History of Thurnham Hall

 

Lancaster is renowned for its magnificent moorland and fells and is a treasure trove of many of Britain ‘s most picturesque scenery.

It is a panoramic vista of rolling hills and moors, laced with streams, rivers and ancient canal-ways rambling through picture postcard market towns, villages and hamlets.

Steeped in history, the county has played a prominent part from the early ages in the formation and development of this country.

Therefore, herein lie many of Britain ‘s most historic sites, castles and country mansions, some dating back over 2000 years. All this history set side by side with seventy miles of stunning coastal scenery, a mixture of quiet golden sandy coves and traditional seaside resorts, make it a prime region for living, learning and leisure.

At the head and heart of Lancashire lies the ancient city of Lancaster and a few miles to the south, on the coastal road, is the hamlet of Thurnham. Presiding over this community, bounded by the Lancaster canal and its tributaries is Thurnham Hall.

This remarkable seat of the de Thurnhams dates back to before the 12th Century, – passed on to descendants, the Daltons , in the 15th Century, where it remained until 1861 when the direct lineage of the Dalton Baronetcy became extinct.

Ownership of the estate then passed onto another line of the family, but remained in the Dalton hands until 1982 when the last of the line, Miss Alzira Dalton, died.

For over 600 years the hall had survived the dissolution, the Jacobite Uprising, countless civil wars and strife. From the late 1800’s Thurnham Hall, whilst still occupied by the Daltons , gradually fell into disrepair and was partially burnt out in 1959. This handsome hall came to the attention of the Crabtree family in 1979; they purchased it and restored this grand monument to the past to its former glory. The centrepiece is the great hall with its magnificent Tudor fireplace, Elizabethan friezes, decorated ceiling, oak panelling and armorial windows. Stretching out from the hall there is a labyrinth of ancient stone Jacobean staircases and galleries, bedrooms and parlours, terminating in the oldest part of the hall, the Pele Tower. Thurnham Hall even boasts a chapel, a priest hole and several ghosts.

Thurnam Hall was the seat of the Daltons of Thurnham for over four centuries, it having been acquired by that family in 1556. The earlier owners had adopted the name of the property as their own and were known as the de Thurnhams. In the 12 th century William de Thurnham granted land to the hospital of Cockersands Abbey and thereafter there was always a connection between the Hall and the Abbey. After the Dissolution both came under the same ownership.

The estate passed from the de Thurnhams, by descent, through the families of Flemmings, Cancerfield, Harrington, Bonvile and Grey. Thomas Grey the marquis of Dorset , who had fought at the Battle of Tewkesbury, later took up arms against Richard III having sided with the earl of Richmond . Thomas Grey was imprisoned on suspicion of high treason. His estates were forfeited to the crown. However he was later released and had his properties returned to him.

Dorset ‘s son, the 3 rd Marquise, is better know to history as Henry, Duke of Suffolk, the father of Lady Jane Grey. With Suffolk , the Grey family connection with Thurnham ended. In 1553 Suffolk sold the estate to a London grocer, Thomas Lonne. Lonne sold the estate, three years later, to Robert Dalton of Bispam in Lancashire . Robert was the grandson of William Dalton of Bispam and his wife Jane who was the daughter of Sir John Townley, one of the oldest families in the country. Robert married Ann Kitchen and through her the Daltons acquired the sequestered lands of Cockersands Abbey.

Robert Dalton had a son, Thomas, who fought on the side of the king in the Civil War, he also had ten, (some say seven), daughters. All of the daughters were renowned for their piety and for their adherence to the Roman Catholic Faith. (The Daltons being well known recusants in the country). These ladies lived in Aldcliffe hall and were known as the “Catholic Virgins”. Their brother, Thomas, suffered from his part in the Civil War. Having raised a troop of horses for his king, he was wounded at the second Battle of Newbury and died within a week at Marlborough . His properties, and those of his sisters, were seized by the Cromwellians, but they were afterwards restored to the family.

