Manchester merchant, who was well known in the neighbourhood where he lived for his open-handed liberality to the poor, and for his generous support of the Church and her educational institutions. The mantle of the father seems to have fallen upon the son, whose exertions for the amelioration of the condition of the poor and for the spread of religious education according to the principles of the Church of England have, since he went to Longton, been indefatigable, as is evidenced by the increase in the congregation and the number attending the schools. Mr. Astbury was educated at a private school in London, the Sheffield Collegiate School, and at Rossall College, whence he went to the University of Oxford. He is an M.A. of Brasenose College, having taken his B.A. degree in 1859, and his M.A. in 1862. He was ordained in 1861, by the late Archbishop of Canterbury (Dr. Sumner) to the curacy of Deal, near Sevenoaks, in Kent. Afterwards he was curate of Walton-le-Dale. He resigned his post there for the senior curacy of the Parish Church, Preston, which he held for four years, till appointed to his present living in 1869. From the congregations of the different churches at which Mr. Astbury has in the past officiated, he has received handsome testimonials. In figure Mr. Astbury is tall, slender, and clerically genteel; he is dark-complexioned; is slightly bilious in texture; has raven black whiskers, well combed out, and a good moustache; is rather delicate in health, and looks gentlemanly, tender, and languid; has a most kindly, amiable disposition; has a polished drawing-room air with him; would have made a first-class gold-stick-in-waiting; is a good scholar, a cultured, courteous, earnest-minded man, and yet we are afraid he has hardly sufficient "weft"-stamina in him for a place like Longton. It is not as intractable as it once was, still it is a big, strong, masculine place. The Rocky Mountain blacksmith who used to knock the grace of the Lord into sinners with his sledge hammer, and put them under his pump if they neglected saying their prayers regularly, is the sort of pastor they want at Longton. Still, taking everything into account, Mr. Astbury has made considerable headway in the district. He has many kindly, decent people around him; he has also in the locality some of the most obstreperous, cast-iron fellows in existence, and he would impress them best if he tried to preach in big bob-nailed boots, with a horsewhip in one hand and a hedge-stake in the other. There is no parsonage-house at Longton, but Mr. Astbury gets on very contentedly without one. He resides in a portion of the Mansion House, the region of which must by this time have got duly consecrated, for in it formerly there lived two or three incumbents, and near it a similar number. There are excellent schools, recently extended and remodelled, through the exertions of Mr. Astbury, near the church. The attendance at them on Sundays averages about 140; whilst on weekdays it is 121. The little free Grammar School of Hutton is founded upon the same trust as that which supports the school at Longton; but how it is getting on deponent knoweth not.
Hewitson