Newspaper cutting from 1872
OUR COUNTRY CHURCHES AND CHAPELS :
THEIR PAST AND PRESENT, WITH VIEWS OF THEIR CLERGY AND
(BY " ATTICUS.")
STALMINE, WHITECHAPEL, INGLEWHITE, AND KNOWL GREEN CHURCHES AND
This is the last article, and the problem we have to solve is,
not how to find matter for it, but how to compress; into lines what would not be
exhausted in pages, and how to condense into a column and a half what would fill a
We begin with Stalmine, a far-off spot on the eastern side of
the river Wyre, between Pilling and Hambleton—an aged place containing a strong,
plodding, agricultural race of people, whose history is moss-grown, and whose
traditions are wrinkled.
Stalmine contained, when the Domesday survey was made, four
carucates of land, and at a period more remote than can be reached by existing
documents it formed part of the extensive possessions of Furness Abbey. Early in
the 13th century a sheriff's writ was issued ordering the restoration of certain
lands in Stalmine, held by Hugh de Nevill, to the monks of that establishment.
In the time of Henry III, Robert de Stalmine did homage to the
King for land which his brother William held here from his Majesty. Edward I,
claimed in the 30th year of his reign the manor of Stalmine. In 1300 a quantity of
land here and also in Stainall, which adjoins, was given to the monks of Furness;
eventually those monks got the whole of the manor into their hands, and it remained
with then till the dissolution of the religious houses by Henry VIII.
The population of the parish is about 1,300, whilst that of the
township of Stalmine is upwards of 500. Preesall-with-Hackensall, which is in the
parochial chapelry of Stalmine, is mentioned in the Domesday survey. The chief
residences in the district are Stalmine Hall, lately purchased by T.Noble, Esq.,
and Parrox Hall, the seat of D. H. Elletson, Esq., in whose family it has been
since the time of King John.
Most of the deeds belonging to Parrox Hall were lost many years
ago in a fire at Hornby Castle, so that we cannot get properly at its history; but
there can be no doubt as to its antiquity. Mr. Elletson has some ancient deeds, in
Norman-French, in his possession, and one of them is the grant by King John of the
manor, including Parrox Hall and the greater portion of the township.
Hackensall Hall is also worthy of a line. It is now a farm house
belonging to Col. Bourne, M.P., and not much is thought of it. Yet it is one of the
oldest buildings in the locality, and it was formerly the seat of some of the
ancestors of Mr. Elletson, of Parrox-hall. This hall, like the generality of
ancient buildings, was at one time haunted, and the sprite which troubled it was
called the "Hall Knocker"-an imaginary being which finds its abode in sundry places
hereabouts, and which is even now supposed to disturb the equanimity of some
buildings in the township.
A friend, living in this quarter, writing to us under date
“January 31st, 1872," says " Only this week, when out shooting, we were passing an
old deserted house belonging to Stalmine church, when my man suddenly said Ah! th'
Ho Knocker is buried there.' 'Where?' said I - "why under th' threshut,' he
answered, and when I said what did it use to do? he replied why all maks o'
tricks—sometimes it would have the shippons all cleaned out before they was up ; at
others would wheel a lot of manure into the buildings ; and sometimes house the
sheep. However they got the priest to lay it and bury it."
Notwithstanding the laying and the burying, the " Hall Knocker"
still seems to do a little business on its own account, for some purpose, in
Stalmine; but it won't do much harm ; and we imagine that the Stalminians, even on
the darkest night, will never be able to see anything much worse than
If they do find a wonder—a genuine ghost, a real " knocker,"
then we advise them to knock it down at once, catch it, and either send it to
Barnum, or get up a caravan and show the contents thereof. There will be a fortune,
without any controversy, in the enterprise—going to California will be nothing,
travelling to the Cape diamond fields and finding everything will be child's play
in comparison with this business.
The church at Stalmine is a very old one; was probably
connected, in the first instance, with the ancient priory of Lancaster, and is now
held, in patronage, by the vicar of that town. It is pleasantly situated at one
corner of the village green, and formerly there was an extensive view, from its
site, on the eastern side; but this has been shut off by the trees now surrounding
the graveyard—an olden and venerable enclosure at least 600 years old.
The church was dedicated originally to St. Oswald, and by a
peculiar phraseological corruption, this is now associated with "Tosset's day" (St.
Oswald's day), which used to be celebrated with bull-baiting, and kindred
recreations. The village wake is kept up yet on "Tosset's day."
Stalmine church, since dedicated to St. James, is a plain but
commodious edifice, and was re-built in 1806, at the sole expense of the
parishioners. The only relics of the old church, now observable, are the benches
used as free seats, and the ancient, carved-oak, canopied pew belonging to Parrox
Hall. There has been no resident incumbent at Stalmine during the present century,
prior to the present clergyman the Rev. J. K. Turner, who was presented to the
living about seven years ago by his father, the late Vicar of Lancaster. The one
previous was the Rev. J. Rowley, late chaplain of Lancaster Castle, who held the
living nearly 70 years
The congregation of Stalmine Church is a plain, healthy,
long-lived one—hard-headed, honest, fond of Church and State and Toryism for ever
and ever. The incumbent is a calmly-balanced, do-not-get-too-near-me sort of
gentleman; he preaches good, plain sermons, and never has to be helped home, on the
score of exhaustion, after them; he takes matters coolly, does not trouble people
with too many visits, and thinks clerical cloth a really superior and first rate
article. The choir is a good one, and the organ—a neat instrument —is tastefully
played by Mrs. Elletson.
The old pulpit— now removed—was an extraordinary work of art,
being three stories high—the clerk at the bottom, the middle deck for prayers, and
the top for preaching. It was a sort of octagonal box, with very formidable
bulwarks, and had a canopy like an immense extinguisher, hung overhead by a chain,
which many a boy, when the parson was prosy, hoped would break and bottle him
Towards the close of last century the parson at Stalmine - a Mr.
Thomas - was a very diminutive man, and his preaching box being at least twelve
feet above his congregation, he had, to make himself look more imposing, to stand
upon a tall stool. One Sunday, as he was giving out his text —" A little while and
ye shall see me, and again a little while and ye shall not see me"--he trod too
near the edge of his stool, which canted over, and down he went. He disappeared
from view for a short period, but the congregation, who laughed for the moment,
reconciled the escapade oil “the little while and ye shall not see me" principle,
and the parson, after duly readjusting himself, proceeded to the end of his homily
There used to be a clergyman at Stalmine of the same kidney as
Parson Potter, of Pilling; he loved his glass dearly, was of a pugilistic turn of
mind, and if he heard of a smart-fisted fellow he would not, it is said, object to
give him a quart of ale to hang about till after service time in order that he
might them have a round with him.
Fifty years ago, the officiating parson here was one Mr.
Miller—a hearty cheerful soul of the old school. He lived at Preesall, walked over
to Stalmine every Sunday, and always in the forenoon, before he went into the
church, he called at old Betty Hardman's (the Pack Horse Inn), where he had a glass
of gin and a pipe of tobacco.