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The Pennington family owned the original hall in the thirteenth century. They passed the hall on to Bradshaws in 1309. Samuel Hilton rebuilt the hall in 1748. The hall was sold, in 1807, to the Gaskell family from Yorkshire. They let it to a succession of manufacturers.
The tenant around 1840 was James Pownall, one of the founder members of the silk manufacturing firm of Bickam and Pownall. They were the first factory to weave silk in Leigh.
The hall was later occupied by Charles Jackson, a cotton manufacturer, and then by Jabez Johnson. Later F.W. Bouth was a tenant. He founded Bouth’s Mill in 1862 and built many houses for his workers in Plattfold Street.
The last resident of the hall was the brewer George Shaw. On his retirement, to Southport, in 1920, the Hall and grounds were offered to the Leigh Corporation. The hall was converted to a museum and art gallery.
In the early 1960’s the woodwork was found to have dry rot and as plans for the new library at that time included a museum, the hall was demolished in 1963. The grounds are now known as Pennington Park and are on St Helens Road.
Atherton Hall was situated at the bottom of The Avenue, Leigh.
Richard Atherton built the hall in 1723. The principal front was 102 feet wide. The Great Hall was 36 feet by 45 feet.
For a hundred years various members of the Atherton family occupied the hall, but Richard Atherton was the last in the direct line. The Atherton estates passed by marriage to Lord Lilford, who preferred to live on his other estates and could not afford the upkeep of another house in Lancashire. After failing to sell it, it was demolished in 1823. Many of the fittings, such as fireplaces were sold at auction and installed in other houses in the area. Some of the outbuildings were left standing and are still known as Atherton Hall.
As early as 1250 Roger de Bradshaw held lands in Westleigh which amounted to a quarter of the manor of Westleigh. The chief house was Westleigh Hall, otherwise known as Westleigh Old Hall.
Early in the 15th century the ownership of the estate passed by marriage from the Bradshaw to the Harrington family.
The hall and estate changed hands seven times in the 16th and 17th centuries, being sold lastly in 1688 by Francis Sherrington to the Parr family for £600.
Edward Green of Atherton married one of the Parrs and took possession of the hall in 1712. In 1756 he settled the estate upon his daughter Ellen, wife of John Ranicars of Bedford. John and Ellen Ranicar pulled down the old hall and built a new one.
One of John’s daughters inherited Westleigh Old Hall and she married Richard Nicholas Marsh. Several generations of the Marsh family played a leading role in the area, especially as philanthropists. They accrued wealth from the law and textile industry. The Marsh family gave many thousands of pounds to public institutions in Leigh, among them were the Marsh Gymnasium and the Silk Street Swimming Baths. They also contributed to the building of the first public library and of Leigh Infirmary and to the rebuilding of the Parish Church.
When William Edward Marsh succeeded in 1895, he and his family left the Old Hall to live at High Peak in Kenyon. The hall remained uninhabited for a number of years and became damaged by mining subsidence. In 1931 the last surviving member of the family, Mrs. Mary Matilda Susan Marsh, left the hall and grounds to Leigh Corporation. The hall was demolished and the grounds laid out for playing fields, now known as Marsh Playing fields.
The first recorded date in the hall’s history was recorded in 1291, by which time the manor had become divided. The hall was then occupied by tenant farmers. They did not have the same status as their neighbours at Sandypool, the Shuttleworths, who played a leading role in local affairs.
William de la Doune was the tenant in 1303 when his landlord took him to court for felling 300 oak trees in Bedford Wood. His defence was that he had used the wood to rebuild the hall that ‘had been ruinous’.
The Lathom family acquired the hall by 1587 and choose to live there themselves. The family was staunch Catholics. The hall became a secret Mass centre. Elizabeth Lathom was in trouble in 1633 for harbouring a priest. The priest was captured on the 25th April 1641 at Morleys Hall in Astley while saying Mass. He was sentenced to death. He was hanged, drawn and quartered at Lancaster. The priest’s name was Ambrose Barlow. He was later cannonised and is now known as Saint Ambrose Barlow.
Jane Lathom, last of the line, sold the hall to settle her husband’s debts in 1719, since when there has been a variety of owners and tenants.
The present hall, which replaced several others, dates from the early 1700’s. The hand-made bricks and the local lime mortar are similar to those used at Sandypool. The adjacent barn is seventeenth century.
It was called Sandypool because of the ‘fish stews’ or ponds around the farm where fish were kept. The ponds were probably kept well stocked with the trout, which were caught in the river near-by. The soil around the hall was of a sandy nature.
The Shuttleworth family occupied the site, since at least 1301. They lived there for several hundred years. The Shuttleworth family played an important role in local affairs. The present house dates from the eighteenth century, though it does include earlier work. The adjacent barn is seventeenth century.
On the front of Sandypool Farm there is a stone which has the joined shields of the two manors, the three spears of the Urmstons and the three shuttles of the Shuttleworths together.
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