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Rivington, Lancashire, England

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Rivington is an oasis in a desert of rapidly blackening country. The encircling names of industry are fast licking up all the green and tender things of life, leaving only an arid waste of cinder heaps. The curves of the oak and beech have given way to the straight chimney-shaft, while the farmstead with its quaint gables has been levelled to find space for gaunt factory walls. But at the borders of Rivington all this is stayed. 

From A Short History of the Township of Rivington 1904

Rivington is a popular historic and scenic area located between the towns of Horwich, Bolton in Greater Manchester and Chorley in Lancashire

More recently Rivington was the location of the Commonwealth Games Cycling events in 2002 and again that year we had a Royal Visitor Prince Edward, see this link at the Bolton Evening News.  

The site was first created in 1996 and updated in 2003/04. The research is cross referenced to many sources and includes examination of original documents. Research continues and the pages are continually updated. Deeds illustrated here are held in private ownership of the authors family. Copyright Restrictions apply. All rights reserved.

The name Rivington has early variations of Ruhwinton (Great Inquest c.1212) and Rothington and Rincton (c.1250) with variations as Rowinton, Rowenton and Roynton (c.1280) later known as Rovinton by the time of the foundation of the School and Church. Around Rivington every so often are found Neolithic, Bronze Age and Roman and prehistoric burial mounds indicating habitation of the area. The National monuments are protected by Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act of 1979. Red Moss, a few miles away in Horwich is a further area of special interest, amongst more locations in the surrounding area. The Parishes are described. The relevant Hundreds are described in the Lancashire Gazetteer of 1808 (See this link for maps and directions The inhabitants of Rivington and its surrounding districts were subjected to a monumental wrong in 1902 Liverpool Corporation went to 'Compulsory Purchase' all lands feeding the waterways and were fully intent that Rivington Village and what remains now of the ancient buildings should also be swept away. The area was partially saved by the intervention of W.H. Lever. At auction at the Mitre Hotel, Manchester on May 27th 1884 the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company made claim to the Horwich Estate of 357 acres, plus the reversion of freehold of Wallsuches, Stocks, Makinson Moor and Pilkingtons in Horwich. (History of Co-Operation in Horwich 1882 to 1912

 A Big Thanks to for hosting my site since 1996

Descendants of the Pilkington Family We Now Have A New Group Online

NEW December 2003: new group created for Pilkington Descendants: Ancestry The registers for the local parish Churches of Bolton and Chorley are included on this site.

At Withnell comprising the towns of Ollerton and Brinscall the Roddleworth stream flows and starts the series of reservoirs for the storage of water, on through the Yarrow, commencing on to Rivington flowing through the River Douglas then onward to feed Liverpool's Water.

Rivington Lakes Anglezarke 1850's Viewed Near To Stones House, (1946 Area Map Link) 

Further study is made in an Oil Painting by Fredrick William Hulme, now on Public Display At Bolton Museum (Free Admission). See This Link. The painting would have been the view as seen from Stones House near to Lester Mill Quarry. In 1848 there was a depression in trade and the Horwich print Works had closed. In 1852 the local children at Horwich seem to have been distracted by the building of the Rivington Reservoirs, attendance was down at Lee Chapel School, Horwich. In 1853 Horwich the adjacent town suffered a massive devastating flood. 

Local Area Maps of A Bygone Age

An extract of the 1829 Map Rivington and Area is here and a comparative map showing a wider view 1857 map of Lancashire Horrocks Moor, Angelzarke and Sharples Higher and Lower End are indicated. The 1786 map shows the area before the the Rivington lakes. Other place names are shown on the 1818 map including Wilderswood. Other than the Hall one of the most prominent building in Rivington was The Street,.also showing Pilkingtons' (Photo)  An extract of the area map for the 1947 routes to the Castle are linked here  the routes to the Bungalow plus the routes around Rivington & Blackrod High School to Rivington Pike, in all cases these are now mostly footpaths. Map of Lever Park From Crown Hotel to School WW2 here A map of the location of Anderton Old Hall is shown and it is interesting to see the location of Monk's Farm 1849 nearby Anderton Old Hall  In 1370, Joan, widow of William Anderton of Anderton Ford, obtained licence for her oratory. It is interesting that Monks Farm is Horwich between Squirrel Lane and Crown Lane. The farm at the end of Squirrel Lane was called Anderton Farm. This is recorded in the Lichfield Episcopal register V Folio 22. (The Andertons were a Roman Catholic Family, as was everyone until Henry VIII).  More research is needed regarding the Reformation.  Grut Farms' location is given here in 1849. The income from Grut farm was used for the upkeep of the Chantry Chapel of St. Nicholas in Standish Parish Church before the reformation. The since demolished New Anderton Hall map is here and shows its location on the bank of the Lower Rivington Reservoir. The Horwich WW2 map shows the old Train Station and Loco Works.

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The Hill at Rivington showing the Pike Tower At Centre. 

The Annual Walk to the Top of The Hill has its routes in religion. The day was traditionally the end of lent. Easter Sunday was the day for the ascent of the Pike itself, before the coming of the railway.

The site of one of a series of Beacons spanning the England as an early warning system. The Beacon system was first put in place by the Earl of Chester Ranulph de Blundeville around 1139 (Whiskers), following the great Scottish raid of 1138, when a small Lancashire army was cut to pieces near Clitheroe by a much larger Scottish force, who later met the same fate at the Battle of the Standard, fought on Northallerton Moor.(See link Salford Made Free Borough) Claims to the Thrown were being fought as link. King Henry and his sons also quarrelled which led to conflicts in England and abroad. Conflicts with Eleanor and his sons, aided by Philip II of France continued until Henry died in 1189. Henry was succeeded by Richard, his third son.

On 19th of July 1588 it was lit to signal that the Spanish Armada was heading towards English shores. 

The Rivington Pike tower dates as 1733 Built  for John Andrews  who had inherited one half of Rivington Manor and bought the remaining half from John Breres in 1729. Receipts show the building work started in 1732. There was a boundary dispute.  A dispute that gave requirement of a statement from Hugh Whittle, the son of Lord Willoughby. The opposition in the dispute came from the Widersmoor (Wilderswood) area of Horwich. The tower was once used as a shelter for shooting parties.  

 Andrews and The Pike Tower

On gaining the full estate Andrews had built the Pike Tower

During the 1830s there was an increase in drunken and riotous behaviour following the fair, which brought prompt and stern measures from the local authorities, two Bolton men were charged with "neglect of Divine Service" by selling on Rivington Pike on Sunday. 

The arrival of Blackrod Railway in 1840 brought more folks and this was sustained until the introduction of the Seaside Discount Train Tickets around 1860 these caused another decline. 

Rivington Pike

Rivington Pike, known as Rounpik (c.1280) and Riuinpik (c.1380), the name is thought to come from the Norse language. The height is 361m (1200 feet) above sea level, within view is the Cumbrian Fells in the Lake District 80km (50 miles) distant, Blackpool Tower 40km (25 miles), the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea 150km (93 miles), Ashurst's Beacon 15km (9 miles), and the Welsh Mountains 110km (68 miles).

The Annual Easter Pike Fair has been a popular event since 1886. There was for many years Whitsuntide processions, field days, and such like events in the surrounding towns and villages. 

On Easter Saturday since 1892 a Pike Race has been held, originally starting from the railworks at Horwich, but since 1930 from the entrance of Lever Park Avenue, and attracts around 300 runners today. Since around 1988, the Pike Hike has been organised by the Horwich New Heart Club.

The fair was originally held on Whit-Saturday and in 1900 became Good Friday.  It has always been a walk by those of many faiths. A pilgrimage, similar to the the sermon on the mount.

More recent lightings have been the Coronation of King George V in 1910, the end of the Great War (First World War) 1914 to 1918 Armistice day saw celebrations across the country and is eternally remembered (Poppy Day)

The Pike had a history long before the Beacon, flint chippings have been found at the top in the 1960's.

Annual Easter Fair still held to this day. A very popular local event.

Rivington Pike Tower

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The Tower was damaged by neglect and vandalism over many years until it was renovated in 1974 but is now closed to the public.

Following is a verse in local Horwich dialect as spoken for centuries

"Gee up, my jolly owd hoss,  We're off to Rivington Pike, Wi' brandysnaps and bottles o' pop, Gee up. my jolly owd hoss" 

Vehicle route is a disused road and the route is not accessible by a standard family Car. Footpath only.

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The stone water trough dated 1860 situated at the lowest part of the green is a relic of the horse transport days and was placed here after the rearrangement of the roads due to the construction of the reservoirs. 

Rivington Village Green

The village green is said to be a remnant of the former Anglo-Saxon Common where it was usual to build the houses around the common land.  Rivington is said to be one of the "ington" settlements from 650AD. 

From 664 to 668 Chad was Bishop of York and his diocese extended from the North Sea to the Irish Sea and from the river Tees to the rivers Humber and Mersey, and he was renowned for travelling all over his diocese on foot. During this period of intense missionary activity in the North of England  the Saxon inhabitants of Rivington were baptised into the Christian faith. 


Accessible by Car. Parking is difficult at weekends.

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Locally known as the Lower Barn (This is reputed lately to be the site of the first Manor house and study is at this moment revealing that it is the likely seat of the Thane). The Lower Barn is off Rivington Lane. GREAT HOUSE BARN Information Centre, located to in the old cottages just left of this picture. Not in the Barn itself. For the best local information the information centre is the place to Visit. 

Rivington and Anglezarke were in military use in the World Wars. Great House Barn was used by the M.A.F.F for the storage of Flour, Corned Beef, Tea etc during the War. Even Lever-Hulme's Bungalow became a command post. Anglezarke was a training ground for troops. The Moors went into Military use by the D.O.R.A.(Defence of the Realm Act)

Great House Barn

The design is Scandinavian, and dates speculated are between 811 A.D. and 1300 A.D.With major renovation by Thomas, Alice with their son who bought Great House in 1698 and in 1702 restored the building. Their date stone is at the Unitarian Chapel. The Great House was mentioned in a will of Robert Anderton of Rivington in 1702 and 1717 both wills are of the Anderton family.

The roof is spectacular with an internal oak framework. Locally the lower Barn was always noted as being a Tithe Barn. (Notes are verified by specialist lawyers. See notes about Tithe Maps and leaseholders) 

The use of Lease and Release is likely. The term tenant applied to period prior creating Yeoman through the partition of the fields in 1536.

Today the Tithe Barn contains a pleasant Cafe where there are displays about the Lever-Hulme era. Many Souvenirs are on sale inside. The Lower barn has underdone renovation and is popular with walkers and families. Within walking distance to Rivington Hall.  

Please do not park blocking the road for Emergency Vehicles. 

Accessible by Car. Parking is difficult as the location grows in popularity with tourists.

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The road from Great House Barn to Rivington Hall is modern, as is the crossroads near to the village. Birds of prey are said to have nested at the side of the building to return with the Lord of the Manor. 

