Glossop Heritage Trust
The Hamlet of Charlesworth.
This page is based on the notes of Robert Hamnett, originally published as an article in the Glossop Advertiser in 1913.
The Hamlet of Charlesworth is a most picturesque and interesting one by reason of the semicircular formation of the Coombs Rocks which stand so prominently out on the landscape of the hamlet and command such an extensive view of the surrounding districts and country. For miles there are no other rocks to correspond with them in the similarity of their appearance. We cannot wonder, then, that traditions of battles having taken place in the vicinity and the Druids having used the natural amphitheatre for an assembly place should be commonly believed by old inhabitants, and that past local historians have written to that effect in their accounts of this district.
James Butterworth, writing in 1827 of this locality said;
“The Romans and the Britons had come into contact in a hard fought field, where deeds of most determined heroism were performed, one army inspired by conquest and military glory, and the other fighting for their country's independence, but though the poet and historian are silent on this great engagement, for such I consider it to have been, yet two prodigious mounds, barrows, or tumuli, at from a quarter to half-mile distance from each other, on the field of battle, remain to attest the magnitude and consequence of the action. I have been upon them both, and observed that each consists of some hundred tons of stones heaped together in a circular, or rather oval form, covered with vegetable earth, the effect of time.”1
Mr Butterworth evidently refers to what is known as the "Camel's Back," and "Robin Hood's Shooting Butts." The position of the rocks and their height is such that it is an ideal spot for a beacon fire, and in ancient times must have been used for such a purpose. The Ancient Britons had methods of signalling for rapidly conveying messages in times of danger or for summoning meetings, and as their fort at Mouselow was not in as conspicuous a position as Coombs Rocks, the latter place would preferably be used.
The Druids were the priests, philosophers, bards, historians and advisors of the Britons, and I know of no better place than Coombs Rocks for a large meeting place, where a person could address so many people. At Rowarth there is a place called "The Ring Stones", which is generally supposed to be the site of a Druidical circle where ancient religious rites and sacrifices were performed.
A few years ago Mr. Abner Froggatt found on this spot a beautiful stone celt, or hand chisel, and a peculiar stone hollowed out similar to the Abbot's Chair. On the top of Cown Edge and the Ludworth Intakes are undoubted tumuli, ancient burial places. One of them was opened about 1811 by the Rev. Marriott, of Disley, and in his history of Disley he gives a full account of what he found in the grave, also a sketch of the cinnery urn. This book is very scarce, but a copy can be seen at Chetham Library, Manchester. The book has much valuable information of this locality, and a copy should by all means be in our local Free Library.
In Glover's History of the County of Derby is an account of Robin Hood's Picking Rods, which I may as well mention in this article though they are not in the Hamlet of Charlesworth. Glover says:
"On Ludworth Common there is a flat stone about 8 ft. long and 3 ft. 6 in. wide, and nearly 2 ft. thick, approaching in form to an oval, on which formerly stood two pillars, fixed in round sockets and tapering upwards. In 1810 Messrs. Tysons (historians) state that only one part remained in its original position, this was 2 ft. 6 in. in height and 20 in. diameter at the top; the upper part 2 ft. 6 in. in length had been broken off and removed to the distance of several feet; the lower part of the other, which has also been removed from its socket, is 4 ft. 2 in. in length, 18 in. diameter at the bottom, and 15° in. at the top. This ancient monument (which bears a good resemblance to one of the same kind called the Disley Bow Stones, on the Cheshire side of the river, and at no great distance from it) has received from the country people the appellation of Robin Hood's Picking Rods. As double pillars appear amongst the earliest sepulchral monuments in Christian countries, it is not improbable these were erected to some illustrious person in pagan times."
The following is James Butterworth's opinion of the stones:
“Something more than half a mile from this fatal field, near Coombs Tor (pronounced Keaumstor) stands what I consider to have been a Roman trophy, erected in all probability in consequence of this victory; it consists of a large oblong granite stone with two holes mortised into it, from which is erected two stone pillars of the same rough granite, or moor grit. It may be proper to remark that this trophy was erected on a more elevated place near the Coombs, in the way the Roman Army would probably march from the fortified camp. The country people call them Robin Hood's Picking Rods and the tumuli his Butts.”2
I am of the same opinion as Glover, that they are really an ancient sepulchral monument.
Undoubtedly the Britons would offer fight to the Romans, but would not leave their fort at Mouselow, and the finding of British querns at Melandra Castle is evidence that such was the case. The querns would be in the fort and taken and used by the Romans until they were worn out, when they were used for filling up the wall, where we found them, and they are now amongst other Roman relics in the Glossop Museum at the Victoria Hall.
The exact date when Melandra Castle became a Roman fort is not known; it has generally been assumed that it was built during the period A.D. 78-84, when Julius Agricola was the Roman Governor of Britain, but I am strongly of the opinion that it is earlier. My reasons are that the Romans discovered and worked the Blue John Mine at Castleton. Mr. Royce, the proprietor, has shown me where the Romans first worked the mine, and it is a peculiar feature of the mine that each vein of the fluorspar differs in the diversity of its colours. Now Pompeii was destroyed in the year A.D. 79, and in the course of the excavations of the buried city, two vases have been found made of fluorspar that has evidently come from the Blue John Mine. The Romans must therefore have settled down at Melandra and Brough before the year 79.
The Romans must have been at Brough for some time before the mine was discovered, and after the vases were made it would take quite a time to find their way to Pompeii, and there is no telling how long the owner might have had them in his possession, before the fatal eruption.
Again we know that Ostorious Scapula, the Roman Governor of Britain, in A.D. 50 defeated the united forces of the Brigantes, Cangii and Silures, when Caractacus the King of the Silures was captured and sent as a prisoner to Rome. The Brigantes were the tribe of Britons who occupied Mouselow Castle and other British forts on the Pennine Range. The Roman Fort was placed at Melandra Castle to keep them in check in this part of the country.
The site is typical of most other Roman forts. It is situated on slightly elevated ground, and at the junction of the River Etherow and the Glossop Brook. By this means the garrison was always assured of a plentiful supply of fresh water, fish, and salmon when in season. The rivers were also near at hand for the soldiers to practice swimming, which was part of their military training. The river also formed a natural defence on two sides of the fort, aided also by the steep ascent from the river to the fosse of the fort. The rounded corners of the fort and the absence of barbicans at the gates and intermediate towers are a feature of all early Roman forts. In the first century the Romans depended for defence mainly on the strength of their garrisons and not on the strength of their forts. In later times, intermediate towers were erected between each gateway and the corner observation towers, also a barbican on each side of each gateway.
When the Roman officer decided that a fort must be established at Melandra, the fort was staked out, according to the general plan adopted by all detachments of troops. One portion was set to dig out the fosse to the usual depth and width, whilst others cut down the timber required for the soldiers huts, residences of the officers, and other necessary buildings, also for the gates and sharp pointed stakes for the inner slope of the fosse. In the Praetorium, and at the northern gate, still remain the oak posts and a fragment of the gate.
The Romans must have been a considerable time at Melandra Castle before they rebuilt it of stone because when I found the old gate stumps I found that the tops had evidently been cut off to the level of the original road, and another road constructed over them, thus preserving these interesting relics.