The Daltons continued at Thurnham until Robert Dalton, grandson of the original purchaser of the estate, died leaving an heiress Elizabeth Dalton. Elizabeth Dalton married into another ancient and staunchly Roman Catholic Lancashire family, the de Hoghtons. Her husband was William de Hoghton, one of the de Hoghton’s of Hoghton Tower.

The son of this union, John de Hoghton, took the name of Dalton . Like his forbears he incurred trouble by loyalty to the old faith and the old royal family, for in 1715 he joined the first Jacobite uprising when the Scots arrived in Lancaster . For this he was imprisoned in London and his lands confiscated. After his release he walked back to Lancaster and recovered Thurnham after paying a huge fine.

John Dalton, who died in the year of Queen Victoria ‘s accession, married Mary Gage. She was the daughter of Sir Thomas Rockwood Gage, 5 th Baronet by his wife, Lucy Knight. The Gage Baronetcy eventually became extinct, but the main line of the family, who became viscounts, are still extant and live at Firle Place in Sussex . Thurnham hall, when inherited by John Dalton, was regarded as a little old fashioned so he replaced the mullioned windows and massive bays with gothic windows. When he completed it, John Dalton put his coat of arms, and those of his wife (Gage), over the door.

John Dalton’s only son, also called john, died without issue and Thurnham passed, on the death of John senior in 1837, to his daughter Elizabeth who lived in the hall until her death. Elizabeth Dalton was one of several sisters, all of whom predeceased her without children. She was a remarkable woman of stern will and great piety – a throwback to those 17 th century Dalton Ladies, the “Catholic Virgins”. Not only did she build the private chapel in the hall, she also paid for much of the present Thurnham Roman Catholic Church in 1848. Until then there had only been a small chapel. In 1837 her father, John Dalton, had left £100 in his will towards a fund for building a new church commensurate with the religious revival of the 19 th century, sparked off by the Oxford movement.

Funds were not readily forthcoming and ten years later there was only £1,000 available, so Miss Dalton came to the rescue and offered to pay the balance. The building was completed in August 1848 at a cost of £5,000. The new edifice was aptly dedicated to St. Thomas More and St. Elizabeth of Hungary , the Princess who spent her Life in penance and self-denial. Both dedications were apt since St Elizabeth was the namesake of the benefactor of Thurnham Church and St. Thomas More was one of the forbearers of her successors at Thurnham. On her death in 1861, at the age of 81, she was succeeded by a distant cousin Sir James Fitzgerald.

We must now look back to Robert Dalton whose son married Mary Gage and was responsible for the present west facade. Robert married thrice. His third wife being Bridget, daughter of Thomas More of Barnborough hall near Doncaster . Bridget was the heiress and last lineral descendant of St. Thomas More, thus re-enforcing the strong Catholic traditions of Thurnham. Her daughter, also Bridget, married Sir James Fitzgerald, the 7 th Baronet, of Castle Ishen, Co. Cork, Ireland. It was their grandson, the 9 th Baronet, who inherited Thurnham Hall. On doing so he assumed the additional name of Dalton , becoming Sir James Dalton-Fitzgerald and he died in 1867 without issue. His brother, Sir Gerald Dalton-Fitzgerald, succeeded to the title and property but he also died childless so the Baronetcy became extinct.

After Elizabeth Dalton’s death there was a sale at Thurnham of most of the contents and from thence forward it remained empty, the Fitzgerald’s remaining mostly in their Essex estates. The Daltons portraits and heirlooms which were not sold in 1861 were transferred to Essex .

With the passing of the Fitzgerald’s, Thurnham came back into the male line of the Dalton’s in the person of William Henry Dalton, a second cousin of the last Fitzgerald Baronet, who was descendant from Robert Dalton (died 1785) and his third wife Bridget More. William married an American wife and they had two sons and six daughters. The eldest son, John Henry, succeeded to the estate and was followed by his brother, William Augustus Dalton. The Chapter house of which had for many years served as a burial place for the Daltons . Many of the finds were kept at the Hall and the findings were fully published by the ancient monuments society.