Rivington Hall Barn is very popular for functions for special occasions.

The stone base and roof supports are original, but most of the structure was replaced in the eighteenth century. The Top Barn was renovated in 1905 renovated by W.H Lever.

On Sundays the Upper Barn has an additional attraction for motorcycle enthusiasts and is popular with families. 

Parking available. Very Busy on Sundays  Photo was taken in 1996 

Rivington Hall Barn

The Hall Barn is similar in style and age to the Great House Barn, although bigger. Both were probably originally built around the same time. 

The Hall Barn is said to have been the collection point for Tithes collected by the Over Lords.

Transcript of Lanc. Final Concord, No. 24, 

4th year of King John ; Public Record Office.

At Lancaster, on Monday next after the Feast of the Apostles St. Simon and St. Jude, 4th John [i.e. 4th November, 1202]. 

Between Thomas de " Rawinton" plaintiff, and Alexander de " Pulkinton ", William his brother, and Alice his sister, tenants of 2 1/2 oxgangs of land with appurtenances in " Rowinton " and " Wrdestorn". An Assize of " Mort d'ancestor " had been summoned between them. Thomas quit-claimed his right in the land to Alexander, William, and Alice, and their heirs in perpetuity.

"The interior length is 105 feet 8 inches and the width 57 feet
6 inches. It is divided by six forks or crucks into seven bays, the
width of the centre avenue is 25 feet 7 inches and the forks are
placed 15 to 16 feet apart. The timber is of English oak and the
construction very massive. The forks rest on large boulder stones
about 8 feet 6 inches above the floor line, and the height from
floor to ridge line is 23 feet 10 inches." (Rawlinon)

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Rivington Hall Georgian Frontage 1774

Rivington Hall (Known as the Old Hall Estate): The site is one of previous dwellings. 

The Building

Sir Roger de Pilkyngton, named in 1323 as holding seven eights of the manor of Rivington  who had of free Warren from the king named in a Roll of Rental of the Salford Hundreds. His seal is extant on a deed of 1332. His wife was the daughter of Adam de Bury whose wife was Margery the daughter of Richard de Radcliffe. By these marriages the three great families were united and the manor of Bury acquired.  A deed of 1336 shows a description of the Manor and a connection between the Pilkynton and de Heton Family of Lostock Hall by marriage in the 14th Century.  (Source Irvine). Extract of a deed of 1383 in Dokesbury and Adlyngton. Following is a digital image confirming surname spelling.


Full Image of 1383 Deed Now Online

Rivington Old Hall Is The Ancestral Home of the Pilkyngton family.  The original Rivington Hall built by Robert Pilkyngton, who had inherited the Rivington estates in 1476, decided to have a more spacious Hall for himself at Rivington, and in 1477 he contracted with William Holden for the building of an extension . There are strongly built and spacious cellars under the Hall. 

The Old Hall built of Wattle and Daub building no longer remains, it is said to have been built as a quadrangle enclosing within a square court. The remnants of the extensions of the Old Wattle building are at the rear of the building.

The Pilkington family were High Sheriffs of Lancashire until 1484, further details linked here. Lands were confiscated by the Crown after the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. Until then Lancashire was ruled by Yorkshire.

The Rivington Manor formed part of the Pilkington family estates by the marriage to the Asshaws around 1504. The Manor has 8 moiety's (parts) for the full title of Lord of the manor to be used. Until the 'Reformation' the inhabitants and Manorial Lords were Roman Catholic. Later Lords became Non conformists.  Religion played a role in daily life. 

In 1600 Robert Pilkington made an agreement to buy up the life leases of the occupants of Rivington Old Hall estates for 4000. By 1604/05 a lease was agreed to the Andertons of lostock for a term of 300 years.  After the death of Robert Pilkington, of Rivington an Inquisition was held at Preston 12 Mar [1609-10] and his will was proved. The Old Hall Estate with its reversions was later sold as executor by Elizabeth Pilkington of New Hall in 1611. New Hall and its estates were retained as property of Elizabeth Pilkynton. The Old Manorial Title was sold, but a new estate had been created called New Hall

Rivington Hall (Old Hall Estate)

The Coat of Arms Pilkington (Copyright)

After the inheritance through branches of the Pilkington family over hundreds of years the Old Manorial Rivington Estate was sold after the death of Robert Pilkington, Lord of the Manor of Rivington.  In 1602 William Bispham a Citizen of London had held the Manor as security of a debt, until the debt, with damages and costs, should be satisfied. The period of of the next few years, after Roberts death were to see much litigation. The net result was the loss to the Pilkington family of the Old Hall Estate of Rivington. An eight part of the Manor of Rivington was held by Thomas Shawe as can be seen from  an Inquisition taken at Boulton-on-the-Moors on Tuesday, 18 Sep 1604. The vast nearby Anglezark area was a separate Manor.

The sale was concluded in 1611 to sell the Old Hall Estate and by the indenture the title of the Lord of the Manor of Rivington to Robert Lever and Thomas Breresby for 1730.  The Indenture of 30th March 1611, however it excludes New Hall , - Otherwise known as Ferneley and its estates including: The Barne Flatt, The North Church Hill, South Church Hill, The Riding, The Great Meadow, The Middle Meadow, The Half Acre, The Cow Lane, The Rush Riding, The Ryding lying to the west of the new alehouse, The Mylne Croft, the land to Bullough Moor, all of which were part of the New Hall Estate and reserved to Katherine Pilkington in the sale of 1611.The family remained well connected , retaining land and also remained  influential in the area. Within the next fifty years the greatest upheaval England had ever seen was to occur, the English Civil War. Some branches of the Pilkington family took up the cause for parliament whilst others were with the King. 

Around 1673 an account is given of the Old Rivington Hall (The Stone section at the rear), being the following rooms: "The Parlor, the hall (at the upper end of which was some ceiling, being screens), the pantree, the kitchin, the buttery, the pudding chamber, the masters chamber" In 1667, John Breres mentions in his will that he had mortgaged Rivington Hall in 1617 after the death of his father to James Pilkington of Heaton Roads, Gent and William Pilkington of Wigan, Gent.

William Breres Date Stone stone from Rivington Hall.

Robert Leaver of Darcy Leaver Inquisition had taken at Bolton in le mores 12 Sep 1621 .Through the marriage of Jane Lever the Rivington estate then passed to the Andrews family. The Breres portion of the estate was later sold to the John Andrews in 1729 who built the Pike Tower. However the Manorial title was not in full.

The rear wings as seen behind the red brick structure are from 1694 (North Wing)  and 1700 with a third storey added later. The red Brick Frontage dates to 1774. The two storied, bay window extension on the eastern side was built in 1820. The carriage way approached the Hall on the eastern side. The remains of the gateway and the bridge
over the brook can still be seen and from here a curved drive went up to the front of the Hall and on to the western end of the barn.

The Andrews family were followed by the Wilson's, reverting back to the Andrews inheritance then by marriage the Old Estate became  property of the  Crompton's, the Hall was occupied by the Fletchers in the Victorian period. The Cromptons sold the estate to Lord W.H Lever, the Crompton family were resident until 1910. Photo of Rivington Hall in 1905 located here

The Holcombe Hunt met at the Hall. A noted lady of the mid 1800's was Mrs. Ainsworth of Smithells Hall and was noted for her fearless riding and was very popular with the Boys of the Rivington Grammar School. In contrast to modern times then The Hunt was celebrated.

In 1951 after World War II Rivington Hall was derelict (see link) and was restored by Mr. Salmon who from 1953 until his death held a lease for Rivington Hall Barn. 

Mr. William John Salmon (b. 5th Nov 1899 d. 28th July 1988) is noted and  remembered for his kindness and acts of charity. There was an annual outing to Rivington organised by  Jimmy Saville who headed a procession of Bolton Taxi's in aid of local disadvantaged children. 

The 1/8 moiety of the title Lord of the Manor of Rivington is held by a descendant. 

Accessible by Car. Parking can be difficult at weekends and holidays.

Pilkynton Ancestry reveals some surprising links:

There are close links between non conformist Churches elsewhere. An interesting link exists in USA Genealogy that shows a link overseas of very well known Presbyterians through Sir Roger De Pilkington of Pilkington. The connection was confirmed 11th Sept. 2003. The common ancestor confirms that Pilkington families of the Yorkshire branch and Lancashire branches are one and the same.

Another part of the Pilkynton family confirms lineage to King David I of Scotland and this also has close links with the Horwich township nearby there is also a direct connection here to our local town Horwich home through this lineage  MALCOLM III 'CANMORE' KING OF3, DUNCAN I KING OF2, CRINAN MORMAOR OF1 ATHOLL) was born Abt. 1654 in Quarlton, Lancashire, and died 1728 in Bradshaw, Lancashire. He married ALICE PILKINGTON 1688 in Deane Parish Church, Lancashire., daughter of RICHARD PILKINGTON and MARY HARDMAN.

Important Note For Genealogy: Descendants charts should be amended to show each linage of name variation as each branch later used a variation and that variation gives details of which families were related as family units by blood. Some younger children were adopted or in the protection of other branches after 1485/87. Some branches used Pilkinton and other variations. The exact spelling does give accurate lineage.

The Background Leading To The Foundation of The Grammar School.

The history of events leading to the foundation of the Rivington Free Grammar School and Rivington Protestant Church find their routes in the early pre reformation days of England. Events most certainly turned with Luther and his use of the Printing Press to communicate new idea's regarding religion. Those idea's were adopted by Princes all over Europe and the Church of Rome was looted, many people met their deaths. These were the earlier days of the Bishop's life. A separate page has been included that gives an overview of these events.

The Church and the School founding Charter shows the date of 1566. A date given for the Consecration of the Church is 1541. After Partition of the Common Fields in 1536 Richard Pilkynton agreed land to the the use of the local's for their Church - now a new Anglican Church, consecrated in 1541. To examine the History of either the Church or School  requires examination of both as the two are historically connected. The architectural features show the probability that a pre reformation Church was rebuilt. The pre reformation research has yielded some controversial details I must remind readers that the page linked details events that took place around 500 years ago, no side was right and no side can justify what was done.

Rivington Church Pre Reformation Origin.

Above 15th Century Pre Reformation Church Alter Piece of an Unknown Artist At York Free Museum.


The grand parents of Richard Pilkynton (1486 to 1551) on 6th Sept. 1476, Dame Margaret, the second wife (m. 1447 nee Ambrose) and widow of Sir. Ralph Pilkyngton, and her son Robert Pilkyngton (1447 to 1508 married Janet Tyldesley 1476) join in granting to certain trustees Ferneley, mentioned in deed of 1476 one tenement, called 'The Fernylee', and one tenement called Chappell Croft in Rivington. Again, in Ralph Pilkington's post mortem Inquisition taken on the 26th January 1478, the jurors say that the deceased Ralph held amongst other property " a tenement in Rivington called Chapell croft." Ralph Pilkynton's first Wife was Margery Lever. In 1478 a Power of Attorney by Robert (son of Ralph)pilkington, to George pilkington and Nicholas pilkington (of Salford); to deliver seisin was granted.

