click to return to 
Garstang Home & Contents

The Parish of Garstang
in the County of
-- Lancashire --

click to return to Lancashire Home


The Town of Garstang. Photograph supplied by and © of Brian Young
The Town of Garstang
Photograph supplied by and © of Brian Young

According to the A History of Lancashire Vol VI, p.312, the church of Garstang, St Thomas was assigned a district in 1881. Original registers of baptisms, marriages and burials up to 1881 are to be found among the parish registers of Garstang (Churchtown), St Helen.

A parish in the hundred of AMOUNDERNESS, county palatine LANCASTER, comprising the market town of Garstang, the chapelry of Pilling, the townships of Barnacre with Bonds, Billisborrow, Cabus, Catteral, Claughton, Forton, Kirkland, Nateby, Winmarleigh, Nether Wyersdale, and a part of Clevely, and the hamlet of Holleth; and containing, including the whole population of Clevely, 7,403 inhabitants, of which number, 936 are in the town of Garstang, 11 miles ( E.) from Lancaster, and 229 ( N.) from London.

The name appears to be of Saxon origin, and the place was anciently called Gayrstang, probably from Garri, a Saxon thane, who is said to have been its first resident lord. Though not a station of the Romans, it was situated on one of their great roads leading from Lugovallum (now Carlisle), to Condate, (now Kinderton, in Cheshire).

At the close of the last century, a Roman shield of brass, of curious workmanship, was found in the neighbourhood, which is now among the Towneley collection in the British Museum. An oaken box also, strong, but roughly constructed, and fastened by wooden pins, was turned up by the plough in this parish; which, on being opened, was found to contain a fine collection of celts, spear-heads, and other instruments, partly Roman and partly British.

During the parliamentary war, this parish was the scene of some unimportant operations, and the castle of Greenhaugh, which is in the neighbourhood, was held for the king, by the Earl of Derby, in 1643.

When the Scottish adherents to the Pretender made their incursion into England, in 1715, they halted at Garstang, before taking possession of Preston, and in the following year, some of the rebels were executed at this place.

The town is situated on the river Wyre, on the road between Preston and Lancaster: the more ancient part consists of houses indifferently built, the streets being irregularly formed; but great improvements have lately been introduced: the streets are now well paved, the town lighted, and a few houses of respectability have recently been added.

The trade and manufactures are not very considerable: several looms are employed in weaving linen and cotton goods, and there are some cotton mills, and a large calico-printing establishment in the neighbourhood; but the town derives its greatest advantages from its situation as a thoroughfare.

The market is on Thursday; and a market for cattle is held every alternate Thursday, between the first Thursday in Lent and Holy Thursday. Fairs are held on Holy Thursday, July 10th, and Nov. 22nd.

An impulse has lately been given to the trade of the town and parish by the facilities afforded by the Lancaster canal, which crosses the river Wyre by a handsome aqueduct, near the end of the principal street, thus forming a communication with the Trent, Severn, and Mersey; and from the Wyre, which winds round the town on the eastern and southern sides, a tolerable supply of fish is obtained.

The inhabitants were first incorporated by a charter granted in 1314; but this was superseded by a new one granted by Charles II., in 1680, with additional privileges, by which the government of the town was vested in a bailiff and seven capital burgesses, elected annually on the 29th of September. In case of the death or removal of a burgess, the remainder elect another from among the freemen: the bailiff is chosen from among the capital burgesses.

The freedom is obtained by birth, by apprenticeship to a freeman, or by gift from the corporation. The bailiff holds a court of pie-powder at the fairs: the borough is co-extensive with the township. A court baron, held twice a year, possesses jurisdiction for the recovery of small debts, but little use is now made of it.

The town-hall, which is the principal public edifice, and is situated in the market-place, was built at the expense of the corporation in 1755, on the site of a former edifice: the lower part serves for a corn exchange, and the upper for transacting public business: the petty sessions for the hundred of Amounderness are held in it.

The Town of Garstang. Photograph supplied by and © of Brian Young
The Town of Garstang
Photograph supplied by and © of Brian Young

The living is a vicarage, in the archdeaconry of Richmond, and diocese of Chester, rated in the king’s books at £14/3/4d, and in the patronage of the Rev. John Pedder.

The church, dedicated to St. Helen, is a stately structure, situated about a mile and a half from the town, in that part of the parish called Garstang Church Town, in the township of Kirkland: having been injured by the overflowing of the river Wyre, near which it stands, it was repaired in 1746, and again in 1811, when the walls of the nave and chancel were raised, and the whole received a new roof, at an expense of £1,200, which was defrayed jointly by the parishioners and Thomas Strickland Standish, Esq., the lay impropriator.

There is a chapel within the town, the living of which is a perpetual curacy, endowed with £400 private benefaction, £600 royal bounty, and £500 parliamentary grant, and in the patronage of the Vicar of Garstang: there is another chapel at Pilling, which is in the patronage of the Lord of the Manor.

The Independents, Wesleyan Methodists, and Roman Catholics, have each a place of worship here.

The free school was built about the year 1756, partly from the funds of the corporation, and partly by subscription, and endowed with a bequest of £150, from John Morland, Esq., and £5 per annum, the gift of William Baylton, the proceeds of which are paid to the master for instructing four children, two others being educated at the expense of the corporation: besides which, there are between sixty and seventy scholars who pay quarterage.

The Roman Catholics support also both a day and a Sunday school.

Three miles west of Garstang is Pilling-moss, the scene of a phenomenon, of which the following account is given in the Philosophical Transactions, No. 475, January 26, 1744-5;--“A part of Pilling-moss was observed to rise to a surprising height; and after a short time it sank as much below the level, and moved slowly towards the south side; and in half an hour it covered twenty acres of land. The improved land adjoining to that part of the moss which moved, in a concave circle, containing about one hundred acres, was nearly filled up with moss and water. That part of the moss which sank remained like the bed of a river, running from the north to south, above a mile in length, and half a mile in breadth.” A considerable portion of the moss has been reclaimed of late years, and successfully converted to agricultural purposes, while the margin supplies an abundance of turf, which compensates in a measure for the scarcity of coal.

From: A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, Vol. 2, London, 1831, p.215.

Entered here 30 August 2004 by Lynn Ransom Burton.

Memorial commemorating the men of Garstang who gave their lives in both World Wars. Photograph supplied by and © of Brian Young
Memorial commemorating the men of Garstang who gave their lives in both World Wars
Photograph supplied by and © of Brian Young
Garstang Home & Contents ©Lancashire OnLine Parish Clerks

Lancashire Home