With the death of William Augustus Dalton the Daltons died out of the main line of descent. Thurnham hall slowly deteriorated through the years of lying empty and disused. After the last war, (1939-1945), it looked as if the dilapidated building would suffer the same fate that had befallen so many of the fine old houses in this century.

Mr. & Mrs. Stanley Crabtree purchased Thurnham Hall in the early 1970’s and then, assisted by their son David, completely renovated the building and brought the hall back to it’s imposing former glory and splendour.

This history is taken from an old booklet about the hall that was published in 1979 by English Life Publications Ltd.

Miss Elizabeth Dalton, who inherited Thurnham in 1837, was Lady of the Manor for 24 years until her death in 1861. In 1845 she built the present private Roman Catholic Chapel, a fine example of domestic ecclesiastical architecture of its time. Miss Dalton herself occupied her own private gallery complete with fireplace. A screen, which is still place, was erected to protect her from the gaze of the tenant farmers who occupied the east gallery. The domestics and others would worship in the main body of the chapel.

On entering the Great Hall, , your eyes are immediately drawn to the magnificent Tudor fireplace, the Elizabethan plaster work of the ceiling and frieze and the lovely oak panelling, this latter having been installed by the present owner due to the original panelling having been removed. Most of the present panelling is of the same age and design as the original, having been brought from Park Hall, a former home of the Daltons. The armorial windows are the work of a Miss Dalton and were executed in the 1930s. They depict the arms of the Daltons and the arms of St. Thomas More, the Daltons of Thurnham being directly descended from St. Thomas More.

The fine Jacobean staircase had to be removed, as the elements had penetrated into the house and caused considerable damage. The photo on the right shows the staircase well, before restoration. It was completely removed and restored, and has now been replaced in its original position, as shown in the top two photos. The top left photo is the same view as the photo on the right!! Also included in the restoration is some very fine Jacobean plaster work. At the head of the stairs are two pairs of carved doors which came from an old sailing ship and were made originally to fit the curve of the deck. The angle of the centre pan which are not parallel with the floor, indicate the lie of the deck.The Gallery To the right of the gallery there is another fine Jacobean staircase leading to the floor above. On the left is a very fine oak-studded wall, this studding was covered with a very thick layer of plaster and because of this it escaped the worst of the fire that raged through this part of the house in 1959. Note the Tudor doorway uncovered during restoration work. It is typical of several others in the house. The Bedroom This room has had to have extensive restoration and in consequence the visitor now sees the original beautiful Tudor bedroom which was preserved beneath the Victorian plaster work. The lovely Tudor fireplace is one of seven similar ones found in the house and was discovered under the more compact Victorian one. The arms are of Dalton impaling Gage. The window of this room is the only discordant note, having been altered in 1823 for the accommodation of the new stone frontage. The original window would have been larger, of the mullioned and transomed bay design. This bedroom is said to be haunted by a lady in green. She is said to appear when tragedy is about to fall on Thurnham.The Priest Hide The Hide is situated at the back of the Tudor fireplace in the bedroom. It is remarkably well preserved. As the Daltons remained faithful to the Catholic faith and held secret services at the Hall, the hide will have been put to good use. The Pele Tower The visitor is now in the oldest part of the Hall, everything previously looked at was built at various times on to this tower. This defensive building is fairly complete, with the exception of the south wall where the large window is situated. Originally there would be a large fireplace here, allowing no light from the south. This was pulled down and the fireplace arch rebuilt above, to form the window arch.