The Standish Chantry was founded in the year 1479 by Alexander Fairclough, rector, and Robert Pilkington, chaplain. Standish is also place of name plate of James Pilkington, later Bishop giving the year as 1518. The income from Higher Knoll, Lower Knoll and Grut Farm went toward its upkeep. (Robert the son of Ralph is not listed as a Knight) Richard Pilkynton is connected with Standish Parish Church in 1541 in the purchase of a Bell.

"Sir John Hindeley is described as priest at Rivington in 1498, and on May 5th, 1521, Sir John Warying, priest, was one of the witnesses of a deed between Richard Pilkyngton and Peers Bradley, both of Rivington. By 1534 the church at Rivington must have been in a ruinous condition, as we find on the First of November the household of the Street and Sir John Jackson, priest, going to Blackrod Church for the feast of All Hallows." It is clear that by 1534 the Church was already subject to the 'Reformation".

Historically Sir John Waryng, priest is likely last officiating Roman Catholic Priest at the Chapel. Year 1521 Towneley MSS., No. 1989.  The Priest Sir John Waryng in the 1520's travelled a wide area attending other Churches.  The headless cross was in more recent history a signpost showing directions at the crossroads at Grimeford. The top section of the cross is missing, but the complete cross is believed to be from a pre reformation place of worship that was destroyed during the 'Reformation'. A tradition that stems from our farming background is that if a special building is taken down, remnants are preserved by locals. 

Legend Of The Rivington Chaplain and Church Silver

A local legend: On receiving news of the destruction of the Churches and the fate of others, the last Pre Reformation Chaplain at Rivington is said to have died in a tunnel underground escaping with the Silverware he had been ordered to take to safety. The Chaplain is said to have lived near to the .current position (map extract of 1946) of the headless cross. Long ago noted as a Market and a cross roads. The Anderton Private Chapel is said to have been located near Roscoe Lowe with a tunnel between a house at Grimeford. There is also a ghost story. 

The Start of the Church on a mound of earlier date

Rivington Church is finely situated on abrupt rising ground, commanding a good view over the reservoirs. It is a small, plain building of the local sandstone, and consists of a nave and chancel without aisles. There is evidence of a Church owning land in the Rivington area in the thirteenth century. A Latin service exists for the period in the School Registers at LRO. A Papal Bull also indicates a Church in the area in 12th century. In a document quoted of about the year 1280, mention is made of three acres of "terra ecclesiastica" in Rivington. This would have been the Pre Reformation Church at Rivington. 

Rivington Anglican Church.

School and Church Founded 1566.

Richard Pilkyngton donated land in 1536.

Around the time of the Dissolution the Church is likely to have been abandoned or destroyed. Richard Pilkyngton, then holding Manorial Rights, to keep the peace and maintain order, during the Reformation, with reports of rebellions circulating and rejection of the Anglican Church seems to have arranged to have consecrated the Anglican Church at Rivington by 1541, built on his land by 'Partition' in 1536.

Richard Pilkynton appealed to Doctor Bird, the Lord Bishop of Chester, to dedicate the Chapel and Chapelyard to God for holy and divine service, and the same was consecrated October 1541 by the said Lord Bishop. 

Richard Pilkyngton born 1486 died 20th May 1551, his Widow Alice Pilkinyton (Nee Asshaw) died 1565. James Pilkinton, later Bishop of Durham was at Cambridge 1549 then Kendal 1550 to 1551 he resided for years near to Durham. 

Richard Pilkyngton born 1486 died 1551

Buried At Rivington Church with his wife Alice Pilkynton. (Graves under Church Floor) The Church contents were documented by inquisitors in 1552. In this year James Pilkington, Bishop of Durham was again in London.

It is when local history is compared to wider history that a fuller picture of events and deeper insight can be gained. The Church is likely to have been built on land once owned by the Church of Rome at Rivington, from the days prior to the reformation. In 1521 is the last date a Priest is recorded. Between 1521 to 1525 we have the surge against the Church of Rome by the state, followed by a reaction from the people in the North of England who rose up against the state.  In 1534 as the Oath of Supremacy is required of all Priests, after which many are executed. By 1535 leading Priests are being executed.  

In the appeal to the Bishop in 1541 the people of Rivington Township had stated they had used the land on which now stands for generations as a place of Worship. This along with other details strongly suggests the site once used by the Church of Rome. I have also noted a private Chapel of the Anderton family. It is clear that the people of Rivington were practising Roman Catholic prior to Dissolution and had converted to the new Anglican Church by necessity. Local farms displaying the Cross in the stone would be to depict Houses of Worship of the forbidden Roman Catholic faith. Puritans did not have a cross in Church.

The Pilkington family were prominent in the local History of Rivington and Horwich for centuries. It is in gratitude of the contribution to the towns that the Pilkington's Emblem is within the Horwich Coat of Arms and Rivington and Blackrod School Coat of Arms. James Pilkinton, Bishop of Durham is the founder of the School and Church and a later Richard Pilkington was benefactor to New Chapel, the Unitarian Church at nearby Horwich.

The Rebuilding in 1666

A land ispute occured in 1628, settled in favour of the Church of England, adjacent land was retained by descendants of Katherine Pilkington. Local history records that the Church was almost completely rebuilt in 1666 and renovated in the 1870's. A fire had resulted in some damage in 1834. The details of the fire are pretty sketchy, but certainly it does not seem to have been a deliberate act. There is a mystery of missing works of art that were connected with an oak pulpit at the Church

The roof was restored in 1872 and the Lych gate was erected in 1923 as a memorial to the Rev. William Ritson, M.A., Vicar of Rivington for thirty-nine years from 1879 to 1918, and in 1923 also electric lighting was installed in the church and the vicarage.

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The present road past the church has the village hall on the south side, immediately after the vicarage garden. 

There are early graves under the wooden floor of the Church, one of whom is Richard Pilkyngton. (1551 based on Pilkyngton painting). The earliest gravestone now in the churchyard is marked 1616. The earliest memorial in the church is dated 1627.

Rivington Primary School

The Free Grammar School 

of Queen Elizabeth In Rovington

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Manchester University.

The Rivington Grammar School has traditional connections with Manchester University. founded by Hugh Oldham L.L.B Bishop of Exeter who had died 1520. It is probable Pilkington who were destined for the Church would have been classically educated at Manchester University.

The last Warden of Manchester College previous to the reformation was Lawrance Vaux  who was born 1526 at Blackrod who had followed after Sir.George Collyer. His birth was within the year of the burning of the Pope's Bull by Luther.

Rivington Village School, ( The Original Grammar School) was built in 1714 and was built by under direction of the School Governors. 

The Free Grammar School of Queen Elizabeth In Rovington was founded by Charter of Royal Patent of Elizabeth I in 1566. The School was amalgamated with Blackrod by Her Majesty Queen Victoria 1875.

The Founding Lands Endowed

Most of the property owned by the Old Grammar School at the beginning as given by the Bishop of Durham were located in Lindake, Wolsingham, Wickham, Heighington, Stanhope, Stockton, Auckland, Silksworth, and Hetton-Le-Hole all within the diocese of Durham and brought an annual rent of 30. By an Act of Parliament lands in Durham were exchanged for lands locally. The local lands included an annual rent received from Higher Knowles and Lower Knowles and Grut Farms in Rivington, and a house known as Jolly's in Heath Charnock. Further lands were also donated to or bought by the School.

By indenture dated 21st March 23rd year of Elizabeth, between to Robert Dewhurst M.A School Master and the land owner George Pilkington, son of Richard Pilkyngton of Rivington who succeeded to the Rivington estates, the Pilkington's provided the land for the School by a 1000 year lease (Freehold remains with the title in heir to Pilkington family). The real estate is worth millions.

First Governors

Although the Rivington Charter was obtained from the Queen in 1566, it was not until eight years later that the Bishop appears to have completed his arrangements for the endowment, though the first schoolmaster was appointed on the 10th July 1572. The first Governors (George Pilkington being one of the first appointed) appear to have begun their duties in August 1574. A month later Bishop Jacobus Pilkinton confirmed the endowments to them and their successors. 


The endowments were vested in six Governors in their names are recorded here as an attendance list of Governors between 1574 and 1807 is included on this site. The spokesman was elected. The Governors were chosen from within the surrounding townships. The endowment made a condition that they were to pay the School Master 20 per year and the Usher 10 per year. Although the Governors had these endowments within their hands they were vested in St. John's, Cambridge and the Bishop of Durham and Chester.


The Schools First Scholars


A Free Grammar School - List of First Scholars

An interesting list of the scholars for the year 1575 includes 114 scholars. The "Rovington Free Grammar School" rose like a Phoenix from the Ashes of the 'Reformation'. 

The list of the Scholars is also included with many of the well known family names, who's names live on as place names. In comparison with the list of attendance of Governors between 1574 and 1687 some of whom could not write, it is clear the school was attended by Boys of the Gentry and local Yeoman boys with both Gentry and Yeoman within its Governing body. The list confirms the school was not limited at its foundation to just the gentry. 

In all families from all walks of life other factors also come into research, through war, religious upheaval, plaque, we find that illegitimacy and single parenthood are not new, neither is Divorce. 

A Mixture of Nobility and Sons of Yeoman

Among the names of the first scholars in 1575 are some important Lancashire families. Including Edward Norris of Speke with two sons being educated, also Sir Richard Sherburn of Stoneyhurst, Robert Dewhurst of Dewhurst, Robert Charnock of Astley, John Adlington of Adlington, and Thomas Standish of Duxbury at the school. 

Local Families

Within the list of first Scholars are found surname variations of well known local families. Many of whom still live in the Horwich area. In today's Horwich and its surrounding area's these peoples descendants are today living as ordinary folk, most are not farmers, land owners or industrialists. Many of these ancient families were related to each other. 


In the schoolyard is a nine inch square stone pillar four feet seven inches tall, standing on a round stone base built in three steps. It has been described as a sundial, a whipping post, and a mounting block. Perhaps it served many purposes over its long years.  The Whip, nine leather straps with iron tied inside each was a form of court punishment handed out at local courts to those who broke the laws, as the law existed then. The Birch was a set Birchwood twigs, tied together with twine. The Birch was also used to punish. School's were also very  very strict.

After Bishops Death

1585 Agodlie imprinted by Thomas Thomas,

James Pilkinton's Book Agodlie exposition upon certaine chapters of Nehemiah. Cambridge: Imprinted by Thomas Thomas. Bo2-h.9


 Bishop of Durham

(The Pilkington Painting)

Front Leaf of James Pilkinton's Book Agodlie, 1585

1586 Robert Anderton of Euxton Hall, and William Marsden  Execution

Robert Anderton of Euxton Hall, and William Marsden who were educated at Rivington Grammar School. Returning from Spain as newly ordained priests were captured on the Isle of Wight. They refused to deny their Catholic priesthood, and were hanged, drawn and quartered at Ryde April, 1586.