One of the praetorium posts was dug up, and is on top of one of the cases at the Glossop Museum. The earth excavated from the fosse was cast inwards and formed the rampart. When the stone wall was built the rampart was cut down perpendicularly, and the space to the outer face of the wall was filled with unhewn stones, British Querns etc.
A Roman soldier's iron signet ring, intaglio of glass, was found among the debris of the wall. The owner had evidently met with an accident during the building of the wall. The design of the seal is a ram. I found on one of the roads an intaglio that had been lost out of a ring, it was also of glass, the design being the Sphinx-a design that was first used by the Emperor Augustus.
The foundation of the wall are gritstone flags, resting on boulders embedded in the clay, the first course of pick dressed stones being set back a few inches. The height of the walls can only be conjectured, but would be at least shoulders high above the rampart, and no doubt castellated to protect the soldiers. The rampart at the top would be sufficiently wide to allow the sentries to pass. At each of the four corners was a tower with the outer face rounded, the entrance probably being from the rampart, as we found no trace of an entrance from the level of the interior of the fort. This would enable the lower room to be used to be used as prisons or store rooms, the sentries being responsible for the safe custody of their contents.
The gateways were double, a portcullis in front. In the recesses between the entrances stood the sentries, a small guard room being in one of the lower rooms. Over the centre of the outer arch was an inscribed stone. Fortunately we have one in the museum, which was found by old "Sammy Cooper," of Lower Gamesley, when he was digging out stone to build himself a house. It is a centurial stone, and transcribed, informs us that a centurion named Valerius Vitalis was in command of a detachment of Frisians, auxiliary troops to the 20th Legion, who were one of the Legions to invade Britain, and whose headquarters were at Chester, the Roman Deva. One inscribed stone was found and built in the river wall near to the Hague Bridge. A portion of another one was in the possession of Capt. Hollingworth of Hollingworth Hall, but all trace of it is lost. I am in hopes that we shall yet find the remainder, which will tell us who the Emperor was when the wall, towers and entrances were built.
Between the Porta Principalis Dextra and the Porta Principalis Sinistra was a gravelled road called the Via Principalis. Some of the boulder curb stones are still in situ. This road divided the fort into two unequal parts, the southerly part, and the smallest, being the part containing the Praetorium, granary, and Altars. The other portion contained the soldiers huts, streets, and workshops.
The residence of the officers contained three lower rooms, how many above, no one knows. The centre one we found had a floor of broken tiles, the other two of hard beaten clay. Just outside the North wall of the centre room I found the foundation of a platform where the officer could stand and orate to the soldiers, or the Governor of the district could address the chiefs of the district.
The court yard of the Praetorium was, I take it, the first market place in Glossop. The Romans before leaving generally buried their Altars; I was fortunate to discover the crown of one. Canon E.L. Hicks, M.A., was of an opinion that the Altar related to the worship of Mithras.
The floor of the granary was paved with square tiles, and had been repaired with roofing tiles. One had been broken in two, but we found both parts, so we have a complete Roman roof tile, showing the square hole for the nail to fasten it, and the flanges, showing how the ends overlapped each other. The tiles were heavy, cool in summer, and warm in winter. The tiles were evidently made from local clay. We have floor tiles, wall tiles, and fragments of hypocaust tiles. Some of them have the letter R on them, some VV, which is an abbreviation of Valiant and Victorious, the motto of the 20th Legion. Some of the tiles show the footprints of animals, who have trodden on them before the tiles were baked.
The corn mill is an interesting feature of the fort. We found several of the lower portions of the Roman Querns just as the Romans left them. They were embedded in clay with small boulders placed round them. It was one of the duties of the Mess Orderly to grind the corn issued for mess. Of course the corn mill would be roofed over, if it was only to keep the grain from getting wet. We have a nice collection of these Roman corn mills. One of them is interesting; it is made of lava stone from the quarries at Audenach in Germany, where they are still making them. These querns were light in weight, and could be carried on the march without unduly inconveniencing the carrier. The soldiers' huts had floors of baked clay. The floors must have been made first, and then the corner oak posts driven into position. We have found some of them. Layers of charcoal were laid down, the clay put on the top and levelled, and then the charcoal was lit and baked the clay hard.
The floors are almost like tiles. Near one of these huts was found a lead dice, another one was found in the wall of a building outside the northern gateway. The Roman soldiers were evidently gamblers.
The ovens are plentiful, and were very simply made. Stones were placed in a circle, leaving an opening for the door, fire clay was then placed on the bottom, willows or some other suitable material were then stuck in the ground; and a beehive shaped construction was plaited; this was plastered over with clay, a charcoal fire was then made inside, and by the time the willows were burned through the clay was sufficiently hardened to retain its shape.
We frequently find near these ovens two whet stones, one coarse, and the other fine grained. They are very interesting, as they show the marks made when knives or weapons were sharpened on them. The coins found were, as may be naturally expected, found all over the fort. The coins found and identified with certainty are: Silver Denarius, Emperor Galba, A.D. 69; Silver Denarius, Emperor Domitian, A.D. 95-6; Silver Denarius, Emperor Trajan, A.D. 100; another one A.D. 109; Bronze Denarius, Carausius, A.D. 286-293; Bronze Magnus Maximus, A.D. 383-388 (bronze coin of a Jewish ruler of Jerusalem, Simon Bar-Cohab, A.D. 132-135. This is one of the most interesting in the collection, as Bar-Cohab revolted against the Romans); six Bronze ..........dius of uncertain date, but supposed to be of the time of Emperors Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Constantine. All these are in the Museum, as well as a Bronze Denarius, Emperor Posthumus, A.D. 259, found in the Hague, and a copy of a Silver Denarius, Emperor Alexander Severus, A.D. 231-235, found in Bank Street Hadfield. Many coins of this Emperor and the Empress Julia were found in 1838 at Hooley Wood Quarry, Padfield, but are now lost sight of. Copies of some of them are in the Warrington Museum. The dates of the coins are evidence of a lengthened Roman occupation of this district. A valuable collection of Keltic and Roman weights of bronze and lead have been found in the fort, and have proved to be very interesting and important, as they have enabled antiquarians to clear up some doubtful points.
The weights are mostly of lead, and consist of trade and coin weights. They are most curiously marked, and no one should visit the Museum without noticing them. The lead found is very pure, and must have been very plentiful, for we find scraps that have evidently been thrown away before the Romans would be at the trouble of remelting, though I did find one lump, weighing over 16 lbs., at the bottom of a furnace. The sheet lead shows the nail holes where it had been nailed to the roof. The iron nails are mostly much corroded with rust. We have a few iron spear heads, a hatchet, and other objects of unknown use. The soil at Melandra preserves the glass. We find it in the same condition as when fresh from the maker. The window glass is very hard and evidently cast in moulds, probably to standard sizes. The fragments of square glass bottles have the common reeded pattern of handles. In some of the larger ones it was customary to preserve the ashes of the cremated dead. A fragment of a purple glass bowl is identical in every respect to one found at Silchester, and now in the Reading Museum.
