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History and Recollections

Janet Dandy
Published in 1985 By Carnegie Press Copyright © Janet Dandy
Reproduced for reference only

The Church

In the olden days, Tarleton formed part of the parish of Croston. To attend worship at Croston, the Tarleton parishioners had to cross the river Douglas and the Yarrow; the land was often flooded, so much so that the land on the east of Bank Hall was called 'Crossfords'.

Therefore, preaching often took place at the Cross (near Blackgate Lane End), and a little place of worship was erected at the Holy Well of St. Ellyn, on high ground not far from Bank Hall, the home of the Lord of the Manor. Water from the well could be used for baptisms and curative miracles (this was probably where the old church now stands).

The parish could not worthily support a priest, so in 1517 George Dandye endowed the chantry with lands, so that there might be a 'Chapelyn of Tarleton'. The endowment was a house, garden and orchard and 2.5 acres of land in Tarleton and a house and land in Bretherton.

At the dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539 the holy vessels were confiscated by order of Henry VIII and the chapel was allowed to decay. So Tarleton was again without a place of worship.

The following extract is taken from an old record:
On Wednesday, 26th June 1650, an enquiry was held at Wigan before certain commissioners appointed under the Great Seal of England, in order to ascertain what provision
existed for the spiritual requirements of the neighbourhood. Among those who gave evidence on that occasion were several persons from the parish of Tarleton, namely William Dandy, Richard Thompson, Thomas Jenkinson de Sallom, George Norris and Richard Dandy. These and others from Hesketh, Rufford, Bispham, Mawdesly and other places gave evidence respecting the parish of Croston, of which their townships formed parts, and after stating the endowments thereof, they go on to say that 'Mr James Hyet, Bechelor in Divinity, who is a godly & able minister doth supply the cuer [sic] there, & is, & for the peace of twenty five years last past hath been rector & incumbent there. And we also present & find it needful & necessary that there be a new Parish Church, built at three lane ends in Tarleton, & where one of those lane ends there is called the Blackgate Lane End, where a church is now in building for the inhabitants of Tarleton, Holmes & Sollome wich wee p'sent needfull to bee made a P'ishe Church, & will bee above four miles distant from the said P'ishe Church of Croston, & especially in regard that the numbers of persons with[in] Tarleton, Solome & Holmes to be of that congregation are four hundred and thirty one in number, & the number of familyes there are eighty seven - & also for that there is the great river called Astlon, over which the Inhabitants of the said townes of Tarleton, Homes, Sollome, Hesketh & Becconsall cannot pass into Croston Church without a boate, neither can they pass with a boate in some seasons of the yeare by reason of the great Inundation of the said waters there. And also by reason of the great river of the Douglas, the finey poole & the river of Yarrowe overflowing the way for most parts of the winter time'.

A place of worship was built at Blackgate Lane End; as this was in the time of the Commonwealth, it was of Puritan origin. At the Restoration of the Monarchy the chapel fell into disuse and gradually became dilapidated - so again the parish had no place of worship.

Another old farm which still can be seen on Plox Brow today. The lower part of the building in the foreground used to be the dairy.

The following is taken from an old parish magazine:
In the year 1718 Thomas Hesketh of Rufford and Mrs H. M. Legh of Bank, the joint manorial owners and the Rev. Henry Leadbetter, Rector of Croston, with it went three of the freeholders of Tarleton, petitioned Bishop Gastrell (of Chester) for a license to erect a new chapel in Tarleton, sixteen yards in length and seven yards in breadth. They said that during the Commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell or, as they termed it 'the late unhappy usurpation', an edifice was built by the prevailing faction in Tarleton and used for a pretended place of worship.

An old picture postcard of the bridge over the river Douglas at Tarleton. The wide areas of mosslands here made it very difficult for people to get to their parish church at Croston.


This was no doubt the parish church erected in the year 1650 and in which the establishment of the 'Presbyterian Classes' meant that the use of the Prayer Book was forbidden and worship was conducted on Puritan lines.

After the Restoration of Charles II to his throne and Kingdom, the Church of England was restored to her ancient position, and the Prayer Book again had its place upon the reading desk. The petitioners of Bishop Gastrell say that in the place referred to above,
'there was occasionally Divine Service and Sermon according to the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England, but the said building never having been consecrated & having no endowment, the worship of God was neglected, the chapel gradually fell into decay & became a ruin; & the ground once ditched & set out for the chapel yard lay waste & unfenced'.

The petitioners further stated that on account of the difficulty of attending the parish church of Croston, because of its distance and the frequent floods and inundations, many persons had been led to divide from the Church. Under these circumstances the Lord and Lady of the manor would give the site of the old ruined chapel on which to erect a new one, and the principle landowners would agree to build it and would also subscribe £200 towards an endowment for 'a permanent, orthodox incumbant well & truly affected towards the Church of England'.

Bishop Gastrell granted the petition and the licence for building the new chapel on the site of the old St. Helen's chapel was issued accordingly. Queen Ann's Bounty granted £200 to meet the locally promised £200 for endowment and, with the £400 thus obtained, a tenant called 'Paines' with 19 acres of land in Tarleton was purchased for the benefice.

A house in the village was then the parsonage. An inserted stone declares ' This house was built in AD 1726 for the curate of Tarleton with Mrs Margaret Thompson's legacy'.

A number of the principle inhabitants who had promised subscriptions declined to pay when called upon, asserting that the building should have been erected on the site of the old Presbyterian chapel at Blackgate Lane End, and that the position would be more convenient than the spot where it was now being built. To these objections it was replied that the new site was more convenient for the inhabitants of Bretherton and Sollom, and that it was already hallowed ground as a chapel of great antiquity dedicated to St. Helen had formerly stood there but had fallen into decay about the year 1600, that the ground was the property of Madam Legh of Bank who was willing to give it for the purpose, and that it lay in a dry and elevated position with a noble prospect, whereas the yard of the old Presbyterian chapel had been leased off by Mr Hesketh of Rufford as regarded one portion of it and the remainder was too small for a burial ground for so important a township, and owing to the Bank and Rufford estates both being part owners of it, and the Rufford estates at that time in trust and the heir apparent being a minor, there were serious legal difficulties in the way of a transfer of the property. In a short space of time the dispute quietened down and the building was completed. Madam Legh gave ten timber trees for the roof and promised the necessary vessels for the administration of the Sacrament, besides her gift of money and land.

The church was duly consecrated on 24th July 1719 by the Bishop of Chester.

In 1824 a narthex was added to the west end, of which the north portion was made into a vestry and the south was occupied by a staircase into a south vestry. At the same time, the bell turret was raised and a second bell was added.


The old church near the main road at the bottom of Coe Lane. This church is on the site of the ancient church of St. Helens. It was consecrated in July 1719.


The bells were rung before the services, and one bell was tolled to proclaim to the villagers that a death had taken place. The number of tolls told the age of the person. This was called the 'passing bell'.

On 8th June 1821 an Act was passed for making the townships and hamlets of Tarleton and Hesketh with Becconsall in the parish of Croston and part of the Rectory in the County of Lancaster separate and distinct parishes.

Marriages could be solemnised from 1st August 1821.

Rev. Matthew F. Fletcher served as a curate from 1853 and purchased the advowson. In 1864 he became Rector and started to build a Rectory in Coe Lane.


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