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Lytham St.Annes, Lancashire, England
 

 

  Kilgrimol

Kilgrimol is thought to have been a very small early Christian chapel or oratory, and cemetery, on the coast between Lytham & Blackpool. The site has long since been lost though traditionally, it is thought to have been at Cross Slack, a site on the St.Annes Old Links Golf Course near the Pontins/Blackpool Airport Boundary.

Cross Slack

Cross Slack, now part of the St.Annes Old Links Golf Course, seen here c1971. Division Lane railway bridge is alongside Pontins Holiday Camp.

12th Century

The site of Kilgrimol was important because it marked the boundary of Lytham when the Priory of Lytham was established c1189-94.

The cemetery (but not the chapel which was probably in ruins) was mentioned in the Foundation Charter of Lytham Priory. This document was drawn up when Richard Fitz Roger gave land at Lytham to the Benedictine Monks of Durham in order that they construct a priory.

In the Foundation Charter the western, or north-western boundary of Lytham was described as being 'From the ditch on the west side of the cemetery of Kilgrimol', where Richard Fitz Roger had erected a cross, and thence westward to the sea. From the same cross the boundary went east along the 'Cursed mere' beyond the great moss and the Swinebrigg brook as far as Ballam.

16th Century

Sand dunes at St.AnnesAlthough it was a well-known landmark in the 12th Century, by the 1500s the site of Kilgrimol had been lost. We know this because of a well-documented boundary dispute between the Butlers (Lords of the Manor of Layton), and Lytham Priory.

 In the resulting court case one Layton tenant stated that Kilgrimol had been worn away into the sea many years before, however, the judgement went in favour of the Prior of Lytham.

It was decided that although the exact site of Kilgrimol had been overblown by sand and lost, the cross at Cross Slack marked the site, and this was to be the northern boundary of Lytham.

Click on the image below to enlarge. Division Lane, a rough, sand-covered track, is seen at the very bottom of this late 1940s aerial view; at this point it joined Clifton Drive.

This was the boundary between Layton (Blackpool) and Lytham.  By this time Squires Gate Holiday Camp was well established along the Blackpool side.

Until the 18th Century all the land between Division Lane and Hounds Hill, (Central Blackpool), was open common pasture known as Layton Hawes.

By the 18th Century there were two small farms and a gamekeepers cottage at Cross Slack. There was also a track, Division Lane.

Click on the map to enlarge. Cross Slack circa 1860, just below Division Lane which is marked in red. To the north is Middle Lane (St.Annes Road); Broad Lane (Lytham Road); Squires Lane and Milkers Lane (Harrowside & Highfield Road).

To the south are roads in present-day St.Annes: Leach Lane, Headroomgate, Heyhouses Lane and Common Side Lane (Church Road).

The railway was cut through the dunes in 1862 and Clifton Drive North constructed about ten years later. The resort of St.Annes was founded in 1875.

 In the 1860s when the railway was constructed through the sand dunes, a bridge was erected at Division Lane. In the 1870s the new resort of St.Annes was created and Cross Slack became part of the St.Annes district.

Division Lane bridge and Keepers Cottage viewed from Squires Gate Holiday Camp in the 1940s.

More Recent History

Cross Slack, St.Annes, 1948Cross Slack Hamlet viewed from the 16th hole of the Old Links Golf Club, 1948. Lytham & St.Annes Golf Club was founded in 1886 and the original links was in the dunes and farmers fields to the north of St.Annes and included Cross Slack.

The Lytham & St.Annes club moved to its present site in 1898 and since about 1901 Cross Slack has formed part of the St.Annes Old Links Golf Course.

Between the 1930s and 1960s the farms and cottages of Cross Slack fell into disrepair, the tenants left and today only the foundations remain.

The name 'Kilgrimol' has survived locally in Kilgrimol School (1875-c1919), Kilgrimol Girl Guides, Kilgrimol Masonic Lodge and Kilgrimol Gardens, a 1960s bungalow estate on the other side of the railway.

The debate on the location of Kilgrimol.

Some historians believe that the site of Kilgrimol is further along the coast towards Lytham. The reasons for this are documents mentioned in the Victoria County History, published in 1911 (Click here and scroll down to footnote 23).

Richard Fitz Roger gave land at Lytham to found the Priory c1189 and the northern boundary in the Foundation Charter was the cross above the cemetery of Kilgrimol. The Hawes, the vast stretch of common land between Lytham and Layton, would be north of Kilgrimol and was not part of Richard's gift.

About the year 1200 two of Richard Fitz Roger's daughters, Cuenelda and Margaret, each gave a third share of The Hawes to Lytham Priory. It would appear that this gift represents two thirds of 'The Hawes' so it must have greatly extended the boundaries of Lytham, north of Kilgrimol.

If this is correct then the cross at Cross Slack was perhaps marking the extended boundary of c1200 and not the original one of 1189. This would mean that the site of Kilgrimol would be much further south, perhaps near Commonside, Ansdell.

This confusion could be because there are two Foundation Charters. The first was re-written at a later date with more accurate boundaries, but until these early manuscripts are studied and dated by researchers the debate will continue.

St.Annes Nature Reserve and Cross Slack c1970.

Cross Slack, St.Annes, c1970. Clifton Drive and the Thursby Home are to the left, Pontins Holiday Camp (top left); Blackpool Airport (top); railway and Old Links Golf Course to the right. The Cross Slack district now forms part of the golf course and Nature Reserve.

New Research

If archaeological remains of Kilgrimol do survive then they will only be found by chance. The site would be quite small and under several feet (or more) of blown sand deposited along the coast over the centuries.

Without physical evidence this leaves us with written evidence. For the amateur historian this presents difficulties as published histories contain so many mistakes. A great deal of our early local history was researched and published over 100 years ago and it contains many errors which have been replicated in later books and articles. An example of this is Fishwick's 'History of Lytham' in which he mistakenly included Medieval documents relating to a village with a similar name in Yorkshire!

Original Documents.

For its size, Lytham is very well documented with a wealth of early manuscripts from the Benedictine Priory and the Clifton family; these are held in the National Archives and the Lancashire Records Office. Sadly, little research has been done and it takes an expert to interpret them. Although good work has recently been carried out on documents and plans from the 1530s, much more remains to be done on the earliest documents.