Another interesting fragment of glass has two lines engraved round it showing that the art of engraving on glass was well known to the Romans. In the ash pits are found most of the fragments of pottery. The Terra Sigillata ware, commonly called Samian ware, is found generally in poor condition, the glaze having been injured or destroyed by the Melandra soil. The Samian bowls are much like those found at Pompeii, and are believed to have been made in France. Many of the fragments are ornamented, and some bear the maker's name. There are also a few fragments of Castor ware, made in Northamptonshire.
A large quantity of black ware known as Upchurch ware, has been found; it can be easily identified, as it is mostly ornamented with diagonal lines forming a kind of net pattern. They were mostly cooking pots. Grey ware is also plentiful. In the red ware we have tops of bottles with double spouts, strainers for wine straining, and a mortaria for triterating vegetables or herbs.
A model of a clay horse, with a loose saddle, is the only one known in existence. I thought when I found part of it that it was only a fragment of a tile, until I cleaned it. I sought for hours until I found the remaining portions, and am glad that I did so. There are also some button shaped discs of glass that I think were used as counters in some game. There is a lamp holder made of lead, which is worth noticing. Beads made of a vitreous paste were worn by the Roman soldiers.
The Roman remains in the Museum were found by myself. Messrs John Joseph Booth, Sydney Mellor, and the late William Russell, and lately by the Rev Henry Lawrance, who is now the most active amongst the honorary workers. The site can be seen any day by appointment, and the Museum, free during the time the Library is open.
It has not yet been discovered what the Roman name for Melandra Castle really was. Mr W Thompson Watkin is of opinion that it is Zedrotalia, but his suggestion has not been accepted by recognised authorities on Romano-British history.
There is evidence that the fort was destroyed by fire, many of the stones bear signs of having been subjected to intense heat, and we have found charcoal close to the inner walls of the three rooms in the Praetorium and other places. It is a well known historical fact that the Picts and Scots came over the Roman Wall in the north, burning and looting, and slaying on their victorious way, and even got as far as and looted London. Melandra would be on one of their routes, and could scarcely escape the fate of other forts. It was probably at that period, A.D. 367, that the Romano-British inhabitants took shelter in such places as Poole's Cavern, Burbage, for there has been found many undoubted remains of these people. The stone used in the building of the fort came from Hargate Hill Quarry, and a very good specimen of the Roman road from Melandra to the Quarry can be traversed by going along the foot road from just beyond Gamesley Bridge to Hargate Hill. Mr John Ward F.S.A., and I went over it, and Mr Ward at once recognised it as a Roman road.
The Rev Mr Watson, Rector of Stockport, was the first person to recognise Melandra Castle as a Roman Fort. When he visited the site in July, 1771, Mr Watson states that the country people called the interior the 'Castleyard', and eleven fields adjoining the 'Castle Carrs.'
The Glossop Antiquarian Society are sadly in want of funds to complete the excavations, which have revealed many important points in reference to such places. The book, 'Melandra Castle?' published in 1906, by the Manchester Classical Association, should be in every local library, both public and private. Professor w Boyd Dawkins D. Sc., F.R.S.; Professor F Haverfield, M.A., L.L.D.; Professor Ridgeway, and many other eminent authorities consider that it is a pity that the County gentry of Derbyshire do not give sufficient financial aid for the completion of the excavations.
We have no further information of the Hamlet of Charlesworth until 1086, when the Domesday book states that Charlesworth was then called Cheveneswrde, and belonged to Luinor Leuinic. The Forest Laws were very severe, and every three years an enquiry was held as to the condition of the Forest. At the 'Court of the Regard,' held at Derby in 1285, before Roger Extraneous, Peter de Lench, and John the son of Nigel, Justices of the Peace, it was discovered that the inhabitants of the hamlets in this district had been cutting down oak trees without permission, and in consequence each district was fined: “The wood of Coumbes (Coombs) has been damaged by the people of Chavelesworth and Chisteworth, fined 2s. and must respond for 18 oaks”.
Peter de Charlesworth, died in 1294, and in 1308 one of his descendants, Robert de Charlesworth, gave land in Simmondley and Chunal, and 80 acres of arable land in Charlesworth to the Abbot of Basingwerke. This gift caused the Abbot to build a granary, to hold the tithes and rents of the tenants, which were mostly paid in corn and other kinds of produce, and necessitate the residence of one or two monks as caretakers.
In 1309 in an old deed, Charlesworth was spelled Chauelesworth, and another one of 1329 spells it Cheuelesworth. In this year the Abbot was granted a charter to hold a market at Charlesworth on Wednesdays, and a yearly fair to be held on the festival of the patron saint of St. Mary Magdalene's Chapel. The fair was to be held 'For the Vigil, the day, and the morrow of the Blessed Mary Magdalene, unless that Market and Fair should be injurious to others then held in the vicinity' (is this not evidence of a Market Cross at Glossop), which charter is dated 21st February, 1329, and he had a pillory and tumbrel and other 'Judicalia,' which were required for a market and fair; but the said Abbot used to punish those who had broken the 'Assize of Bread and Ale' by a pecuniary fine.
The Assize of Bread and Ale was a law passed in 1266, to fix the price of these articles, and to punish the baker and brewer if such as they furnished were not of good quality. The Abbot had power, according to the law, to nail the culprit's ears to their own door posts, but he does not seem to have adopted such severe measures.
The pillory was a frame of adjustable boards erected on a post, and having holes through which the head and hands of an offender were thrust, so as to be exposed in front of it, and whilst in this position subject to the taunts and unclean missiles of the bystanders. The stocks held the offenders feet only. Not many years ago part of the stone work of the Charlesworth stocks was in existence, but disappeared during the alterations to the Stocks Well Farm.
The tumbrel or ducking stool was a kind of chair formerly used for punishing scolds, and also dishonest tradesmen, by fastening them in it, usually in front of their doors, to be pelted and hooted by the mob, but sometimes taken to the water and ducked. There was also a scold's bridle, which was an iron framework that fitted on the head; it had a spiked piece of iron which was inserted in the mouth, and effectually prevented the offender from speaking. It was mostly used to prevent women from scolding and slandering. There is an excellent specimen of a scold's bridle in the Belle Vue Gardens Museum.
There is an interesting legend relating to Charlesworth Chapel. It is to this effect:
“Once upon a time a Catholic priest (some say an Irish merchant) on his way from Manchester to London, in crossing this part of the Peak was overtaken by one of those bewildering storms that so frequently sweep down with great suddenness upon these hills, wrapping them in a dense and almost impenetrable mist. A comparative stranger to the neighbourhood, yet conscious of the wild and dangerous character of the district through which he was travelling, he feared to proceed lest the next step should launch him over some dreaded precipice. or entangle him in some equally dreaded bog or marsh. He could, therefore, do nothing but pray for guidance and wait for the storm to pass. Kneeling on the spot where he stood, he besought the help of heaven, and vowed a solemn vow that if preserved and taken to the end of his journey in safety, on that spot he would build a house of prayer and dedicate it to his patron saint. In a short time the storm ceased, the sky began to clear, the mist rolled away from the hills, and to his great joy he found himself on the hillside overlooking the place where Charlesworth now stands. Marking the spot where deliverance had been so wonderfully. and he believed miraculously vouchsafed to him, he continued his journey, but he forgot not his vow, and returned soon after to fulfil it. Here he built a small chapel or oratory (some say of bog oak brought from Ireland) somewhere near the spot where the Charlesworth Chapel now stands.”
