Leafing through the history of Lancashire villages

Goosnargh Village in 1929
Goosnargh Village in 1929
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The long history of some of Lancashire’s oldest villages is the subject of a new illustrated book. Author Janet Rigby takes us on a walk through Goosnargh, Whittingham and Inglewhite

With the closing of Whittingham Hospital more than 20 years ago, much has changed in Goosnargh and Whittingham.

Male annexe at Whittingham Hospital

Male annexe at Whittingham Hospital

Still of great interest historically, the township of Goosnargh was first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. The ancient parish church of St Mary’s stands as it has done for centuries, flanked by the imposing Bushells Hospital, Grapes Inn and the school which was founded in 1673.

Noted 19th century journalist Anthony Hewitson, writing in 1872, described Goosnargh as “a purely rural district, sequestered, pleasantly situated with a small scattered population, an imperishable passion for cakes and an instinctive love of good ale”.

Situated within the township of Goosnargh is the village of Inglewhite with its picturesque village green and market cross dating from 1500. It was once the scene of bull baiting and village fairs and the green was said, in 1845 by the Preston Chronicle, to have been ‘strewn with gamesters, together with the scum and dregs of the country to a wide distance’.

This all came to an end with the intervention of the Reverend Robert Shuttleworth, known as the Inglewhite Reformer.

Button Street, Inglewhite,

Button Street, Inglewhite,

The place names of Button Street and Silk Mill Lane remind us of its once prosperous cottage industries.

Goosnargh was once a centre for handloom weaving and today only a small stone wall along Church Lane is a reminder of the former Long Shades Mill and the cottages in Makinsons Row, leading up to the former Bushells Inn, are said to date from 1669 and housed cotton weavers.

Historic halls still hold their secrets of priest holes and private chapels, and the most famous one in the area, Chingle Hall, lays claim to being the most haunted house in Britain. It was used as a secret mass centre during the Reformation period, as undoubtedly were other houses in Lancashire, and was once open to the public.

Before the establishment of the Asylum at Whittingham in 1876, Whittingham was a small township, with a total of 664 inhabitants, mostly living in the farming community. All of this changed, however, when five years after its official opening, the population had risen to 2,158, which included inmates of the asylum.

Goosnargh Bushells Hospital

Goosnargh Bushells Hospital

Village life in the Victorian age was centred on the church, which became a focal point for the inhabitants with its club days of the friendly society, harvest festivals, agricultural shows and the Goosnargh and Whittingham Festival which still shows no sign of waning today.

There is much to tell about the churches, ancient inns, the 24 sworn men of

Goosnargh who governed the parish until the early 1900s, the various benefactors to the village, the most prominent being Bushells Hospital (also known as Goosnargh Hospital), which once described itself as “a place of residence for decayed gentlemen and gentlewomen” with the added provision of being the ‘better rank of either sex’.

Now the grounds of Whittingham Hospital are unrecognisable, being taken over by new housing and roads but Goosnargh still retains most of its charm. Bushells Hospital is now a retirement home, the Bushells Arms has closed but the Grapes Inn, the Horns Inn and the Stags are still thriving, as is the village school. Inglewhite Green is now peaceful, the only public house still standing is The Green Man Public House.

* A Journey In Time Through Goosnargh, Whittingham and Inglewhite by Janet Rigby is available priced £12, including postage, from publisher lulu.com, by calling 01253 724035, emailing rigbyjanet5@gmail.com or via the Goosnargh and Whittingham Past Facebook page