Nationally Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots was a descendant of Henry VII through a line untainted by illegitemacy, and was thus the Catholic candidate for the English throne. In England, Mary Stuart quickly became the focus for those who wanted to restore Catholicism. The marriage contract with the Dophin of France 24 April 1558 secretly gives away Scotland to France should Mary Queen of Scots die.

National Events : Mary Queen of Scots Favoured Monarch.

Mary, Queen of Scots was a Catholic Queen and subject to a betrayal. The Scottish Queens life was sought by those who used the pretence of religion, as preached by Luther, as the means to their goal. During the Rising of the North the army of 7000 headed South, intending either to take York or to release Mary Stuart, who was by now confined at Tutbury, near Derby. Mary was hurriedly moved south to Coventry, arriving there on 25 November. Eventually, as the southern army approached, the Rebellion petered out. Mary Stuart was out of reach. 

Elizabeth refused to designate her heir, and attention focussed on the succession. Mary, Queen of Scots was executed in 1587. The execution led to James, her son, raised as a Protestant Scottish King, becoming King of England after the death of Elizabeth I. James reign produced the King James Version of the Bible. Another event was the Gunpowder plot.

Sale of Rivington Estate 1611

In 1611 (9th year of  James I) the Rivington Estates were sold by Executors. The sale was only of the Rivington Estates belonging to one branch. (Pg 36 Hampson)  Other branches of Pilkington family retained land (Abstract Probate Thomas Tonge of Ryvington, debt to Hugh Pilkington of Anglezarke, 1596 Bolton wills: ISBN 0-9512226-4-3 and ISBN 0-9512226-0-0.) 

Vacant See of Durham - Durham University and Archives Box 5: Dated 2nd June 1589

Leonard and John Pilkington

2.5.REG.12. (Ref: Regalia)
Appointment, by Toby Matthewe, STP, dean of Durham, in accordance with the enclosed: 

Letters recommendatory, by (Elizabeth) [I], Queen [of England], (to the Dean and Chapter of Durham), for the  election of Matthew Hutton, D.D., Dean of York, to the vacant see of Durham. Dated: Westminster, sign manual: Elizabeth R.31 May 1589

Seal: Signet of Elizabeth I, Queen of England; applied to dorse. Paper of Leonard Pilkington, STP, canon of the seventh stall in Durham Cathedral, John Pilkington, STB, canon of the second stall there, Ralph Tunstall, archdeacon of Northumberland, canon of the tenth stall in Durham Cathedral, and Richard Fawcet, M.A., canon of the ninth stall there, as his proctors to hold a Chapter for the election of Matthew Hutton to the vacant see of Durham. Dated: London, Sign manual: Tobias Matthew Dec: Dunelm 2 June 1589. In the same year again Plague has ravaged the north. 

King James

James was the only son of Mary, Queen of Scots and her second husband, Lord Darnley. He was less than a year old when he saw his mother for the last time, and thirteen months old when he was crowned King of Scots in Stirling after her forced abdication. On 24 March 1603 James achieved his lifelong ambition when Queen Elizabeth I died and he inherited the throne of England.

National Events : Nov. 5th 1605 Gun power Plot

The seeds of discontent at the treatment of Roman Catholics in England, which ultimately led to the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605, were first sown in the late 1520s during the reign of Henry VIII.  Guy Fawkes was tortured and would not give the names of the others who assisted him. The confession 'extracted' he was first dismembered then hung drawn and quartered. It is said "when questioned: Fawkes replied that a dangerous disease required a desperate remedy". Annually celebrated in England every year. Unwittingly the English people burn an effigy.

Attempts to overturn the Royal Charter

9th November 1625 Richard Abbott, churchwarden of Rivington, is haled before the Ecclesiastical Court because he " denieth to gather the Church lea being called for the use of the Church of Bolton."Later again attempts were made to force locals to travel to a Parish Church. Abbott seems to have been excommunicated for the offence, and absolved, or rather the sentence suspended provided he obeyed the order. In a petition in 1628 to Bishop Bridgeman of Chester by Richard Sim, Churchwarden of Rivington, and other inhabitants of the Chapelry (said to be preserved at Chester and enrolled in a manuscript volume known as Bishop Bridgeman's Ledger) the status of the Church was definitively proved in response to that challenge by the production of the Charter of Queen Elizabeth I and various probates and testament of inhabitants.


Hall O'Hill

The Asshaw family were at Hall O'th Hill, (Hall O'th Hill is now Chorley Golf Club) Charnock. The original Hall O'th Hill remains can still be seen in the New Hall. The diamond paned windows belonging to the sixteenth century. The window on the first floor of the gable belong to the early eighteenth century. The site was noted by Thomas Hampson in 1893 within his book 'History of Rivington' as being downgraded to a farm house, from the grand ancestral building it once was. In 1664 when Peter Shaw registered his pedigree of six descents to Sir William Dugdale Norrey King of Arms. The Shaws are prominently in Rivington history.

Rebuilt In 1714

After the Bishops death and years of legal squabbles the school became so badly run down that a replacement was built in 1714 and was built by direct labour controlled by the governors. The Church had been rebuilt in 1666.

Rejection of the Book of Common Prayer led to the creation of many Non Conformists Churches and many families split. In 2003 as a people we have access to information, can process it faster, cross reference to abstracts and with higher level's of education, aided by Information Technology and Global Communication we are able seek truth and let it be known. 

An Active School Reprieved

Since 1882 it has been an elementary school and since 1903 under the Lancashire Education Authority, who extended the school in 1905. 

The brook flowed past the southern end of the school and was open to the air. 

One of the past Head Masters was Rev. J. Whitaker, Master of Arts of Queen's College, Oxford, and Curate of Blackrod for the period 1815 to 1857. Mr. Robert Andrews of Rivington Hall was then the chairman of the board of governors. 

An appeal by the inhabitants of the locality saved the school from closure in 1940 and 1965 it was again reprieved.  The building is maintained by the Shaw Trust and the School is run by the LEA.

Rising From The Ruin of Reformation.

"To the Universities," says that staunchest upholder of the Reformation, J. A. Froude, " the Reformation brought with it desolation. 

The Universities had been called the 'Stables of Asses'. The Exhibitions which had been granted for the support of poor scholars had been cancelled. The Professorships and Lectureships stopped. College Libraries were ruined. The hospitals and almshouses were destroyed, the Universities escaped destruction, but not without great harm.

The Divinity Schools at Oxford were planted with cabbages, and the laundresses dried clothes in the School of Arts."

Early Years of Rivington School

The First Protestant Bishop James Pilkington 

Jacobus Pilkinton (Pilkington b.1518) returned to England from Europe on 20th June 1559. Whilst in Europe he educated children of the Protestant families and it cannot be doubted would have also played a role from Europe in ensuring aid to Princess Elizabeth through the Protestant cause.  

Master of St. John College, Cambridge.

On his return he was elected Master of St. John College, Cambridge. James Pilkinton assisted in the changes creating the Book of the Common Prayer.

Third Book of Common Prayer

April 1559 saw the Third Act of Uniformity. The reforms of the Third Book of Common prayer were by a small group of clergy close to Queen Elizabeth I. The Convocation was not consulted.

Enthroned As The Bishop of Durham

James entered the see of Durham and was consecrated on 2nd March 1560 and enthroned as Bishop 10th April 1560. The new bishop has removed all superstitious books and statues of idolatry from the cathedral. A reward for his service was the restitution of Manors and Estates after 1020 was given to the Crown. 

The Bishop is quoted in a letter to the Earl of Leicester as saying "The Delight of Papists to see the use of their apparel by Protestants". 

Younger Brother Named Chaplain

James made his younger brother Chaplain and Prebend in 1561. A year in which a bad plague spread across the country. James wrote the APOCRYPHA in 1562 about the Great Plagues

First Ordination

Jacobus Pilkinton (James Pilkington), Bishop of Durham made his first ordination 9th March 1561, a relative. Richard Longworth, M.A of Bolton. Around this time he had become resident at the Castles of Durham and of Auckland.

The Universities - Stables of Asses

In the Second Book of Homilies, 1562 we read

" It is a sin and shame to see so many churches so ruinous and so foully decayed, almost in every corner. Suffer them not to be defiled with rain and weather, with dung of doves, Owls, stares and choughs' and other filthiness, and as it is foul and lamentable to behold in many places of this country." 

Aggaeus and Abdias Prophetes. 

Printed at London by William Seres, 1562.

James Pilkington's commentary on the minor prophets Haggai and Abdias, constituting as well the first separate printing of their texts, from the OT Apocrypha. Haggai supplies much of topical application in 1562, concerning especially the neglect of the Temple here the new reformed Church and the providential visitation of plague, whose early outbreaks increased to epidemic proportions in 1563-4 and again in 1589. 


The Anglican Church doctrines were laid down in the 39 Articles of 1563, a compromise between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. Elizabeth I asked for outward uniformity, Unification of all Churches, however there were to many divisions.


By 1563 Jacobus Pilkinton (James Pilkington) received rich patronage and provided handsomely for two of his brothers. The elder Leonard. Master of St. John's college and Regius Professor of Cambridge he gave the valuable Rectory of Whitburn.

County of Lancaster Churches In Disarray

In 1564 the Bishop visited Durham Cathedral and complained to the Archbishop of the disarray and neglect of the Church in the North of England.

Speaking Of The Fire At St. Paul's

On 8th June 1565 Jacobus Pilkinton (James Pilkington), Bishop of Durham preached to a large crowd at St. Paul's Cross on the burning of St. Paul's Cathedral warning of greater plagues yet to come. The times were far from settled, matters remained outstanding between Elizabeth I and  Mary, Queen of Scots. During Elizabeth's Reign many estates were confiscated and then given to her loyal nobles, much was taken from the Church.

Bishop's Marriage

Jacobus Pilkinton (James Pilkington) married Alice Kingsmill daughter of John Kingsmill of  Sidmanton near Kingsclere, Hampshire. Alice Kingsmill was daughter of John Kingsmill of the ancient family of Knights. The marriage of the Bishop was kept a secret to keep the peace and avoid possible extreme reactions. 

1565 30th January

Bishop Pilkington has issued a charter of incorporation for the citizens of Durham and Framwelgate.

Plans Made To Form School

In 1565 Jacobus Pilkinton (James Pilkington), now Bishop of Durham had started to make plans for a school in Rivington, his home town. It is likely that Jacobus Pilkinton (James Pilkington) visited Rivington whilst Bishop as he had relatives there.

The status of the Bishop of Durham was one of the highest ranking in the Church and his influence led to the founding charter of the Rivington Church in 1566.

Crest of Rivington Grammar School

Depicting James Pilkinton, Bishop.