The chapel was probably erected by one of the Abbots prior to 1291. At the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII A.D. 1536-39, the chapel escaped being seized, but Queen Elizabeth in 1559 had become possessed of it, with the lands belonging to it, but neglected the chapel, which came into the hands of the Independents.
John Ward, F.S.A. writes relating to the chapel “In the early part of Henry VIII (from 1509) a chantry was founded in the chapel of Charlesworth by William Woodley, of Riber, in the Parish of Matlock, who left certain lands in Chesterfield, Newbould, Tapton, and Dronfield, which lands had been given to him by Ralph Heathcote, bell-founder of Chesterfield, to provide a priest to say Mass for his soul.”
This endowment escaped the lynx-eyed Commissioners, who drew up the Chantry Roll, but shortly afterwards, in the second year of Queen Elizabeth, the land was taken from the chapel and conferred on Sir George Howard.
The chapel also appears to have been transferred with the land to the Howards, and as they remained firm in their attachment to the old faith, it is probable that no effect was made either to preserve the fabric or to provide for the performance of the reformed service. The Parliamentary Commissioners of 1650 report of Charlesworth 'that it is fit to be disused, and the place united to Glossop,' from which it would seem that it was then occasionally used for service, which at that time was Presbyterian.
After the restoration of the Monarchy, the chapel was allowed to remain in the hands of the Presbyterians by the Howards, who themselves under the severe penalties of a cruel and unjust law, could only hear mass by stealth, when some priest in disguise secretly visited their mansion.'
In 1797 the chapel was entirely rebuilt, and not a trace of the original edifice now remains. Several small endowments have been left to this chapel for the benefit of the dissenting minister.
The following persons have left the interest of the sums named: Mary Booth, of Charlesworth, £1; 1716, John Bennett, of Dinting, £20; Lawrence Rowbottom, of Simmondley, £10; James Garside, of Manchester, £10; Damaris Hibbert, of Charlesworth, £10; Sarah Ashton, of Gamesley, £10; John Morton, of Lees Hall, £12; Betty Booth, of Charlesworth, £20; William Thornley, of Sandy Lane, £8.
An interesting account of the ministers of Charlesworth Chapel will be found in the Rev T J Hoskens 'Memorials of Charlesworth.'
The Booths are one of the oldest families of the Hamlet of Charlesworth, who have descendants living in it. The Rev Thomas Fuller, in his book "The Worthies of England," states that the following gentlemen were living in Charlesworth in 1433. viz. Johannis Bothe, Tho. Wolley, Willielmi Wolley.
In the year 1650 the following petition was presented to the Quarter Sessions: To the worpell, the Justices of the Peace for this County of Derby. The humble petition of George Boothe, of Charlesworth. Humbly sheweth That your petitioner havinge a wife and foure children, and being destitute of a habitation for himself or them, did in May last with consent of all his neighbours (one only ................) and with the fruites of his oune labour did erect a cottage on the waste of the Countesse of Arundell and had the same pulled down by the malice and enveye of Thomas Boothe, tending to the utter undoing of him and their familye. Your petitioner therefore humbly prayeth that he may with the consent of his neighbours (and not otherwise) be admitted to rebuild the same at his proper costes and charges, and your petitioner shall ever pray, etc.
The Court ordered "Thomas Booth to rebuild or be convicted and bound to good behaviour."
James Booth, who died on the 14th February, 1843, at the age of 67, was a clever mechanic. On the 1st December, 1819, he obtained a lease of 1,638 square yards of land in the "Tom Riding" and "Little Field," and on it he built a machine shop. He had five sons, James, John, George, Joseph and Robert, who assisted him in his business as a machinist. They made many looms for the cotton manufacturers in the district. In 1838 Mr Booth took 1,037 square yards of land and erected a foundry. After the death of their father, the business was carried on in the name of James Booth and Brothers.
John Booth, cotton band manufacturer, died at Lee Vale on the 25th May, 1876, aged 73. The business is still carried on in new premises by Mr Crosland Smith.
Samuel Booth, in 1821, built the George and Dragon Inn in the Lower Barn Field. The Unicorn Brewery, Stockport are now the owners. Samuel Booth and another built the Charlesworth Mill prior to 1825, for on the 19th February in that year it was advertised "To let." Mr. John Wood, of Howard Town Mills, took it and occupied it until 1831. It was empty for three years when Walter Butterworth began spinning in it with 3,300 mule spindles and 600 throstle spindles. The venture was not a success, for in 1838 the occupiers were Messrs Ratcliffe Nield, Howard and Co. In 1846 Mr William Stafford was the occupier. The mill has had many tenants. None of them seems to have prospered in it. It remained empty for a great number of years and last year it was taken down, and now scarcely a vestige is left. The Charlesworth people used to say of this mill, "It's cursed at both ends and damned in the middle."
The Charlesworth pleasure gardens used to be a favourite resort for visitors. The gardens were very pretty and kept in good order by Mr Thomas Booth, the proprietor.
The Hamlet of Charlesworth contains more descendants of the old families in proportion to its population than any of the others in the parish, and I think they believe more in the traditions of the past.
One of these old beliefs is fully explained by the following extraordinary circumstance:-
On the 10th October, 1801, the Rev Christopher Howe, Vicar of Glossop, was absent from home, and the Rev John Kinder, of Mottram was officiating for him. In a letter to Mr Howe, Mr Kinder wrote as follows:- On Tuesday last I married a couple. The parties were asked for the third time on Sunday, and I think there have been three or four publications, but I am not quite certain. The parties whom I married on Tuesday were a Nathan Harrison and a Susan Heginbotham. They both lived in or near Charlesworth. The wedding caused a very high degree of mirth in very many people. Her former husband died much in debt, and she believed she was liable to be called upon to pay these debts. Now this Nathan Harrison would have her if, after he had married her, she could be free from these debts of her former husband's contracting. In order, therefore, to pay these debts, without money, she believed if she was married in nothing but her shift the creditors could not come upon her or her second husband for the payment of these debts. Two persons came and asked me if I would marry the woman in such a state. I told them this ceremony would not free the woman from debts, and that the husband would be liable to pay them. In answer to this they said if I was to tell the intended husband that story he would not have the woman. I was then silent upon this head to the husband. And that the woman might not be disappointed of a husband, I consented to marry her in her shift. The woman was undressed in the vestry. I did not go into the vestry while she was making herself ready, for I found the surplice upon the rails of the communion table and Charles' wife (Charles Winterbottom was the clerk) posted at the vestry door to prevent people from going in, and to assist me in putting on the surplice. As soon as she was ready she came forth in a long shift, and she went through the ceremony as unconcerned as if she had been regularly dressed. As soon as it was over she went back to the vestry, and there signed her name. The Church was crowded with people but the greatest order and decency was kept while the ceremony was being performed. The constable attended to prevent any disorder or confusion and the church yard was filled before eight o'clock, where the women sat knitting and sewing until they could get into Church. It was nearly twelve before the ceremony was over, and all dispersed after this, leaving the Church and churchyard for their respective places of abode with laughing faces and shaking shoulders.