The photo above is the old kitchen in the Pele Tower, now the rear resstaurant. The fine old kitchen range, once a feature of most kitchens and now a rarity, was made in Morecombe in the 1890s and is still in regular use. The huge dresser shown above was built in situ by the estate carpenter in 1926. To the right of the cooking range is a 17th century hot plate.A BRIEF HISTORY OF THURNHAM HALL Thurnham Hall was the seat of the Daltons of Thurnham for over four centuries, it having been acquired by that family in 1556. Before that the earliest owners had adopted the name of their property and were known as the de Thurnhams. In the 12th century William de Thurnham granted land to the hospital of Cockersand Abbey and thereafter there was always a close connexion between Hall and Abbey and after the Dissolution they came under the same ownership. The estate passed from the de Thurnhams by descent through the families of Fleming, Cancefield, Harrington, Bonvile and Grey. Thomas Grey, Marquess of Dorset, who had fought at the Battle of Tewkesbury, later took arms against Richard III having sided with the Earl of Richmond. He was on the winning side and Richmond became Henry VII but in 1487 Dorset was imprisoned on suspicion of high treason and his estates, including Thurnham, were forfeited to the Crown. However he was later released and his properties returned to him. Dorset’s son, the 3rd Marquess, is better known to history as Henry Duke of Suffolk, the father of Lady Jane Grey. With Suffolk the Grey family connexion with Thurnham ended, for in 1553 he sold the estate to a London grocer by the name of Thomas Lonne. It was Lonne who, three years later, sold the estate to Robert Dalton of Bispham, also in Lancashire. Robert was the grandson of William Dalton of Bispham by his wife Jane, the daughter of Sir John Townley of Townley, one of the oldest families in the county. He married Anne Kitchen, and through her the Daltons acquired the sequestered lands of Cockersand Abbey. Robert Dalton had a son, Thomas, who fought on the side of the King in the Civil War, and ten (some authorities say seven) daughters all renowned for their piety and for their adherence to the Roman Catholic Faith (the Daltons being well-known recusants in the county). These pious ladies lived at Aldcliffe Hall and were known as the ‘Catholic Virgins’. Their brother Thomas suffered for his part in the Civil War. Having raised a troop of horse for his King he was wounded at the second battle of Newbury and died within a week at Marlborough. His properties and those of his sisters were seized by the Cromwellians but they were afterwards restored to the family. The Daltons continued at Thurnham until Robert Dalton, grandson of the original purchaser of the estate, died leaving an heiress, Elizabeth Dalton, who married into another ancient and staunchly Roman Catholic Lancashire family the de Hoghtons. Her husband was William de Hoghton, one of the de Hoghtons of Hoghton Tower. The son of this union, John de Hoghton, took the name of Dalton. Like his forbears he incurred trouble by loyalty to the Old Faith and the old Royal Family for in 1715 he joined the first Jacobite uprising when the Scots arrived at Lancaster. For this he was imprisoned in London and his land confiscated. After his release he walked back to Lancashire and recovered Thurnham after paying a huge fine. John Dalton, who died in the year of Queen Victoria’s accession, married Mary Gage. She was the daughter of Sir Thomas Rookwood Gage, 5th baronet by his wife, Lucy Knight. The Gage baronetcy eventually became extinct, but the main line of the family, who became Viscounts, are still extant and live at Fine Place, Sussex. The 16th century house which John Dalton inherited was regarded as a little old-fashioned so that after his marriage he refaced the mullioned windows and massive bays with a smart new ‘Gothick’ façade of Ashlar, castellated and with Gothick windows. This façade, before the Crabtrees arrived, was in danger of complete collapse and in a very dilapidated condition. Happily it has been completely restored by Mr. Crabtree to the appearance it must have had when John Dalton completed it. Mr. Dalton put his arms and those of his wife (Gage) over the door. John Dalton’s only son, also John, died without issue and Thurnham passed, at the death of John senior in 1837, to his daughter Elizabeth who lived at the Hall until her death. Elizabeth Dalton was one of several sisters, all of whom predeceased her without children. She was a remarkable woman of stern will and great piety — a throwback to those 17th century Dalton ladies — the ‘Catholic Virgins’. Not only did she build the present private chapel in the house, but she paid for much of the present Thurnham Roman Catholic Church in 1848. Up till then there was a small chapel. In 1837 her father, John Dalton, had left £100 in his will towards a fund for building a new church commensurate with the religious revival of the 19th century sparked off by the Oxford Movement. Funds were not readily forthcoming and ten years later there was only £1,000 available so Miss Dalton came to the rescue and offered to pay the balance. The building was completed in August 1848 at a cost of £5,000. The new edifice was aptly dedicated to St. Thomas More and St. Elizabeth of Hungary, the Princess who spent her life in penance and self-denial. Both dedications were apt since St. Elizabeth was the namesake of the benefactor of Thurnham Church and St. Thomas More was one of the forbears of her successors at