An excursion to Lydiate and Sefton 1852

Southport Visiter, June 18th 1852

An excursion to Lydiate and Sefton

We set off via Manchester Rd, for Lydiate, the country after leaving Row Lane is somewhat monotonous, being one vast plain composed chiefly of moss land, from this turfs of great thickness had been moved, and the surface so bared has been brought into good cultivation as waving fields of cereal and other vegetables.

The cultivation has been brought about by an extensive system of drainage, for at intervals we passed lengthy cuttings - in fact, miniature canals - in one of them we saw a large boat used to bring up manure to the fields lining the bank. These drains extend right and left of the road and also parallel with it, the water in them is of a deep brown hue from percolating through the turf so abundant in all sides.

About two miles from Southport we pass over a small bridge delighting in the name of “Fine Jane’s Bridge”, a mile further on we pass over “Otterstyle Bridge.”

The ditches are adorned with delicate flowers of Water Violet and Crowfoot, we passed them in thousands. When we reached Scarisbrick the Foxgloves began to show themselves, but were not yet in flower.

We had got as far on our journey as where the road to Halsall and Lydiate diverges to the right from the Ormskirk Rd, the Larks overhead and the Thrushes in the Scarisbrick plantations were caroling forth their matin song, and the Swallows and Martins were performing rapid gyrations over sundry pools of water. A stray rabbit or hare too was occasionally seen in the adjoining fields.

We had nearly reached Halsall without passing a score of persons but here there was a little more stirring.

On the left we passed Halsall Priory, in the park like grounds of which can be seen some carefully preserved ruins of an ancient priory formerly existing there. Halsall Church is a fine old building, dedicated to St Cuthbert and living is a rectory. The spire which had been in an unsafe state from having been struck by lightening was in the course of re-erection.

On the opposite side of the church is Halsall Old-Hall, a long, old fashioned building, once the residence of Colonel MORDAUNT, a noted cockfighter, one of his exploits in the sport in India has been handed down to us in the shape of a large engraving, lettered, “Colonel MORDAUNT’S Cock Match”, in which there is a strange mixture of military officers, native Parsees, and game cocks, in all the glory of an Indian Cockpit.

There exists at Halsall abundant proofs, of it having been at some remote period considerably nearer the sea than at present, for we passed several large boulders that could scarcely have been brought to their present resting place purposely.

The red sandstone here crops out above the surface, and probably the foundations too of the adjoining church are laid on the rock itself.

There are some beautiful cottages with the gayest of parterres on the right of the road, in which climbing roses, rhododendrons, pansies, lupins and enormous variegated hollies bore conspicuous positions.

On nearing Lydiate we pass an old quarry, from which probably the stone used in building Lydiate Abbey was taken.

After an excellent dinner at a local farmhouse we set off to visit Sefton Church.

The road is a very pleasant one, and the tortuous direction of the Leeds and Liverpool canal causes us to cross it two or three times in the short distance between Lydiate and Sefton.

Interior of Sefton Church Creator: T. Allom / J.W. Lowry 1833 courtesy Liverpool Records office

On reaching Sefon Church we could not help but look in awe at upon the ancient building. The beauty of its interior exceeds any church in the county, it is dedicated to St Helen, and the living is a rectory in charge of which the Rev Richard Rainshaw ROTHWELL. M.A, is both the patron and rector.

The ancient church was erected in 1111, but the present edifice is of the time of Henry V111, built by Anthony MOLYNEUX, rector of the place, a celebrated preacher, distinguished for acts of piety. The chancel is divided by a magnificent screen from the body of the church, and contains sixteen stalls of elegant structure. The sepulture of the ‘ Noble and knightly family of MOLYNEUX,’ as CAMDEN styles them, has been here for a succession of ages, and the chancel exhibit numerous monumental memorials of this ancient and noble race.

We turned homewards and again were deposited safely at Lydiate and next proceeded to view the ruins of Lydiate Abbey. We crossed some fields to reach it, and at the same time passed an ancient timber-framed house called, Lydiate Hall. A Catholic Priest resides in this house, and service is regularly performed therein.

On reaching the precincts of the Abbey we found the gates secured and took advantage of a convenient gap in the hedge.

The Abbey is of the time of Henry V111, and is supposed to have been left in an unfinished state. Having vivid recollections of Furness Abbey we were somewhat disappointed at the very limited dimensions of Lydiate, it very much resembled a modern church with a square tower. It had no roof, floor, doors nor windows, and the interior was overgrown with a tangled mass of nettles. Adjoining the Abbey was a burial place, still used by the Catholic families of the neighbourhood.

We bade adieu to Lydiate and arrived home from there in safety, having accomplished the 10 miles in three hours.

Wycollar Cottage, June 13th 1852

J. A. R.


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