Mr E Rhodes, the author of 'Peak Scenery,' visited Glossop and district in 1820, and noticed many curious customs prevailing. He writes of one of them as follows:-
“The perpendicular rock on the Cheshire side of the Etherow, at Broadbottom Bridge is called Cat Tor. This precipice is nearly one hundred feet high; its craggy summit is crested with trees, and the more friable soil, on which the top cliffs rest, nourish the roots of a variety of shrubs and brambles that grow upon its sides. The bed of the river, near the bridge, is covered with stones of various dimensions, amongst which we found many specimens of quartz and granite, some of them weighing several hundred pounds, but the Cornwall and Aberdeen granite are most abundant.
It may here be observed that the whole of this district is a micasious and sandstone grit, and that no granite rock is known to exist within more than 100 miles of the Etherow. In the immediate vicinity of Broadbottom Bridge, within the rocks that form the channel of the Etherow, globes of red sandstone, from twenty to fifty or sixty inches in diameter, are frequently found, and a practice prevails of covering them over with paint, and marking them with the more prominent indications of the human countenance; they are then placed in the most conspicuous situations, upon gateposts and walls, to grin a ghostly smile at the stranger as he passes along. Nothing can be more grotesque in appearance, or ludicrous in effect, than these shapeless heads and staring faces.”
The Best Hill Cotton Mill was built in 1784 by John Marsland, cotton manufacturer, of Hodge Hall, and his brother in law, Henry Kelsall, cotton manufacturer, Hollingworth. John died, and the business was carried on by Mrs Marsland, widow, and her brother. Mrs Marsland died in 1813, leaving issue - Samuel, who married a Miss Butcher, of Sheffield; Samuel died 2nd June, 1865, aged 78; Henry died 18th March 1865, aged 71; John died 25th February, 1835, aged 38; Mary married James Rhodes, gent, Tintwistle, and Sarah remained a spinster.
The Marslands occupied the mill until the lease expired. Owing to an unfortunate dispute with the Lord of the Manor the lease was not renewed and a new mill was built on the Cheshire side. The Marslands were very strong Independents and were deeply interested in all things relating to Charlesworth Independent Chapel. John Marsland planted the Hague, in front of his house with trees, and constructed walks to Pim's Parlour, an interesting rock shelter, and was fortunate to find several Roman coins and the matrice of a Roman die, now loaned by me to the Glossop Museum. It is unique and most interesting.
The late Lord Howard constructed a road by the river side from Bankwood Mill to Best Hill, but was unable to complete it owing to the refusal of Messrs Marslands to allow him to cut through a small portion of their land; in consequence the road remained in an incomplete state for many years. It is now a very nice walk in summer time.
Bank Wood (Botany) Mill was built by Thos. Bottomley, of Charlesworth, in 1791. He was not successful in business, and he assigned the mill to John Garlick. In 1801 it was assigned to William Wardlow and Thomas Higginbottom. In 1807 Mr Wardlow was the sole owner and occupier. Mr Wardlow died in 1837, leaving a widow, Mary and three daughters, viz. Mary, wife of Joseph Howard, cotton manufacturer, Bridgefield; Sarah, wife of Benjamin Harrison, cotton manufacturer, Kinder Lee; and Jane, wife of Thomas Garside, of the Hague Mottram. Bankwood Mill was from 1836 to 1840, worked by James and William Wardlow. It was empty for several years, when Thomas Howard and George Wardlow became the occupiers on the 28th December, 1855. Whilst in the occupation of William Waller and Brothers it was destroyed by fire, the damage done amounting to £8,000.
Fitzalan Mill, on the opposite side of the road to the Charlesworth Mill, was built by Robert Booth, one of the Booth's machinists; he drew £1,100 out of the firm, which crippled them, to build this mill. It afterwards became for the manufacture of crinolines, and in consequence got called and known as the 'Crinoline Mill.
On the 27th August, 1865, there was sale of the contents, amongst then being 24 sewing machines. The occupier was a Mr Thos Allen. It is now Wood's wheelwright's shop.
Two small mills at Woodseats were owned by Mr Thomas Ratcliffe. One of them, the Higher Woodseats, or Kinder Brook Mill, assessed seventy years ago at £17 17s 6d, was occupied by him; the other one known as Lee Valley Mill, was let to Mr John Harrison, and during his tenancy there was a serious disaster, of which the following account appeared in the Manchester Guardian:-
"An accident, attended with fatal consequences, occurred on Saturday last (October 1st 1831) Mr Harrison, cotton spinner, having been lately constructing a reservoir, and having completed it, filled it with water for the first time on that day. The banks, it unfortunately happened, were found too weak to sustain the weight of water thus admitted, and gave way. The stream forced an entrance into the mill, distant only a few yards, and washed down the walls, so that the building instantly fell; and three persons lost their lives, partly killed and partly drowned. Several other persons were at work in the mill but they fortunately escaped, having an opportunity of getting away from being employed on the ground floor, whilst the unfortunate sufferers worked in the upper storeys. The overlooker, being outside the building, saw the bank giving way, and called to the workpeople, but the rush of water was so sudden that one man and two women had not even time to come downstairs before the building fell. The man's body was found in the river two miles below Charlesworth, and the bodies of the females were found near the mill."
Kinder Lee Mill was built in 1804, and with a meadow and the reservoir occupied 5,000 square yards. The fields occupied were "The Cote Meadow," "Mill Field," "Rarewood Bottom," "Rarewood,2 and the "Lower Fattinghey." The mill was 84 ft long, 35 ft wide and four storeys high. It was sold by auction on the 22nd January, 1823 to James and Joel Bennett, yeomen, Whitfield, for £620. Benjamin Harrison was the occupier, and eventually became the owner, and remained so until his death in 1877. He had been confined, before his death, for 17 years to his house. A relative of his, John Harrison Ratcliffe, was his successor, and after Mr Ratcliffe's death by the Rowbottoms.
The Hamlet of Charlesworth contains many small ancient settlements. Gamesley is one of them, the oldest houses being at Gamesley Fold. The Harrisons, Thornleys and Coopers have been here for generations. Samuel Cooper, who died May 19th, 1883, aged 82, was father, grandfather and great grandfather to 147 persons. Ann, his wife, died March 8th 1839(?) aged 80.3
In 1795 John Loton built three houses at Gamesley Bridge. One of them was afterwards Robert Marsden's beerhouse. Where Gamesley House is, there once stood an old white cottage, kept by Roger Dumphy. At the rear were his pleasure gardens, which were well patronised by Glossop courters, because they could sit in the garden, quench their thirst with something stronger than pop, watch the bees, admire the flowers, and whisper those sweet things to each other which, I believe, are customary on these occasions. Cottage Lane was so named in remembrance of the Cottage.
In 1660 the modern portion of Gamesley was a moor, and let to several of the local farmers at a nominal rental for pasturage.
The Magnet Inn was built by Hugh Ollerenshaw, and was very handy for railway travellers when the present goods station was the old Dinting passenger station. The first train from Manchester to this station was run on the 24th December, 1842. The station was discontinued as a passenger station when the line was opened to Woodhead. Many attempts have been made to get it again as a passenger station, without success.