Thurnham. At her death in 1861 at the age of 81, she was succeeded by a distant cousin, Sir James Fitzgerald. We have now to look back to Robert Dalton, whose son married Mary Gage and was responsible for the present west façade. Robert married thrice, his third wife being Bridget, daughter of Thomas More, of Barnborough Hall, near Doncaster. Bridget was the heiress and last lineal descendant of St. Thomas More, thus reinforcing the strong Catholic traditions of Thurnham. Her daughter, also Bridget, married Sir James Fitzgerald, 7th baronet, of Castle Ishen, Co. Cork and it was their grandson, the 9th baronet, who inherited Thurnham. On doing so he assumed the additional name of Dalton, becoming Sir James Dalton-Fitzgerald and quartered the arms of Dalton with his own. Unfortunately Sir James only lived another six years and died in 1867 without issue. His brother, Sir Gerald Dalton-Fitzgerald succeeded to the title and property but in turn died childless so that the baronetcy became extinct. After Elizabeth Dalton’s death there was a sale at Thurnham of most of the contents and thence forward it remained empty, the Fitzgeralds remaining mostly on their Essex estates. The Dalton portraits and heirlooms not sold in 1861 were transferred to Essex. With the passing of the Fitzgeralds, however, Thurnham came back into the male line of the Daltons in the person of William Henry Dalton, a second cousin of the last Fitzgerald baronet. W. H. Dalton was descended from Robert Dalton (d. 1785) and his third wife Bridget More. He married an American wife and had two Sons and six daughters. His elder son, John Henry, succeeded to the estate and was followed by his brother, William Augustus Dalton. Both brothers interested themselves in the excavations then being carried out at Cockersand Abbey, the Chapter House of which had for many years served as a burial place for the Daltons. Many of the finds were kept at the Hall and the findings of the excavations were fully published by the Ancient Monuments Society. In an account of Thurnham written in 1900 the Hall is described as in a semi- ruinous state with floors being unsafe and stonework in a parlous state. With the death of William Augustus Dalton the Daltons died out in the male line. Thurnham slowly deteriorated through the years. After the last war the panelling was removed. In 1959 a fire damaged part of the dilapidated building. It looked as if the same fate would overtake it as it had so many hundred fine old houses this century. Nobody could have forseen the happy sequel. THE RESTORATION OF THURNHAM HALL A house which has been neglected for ten years can become so decayed as to make its restoration an almost impossibly costly task. How much more difficult when the house has been decaying for a century! Thus it was with Thurnham when Mr. S. H. Crabtree first saw it and made up his mind to rescue it from imminent danger of collapse or demolition. Thurnham Hall dates back to the 13th century when the original pele tower was built. This tower is incorporated with later work as the building was enlarged through the ages, notably from the 16th to the 19th centuries. With the amount of work done on the house in recent years it can truly be said that Thurnham has the traces of seven centuries of English architecture in its make-up. Mr. Crabtree, a successful businessman and former managing director of a profitable light engineering firm, bought the house and four acres of land in 1973 as an almost incredible act of faith. He was then living at Stubley Old Hall at Littleborough and he and his family were looking for somewhere nearer the sea. When they saw Thurnham it seemed not only ideal but also presented an irresistible challenge to a man who had much experience in working with his hands and had already restored a 70 foot yacht and several Rolls Royce’s, two of which are on show in Blackpool and one took pride of place in Tokyo Antiques Fair. Mr. Crabtree’s wife and son might well have regarded him as crazy and objected to a long period of hard work and possibly heartbreak as well, but the Crabtrees were made of sterner stuff. Mr. Crabtree, his wife, his son David and his son’s fiancée have all got down to it and helped to restore this fine old house.One of the first concerns was the facade erected in 1823 by John Dalton. It was dressed with stone from Lancaster Castle but was in a very dangerous condition. The iron dowels had rusted, expanded and blown off the stone in large chunks as can be seen in the photo on the right.. With the stresses expanding sideways the outer wall bulged forward from the wall behind bringing down mouldings and smashing lintels. A craftsman was found who could do the work, a Mr. Pemberton, but unfortunately he lived at Saddleworth some 70 miles away. For two years Mr. Pemberton travelled 140 miles a day to do this labour of love. The result is a perfect restoration of John Dalton’s façade. A local carpenter was found to install the panelling and to carry out other intricate work. A fire had swept through a section of the house in 1959 and so this part had to be almost completely rebuilt. A century of wind and rain had caused havoc with the interior and it all had to be put right. Looking at photographs of the building in its last stages of decay and seeing it now it seems that a miracle has been performed. Thurnham, once again, is a fine Country house and a family home. Published by English Life Publications Ltd., Derby. Photography mostly by Studio Camm, Wilmslow. English Life Publications Ltd. 1979.