Founded By Royal Patent of Elizabeth I

A copy of the School founding charter of 1566 bears the seal of Queen Elizabeth I a copy is displayed at the reception of Rivington and Blackrod High School (See next section). The Statues for the School were in Latin, based on those of Hougton-Le-Springs and adapted by Jacobus Pilkinton (James Pilkington), Bishop of Durham. The  Hougton-Le-Springs school was founded by a friend of Jacobus Pilkinton (James Pilkington) named Bernard Gilpin, M.A   The statues were translated to English arounnd 1576. In 1873 Queen Victoria approved the move to the amalgamated Rivington and Blackrod School near Horwich.

Petition of Jacobus Pilkinton (James Pilkington) Bishop of Durham to Elizabeth I, Queen of England

Queen Elizabeth I by grant under the great seal, dated Westminster, 13"' May, 8th of her reign [1566], did amongst other things, at the petition of Jacobus Pilkinton (James Pilkington), then Bishop of Durham, grant to the governors of the free Grammar School, "of the foundation of the said Queen Elizabeth, in Rivington," and to their successors, that from time to time and ever afterwards there should be in the said Chapel sacraments and sacramental celebrated, and other divine services used, and also baptizing of infants, celebration of matrimony, burying and inhumation of the dead within the said Chapel or Chapel yard, and all other rites, celebrations, prayers, and services in the said Chapel for ever, there to be used in all and every construction and purpose as is, are, or ought to be used in the said parish Church of Bolton-in-the-Moors. 

Elizabeth I, Queen of England 1558-1603

Elizabeth I succeeded to the throne on her half-sister's death in November 1558. She was very well-educated (fluent in six languages), and had inherited intelligence, determination and shrewdness from both parents. 

Queen Mary I's persecution of non Catholic's was followed by Queen Elizabeth's I's continued suppression of Catholics by means of various laws. The Reformation' effected everyone, of all faiths.. 

'The Rising of the North'.

1569 Brancepeth

The two most powerful families in northern England, the Nevilles of Durham and Percies of Northumberland have plotted to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I and reinstate Roman Catholocism.

The City of Durham was less strongly fortified, but was of great importance as the seat of the Bishop of Durham. Durham and Northumberland were sprinkled with castles, held either by local nobles (like Raby and Brancepeth) or by officers of the Queen (like Barnard Castle and Holy Island).

The rebel Earls entered Durham on 14 November, with three hundred horse, "where they rent and trampled underfoot the English bibles and Books of Common Prayer". They celebrated Mass in the Cathedral and elsewhere, and issued a proclamation claiming that their intention was to restore the Catholic religion, but not to unseat Queen Elizabeth.

Huge support throughout the region

This was what has become known as 'The Rising of the North'. The rising which gained huge support in the region The army was 1000 on horse and 6000 on foot. It was plotted at Brancepeth and Raby Castle but had failed. Brancepeth and Raby have been confiscated from the Nevilles by the Crown. 

Executed at Durham

Sharp's book gives only examples of the names of those appointed for execution, on p. 155. More details exist in the Bowes MSS themselves.

There were 700 listed for execution. Records do not give accurate numbers of executions. It is likely far lower. Those who were not executed were mostly pardoned, though a few escaped from the country or were banished. 

An Act of Attainder passed in 1571 outlawed 56 of the principal rebels. People who could not afford individual pardons were included in large numbers of "Group pardons" issued on 25 April 1570 and listed in the Calendar of Patent Rolls.

Papal Bull Declares Queen Elizabeth a Heretic

A peculiar sidelight on the Rebellion in the North as it was viewed by the Church in Rome, emerged only well after the rebellion was over. In November 1569, the Earls had requested support from Rome; in February, under the impression that Norfolk was already married to Mary Stuart and that the Earls were marching on London, Pope Pius V signed the papal Bull "Regnans in Excelsis", which declared Elizabeth a heretic, excommunicated her, and commanded the English Catholics to refuse to obey her. The Bull reached London to late in May 1570.

1574 Anderton Old Hall.

In the Adlington area, it is believed that Roman Church Mass was conducted secretly at Anderton Old Hall. There were missions at Standish.

Death of Jacobus Pilkinton (James Pilkington)

Jacobus Pilkinton (James Pilkington) died 23rd January 1575 and  his remains were later removed to Durham Cathedral Quire. The Bishop signed his will as Pilkington as did his other family

On the Bishops death his will dated 4th Feb. 1574 and was proved at York 18th Dec. 1576. The Bishop left books to Rivington School, family and friends. (Linked here is a 3.38mb Virtual Tour of Auckland Castle home of the Bishop of Durham)

1581 Act of Persuasions

The English Government passes the Act of Persuasions which makes it high treason to reconcile to the Catholic Faith.

Parish Registers to be duly kept.

Within the 'reformation' period a direct commission was created to oversee the transition to the new form of Worship. One of its acts was to ensure the registers were duly kept. 

Local Families

When we study the names of the families in the Rivington School 1575 list we also see that in today's Horwich and its surrounding area's these peoples descendants are today living as ordinary folk, most are not farmers, land owners or industrialists. Historians who have studied the local areas will notice that the names we see in early records are also place names in the local area. Many of these ancient families are intermarried over generations, many remained local to their ancestors. 

Parish Church Registers

The Rivington Church Registers are now available here via a plain text file. Within the local area Chorley St. Lawrence was the main Parish Church for many families, The Chorley registeres 1548-1653, show the connection to the Rivington families. Later Chorley Saint Lawrence marriage registers for the years 1709 to 1753 on this site. The Parish register for Blackrod from 1606 to 1701 are linked here. The Early Bolton Parish Register from 1573/4, 1550 to 1660 are included in plain text form.


1881 Census


Over the period of years families had moved toward more habitable areas. Rivington and its surrounding area was no longer a place that a family could reside with the security of keeping their home. A list of inhabitants in 1881 is also included.


rbhss.jpg (20366 bytes)

Originally Founded By Royal Charter 1566

Amalgamation with Blackrod (Founded 1568) 

Charter Amalgamation Approved by Queen Victoria 1875

The Rivington and Blackrod High School

Rivington & Blackrod Comprehensive High School was built in 1882 the level pitch at the front was created between 1883 and 1884, at a cost of 210 raised by a Bazaar. The Chapel was added in 1892. The Assembly Hall was inaugurated by Lord Stanley in 1905. The Cricket Pitch was laid and drained in 1907, by a bequest in memory of T. Heaton of 100 made by his Grandson Mr. William Heaton of Lostock. Rev. W. Ritson, Vicar of Rivington met much of the additional cost, along with providing the Coat of Arms. (Rev Ritson died in the Headmasters Study) Traditionally the School Bell was not rung whilst a good game of Cricket was being played.  The grounds were maintained by the scholars. A later extension of Rustic Brick with stone facing was added in April 1929. Its foundation stone was laid 10th July that year. 

A visitor in 1931 was the Earl of Derby, Edward George Villiers Stanley (1865-1948) who married Alice Montagu daughter of William Drogo Montagu, 7th Duke of Manchester. Edward Montagu Cavendish Stanley (1894-1938) who was known as Lord Stanley.

The subsidiary titles of the Earl of Derby are: Baron Stanley of Bickerstaffe (created 1832) and Baron Stanley of Preston (1886). The courtesy title of the eldest son of the Earl is Baron Stanley of Bickerstaffe.

Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby (1459-1504), the second Baron Stanley, was born in 1459 and inherited his father's titles, including that of king of the Isle of Man, in 1459. In 1485  The Pilkington Knights fought for Richard III and lost lands to the Stanleys.

Blackrod Grammar School Founder

The founding of Blackrod School is recorded as being by the will of John Holmes in 1568. The founding endowment for Rivington School was double that of Blackrod. There were of course later endowments. On 18th September, 1568, he left an annual rent of eight pounds to be bestowed upon " one learned and discreet Schoolmaster which shall teach a "Free Grammar School " in Blackrod. A short history is linked here


Blackrod School (Founded 1568) was united with Rivington in 1873. This unification led to the building of a new school designed by architects Messrs Ladds and Powell of London. Mesrs Coope Bros were the building firm contracted. The scheme for the amalgamation was approved by Her Majesty Queen Victoria 13th May 1875. The site was purchased from Mr. Shaw of Rivington (Ancestral line Asshaw) 

The First Governors 1875

On first board of Governors Chaired by the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres (His remaining seven years, as co-opted Chairman was taken by his son after his death in 1880) the Governors were Rev. Thos. Sutcliffe (Vicar at Rivington), Henry Rawcliffe, Andrew Smith, Thomas Wright, Peter Martin, Benjamin Davies, John Thompson, John Unsworth, John Gerrard, Enoch Davies, Giles Hoyle, William Greenhalgh and John Longworth. 

During the first six years between 1875 and 1881, much was done to settle affairs in relation to the old Grammar School at Rivington.

School Opening Day

The school opened 23rd January 1882. The Headmaster Rev. George Squire M.A had chose the Birthday of his wife as the day for the opening, joiners were still at work. The opening was by a short speech with two Governors present, Mr. Longworth and Mr. Greenhalgh. The school had 30 scholars, 19 day boys and 11 boarders on opening the number increased to 39 over that year. 

The original building was designed to accommodate 50 boarders and 50 who did not live in, known as day boys. The original building was limited to a school room and two class rooms. The upper floor being equipped for accommodation of boarders. 

In 1875 there were some with scholarships who came from the local towns, Rivington, Horwich, Blackrod and Adlington with some fee paying scholars and boarders tending to be from Bolton and further. 

The Mitre Board

At first the boys were expected to wear Mitre Boards. The Mitre board was soon replaced with a Cap featuring a Mitre by embroidery. Martin Bucer also refused to wear this hat

The Bishop favoured toward the Mitre Board, however he did not wear one. Martin Bucer, a 'Reformer' and close to the Bishop very much disliked the Mitre Board. The artists impression is correct for Educational dress as was strongly promoted for use during Elizabethan I reign. Latin and Greek were taught, both were widely in use. The curriculum was classical education. 

Science In The Early Days

At first no Science classrooms existed and the scholars had to buy their own Chemistry Box costing 30s, until around 1890. The first Science Laboratory existed at the back of the School near a reading room and laundry, with a wall serving as a five court. A photo is located here School and no chapel c.1890.

Memorable Early Success

In the years 1891 to 1895 the school saw six Scholars furthering education at Oxford University out of seventy within the school. The six of seven Grundy brothers who attended between 1889 and 1905 all attended Oxford or Cambridge University. All succeeded with distinctions. Contemporaries of the Grundy brothers were the five Dixon brothers, who's home was at Spring Cottage, Rivington and eminent in the earliest days are the Heaton Brothers. Another of the pupils was G. N. Shawcross who became the Chief Mechanical Engineer at Horwich Locomotive works.

