Season Cottages, Halsall 2

Well I finally got round to putting these together. There is one missing though: Winter Cottage.
Spring Cottage with strawberries
Summer cottage with bees.
Autumn Cottage with apples.
And this was to be the Winter Cottage but in daylight the red wasn’t quite right. Instead I found the last red boarding fabric FQ on the entire internet and it is on it’s way here to finish the job. In the meantime I’ll be backing “Gull Memories”.
Remember we were on our walk around Halsall church at about this point?
I found some leaded stained glass I could take a pic of.
It was just by these steps going under the church.
I think this side of the church catches the weather. These 5-600 year old gargoyles are looking a little battered. I think the tradition was that gargoyles protected the building. A bit better than one Celtic tradition I read of where the enemies bodies were part of the foundation so their spirits would have to keep the walls up against their own countrymen!

Some of these had open mouths and others closed. Hubby took the last 3 pics with his zoom lens.
1695AD and a coat of arms.
It was at this point I looked around and went away from the church to have a closer look at the graveyard.
This beautiful cross was erected for a past rector of the parish.

I then remembered that one sharp Winter I had seen some ruins from the road near here between the bare trees. I had asked some of hubby’s school friends at the time and they didn’t know what I was talking about. I think they thought I was some Southern twit with fancifful ideas. Soooo I entered the dark wood. Hubby wasn’t in sight so he must’ve been on the West side o0f the church. I didn’t feel I could yell loudly across the graveyard.
I went over this bridge.
I could just see the church through the trees.
Then I turned down this track.
Most of the trees were quite young.
Then just as the track pettered out, I thought I saw something between the trees.
It was this!
I explored being thankful I was here at this time of year when the nettles were dying back.
I was glad I wore trousers too.
It looked medieval to me. I was so excited- it was worth the dark walk. They did exist!
Reluctantly I left knowing that hubby would be wondering where I had got to.
I checked this uprooted tree just in case any pottery had become unearthed but nothing.
I did see that a squirrel had been munching on this conker.
And a pigeon had lost a feather in these beech trees.
I walked back to the church.
and re-found the track.
back over the bridge
This is the view of the ruins area from the road. No wonder I had only seen it one Winter.

Next post we will be back to finish the church.

Sooo I now had a mystery on my hands. 🙂 What were these ruins that people who had been raised in the area knew nothing about? I hit the internet running. There was nothing in my Ordinance Survey map of the area and that is meant to have everything on! :-0 I found a reference from a Victorian walk in 1852 of them being an old priory. It seemed a little small to have been that and a nearby field had no lumps and bumps denoting building foundations buried underneath so I kept looking. I then found a reference in an on-line book called “Lancashire” to there being 2 old rectories. here’s what it says:

“In the woods 200 yards north of the church are the remains of the medieval rectory-masonry discovered embedded in the rambling old rectory when it was demolished in the mid C19th and considered as a folly. It is a remnant of a wall with 2 centred arch doorways at either end. the jambs of 2 tall 2 centred arched windows are in the West part with evidence of another door in the centre. There are stumps of ajoining walls and other independant fragments, but the plan is not at all clear. It could be the North wall of a C14th-C15th hall range -the windows lighting the hall. A further 1/4 mile NE on the Halsall Road is Sidney Smirke’s large and dignified replacement of 1844-5 now called Halsall House.”

Ha I think the mystery is solved! It is the very old rectory! It is probably in that position as Halsall is surrounded by “moss” -local talk for bog which was drained and turned into vegetable growing fields in later times, so raised ground which wouldn’t flood in Winter, was scarce. I’ve got 3 medieval cross positions (crosses long gone) marked on my map so I think this road was one of the tracks above the moss with crosses marking a safe passage for strangers. The chapel within the church is dedicated to St Nicholas of Myra who is the patron saint of sailors so it is likely that Halsall was once accessible from the sea too over the moss to the NE. The fields are large and very square, so I know these are young fields. Older ones have wiggling boundaries with old hedging like crazy patchwork. It is so lovely to have solved it and to know I wasn’t completely dotty that Winter when I first saw them. 🙂

I came across this site which shows more buildings from this area with Halsall at the bottom of the page in case you’re interested.

So back to finish the church next time and hopefully some Harvest Festival pics on Sunday. Happy Autumn!

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