Nursery Brow was once the scene of a highway robbery. On the 24th December, 1859, Ellen Atkinson, a travelling hawker from Marple Bridge, was waylaid by four men, robbed, and severely treated.
Between Gamesley Fold and Bankwood Gate is a hollow named Glory Hole. When it was unlawful for Nonconformists to worship in public, the Glory Hole was one of the local places where they secretly met for worship. Of course scouts were placed out to give warning of the approach of anyone not friendly to the worshippers. It is rather singular, but only a short distance from the Glory Hole, in Long Lane was formerly a chapel, built in 1836, by reason of the persecution of the Wesleyan Methodists in Broadbottom, by one of the mill owners. In time however, death removed the opposition; the Broadbottom Wesleyan Chapel was built, and the Long Lane Chapel sold and converted into cottages.
Mote Hall, off Long Lane was once the residence of the Bottoms. The lease dates from 1807. The lessor, John Bottom, possessed a beautiful sweet alto voice, one that could be distinguished amongst all the others, and in consequence he was made much of by the promoters of musical festivals. He had one failing; he liked too well the nut brown ale. He was one of the members of the Butty Brew Singers or Concert Band. Butty means a companion, and these companions used to practice at each other's houses when there had been a brew of beer, hence their nickname. The members of the band seldom returned home until the beer was all drunk; sometimes the spree lasted for several days.
On one occasion, when a special anthem was to be sung at Mottram Church, Bottom's wife was determined that John should not go, as she was afraid it meant a few days spree, so on the Saturday Night, whilst John was fast asleep, she cautiously went upstairs, collected all his clothes and hid them. She then stopped up late finishing some housework, and was fast asleep when John woke up. He looked around for his clothes, but not seeing them he suspected the trick she was trying to play on him, and, determined not to be beaten, he went downstairs and put on a pair of his wife's stockings which she had left over the oven door. He then went outside and took the clothes off an old scarecrow, and rummaging in an old chest he found an old long overcoat that had once been his grandfathers which when buttoned up hid the deficiencies of his attire. Having had a good breakfast, and putting some food in his pocket, he set out early and got to Mottram Church before anyone was stirring. Gaining access to the Church he crept into a dark corner of the gallery where the singers sat, and waited patiently for the hour of service. The congregation was much surprised when they saw Bottom was not in his usual place, but were amply recompensed for John never sang so sweetly. Nothing would induce John to come to the light until all the congregation had dispersed, when he explained to his 'butties' what his wife had done, and how he had tricked her. The incident caused much amusement and a vow by Mrs Bottom that she would never repeat the experiment, for it only ended in a week's spree.
Another amusing incident is recorded of another member of this band. At one practice they were singing the 'Hallelujah Chorus,' and had boys holding their music and lighted candles for them. At one particular place they were singing “Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” One of the candles wanted snuffing, and the singer who was looking at that particular piece of music did not like to stop either to snuff the candle or to tell the boy to do so, but instead sang out “Snuff candle! snuff candle! snuff candle!” The other singers burst out laughing, and the practice was over, for that evening, as at every attempt some one gave way to mirth and set the others going.
In a field near the river on the Mote Hall Farm is a well called the 'Spa Well.' The water has a very peculiar taste; it has been analysed and found to be beneficial for certain complaints. Fifty years ago people came on a Sunday morning from the neighbouring towns bringing with them jars and bottles of all description to convey the water back with them. It is a pity that no practical use has been made of it.
In 1807 Samuel Garlick, collier, of Simmondley, was the leaseholder of Simmondley Coal Pit for 20 years, at a rental of one ninth part of the value of the coal he sold, but the rent was not to come under £20 per year. In 1825 he assigned the lease to John Brocklehurst, husbandman, Smithy Lane, and John Brocklehurst the younger, and Thomas Brocklehurst the son of John, colliers. It had many tenants. The coal was very sulphurous; many people could not stand it. Again, there was a difficulty in lighting it, but when once thoroughly lighted it took a long time before it burned away. There is a story of a young married couple purchasing some of this coal, and it so happened that the first time they had occasion to use it they were going away for a week's visit. The husband laid the fire, put the kettle on, struck a match, applied it to the paper and sticks, and then began to get himself ready, expecting the fire would be lighted and the kettle boiling by the time he was ready; but that was not the case, and the couple went on their visit without having a warm cup of tea. When they returned from their visit, judge of their surprise to find during their absence the fire had lighted up, and the kettle was just beginning to boil, so the tale goes. But it was common saying, the coal 'took a week to light and a fortnight to go out.'
In connexion with the coal pit house there is rather a large garden. This was formerly 'Jimmy round the corner's Pleasure Gardens.' His proper name was James Haughton. He could only sell herb beer, which he brewed himself from dandelion, burdock, nettles, etc., sweetened with Spanish juice. He called it 'Sina drink,' but it varied in taste because Jimmy varied the quantities of his ingredients and no two brews were alike.
His customers were principally young couples who did not like anything stronger than pop. Jimmy professed to be a local preacher, but being an eccentric sort of person it was seldom that his services were required.
The quarry at Hargate Hill was worked by the Romans. The Dewsnaps lived here for many generations.
Mrs Elizabeth Adamson, relict of the Rev John Adamson, Independent Minister, died here on the 16th May, 1866, aged 93, a good age, but not a record for Charlesworth.
On the 8th May, 1713, Sarah Cliff was born at Charlesworth; she eventually married a Welshman named Daniel Rose, and went to live at Woodlands Hope, where she spent the major portion of her life. She died at Fairholmes in the Woodlands on the 5th February, 1819, and was buried at Hope.
Well Head Farm is rather an interesting one, being a good specimen of the style in vogue when it was built in 1669. The initials 'W.G.' on the date stone presumably refer to W. Goddard. According to the Parish Register the family of Goddards were here prior to 1757.
The Bull's Head Inn was built in 1791 by Samuel Mottram, cotton manufacturer. The Inn afterwards came into the possession of Joseph Scholes who I believe was better known as Captain Scholes. On the 16th June, 1856, the Inn was sold for £150 to George Scholes of the Pear Tree Inn Glossop, who in 1882 obtained a 999 years' lease. Many humorous incidents are connected with the Bull's Head. Nearly opposite was formerly a house and shop belonging to John Bradbury, grocer and dealer in sundries, also a joiner and builder. It is related of this gentleman that he once built a cart in the attic, and it was not until he had finished it that he gave a thought “How was he to get it out of the attic?” In the end he had to pull it in pieces again. In 1846 he got a licence to sell beer, and he christened the house “The Cradle and Coffin.” He made these articles, but the people knew the beer house best as “The First and the Last.”
A James Mottram, cotton manufacturer, Charlesworth, built some cottages in 1789. These were sold in 1934 for £220 to Thomas Goodwin. A new lease for 999 was granted to Thos Ledger Goodwin in 1881. Mottram Cottage, now occupied by Mr Fred Higginbottom, the noted rose grower, was formerly occupied by the Mottrams.
In 1829 the Select Vestry decided to give their old hearse to the Charlesworth people, on the consideration that Mr John Shaw would remove it without expense to the Vestry. This he did, and it did good service for several years. One night a few men had been having a spree at the Bull's Head and after leaving that place in the early hours of the morning they espied the hearse in its shed. One of them suggested taking it out, which they did, but unfortunately being drunk, and the hearse being heavy, it began to go down the hill. They commenced shouting to each other either “pull or thrutch,” mingled with a few Billingsgate oaths. An old lady heard the noise and woke her husband, telling him that it was thundering. The old man said “Dis't ever hear thunder say damn.?”