The Chapel

The Dantzic Oak panelled chapel was build in 1892 to accommodate around 100 by a donation from Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Marshall, in memory of their son Frederick. The Chapel was designed by Mr. R. K Freeman. The Anglican School Chapel is to the left of the school and has regular morning worship. The original Chapel referred to within the founding charter is Rivington Church and the Grammar School, now the infant school. The Rivington and Blackrod High School is located at the Lancashire side of the Horwich and Rivington boundary. A boundary that has become the River Douglas, the rivers course has changed, The Platt of Horwich drawn by William Senior Professor of Mathematics 1620 indicates the original course. (BCL) The original boundary was Pearlbrook River according to this map.

Rivington and Blackrod School 1912

The Pilkington Window

 In the East Window is a stained glass Window installed in 1912 that commemorates Jacobus Pilkinton (James Pilkington), Bishop of Durham and donors to the Chapel. The side lights illustrate for events in the career of the Bishop, on the left his Mastership of St. John College Cambridge under which is a depiction of the Bishop taking his ship to Europe. The top right picture depicts him teaching protestant children in Zurick, and the bottom right he is depicted revising the Book of the Common Prayer with the then Archbishop of Canterbury Matthew Parker. 

Lord W.H. Lever-Hulme

One of the names within the old registers of the Grammar School was the father of Lord Leverhulme. Lord W. H. Lever-Hulme,  well respected by all. 


Lord Lever-Hulme was a School Governor between 1901 and 1905 and also amongst others contributed toward the Chapel Windows installed in 1912.

The War Memorial Window

To the west is a window memorial to those killed in the Great War 1914 to 1918. Dedicated by Dr. Henn Bishop of Burnley.  The west window was unveiled by R. T. Johnson 8th March 1922 a past headmaster between 1894 and 1904. The window is of three lights, the laurel crowned figure representing Victory, on the left is a Knight in full armour, depicting faith, while central is three Mary's kneeling before the Angel at the tomb of the risen Christ. 

The inscription reads in Latin and translates to English as 'They Sought Glory of Liberty ; they see the Glory of God' also inscribed are the names of 24 of the Schools War Dead.  (Over 150 fought in WW1)

W. Leonard Billington

 Geoffrey R. Johnson, .

Harold Briggs

 H. Norman Joseph, 

Frederick H. Brown

 Richard Miller, 

Joseph O. Carter

 Norman Myres, 

Ernest Cotton

 Richard Nelson, 

Arthur Chippendale

 Barry Pulford, 

John Entwistle

 J. Alec Ross, 

Leonard W. Gastall

 Frank Savage, 

John S. Griffiths

 Richard D.Scholfield, 

Charles Grundy

 Barry Tatlow, 

John Harvery

 Denham Walker, 

Ralph Hough

 Percy Wilkinson, 

Both Windows were produced by Messrs John. Hardman & Co. Ltd. 

Girls First Admitted 1905

After decline in the numbers of Scholars between 1904 and 1905 a meeting handed control to the Local Authority by an Act of 1902 giving the authority responsibility for secondary education. It was then decided to allow the first Girls to the School. With Sir Henry Hibbert the Chairman of the Lancashire Education Authority backing the schools future the school underwent alterations and became a local day school. The new scheme was formally inaugurated by Lord Stanley and the new building opened by the Earl of Derby. Taking in 100 more day pupils including equal numbers of Girls. Around this time the curriculum added modern studies.

Extension Opened By The Earl of Derby

By 1924 a school inspection showed a need to expand the building. Work started in April 1929 the extension foundation stone was laid 10th July 1929 by Alderman Ernest Ashton, Mayor of Chorley who had been governor for many years. This extension at the back was to accommodate 300 pupils. This extension required a long corridor to be built between the two buildings the alternations added new science rooms, general classrooms. The Earl of Derby is noted as visiting in 1931.

The school itself is accessible by Car with permission.

Rivington & Blackrod 

High School

Arms of Rivington & Blackrod School

Rivington & Blackrod High School is a Church of England Voluntary Controlled Comprehensive school.

The School Today

Pupils aged 11 to 18. It serves 1860 pupils, over 300 of whom are in the Sixth Form. The school is presently over two sites. Lower School comprising more than 400 year 7 & 8 pupils is located at Albert St. in Horwich.  The Rivington site houses years 8 - 13 with 1450 students.

The School Badge

The right of the School badge represents the arms of Jacobus Pilkinton (James Pilkington), Bishop of Durham and Horwich Coat of Arms incorporates the cross being the emblem of Pilkington Family.  

James Pilkinton, Bishop of Durham Arms granted by Sir Gilbert Dethick, Garter 1551. Argent a cross patonce voided gules, on a chief vert three suns. No crescent.

Earliest Pilkington Seal

The seal of Alexander Pilkington shows a Squirrel between branches, replaced by the Mower later situated above the Shield of a Cross dated 1290.  

Lancaster Castle

At Lancaster Castle the Pilkington Cross is in displayed within the Heraldry Shields of the High Sheriffs of Lancashire. The cross is within the seal of 1290 of Alexander Pilkington of Pilkington (b.1225 to d.1291) The Seal of Sir Roger Pylkynton displays the cross with a Squirrel above on an Indenture of 1306. A note from Lancaster Castle 12 Nov. 2003 

The Pilkington Knights fought in the War of the Roses and in the 14th century were High Sheriffs of Lancaster. Their Pilkington relatives include the Sheriff of Nottingham. A highly influential family.

Bosworth Field

 In 1485 after Bosworth field Sir Thomas Pilkington of Pilkington lost his estates by Royal Attainer to the Stanley's in 1489, who received the title 'Earl of Derby'. Sir Thomas Pilkington was granted Royal pardon in 1508.

It is around this period and during the later Civil War the ancestry is difficult to trace. Richard Pilkington is known by both his arms and through local history as the second son, the only other Pilkington's living in the same period as Richard, husband to Alice Asshawe were Hugh Pilkington of Anglezark and also a James Pilkington, again of Anglezark. Anglezark was held by the Earl of Derby and Earl of Cumberland until 1587, land taken from the Pilkington Knights after Bosworth field in 1485. From documents and records seen it can be deduced that Hugh is the elder brother of Richard Pilkington, therefore there exists an elder line from the Knights branch. The descendants can be seen to have continued to reside within the area. At the time of the Civil war it is noted a Hugh Pilkington of Coppull had his lands seized by Parliament after supporting King Charles I.

Manor of Rivington By Marriage

Alice Asshaw (Shaw)

The Rivington Estate came into Pilkyngton ownership by marriage of Richard Pilkyngton born 1486, he died 1551 age 65 and had married to the Alice Asshaw (Shaw) in c.1504 the daughter of Lawrence Asshaw of Hall O'th Hill, Heath Charnock Alice Asshaw (Shaw) and died in 1565. Alice Asshawe had two brothers called Roger and Lawrence. Within an indenture (B. No. 64) agreement between Richard Pilkington, son and heir of Robert Pilkington, shall marry Alice daughter of Lawrence Asshawe dated 31st October 20th year of Henry VII (1504) Roger Asshawe is stated as being son and heir to Lawrence Asshawe, Thomas Asshawe, son and heir of Jane Hulton and Roger, married Mary, daughter of James Anderton of Euxton, and Anne Asshawe was the only child of this marriage. Roger Asshaw of Hill is recorded on a deed of 1529

An image of seal and signature is linked here. Close view of Asshawe seal also now online. Image of deed linked here. The bond of John Reddish and Roger Asshaw relates to the marriage of Lucy Reddish to William Syngleton, son of Anne Standysshe who's husband at this time was Christopher Standysshe.The current Hall O'th Hill was built in 1724 by Thos. Wilkin M.P for Wigan, on the site of the old Asshaw residence. There is a ruined farm located in the grounds (noted by Thomas Hampson in his book, 'History of Rivington', 1893) the farm is considered what is left of the ancestral home. Its majestic structure being lost over the centuries

Junior Pilkyngton Coat of Arms

Richard Pilkyngton's arms shows the Pilkington Cross, which we can trace to the Knight's and appears in 1290. Richard's own arms are noted as showing a crescent, this tells us that Richard, the Bishop's father was a younger son. (By 1485/87 the senior lands were lost) The Pilkington family had been very powerful until Henry VII. After this the survivors took back to their roots as is seen in the Mower on the arms.

The School Coat of Arms

At the top of the School Coat of Arms is the Mower.  The mower is also seen on the Sign of the Man and Scythe at Churchgate, Bolton. This emblem originally is divided in half vertically the right hand side white, the left black, silver scythe the handle coloured red with Mower standing on a black and white wreath. 

It should be noted that the Stanley's,  Earls of Derby and Pilkington's fought on the same side many times. The Pilkington Knights fought for Richard III in 1485 and the Stanley's opposed Richard III and fought for Henry VII. However the Stanley's later joined with the Pilkington's in 1487 to depose Henry VII in favour of the House of York. 

The Mower

The Mower  is first seen in a seal appended to a deed dated 10th September 1424 in which Sir John Pilkington (1394 to 1451) who had married Elizabeth Trafford in 1435 on a deed granting land in Shipwalbothums in Bury to Geoffrey, son of John De Holt. On this seal the letter J appears between the Scythe blade and handle and the Mower stands on a Helmet with the family name Pilkington above. (British Library)

Other Adoptions of The Mower

The mower can also be found similar in style within the seals of Trafford (1533), Ashton of Middleton (1533) and Assheton of Great Lever (1613) Adoption of the Pilkington Mower maybe by Marriage.

Rivington Pilkington Family

On top of the School Coat of Arms sits the the Mower, Scythe in reverse. It is the emblem of the Pilkington, Rivington branch. The Pilkington motto 'Now Thus, Now Thus' an Elizabethan addition. The routes are indicating they were Yeoman  turn Soldier, and shows association with the Church. 

The House System

A tradition from the early 20th century is the division of Pupils into Houses who's names reflect the founders Pilkington, Holmes (Pilkington founded Rivington and Homes founded Blackrod) and Queens. The Houses compete in sports for  Trophies and the House Challenge Shield started 1910 bearing the Bishops Mitre and school motto. The Shield itself was filled and now has a plaque  with the names of later winners of the award. 

The Pilkington painting

A copy of the Pilkington Picture (35 by 53 inches) is in the Anglican Chapel at Rivington and Blackrod High School.. This was one of the alter pieces at the Church. The original was given to the School by Jacobus Pilkinton. The painting was on wood. In 1708 School accounts record Mr. Hide restored the painting and the School paid the bill.  In 1834 a fire occurred at Rivington Church and the painting was scorched. It is the later copy we see and it does have errors, most likely as the original was dark with age. The Bishop lived away from his family, he is depicted on the right of the painting. In 2003 Genealogy is now much assisted using Information Technology. 

Copy of Pilkington Painting

One of the Pilkington daughters had already made a copy and from this the painting was recreated. The original was moved to Rivington Hall then sold to Lord W.H Leverhulme by Col. Pilkington. 


The Pilkington Painting hyperlink to view 1834 Reproduction.

Founders day is held on All Saints Day.  

