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The Township of Elswick
in the County of
-- Lancashire --

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In 1086 the 'Doomsday' survey recorded that the village of Edelswick was a tiny hamlet with 300 acres in cultivation.

Ethel's Lodge would now have been replaced by a finer wooden structure for the Lords use, surrounded by the homesteads of his serfs. The Saxon, Norman and Medieval village lay to the east of the present day Elswick and it would be some time before it progressed to it's present site.

After the Doomesday Survey of 1086, very little is recorded until 1242 when the manor was divided into parts. The two prominent names being Warin de Whittingham and Adam de Singleton who, in the year 1260, was responsible for building Chingle Hall at Goosenargh, which still stands today.

Some time around this date, the surname of Elswick was adopted by one family holding lands here. Many names are associated with the manor over the centuries, due to marriage settlements, renting out fields etc. Three of these fields, mentioned in a settlement on Cockersands Abbey had the strange names of 'Cock & Hen', 'Turmurfurlong' and 'Smerebrook'. In 1379 John O'Gaunt, who was the Governor of Lancaster Castle, came and took the Manor by force, for his brother Richard II. The 1300's also saw the first horse mill in Elswick, with 5 horses put to pasture on the common land.

In 1485 the fatal 'sweating sickness' devastated the Fylde, wiping out half of the population. One can imagine the tiny village would be practically deserted, but the Manor continued to be inhabited, and in 1509 that infamous person Edmund Dudley held lands in Elswick (he was known for stealing land for his king) so very likely these were obtained by foul means. 1553 saw Mary Tudor established on the Throne of England, she immediately ordered a military muster in Lancashire, and five men were sent from Elswick to join her army. Twelve years later the Fylde was once more devastated by the 'Sore Sickness', again the population was almost wiped out.

By the 1500s Elswick had begun to expand. Cottages were being erected to form the Main Street (a few remain), the centre being the crossroad where Stafford's Garage once stood (now being developed into a residential site).

The spot where the yearly decorated Xmas-Tree stands is the site of the old stocks, and somewhere close by would have been the Cockpit, for every Fylde village had one for entertainment.

In 1586 the first Windmill appeared, one of 35 in the Fylde. It was owned by a William Butler, and was erected next to his cottage down Mill Lane. The Cottage has long since disappeared, but it is believed part of a millstone still survives in a local garden. The next owner was William Swarbrick of Roseacre, then his son John, and grandson William. In 1643 the Earl of Derby with his troops stayed in Elswick, and while the Earl turned a blind eye, his men plundered and burned the village. During this atrocity the books and records of William Swarbrick, the grandson, were all destroyed.

Five years later in 1648, Oliver Cromwell overcame the Royalist Army and Scots Mercenaries at the now famous Battle of Preston, and Elswick was once more subjected to plundering (as nearly all Lancashire villages were during this period) as the Scots retreated to their border.

One battle was fought to the rear of Grange Farm where in recent years a cannonball was unearthed during ploughing.

Elswick Manor

As you travel east out of the village, following Lodge Lane, you reach an avenue of trees and to the left is Elswick Manor. In recent times it was a Retreat Home for a Catholic Order of Nuns. This building is the site of the early village and the house of the Lord of the manor.

The pleasant grounds hold many clues to it's past, with a lake and a stream that are remnants of the moat that once surrounded the Hall. Grassy covered mounds lay close to the present house, more than likely earlier foundations and an old gate-post, not seen from the road, which suggests another entrance at one time.

This entrance led to another road which can be traced through the fields to join up with Bonds Lane and Mill Lane. Mrs. Isles (one of the more senior residents of the village) remembers walking this road as a child. Most probably this would be the only road from Elswick before the new one was constructed.

The tiny gatehouse cottage stands at the end of this earlier road and is itself a relic of a bygone age. The thick walls contain cobblestones bound together with mud. The chapel seen from the road bears the date 1819 and was built by Alderman King who owned the Manor at that time. He was a devout Quaker, and still surviving today is the life-size dolls house he built for his children, close by is a tiny mooring stage for a boat, a peaceful scene that belies many a bloody skirmish in the Manor's history.

From the book Elswick Village, A Brief History by the late Jane Rossal

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