On the 17th October, 1833, the Select Vestry “Ordered that if the parties who demolished the old hearse at Charlesworth do not come to the Vestry Meeting and make satisfaction to the Parish, they will be dealt with, with the utmost rigour of the law.” Eventually they got out of their scrape by the payment of £10. The last remains of the hearse were made into a dog kennel, which for years was in the Bull's Head Yard.
Thomas Whitehead was the driver of the hearse, and one day he had occasion to take the hearse to a funeral outside Charlesworth, and before returning a severe snowstorm commenced. On his return he could scarcely see the horses heads, and by some means he drove the hearse into a field, the gate of which happened to be open. He went forward until he came to the hedge, when of course his progress was stopped; he went round and round the field but could not find his way out, and at last, as a last resort, he began to cry out “Lost, th'hearse is lost.” His cries were heard, and he was put on the right track for home, but it was scarcely safe to ask the question in his presence “Who lost th'hearse?”
The pinfold is not much heard of now, but it was in evidence within my recollection. The following extract from a local paper of the 2nd February, 1865, explains itself:-
“Impounding Sheep:' Joseph Bradbury was summoned by James Thornley, pound keeper, at Charlesworth, for the sum of 3s 8d which had been expended in providing food for seven sheep. James Thornley said he was the pound keeper at Charlesworth, and on the 25th ult, seven sheep were placed in his custody as pound keeper, by Wright Bowden, who had distrained them. He had informed the defendant where they were, but he neglected to feed them, and refused to loose them. The amount claimed was allowed, with the usual expenses.”
The pound keepers appointed for 1841 were; James Dewsnap for the Glossop Pound, Reuben Warhurst for Padfield, George Rothwell for Hadfield, Jonathan Heys for Whitfield, Chunal and Simmondley, and Abraham Goodwin for Charlesworth.
The old Tan Pits are not now in use, but in former times there was some good leather tanned there. In 1793 Samuel Shepley was a tanner here, and the business remained in the same family until it was discontinued not many years ago.
In 1727 a John Shepley was the Constable of the Parish.
The Grey Mare Inn was built in 1811. In 1852 the landlord was George Brocklehurst, who was also a farmer. In 1857, Joseph Beard, blacksmith.
The George and Dragon Inn was built in 1821 by Samuel Booth, of Bankwood; his wife was a Miss Martha Shepley. They had a numerous family; John, a well known druggist, of Glossop; Thomas; Samuel, a druggist of Broadbottom; Mary, who married Stephen Hare, of Charlesworth; Mariah, married Samuel Brown, hat finisher, of Denton; Charles; Joseph; Elizabeth, married James Thornley; Nancy; Martha married Jonathan Hawkins, a well known railway porter at Broadbottom Railway Station. Samuel Booth and John Thornley of Gamesley, built the Charlesworth Cotton Mill. Martha Booth was the tenant of the George and Dragon Inn in 1857.
The Horse Shoe Inn was built by William Bennett in 1824. On the 24th April, 1826, William Booth of Mottram, assaulted James Booth, the Head Borough (Constable) in the Horse Shoe Inn, for which he had to make a public apology by means of posters distributed in the neighbourhood as a warning to others to uphold the dignity and majesty of the law.
The Waggon and Horses Inn was built by Joseph Rowbottom in 1835 on a 99 years' lease. On the 14th April 1897, it was sold to Emma and William Robinson, of the Unicorn Brewery, Stockport, for £1,250. Two years afterwards the lease was extended to 999 years.
In 1846 there was also a beerhouse owned and occupied by Thomas Shepley, Charlesworth; Robert Marsden, Gamesley Bridge; Robert Platt, Long Lane; so that there was every facility for quenching the Charlesworth people's thirst.
Warhurst Fold was the best known place amongst the lads of the Hamlet of Charlesworth, for here was situated Mr John Massey's large orchard. My first week's wages was earned in this orchard getting cherries. I had the privilege of eating as many cherries as I liked, but only those the birds had pecked and made unfit for the Manchester market. I was soon sick of them.
Forty odd years ago a local newspaper printed the Legend of Charlesworth Chapel. The article concluded as follows:-
“Doubtless many of the traces of Romanism in the chapel have been done away with, but one of the remains of that creed may still be seen at Warris Fold Farm, near Broadbottom, some two miles from the chapel, viz. the baptismal font used by the Roman Catholics during their possession of the place. It was probably at that time one of the principal ornaments of the edifice, and when, or under what circumstances it was removed, is not exactly known, but it can be traced to have been in the possession of the occupants of the above named farm for five or six generations past, during the whole or a greater part of which time it has been standing in an outhouse, and used as a receptacle for broken meat for pigs. It is a massive block of stone, about a yard high, two feet in diameter, in the centre of which is a circular bowl some 18 in wide, and of proportionate depth. Being used for such a purpose, probably for a century or two, and out amongst a quantity of things not often used, of course most of its beauty will not be easily seen, except on a minute examination, and it seems a pity it should have been dedicated to such a common purpose; still such is the fact now, and likely to remain so, as its owner does not feel inclined to part with it.”
The late Councillor Samuel Sidebottom was born at Warhurst Fold. The Warhurst Fold Footbridge has often been a bone of contention as to who was liable to repair it, and often it has become very dangerous. On November 3rd, 1865, Dr E Sidebottom, of Mottram was passing over it on horseback, when the horse stepped on a rotten plank, the floor gave way and the horse partly fell through, and the Doctor had a near escape of being pitched into the river below. It was then repaired.
In 1864 Mr Ashton, Woodseats, the surveyor of the highways for the Hamlet of Charlesworth, repaired Woodseats Road for 440 yards, at a cost of £14 5s 9d. Unfortunately for him it included an occupation road which was not repairable at the cost of the ratepayers. Strict watch was kept over every small item of expense, and this did not escape notice, and at the meeting held on 14th April to pass the highway accounts, Mr Joseph Cooper, a ratepayer objected to the cost of this portion of the road. He attended before the magistrates and successfully sustained his objection, the magistrates disallowing £5, the cost incurred.
Woodseats Hall was a residence of a branch of the Wagstaffe family. A rather interesting announcement was made in the Manchester Guardian, October 30th, 1824:-
“Old and Young. On Wednesday last, at Glossop, Mr Thomas Wagstaffe, aged 71 of Woodseats Hall was married to Miss Sarah (aged 16) fourth daughter of of the late Mr Samuel Thornley of Sandy Lane, Chisworth.'”
A Thomas Wagstaffe died here April 1st, 1842, aged 62. He was the last Wagstaffe to live here. June 7th 1817, the will of Mrs Deborah Doxon, of Douglas Isle of Man, was proved. She left to her cousin, George Wagstaffe, of Woodseats, her estate in Hayfield, and a legacy to his brother John of Charlesworth.
The Burdekins have been farmers at Woodseats for over 200 years. The area of the Hamlet of Charlesworth is 1,463 acres 1r. 8p.