Earliest Church Records

Some of the oldest records are bound with the early School Registers and are held at the records office. One of these includes a Christmas Day service held in Latin at the 13th Century Rivington Church. (Records held by LRO) The school registers date from 1615.

Grut Farm

Just before Lever Park Avenue joins Rivington Lane on the left after the River Douglas was Grut Farm. Grut farm was in existence during the fifteenth century, and probably earlier, as the rent from the farm in pre reformation days went towards the upkeep of a Chantry Chapel of St. Nicholas in Standish Parish Church. This Chantry was founded in the year 1479 by Alexander Fairclough, rector, and Robert Pilkington, chaplain, and six marks (80/-) of its annual income came from the rents of Higher Knoll, Lower Knoll, and Grut farms. Later some of the outbuildings of the farm were used as a warehouse by the Chapman who brought yarn to the handloom weavers of the district and collected the woven cloth from them. Grut Farms' location is given here in 1849.

Sandwiches and Milk From Grut Farm

During the early years of the Rivington and Blackrod School, day scholars who did not live nearby went to Grut Farm for Sandwiches and Milk, for lunch. Scholars traditionally walked to school past this farm. Today's School Pupil's walk past it location.

Pilkington Descendants Create Pilkington Glass

School Coat of ArmsRichard Pilkington (b.1628 d.1708) married Mary Hardman (b.1636 d.1672) estates were claimed by Richard Pilkington (b.1694 d.1786) husband of Elizabeth Brownlow (b.1723 d.1745) then Yeoman of Horwich claimed as inheritance the Hardman Estates including Allerton Hall as second cousin once removed of Richard (b.1628 d.1708). Descendants formed Pilkington Glass at St Helens. Diaries are located at LRO. Another branch attended Bank Street Chapel, Bolton. The Pilkington Glassworks Branch despite all odds stacked against them were able to make a success of the British Glass Industry.

Richard Pilkington Junior of Horwich

Richard Pilkington junior was highly involved in providing endowments for the Non Conformist Chapel at New Chapel (Pilkington and Morris endowment Charity 1832.) His father, prominent in Horwich History served on the board of Governors at Rivington Grammar School. The Pilkington Family of Carrick remained holded of fee simple of Halliwell at this same period

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The Congregation dates from its separation in 1662 from the Parish church 

Links to Non Conformists elsewhere.

Separate page locate linked here with more detailed history.

Accessible by Car. Parking is difficult at weekends.

Unitarian Chapel

'Here let no man a stranger be'

English Heritage aided building restoration in 1990. 

There can be little doubt that the Chief members of the congregation that met at Rivington during and the Commonwealth were pronounced Puritans

Today's Unitarian Church :  Everyone has the right to seek truth and meaning for themselves. The fundamental tools for doing this are your own life experience, your reflection upon it, your intuitive understanding and the promptings of your own conscience. The best setting for this is a community that welcomes you for who you are, complete with your beliefs, doubts and questions. Traditional insistence on divine unity, the oneness of God. 

At the Unitarian School House is a Snack Bar, all funds are used for the upkeep of the buildings. Suitable place for families. Welcoming and friendly. 

Presbyterians Many land owners in Rivington and its surrounding area's had associations with the Chapel at Rivington and  hence some date stones from Rivington  are located at the Unitarian Chapel

Rivington Chapel: Stone inscribed A over IA and the date 1732 underneath denotes John Andrews and Abigail his wife another is from the times William Breres was joint owner of the Manor from 1696 to 1723 with his wife the stone is dated 1713. Further stones are at Rivington Church.

The Unitarian Chapel is the location of many family graves who's names are prominent in Local History. One such memorial includes that of 11th Lord Willoughby of Parham in Suffolk of Horwich, Adlington, and Shaw Place who died 28th Feb 1691 age 89. (Related to Pilkington and Shaw families. (Later Pilkington family also rest here) An area of Horwich North is known as 'Old Lords' derived from Lord's Willoughby of Parham, not Lord Lever-Hulme as some have mistaken. The Lord's Willoughby of Parham's ancestral lineage traces back to that of the Lord's Willoughy of Eresby

The history of Rivington and Horwich have very close links and these include New Chapel and Lee Lane Congregational, Horwich. Land at New Chapel is protected by a charity commission endowment of lands donated the Pilkington and Morris Family of Horwich. 

W. H. Lever set aside the rich meadow lands of the lower slopes as well as the crest of the hill, to be given to the people of Bolton as a park for ever.

Some of his happiest times had been spent wandering the fields and moors
around Rivington Pike

Map of Lever Park From Crown Hotel to School 1946 here  



SEPTEMBER 19th, 1851
MAY 7th, 1925.  


The Lever-Hulme family


It was into such a middle-class, Nonconformist family that William Lever was born: the first of two sons who came between six older and two younger sisters. Lever was an old family name which dated back at least to the fifteenth century in Lancashire. William's father - was born in 1809 and, after some time at a private school, he attended Rivington Grammar School for four years, leaving when he was fourteen. The guiding principle of their household was the 'Nonconformist conscience', characterised by a religious emphasis on prayer, preaching, and Bible reading, and by great concern with material and moral self-improvement. The most important friendship James Lever, Lord Lever-Hulmes father met Eliza Hesketh, the daughter of a cotton mill manager who he later married in April 1839. 

William Hesketh Levers father was James Lever, who's home was in Wood Street, Bolton, where most of his ten children were born and brought up, was one of a row of simple, single-fronted Georgian houses with three stories of unplastered brick, a small garden at the back, and a front door opening on to the pavement and facing similar houses on the other side of the street. William Hesketh Lever was born in this house in 1851 and spent there the first dozen years of his comfortable, happy childhood. 


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Pigeon Tower Now Closed To The Public

The Pigeon Tower was built in 1912 by Lord William Hesketh Lever  (1851 - 1925) and was used by his wife for hobbies including sewing and storing a large collection of pot pigeons which led to the towers' name 'The Pigeon Tower.' The Bungalow was burned down by Suffragettes April 13th 1913. Lady Lever-Hulme died 24th July 1913 at Thornton Manor.

 Pigeon Tower

William Hesketh Lever became engaged to Elizabeth Hulme December 1872. They married April 1874. They married at the Congregational Church in Bolton. Their honeymoon was spent in Devon and Cornwall. 

Lady Lever-Hulme died 24th July 1913, her husband Lord W. H Lever at her side.

Lady Elizabeth Lever-Hulme

Inside there is a stone spiral staircase, on the upper floor a very ornate stone fireplace with a stone carving above. The building was once part of a lavish gardens locally known as the Bungalow Grounds. The Bungalow grounds, now in ruins is a place of adventure and is a habitat for a lot of wildlife. Inside the grounds can be found many interesting architectural features including a specially designed bridge and remaining summer houses.

The grounds are not accessible for persons who are unable to climb hills and steps.

Vehicle route is a disused road and the route is not accessible by a standard family Car.

On April 13th 1913 while Dining with George V and Queen Mary at the home of the Earl and Countess of Derby they received news their Wooden Bungalow at Rivington had been burned down by suffragettes. King George V arrived in Bolton a few days later and met Lord Lever-Hulme again and enquired about the incident. After the fire plans were then made to create a large Bungalow, this time of stone, so it could not be set on fire.

Lord Lever-Hulme Battles With Liverpool Corporation

Lord Lever-Hulme was approached in 1899 by the owners of Rivington Hall who held a share in the Manor. Lever-Hulme was offered the Crompton family portion of the Rivington Estate, he was at once interested. Within a short time, after agreeing that the Crompton family should remain resident at the Hall he had a wooden bungalow with a tiled roof built on the Hillside. The first bungalow was burned down by a suffragette and was later rebuilt in stone as the larger second bungalow. The Crompton family moved out in 1910. Liverpool Corporation had been moving in on the area and by this time had already acquired a large portion. Most of the families in Rivington had been there for many hundreds of years. Many ancient farming families had been challenged to prove ownership. Unlike today they had little legal protection. 

Then in 1902 Liverpool Corporation promoted a Parliamentary Bill to obtain statutory powers over much of the land feeding their reservoirs. A compulsory purchase order was used forcing locals out. They included Lever's house and grounds, and the park he had planned for the locals'. Lord Lever-Hulme and others put up a fight.

In May 1905 a Parliamentary Select Committee ruled that Lever might keep his house and grounds, and that the proposed park should be taken over by Liverpool, although still maintained for the public benefit. As a result of this battle the decision that came staggered the officials of the Liverpool Corporation. Lever was to receive almost twice the price he had originally given for the whole estate.

Lever was given the 'right' to provide at his own expense a number of amenities he had planned for the park. Over the years he built roads, restored a fourteenth-century barn to make a refreshment room, established a museum, stocked paddocks with exotic cattle and other animals, and, most ambitious of all, put up on the bank of a reservoir a striking replica of the ruins of the old Liverpool Castle.

Liverpool Corporation went to appeal and lost, Mr Justice Warrington said, 'I am surprised that such a body as the Liverpool Corporation should have put such a plea as that on record. I can only say that there is not a particle of evidence to support it.' Lord Lever-Hulme was a noted politician, he took on the giant of Liverpool Corporation. Lord Lever-Hulme is well respected and remembered because he cared for the people in his town.

It should be noted that many other families: Pilkington's, Shaws, Willoughby's, Andrews, Morris and many more local farming families had contributed  toward Church and Education. Lord Lever-Hulme matched the larger donations. The School is the largest land owner other than N.W.W.A.

N.W.W.A have maintained the Park. The demolition of the Bungalow was greatly frown upon by locals'. I know many will support the rebuilding of the Bungalow, perhaps as function rooms.  The profits could be used toward the progressive restoration of the Park, ensuring care to wildlife.

A photo of Lever Park 1923 is located here. 

20th Century War Time History

The Anglezarke Moor Farms, during WW2 1939 to 1945 the area was used for the training of troops by the MOD and the farms themselves were used as what locals have referred to as "target practice for Troops" actually a training ground for troops who were to fight abroad in the War to defend the country. 

Rivington and Anglezarke saw much military use in the wars. Ammunition storage was also located there as part of the defence of the realm against Hitler. We cannot deny "when needs must" applies here. 

Later Pilkington descendants fought in this and other wars gaining medals of honour and rank. 

Around this time troops were also stationed at 'The Bungalow' (Demolished 1948) and other buildings in Rivington and Anglezarke. Later ancient remains of Anglezarke Farm buildings were pulled down by order of NWWA in the 1980's.