Thurnam Hall was the seat of the Daltons of Thurnham for over four centuries, it having been acquired by that family in 1556. The earlier owners had adopted the name of the property as their own and were known as the de Thurnhams. In the 12 th century William de Thurnham granted land to the hospital of Cockersands Abbey and thereafter there was always a connection between the Hall and the Abbey. After the Dissolution both came under the same ownership.

The estate passed from the de Thurnhams, by descent, through the families of Flemmings, Cancerfield, Harrington, Bonvile and Grey. Thomas Grey the marquis of Dorset , who had fought at the Battle of Tewkesbury, later took up arms against Richard III having sided with the earl of Richmond . Thomas Grey was imprisoned on suspicion of high treason. His estates were forfeited to the crown. However he was later released and had his properties returned to him.

Dorset ‘s son, the 3 rd Marquise, is better know to history as Henry, Duke of Suffolk, the father of Lady Jane Grey. With Suffolk , the Grey family connection with Thurnham ended. In 1553 Suffolk sold the estate to a London grocer, Thomas Lonne. Lonne sold the estate, three years later, to Robert Dalton of Bispam in Lancashire . Robert was the grandson of William Dalton of Bispam and his wife Jane who was the daughter of Sir John Townley, one of the oldest families in the country. Robert married Ann Kitchen and through her the Daltons acquired the sequestered lands of Cockersands Abbey.

Robert Dalton had a son, Thomas, who fought on the side of the king in the Civil War, he also had ten, (some say seven), daughters. All of the daughters were renowned for their piety and for their adherence to the Roman Catholic Faith. (The Daltons being well known recusants in the country). These ladies lived in Aldcliffe hall and were known as the “Catholic Virgins”. Their brother, Thomas, suffered from his part in the Civil War. Having raised a troop of horses for his king, he was wounded at the second Battle of Newbury and died within a week at Marlborough . His properties, and those of his sisters, were seized by the Cromwellians, but they were afterwards restored to the family.

The Daltons continued at Thurnham until Robert Dalton, grandson of the original purchaser of the estate, died leaving an heiress Elizabeth Dalton. Elizabeth Dalton married into another ancient and staunchly Roman Catholic Lancashire family, the de Hoghtons. Her husband was William de Hoghton, one of the de Hoghton’s of Hoghton Tower.

The son of this union, John de Hoghton, took the name of Dalton . Like his forbears he incurred trouble by loyalty to the old faith and the old royal family, for in 1715 he joined the first Jacobite uprising when the Scots arrived in Lancaster . For this he was imprisoned in London and his lands confiscated. After his release he walked back to Lancaster and recovered Thurnham after paying a huge fine.

John Dalton, who died in the year of Queen Victoria ‘s accession, married Mary Gage. She was the daughter of Sir Thomas Rockwood Gage, 5 th Baronet by his wife, Lucy Knight. The Gage Baronetcy eventually became extinct, but the main line of the family, who became viscounts, are still extant and live at Firle Place in Sussex . Thurnham hall, when inherited by John Dalton, was regarded as a little old fashioned so he replaced the mullioned windows and massive bays with gothic windows. When he completed it, John Dalton put his coat of arms, and those of his wife (Gage), over the door.

