HISTORY OF LYDIATE
The township of Lydiate is situated in the ancient hundred of West Derby on the south west Lancashire coastal plain. The West Derby Hundred is the most westerly region of the land described as ‘Inter Ripam et Mersham’ (between the Ribble and Mersey) in the Domesday Book of 1086.
In the same record, Lydiate appears as Leiate, held by the English thane, Uhtred. Lydiate is described as having 6 bovates of land. Woodland 1 league long and two furlongs wide.
A bovate, or oxgang, is generally accepted to have been the land one ox could plough a year. Clearly, this would vary, depending on soil and other conditions. It is usually between 10 and 18 acres. Thus, the plough land in Lydiate in 1086 was somewhere between 60 and 108 acres.
A league was approximately 3 miles, so the woodland in Lydiate in the early medieval period was about 3 miles long and a quarter of a mile wide.
The name Lydiate comes from O.E. (Old English) Hlid-geat, pronounced Lidyat, meaning swing-gate. This name was given by the Anglo-Saxons, mainly Anglians, who founded the settlement about the 7th century A.D. The ‘swing-gate’ place name indicates that Lydiate has been enclosed from very early times when animals were prevented from straying onto the rich arable land.
Some other local field-names date back to these early times Lambshear, for instance, has often been misinterpreted. Early documents show that this name was originally lam-sceaga, later lamshaw – loam clearing. The fields where Lydiate Primary stands were once clearings on the edge of the village where loam was dug up to spread on the fields in order to improve the soil. Some of these old pits can still be seen in the fields of Lydiate.
Although most of the minor names of Lydiate are Anglo-Saxon, there was a small Scandinavian (Norwegian Viking) settlement in the north of the parish at Eggergarth. The name derives from Old Norse (O.N.) ekra and O.N. garth – a small enclosed area. Another Viking name is Murscough, near Eggergarth. The name originally derives from ON
myrr – a mire, bog and ON skogr – a wood. So Murscough must have been a wet wooded area.
In 1212, the manor of Lydiate was held by two brothers, recorded as Benedict and Alan. It was the descendants of Benedict who took the name de Lydiate and held the manor until 1389 when there was only an heiress, Katherine, to inherit. Lydiate became merely part of the holdings of her husband’s family, the de Blackburns of Garston, until another heiress, Agnes de Blackburn, married Thomas Ireland of Hale.
The Ireland family settled at Lydiate and, in the 16th century, they built a new hall and a private chapel. Lydiate Hall was a typical black and white half-timbered house, worthy of comparison with many other such beautiful buildings. It has been suggested that the Ireland’s intermarriage with the Norris family of Speke caused Lydiate Hall to be patterned in appearance upon Speke Hall. It seems likely that the family links with Garston, near Liverpool, influenced the decision to build a chapel in Lydiate as a new chapel was built in Garston at about this time.
Lydiate Hall was situated in the grounds of the present Lydiate Hall Farm on Southport Road, Lydiate. Unfortunately the Hall was allowed to fall into ruins in the first half of the twentieth century, but efforts have been made to preserve what is left of the Hall as part of the conservation area that also includes the Scotch Piper Inn and St Catherine’s Chapel, locally known as “Lydiate Abbey”.
Lancashire was relatively isolated in the 16th century and, despite the Reformation, most of the land-owning families remained Catholic. Lydiate Hall appears on a map of the time of Elizabeth 1, marked as one of the known Catholic houses of Lancashire. There were at least three priest-holes in the Hall.In recent years, there has been a successful move to preserve the remains of St Catherine’s Chapel and make the building and information about its history more accessible to the public. The chapel and the gate of Lydiate’s place-name appear together on the Lydiate parish crest.
The Ireland family were followed as lords of the manor of Lydiate by the Andertons in 1673, and one of this family, Francis Anderton, is particularly linked with another well known landmark of Lydiate, the Scotch Piper Inn, which claims to be the oldest inn in Lancashire. The Scotch Piper has, for many centuries, been at the heart of this sociable and thriving community.
The inn has been known by various names including the ‘Royal Oak’, ‘The Bag Pipes’ and the ‘Highland Piper’. Francis Anderton was a supporter of the doomed but romantic Jacobite cause and various of the Inn’s names appear to be linked with it. Francis Anderton was captured and imprisoned in London, but, although sentenced to death, he was pardoned and returned home to Lydiate and led a quieter existence! Legend has it that after the failed rebellion of 1715, a piper married the daughter of the local innkeeper and that it was in this way that the name came into being. It is logical that in an area of powerful Catholic families there would be support for the Stuart cause.
There have been many changes in Lydiate through the centuries. Some buildings have disappeared long ago, such as the two watermills that once stood in Lydiate; others have changed, such as the windmill, now a private residence, but locally known as part of the Lydiate scene and probably known elsewhere because of the modern Caravan Club site adjacent to it.
The late eighteenth century was a time of great innovation in England and it brought both the Leeds – Liverpool Canal with its wharves and boatyards and the Liverpool – Preston Trust Turnpike Road to Lydiate . Both arrived in Lydiate in 1771.
Recent years have brought rapid growth of housing and population to Lydiate, but through all the changing years, and sometimes against the odds, Lydiate people have retained their identity, their sense of place and community.
The Lydiate Estate, Hall, Chapel and Inn – Pamela & David Russell (2007)
The Victoria Country History of Lancashire – W Farrer & J Brownbill (Eds) (Reprint, 1966)
Lydiate Hall And Its Associations – T E Gibson (1876)
Lydiate and Maghull In Times Past – John K Rowlands (1986)
Nomenclature of the West Derby Hundred – Pamela B Russell (1987)
Riches and Religion: The Story of Three Buildings in Lydiate – Stephen Manning (1992)