More Information

Winter Hill and Environment 'Winter Hill Scrapbook' free online books.
Rivington Bikers Association
Rivington Soaring Association RSA
Rivington and Blackrod High School home page
Fishing contact - First Organisation, St Thomas Centre, Ardwick Green, N Manchester M12 6F2. Permits. For further information contact Phil Luff, NNW Ltd
GREAT HOUSE BARN Information Centre, Rivington Lane, Horwich, Bolton : Telephone : 01204-691549
Chorley Golf Club, Hall o' th' Hill Charnock Chorley PR6 9HX : 01257 480263 See Map at this link
GPS Location routes for walking and rambling around the Moors Details at this link.
Bolton Mountain Rescue Team In Emergency dial dial 999 or 112 and request Mountain Rescue via the Police, Ambulance or Fire control rooms.
Crime Reports can be made to Lancashire Police for the area.
English Nature (Champions the conservation of wildlife and natural features) Northminster House, Peterborough PE1 1UA, tel 01733 455000 Essex Hertfordshire and London team: Harbour House, Hythe Quay, Colchester CO2 8JF, tel 01206 796666

Car Routes To Rivington

The majority of Rivingtons most well known features are not accessible by car. This page give some details of those which at present are still accessible. See this link for maps and directions to Rivington. 

Walking Routes In Rivington

Hikers GPS guide is located at this link covering Rivington and nearby area's. Emergency assistance is available via the local Emergency service by dialling 999 or 112 ask for Mountain Rescue. For walkers there is detail of routes at the Commonwealth Games Site. Further details for walkers within the Rivington and Anglezarke area can be found here at many of these photo's are the locations of the old farms, of which my own ancestors were occupants (Pilkington)

MSN Rivington



Dedication of these pages

I dedicate this page to those who's homes, lands and the livelihoods that were taken to provide the water that now flows to Liverpool. Rivington Lakes were constructed from 1847-57, and were originally known as the Lancashire Corporation Waterworks.  

Drivers Caution: On visiting the area you are strongly advised to drive slowly, do not exceed 30mph even if the road ahead looks clear there are hedges with pedestrian crossing area's that are not within a drivers view, slow down especially near bends. Be ready to stop as people on foot, cyclists, animals including wild life may be near roads and not always within immediate view. 

Fire Risk : The farm owners in this area tended the fields by way of annual selected field burnings this prevented the great moor land fires. Today the great fires occur. You should not leave bottles, discarded rubbish, cigarettes or use camping flammables.

NB land ownership: Tracking History and Family Using Tithe Maps: Land Ownership is a very complicated subject. After partition many farmers became Yeoman who were then able to buy, sell or exchange what was now their land. Lands also formed a Dowry. Barter was common practice. Farmers had low education on modern standards and even today we have to put a lot of trust in our lawyers to do right for us. Ownership is often created by way of  Indentures showing title. If the Indentures or what is referred to as the bundle of deeds were lost then you lost your lands and home.

In 2003 the current Government has brought forward many changes one is a complete reform of the land law. Land registration is one such measure with that no one can simply take your land and home. The change in law is designed to protect ordinary people. However as with anything else if you leave it unattended its at risk.

The social history of our area shows many leaseholders. Tithe Maps do not in all cases show the landowner.  Many leaseholds were created in such a way as to in effect create all the rights of freehold. The Freehold is the superior title, but it seldom reverts back to the freeholder where the land has a leaseholder.

In many cases Tithe (see link) and the owner of Land are separate. This is especially the case where the Manorial land  is sold. The Rivington area had numerous Manors. The land laws are very complex but the bottom line is a leaseholder is a landowner yet the freeholder paid the Tithe collecting it from the leaseholder with a ground rent. 

A tenant is a short term arrangement and is often one yearly, the length of occupancy in farms indicated either freehold or Leasehold. Originally the term 'tenant farmer' applied to the land when 1/10 of the farms income was given to the Church in tithe, the old feudal systems end and then partition resulted in Tenants becoming Freeman, or as we know 'Freeholders' In some cases the poor uneducated farmers were bluffed into thinking 'superiors' owned their land. Later freeholders created leases often these were intentionally created as non reversionary but also still contained the tithe route being paid to the steward of the estate, who was supposed to pay this to the Lord of the Manor as part of his tax.  It was a very unusual system. 



Local Pilkington Branch

Since Bosworth Field 1485 the ancient law of Sanctuary of the Church and aid of friends and allies will have played a role in ensuring the descendants survived. Later regaining some of what was lost. Over centuries of upheaval, common to all families of all faiths marriages were not recognised: this resulted in illegitimacy. 

Around the nearby Bolton during the commonwealth the Pilkington family bought estates almost 200 years after Bosworth Field that were lost to the family.  A Pilkington Indenture recalls an Ancestor attained and beheaded by Henry VII. The purchase was from Parliamentary Sequestrators. The lands bought back had been taken by the Commonwealth after James Stanley, 2nd Earl of Derby was executed Wednesday 16th October 1651 at Bolton Church Gate. The Pilkington and Earl of Derby's family were always on good terms. Members of the Pilkington family were serving the Church. Others were Yeoman. 

Their are significant common forenames, locality, occupation, religion and also connections to other families, associations and causes that establish descendants are one family, local, nationally and abroad.

Abstract Probate


Abstract Probate Thomas Tonge of Ryvington, owing or owed 12d. to Hugh Pilkington of Anglezarke, 1596 Bolton wills, extracted from "Of Good and Perfect Remembrance" Bolton Wills and Inventories 1571 - 1600, Published by Bolton & District Family History Society 1994, ISBN 0-9512226-4-3 and ISBN 0-9512226

Abstract Probate: Robert Dewhurst of Rivington Gent: 1588 (Bolton Wills & Testaments) Names bequests to: 'James Pilkington sone of George Pilkington one grey fyllie coulte' to 'George Pilkington and his wife Ane 6 13s 4d lent money' and to bequeste to 'Katherine Pilkington and Isabella Pilkington daughters of the said George' ... and to 'bequest to Robert Pilkington, son of George Pilkington' ISDN 0951222600: Pg 75 


We have Hugh Pilkington located at Anglezarke: 1524 Lay subsidy, then Leasehold in 1526 occupation Yeoman named in will 1596. James Pilkington of Anglezarke named in a will of 1587.  1536-7 Oliver Pilkington signs agreement as witness regarding Rivington Manor regarding Richard Pilkington and use of lands including New Hall.  George Pilkington of New Hall Rivington in 1544. Oliver Pilkington seems to have removed to High Horrocks and is named on a Muster Roll 1569, lay subsidy 1570/71 and his will is 1594.  George Pilkington and Ane have four children by 1588 named in a will James, Robert Katherine and Isabella children. The family tree is enormous and getting bigger.

Horwich: Richard Pilkington (1695 to 1786) husband of Elizabeth Brownlow at first Yeoman of Horwich claimed as inheritance the Hardman Estates including Allerton Hall as second cousin once removed of Richard b. 1628 d.1708 of High Horrocks. Descendants formed Pilkington Glass at St Helens. Diaries are located at LRO) Richard Pilkington Jnr. of New Chapel attended 1825 with Thomas and Mary. Richard provided for other member of his family after a windfall inheritance.

RECTORS OF RADCLIFFE 1584-5. LEONARD ASSHAWE or SHAW, M.A., was presented by Richard Assheton, of Middleton, January 20th, 1584-5; on the 5th February he gave bond to the Bishop, and on the 12th March following paid his first fruits. 

York Minster Burials

The Lady Phebe Pilkinton was bur. ye 25th of June, 1686.

Phoebe, widow of Sir Lionel Pilkington, Bart. of Chevet (who died in 1684), and daughter of Robert Moyle, esq. of Buckwell, co. Kent. 

Page located at

Religious Divisions and Victorian Values: If you are seeking ancestry you need to put both the religious divisions and Victorian values aside. Early Pilkington families were Roman Catholic, some branches later changed to Anglican, some were with Parliament in the Civil war, some against. some were Presbyterians and Unitarian. Remember that Divorce, remarriage, illegitimacy are nothing new. The Church at some points did not always recognise marriage. Many died in wars of various types.


Stills: One of the little known facts is that many branches of the Pilkington family locally had always been the providers of local 'Fire Water' as the Indians of America used to call it, for centuries. Many later became publicans. It is one of the common features that also shows the relationships of the branches. Even Lester Mill Quarry had its own alehouse. Lime: The Pilkington farmers were well known for using a lot of Lime to fertilise the soil. The Grass is noticeably greener.


Pilkington family of Angelzarke, Rivington, Anderton and Chorley.


Thomas (b 1779 d. 1837 and Mary Pilkington b.1782 d.1861 age 79 (nee Vause of Horwich name origin Vose born at Horwich) Thomas was the third son of Thomas born to Thomas (b1751 d.1824) and Jane.(d.1810 ) The fourth child of Thomas & Mary (Nee Vause  earlier variation Vose) was Thomas (b1816 d.1866)  marriage to Betty (Second wife) 


"Men may build a house, but only God can build a tree" 

Quote from Moorlands and Memories by Allen Clarke 1920


At Lester Mill Quarry, Anglezarke, Near Chorley, where once stood the Wheelwrights Shop  there was sited an Oak Tree Called 'Old Tom' felled in 1995. Chorley Standard 14th April 1866 'On Monday afternoon at 4 o'clock Thomas Pilkington, stone dealer of Anderton was killed at Lester Mill Quarry in Anglezarke. He was crushed against a rock by a heavy stone. The deceased body was removed to Turner's Farm, Rivington. A Large Employer, Much Respected. He was buried at Rivington Presbyterian Chapel.


Thomas Pilkington is confirmed to have held the lease for Lester Mill Quarry until his death.


Their second son was Abel (b.1844 d.1888) Mary Pilkington was looked after by Abel until her death in 1861 at their home Sharrocks at White Coppice. Abel Pilkington second son was Joseph (b1864 d.1918) husband of Mary Ellen (nee Fowler b.1843 d.1877) father of Florence E. Pilkington (b.1889 d.1957) wife of David E. Sumner (b.1890 d.1946) who's daughters were Elsie (b.1922 d.1973) my beloved Grandmother and my Aunt Margaret, recently deceased.


Pages are produced without gain. I spent the happiest days of my childhood here, as did many other locals and like others I  still live locally to my ancestors (Pilkington of Anglezarke) homes  I welcome comments, suggestions and articles that can be linked into this site. History is not just in the past,  it is right now, in the making. Rivington is a wonderment of adventure to be protected. The pages are viewed by many, from locals to those who are now descendants overseas. 

The information on this site is free and must remain so.


This research is cross referenced to a great many sources and includes examination of original documents. 

The Site Is  Copyright 2003 of  its author Paul Lacey. Esq.  All Rights Reserved


Authority is automatically granted for use in educational establishments of any part of this site, the source must be declared, copyright acknowledged and  must not incur a charge. 


Ancestral Emblem De Lacy Family of England Copyright of Paul. Martin Lacey Esq


A list of source material will be published for students use in due course. 

If you would like to contribute to the pages please contact the author via

The pages are not yet finished and more work will be added from further research.

This Site First published in 1996 the above photo's were taken from Video stills. 

The site is  updated in 2003. 


In gratitude to David Owen, who has been very helpful in providing details from his own work for contribution to this site.

 and thanks also goes to Martin Brownlow for his assistance.



Old Revisions

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