John Dalton’s only son, also called john, died without issue and Thurnham passed, on the death of John senior in 1837, to his daughter Elizabeth who lived in the hall until her death. Elizabeth Dalton was one of several sisters, all of whom predeceased her without children. She was a remarkable woman of stern will and great piety – a throwback to those 17 th century Dalton Ladies, the “Catholic Virgins”. Not only did she build the private chapel in the hall, she also paid for much of the present Thurnham Roman Catholic Church in 1848. Until then there had only been a small chapel. In 1837 her father, John Dalton, had left £100 in his will towards a fund for building a new church commensurate with the religious revival of the 19 th century, sparked off by the Oxford movement.

Funds were not readily forthcoming and ten years later there was only £1,000 available, so Miss Dalton came to the rescue and offered to pay the balance. The building was completed in August 1848 at a cost of £5,000. The new edifice was aptly dedicated to St. Thomas More and St. Elizabeth of Hungary , the Princess who spent her Life in penance and self-denial. Both dedications were apt since St Elizabeth was the namesake of the benefactor of Thurnham Church and St. Thomas More was one of the forbearers of her successors at Thurnham. On her death in 1861, at the age of 81, she was succeeded by a distant cousin Sir James Fitzgerald.

We must now look back to Robert Dalton whose son married Mary Gage and was responsible for the present west facade. Robert married thrice. His third wife being Bridget, daughter of Thomas More of Barnborough hall near Doncaster . Bridget was the heiress and last lineral descendant of St. Thomas More, thus re-enforcing the strong Catholic traditions of Thurnham. Her daughter, also Bridget, married Sir James Fitzgerald, the 7 th Baronet, of Castle Ishen, Co. Cork, Ireland. It was their grandson, the 9 th Baronet, who inherited Thurnham Hall. On doing so he assumed the additional name of Dalton , becoming Sir James Dalton-Fitzgerald and he died in 1867 without issue. His brother, Sir Gerald Dalton-Fitzgerald, succeeded to the title and property but he also died childless so the Baronetcy became extinct.

After Elizabeth Dalton’s death there was a sale at Thurnham of most of the contents and from thence forward it remained empty, the Fitzgerald’s remaining mostly in their Essex estates. The Daltons portraits and heirlooms which were not sold in 1861 were transferred to Essex .

With the passing of the Fitzgerald’s, Thurnham came back into the male line of the Dalton’s in the person of William Henry Dalton, a second cousin of the last Fitzgerald Baronet, who was descendant from Robert Dalton (died 1785) and his third wife Bridget More. William married an American wife and they had two sons and six daughters. The eldest son, John Henry, succeeded to the estate and was followed by his brother, William Augustus Dalton. The Chapter house of which had for many years served as a burial place for the Daltons . Many of the finds were kept at the Hall and the findings were fully published by the ancient monuments society.

With the death of William Augustus Dalton the Daltons died out of the main line of descent. Thurnham hall slowly deteriorated through the years of lying empty and disused. After the last war, (1939-1945), it looked as if the dilapidated building would suffer the same fate that had befallen so many of the fine old houses in this century.

Mr. & Mrs. Stanley Crabtree purchased Thurnham Hall in the early 1970’s and then, assisted by their son David, completely renovated the building and brought the hall back to it’s imposing former glory and splendour.

The Thurnham Crest and Shield

A tradition says that three brothers, sons of John Dalton, went to the Crusades in the late 1100’s.

One of them, Sir Richard Dalton, killed a Saracen in the Holy Land and was given the green Griffen on the crest of the coat of arms which the family carried for their services to King Richard.

The description of the shield is: a silver Lion Rampant Guardant on an azure shield with gold crosslets. In the Heraldic language it is: a shield azure propre, or crussely, a lion, rampant, guardant, argant and the crest is a dragon’s head vert, between two wings.

The image shown here is the stained glass window in the great hall. It clearly shows the features of the crest, incorporating the shield.

Forton & Cockerham History

Village where the devil gambled –  and lost!