In 1811 there were 148 houses and 846 inhabitants. In 50 years, according to the census of 1861 there was an increase of 211 houses and 717 inhabitants.
On 29th September, 1835 a lease of land was granted to Joseph Bradley, for the erection of a Particular Baptist Chapel. The late John Shaw, tailor was connected with this place of worship practically all his life.
The Primitive Methodists built themselves a chapel at Lee Head in 1844. It is now the Charlesworth Liberal Club.
Sir Robert Peel's Act in 1844 created Charlesworth, Chisworth and Simmondley into the Ecclesiastical Parish of Charlesworth. There was no Established Church then in Charlesworth, as it had always been extremely Nonconformist.
On the 4th October, 1845, the Rev Goodwin Purcell came to Charlesworth; he had been trained at Trinity College, Dublin, and was a man of very pronounced views, and not the sort of man to conciliate religious opponents.
In his book 'Church Management in the Present Day,' he fully describes his early struggles. It is a book that has been much criticised by his opponents, and many of his statements denied. Mr Purcell was a worker and determined that there should be a Church at Charlesworth, and to accomplish this he travelled all over the country soliciting subscriptions. At last he over came his difficulties, both financial and otherwise; the Church was built, and on the 8th October, 1849, St. John's Church was consecrated. Shortly afterwards the school was built and opened on the 5th April, 1851.
There was a dispute over Easter dues, and Mr Purcell had to resort to the law to obtain his rights. The trial on March 6th 1851 ended in his favour.
On the 13th August, 1854, Mr Purcell sustained a sad domestic loss. One of his sons John Lee Purcell, aged 20 overbalanced himself and fell out of a bedroom window and was killed.
Mr Purcell had a son, Joseph who was very fond of playing practical jokes. On the 27th February, 1864, Mr John Bostock, of Broadbottom Hall, died and a new vault had to be hastily made in Charlesworth Churchyard, local masons being engaged to do the work. Joseph took great interest in watching them, and amused them by his skits; he also told them plenty of ghost stories, and declared on his honour that one came out of the church at 12 o'clock midnight every night. Of course they did not believe him, never having heard of such an event before. Joseph, however, determined to test them, and as they were obliged to work all night to have the vault ready in time for the internment, he went into the vestry, put on one of his father's white gowns, rubbed his face and hands with a luminous substance, and placed a saucer of brimstone or some other substance that would make a blaze, and just at 12 o'clock he lit the substance in the saucer, threw open the church doors, making as much noise as he could and came forth. The vault was quite near and the men looking up saw the strange apparition, and gave a great yell and jumped out of the vault and ran as fast as they could, each to his home - much to Joseph's amusement and delight. He returned to the vestry and disrobed himself and was proceeding to the Vicarage to go to bed when it suddenly dawned on him that the vault would not be ready in time. He was in a fix, and went to each man's home (one lived at Broadbottom), and explained the joke. He had great difficulty in persuading the men to return to work, and had it not been for his universal popularity, aided by sundry bribes of money and beer, they would not have done so. It was a case of all's well that ends well.
Joseph was very fond of running and jumping, and when prayers were over and the household had retired to bed, Joseph let himself down by a rope from his bedroom and went to 'Long sight,' the part of the straight road in Hattersley. Here he trained himself in running, returning home before the household was awake. He caught a chill through one of these escapades, became ill and died, greatly beloved by all classes.
When Mr. Gladstone brought forward his scheme for the Disestablishment of the Irish Church, Mr Purcell was one of the bitterest local opponents of it. At the meetings during the General Election of 1868 he attended every public meeting against the measure that he could, and his language and gestures were so vigorous that his political opponents dubbed him the 'Fighting Parson.' Several political songs were written about him and sung in the streets and at Gladstonian meetings. The following is a specimen:-
The Charlesworth Pet, or the Fighting Parson. (Air-Yankee Doodle.)
Come, all ye boys of Glossop Dale,
If sport ye take delight in;
To Charlesworth come, and see the fun,
A Parson stripped for fighting!
A Parson of the true blue shade,
No ritualist abortion.
Oh! isn't he a caution.
Cock a doodle doodle doo!
Who put three million tax on?
Arkwright's friends, the Tories did,
Not Cavendish and Jackson.
His coat, his vest, and dickey too,
He tramples on the floor;
His billycock he shied so high,
He ne'er will see it more-
In scientific attitude,
He squares his fists to fight
The Pope of Rome, and Gladstone too,
And John and Jacob Bright.
Cock a doodle doodle doo!
Don't turn your backs on
Such well-tried friends of Liberty
As Cavendish and Jackson
Cock a doodle doodle doo!
Don't you hear him crowing?
His Bible Christianity
To Popish heathens showing.
On Sunday next his flock he'll teach
To follow his example'
Of Christian love and charity,
Oh! isn't he a sample!
Cock a doodle doodle doo!
Who put three million tax on?
Arkwright's friends the Tories have-
Not Cavendish and Jackson.
Don't crow so loud my barn door cock!
For if you'll make a bet,
In Glossop town I'll find a bird
Shall fight the Charlesworth Pet,
He's only of the bantam size,
But then he's thorough game!
His roost is at the Norfolk Arms,
And 'Tommy' is his name!
Cock a doodle doodle doo!
Don't turn your backs on
Such well-tried friends of Liberty
As Cavendish and Jackson.
Latest from Bell's Life
50 to 1 on Tommy.
10 to 1 on Cavendish and Jackson.
The Rev Goodwin Purcell died on the 26th October, 1877, regretted by many who did not agree with him in politics or religion. He was warm hearted and generous. He had his faults, but he had many virtues.
In 1894 the Parish Council Act was passed, and those portions of the Hamlets of Simmondley, Chunal, Whitfield, Glossop, Hadfield, and Padfield that were outside the Borough area were formed into no 2 Ward of the Parish of Charlesworth. This was most important for the Charlesworth Parish Council by reason of the large assessments in No 2 Ward. In 1910 these were; Moorfield Mansion, £256; Hurst Reservoir, £150; Swineshaw Reservoir, £394; Woodhead Reservoirs, £4,021 (reservoirs total £4,565); Glossop Sewage Works £180; Great Central Railway, £15,679 (this does not include the portion in the Borough.) When the railway was first opened the assessments for the various hamlets were as follows:- Charlesworth, 78 chains, £365 12s 6d; Dinting, 1 mile 67.75 chains, £118 2s 6d; Glossop, 19 chains, £35 12s 6d; Hadfield, 41 chains, £194 10s 8d; Padfield, 5 miles 79.75 chains, £2,248 13s 7d. Total £2,962 14s 9d.
Passengers at Woodhead may have noticed a pyramid of seven round stones, graduating in size; these were placed in position and cemented by the station master, Mr A. Lewis, in 1880.
1. The late Neville Sharpe, in transcribing these notes, commented that “Mr Butterworth seems to have had a lively imagination, if you ascend to the top of Coombes Rocks and look at the mounds it is obvious that they are part of a large natural land slip. If you think they are tumuli, then get to work with pick and shovel.”
2. Neville Sharpe commented: “The Picking Rods are the base and twin shafts of Mercian style crosses.”
3. It has not been possible to verify these dates and ages.
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