6.2. Thomas the MP[11A1] (1593-1642)

Helen Moorwood 2013

6.2. (7) TMP Did Thomas build Duxbury (New) Hall in 1623?

It seems most likely that he was the one who built the new hall in the centre of Duxbury. There are several compelling reasons for assuming this.  

1. A stone dated 1623. After his father’s death he inherited the family home in Duxbury, which was either still at The Pele or at Duxbury (New) Hall in the centre of Duxbury. The only concrete evidence of the date of building was a stone formerlyat Duxbury (New) Hall with the Standish arms and the date 1623.This was still there at the beginning of the 20th century when Farrer (Victoria County History of Lancashire) wrote a full description of the hall, but since demolition in the 1950s it has disappeared. Maybe it will be detected some day in a local wall?

DUXBURY HALLstands in a well-wooded park about the middle of the township, 1½ miles to the south of Chorley, and externally is a plain modernlooking house of two stories faced with hard mill stone grit ashlar in large blocks, and having a Doric portico on its east or entrance front. The building, however, dates back to the 17th century, and in the cellars the work of that period is still to be seen, some of the doorways, mullioned windows and fourcentred arched fireplace openings still remaining below the present ground level. So much alteration has taken place, however, in modern times, and also apparently in the 18th century, that the plan of the 17th-century house cannot be well determined, but the evidence of the work still existing in the basement seems to indicate a brick building with stone dressings erected probably on three sides of a courtyard which was open on the west. The site is close to the River Yarrow, here a small stream flowing past the house in a southerly direction on the west side in a wooded ravine, but is probably not that of the mediaeval house, no vestige of which remains. (fn. 42) The building preserves to some extent what was probably its original disposition round a centre courtyard, having an east front 80 ft. in length and north and south wings extending westward 90 ft. and 97 ft. 6 in. respectively. There appears, however, to have been a remodelling of the house, if not more than one, before the exterior was faced with ashlar about 1828, (fn. 43) though it is possible that the handsome circular cantilever stone staircase, which is 23 ft. 6 in. in diameter, may date from the same period. It has the appearance, however, of being 18th-century work, and probably occupies the greater part of the original courtyard. The external walls of the house are 3 ft. thick, the gritstone facing probably hiding a good deal of 17th-century brickwork. The windows are all modern sashes, and the roofs, which are low pitched behind stone parapets, are covered with green slates. The south front faces on to a flower garden and from the east there are fine views of the Anglezarke moors. The kitchen and offices are in the north-west wing. A stone panel preserved in the entrance hall bears the Standish arms and the date 1623. The north wing was partly destroyed by fire and the rest of the building much damaged on 2 March 1859, but was rebuilt in 1861. To the west of the house is a fine barn about 100 ft. long by 28 ft. wide externally, built round six pairs of crooks, resting on stone bases. The walls are of brick except on the east side, which is faced in stone, and the roof is covered with stone slates.

(VCH Vol. 6, 1911, Duxbury, British History Online)

(I am sure I saw a report somewhere that the Wingfield arms were also on the stone. Unfortunately, I cannot locate the reference for this, but will add it here as soon as I come across it again.) The report of this stone leaves no doubt that by this date at the latest Thomas was living here with his first wife Anne née Wingfield, or at least planned to live there. Whether he had actually built the new hall from scratch, or inherited it from his father Alexander, and subsequently undertook rebuilding with the new influx of Wingfield money, will always remain uncertain. (For a full account of maps, various rebuildings, refurbishments, fires, more rebuildings, etc. of Duxbury (New) Hall, see Walker, Duxbury in Decline, 1995.)

2. Large inheritance. Only a few years earlier John Speed had depicted The Pele as the major Manor House in Duxbury in his map of Lancashire in 1611; this might have been from personal knowledge or might have been a copy of Christopher Saxton’s siting of The Pele on his map in 1577. It therefore seems most likely that it was Thomas’s inheritance from his father’s will, combined with the earlier £1500 from Anne’s father, which prompted him to build a splendid new hall in the centre of Duxbury. This replaced Duxbury (Old) Hall in the south of Duxbury, the home of the earlier Duxburys of Duxbury, which now reverted to the role of a farmhouse inhabited by one of Thomas’s tenants. It also replaced the ancestral home of The Pele, which was similarly ‘downgraded’ to a tenanted house near Duxbury Mill on the north bank of the Yarrow in the north of Duxbury.

3. “Of The Pele” in 1622. There is a further compelling reason for concluding that Thomas was the builder.When he attended Preston Guild in August 1622 he was registered as “Thomas Standish of Peele”. W. A. Abram, when transcribing the Preston Guild Rolls,apparently misinterpreted this as Poole, which has caused more than a little confusion, because a previous wife of a Standish of Duxbury was a Poole of Poole in the Wirral, Cheshire. (She was Alice Poole, the second wife of Sir Christopher Standish of Duxbury[6A1], knighted at the Siege of Berwick in 1482, 3x gt-grandfather of Thomas the MP, as proved by all authoritative accounts of their ancestry). There can be no doubt that it was this Thomas at Preston Guild in 1622, as he also registered his sons Thomas, Alexander and Richard. Abram’s slip was almost certainly because ‘o’ and ‘e’ can readily be confused in handwriting of the time and, despite his many talents and vast knowledge, he appears to have had no intimate knowledge of the family or buildings in Duxbury when transcribing the Preston Guild Rolls. He did not realise that the family home in Duxbury had been named The Pele since soon after they first arrived there in the early 14th century and built a Pele tower. Pele/ Peel is in itself a confusing name, because there were so many Pele towers in the North of England. The closest one to Duxbury is another Peel in Chorley, with the remains and moat in the grounds of the former Chorley Hall, home of the Gillibrands at the time of Thomas the MP. None of these should be confused with the Peel Tower above Ramsbottom, which was erected in 1852 in memory of its famous son Sir Robert Peel, Prime Minister and founder of the police service, hence their early names as ‘Peelers’ and ‘Bobbies’.

Details in preceding sectionsallow a few fairly certain extrapolations about Thomas’s intimate contacts between 1619 and 1623. He also obviously knew, through his wife Anne née Wingfield, many other Wingfields and other families in Suffolk, and in-laws Gerard, Hoghton, Radcliffe, Legh, Molyneux, Assheton, etc. in Lancashire and London. He must also have known Countess Alice, living almost next door, and through her many of her relatives in the same circles, and many more who were high flyers in the aristocratic, religious and literary worlds, and in James’s government. Just knowing them and presumably visiting some of their houses would provide the motivation for his building a new hall on a grander scale than the current family home.


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