CALLED Fortune in the Domesday Book, the village of Forton, which means a ‘fenced in place’, has not been lucky in recent years. It is now only known as a busy service station on the M6 motorway between Preston and Lancaster. These days travellers drive past or without realising what a lovely village this once was. Enough remains however of this Saxon ‘fenced in place’ to plan a visit and to coincide this with a visit to the village of Cockerham. Up until the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII in the late 1530s, the whole of this area was owned by the Premonstratensian monks who later became the rich and influential order of the Cistercians. There were other Cistercian abbeys at Furness, Whalley and Sawley. The monks had granges (or farms) in the area and farming is still important today even though the sounds of sheep, cows and bird song have to blend in with the distant hum of fast moving traffic.   Look out for School Lane on which is situated one of the earliest independent chapels to be founded in the area and which was built in 1707. In the case of Forton this chapel is actually older than the parish church. Situated on Whinney Brow Lane on the opposite side of the A6 the church of St James was built in 1889. Actually it looks to be much older than this, mainly due to its black and white entrance porch which at a casual glance appears to be Tudor in style. The Lancaster canal flirts with the village and to the west of Forton and close to this historic cut is a residence called Clifton Hill. This was built in 1820 in a neo-classical style for Robert Gillow. He was the brother of Richard, the famous furniture maker who had his workshops in Lancaster. Nearby is the Cleveymere Nature Reserve formed by landscaping the old gravel pits on the catchment area of the River Wyre. The combination of marshland and pools is a haven for wildlife and ensures that visitors to the area can enjoy a generous helping of history and natural history The same is true of Cockerham within a short and pleasant drive from Forton.

Cockerham is a splendid little village sat on Morecambe Bay and overlooks the extensive sands and the Pilling embankment. In the Domesday Book the place was listed as Cocreham and means ‘a settlement on the little river Cocker.’ In the 17th century the village was almost totally destroyed by fire but was rebuilt in fine style. There is a lovely legend which tells of a confrontation between the schoolmaster and the devil. First ‘Old Nick’ had to count the number of dew droplets on a hedge. He succeeded. Next he had to count the number of ears in a cornfield. Nick succeeded without the aid of a calculator. The third task however proved to be “hellishly” difficult and Old Nick failed.. Any failure meant that the devil had to leave the village for ever as he was not able to weave a rope out of sand and wash it in the Cocker. One thing is for sure to this day – Cockerham is a heavenly place to enjoy coastal scenery at its best.

To the west of the village the 15th century timber framed Cockerham hail has survived the fire. Look out also for the church of St Michael now on the outskirts of the village but prior to the fire it was in the centre of the village. Look in the graveyard and look for the last resting place of a past vicar who died of the plague (black death) along with eleven of his congregation. It is not often realised that the plague did not just affect London in 1665 but had a devastating effect all over England.

This and the Devil connection meant hell for the village but it is now a wonderfully peaceful place to enjoy a slow pace of life. This is a complete contrast to the Forton services on the busy M6.

Points of interest Cockerham Abbey, situated between Cockerham and Glasson Dock, has almost vanished, devastated first by Henry VIII then used as a quarry for local folk but damage has also been caused by the sea. Its position was isolated as it once served as a leper hospital in the 12th century. It was at that time called St Mary’s on the Marsh because it was set above a very boggy area. The chapter house, where the monks held their meetings has survived as it was later used by the Dalton family who lived at nearby Thurnham Hall as a mausoleum. Many of the furnishings, including the choir stalls, now grace the interior of Lancaster Priory church. Between Cockersand and Cockerham is the Plover Scar lighthouse which was built in 1843. This overlooks an excellent bird watching area which not only has lots of Lapwings (green plover) but also other waders and wildfowl. Look out for Cocker House Bridge on a minor road to the east and signed from the B5272. Here is an ancient boundary stone between Cockerham Glasson and Forton. Go into Glasson Dock, an ideal place to enjoy a snack and to buy some Lune caught and cured salmon or the Morecambe Bay shrimps.

This article is by Ron Freethy and is from his series of articles “Walking Near Water”. It is reproduced here with the kind permission of the Lancashire Telegraph, Saturday 27th October, 2007

 

 

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