Lytham St.Annes Coat of Arms
Lytham St.Annes, Lancashire, England


Evening Gazette, November 24th, 1962

Pilling Hedgerows


I AM always impressed by I the neatness of the hedges at Pilling. They seem to me, generally speaking, to be better cared for than any in our part of the countryside. It may be because hedges were not introduced into Pilling until comparatively recent times— only about 100 years ago.


The originator was the vicar, the Rev J, D. Banister, who looked after Pilling for 51 years from 1825 onwards. "Looked after" is right. He more or less revolutionised the place. He built a new vicarage to supersede the tumbledown old cottage which did duty up to 1831. He built schools at both Pilling and Eagland Hill, and Eagland Hill church ,too — although Pilling, when he died in 1876, still worshipped in the little 1717 church which now remains as a lovely Georgian relic.


He supervised the draining of much of the mossland, bringing large new tracts into cultivation; and he had much to do with the building of new farmhouses and cottages to replace the old turf - walled, thatch-roofed and clay-floored homes such as the relics I described a few weeks ago.

His memorial

Up to his time most field boundaries in Pilling were banks of earth. I suppose that the nature of the land demanded drainage by ditches and the excavated soil was conveniently heaped up.

But Mr Banister thought that it was ugly — and so it must have been — and little by little he persuaded farmers to plant hawthorn hedges. The pretty Pilling landscape of today is a memorial to him.

To my mind, however, the most powerful proof of Mr Banister's authority and influence is that he managed to introduce the chanting of the psalms in the village church. Anyone who could persuade the people of Pilling into such a change as that must have been a Napoleon and a Machiavelli rolled into one.

"As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end" is still a strong creed in Pilling. What it must have been 100 years ago can be imagined. He says in his memoirs that "some of the old people objected to the change." That, should think, must be one of the most magnificent understatements of the century.