Monday, 26 February 2007

Extwistle Hall


I recently told Angela the tale of Squire Parker of Extwistle Hall, and of how he went out shooting, got soaking wet, left his coat to dry before the fire forgetting about the gunpowder in his pocket. In consequence, he blew himself up, 2 of his daughters, and a child as well. The Parker family departed Extwistle Hall after that incident and it began to decay. Part of the hall was inhabited until 1985 so I am told. I remember as a school kid in the mid 60's on one of my rambles going past the hall and stopping to look at the architecture. An old woman, actually she was probably in her early 50's, came out and shouted at me for snooping at her home. As she was brandishing a broom, I did not dare argue with her and beat a hasty retreat further up the road and thence on to Briercliffe. The last time I went past the house would be in 1968, this time the old woman, as I called her, was in a field opposite to the Hall, she was gathering thistle heads, which I thought a bit odd. Since then I have found out that thistle heads are used for cattle fodder. This time she didnt shout at me, just silently watched me until I faded into the distance. For some reason that image of her standing as I became smaller up the farm track has always stayed with me. Who was she? A tenant farmer yes, but who else was she? Maybe some person out there has knowledge of her.


Anyway, to get back to the story. Angela expressed curiousness about the Hall and suggested we had a walk there oneday. I somehow got the feeling I would not be able to lounge around on sunday, so had a double helping of mueslli. Sure enough, the little love arrived and said " lets got for a walk mummy". Prepared a quick flask of tea, she bought the butties, then off we went. Quickly down to the town cente, up onto the canal bank then off to Heasandford. Could see the old street where we used to live and our old house quite clearly, looked absolutely awful. To think how a once lovely street could become such a scruffy one in about 15 years. The only folk to blame for this are the landlords who bought property cheap when old folk died, then rented them off to rubbish people. By this I mean drug addicts, alcoholics, prossies, and other dregs of society as we know it. The asians who lived on the street when we lived there were the oneswho had the poshest houses. We all got on so well together, went to each others weddings, christenings etc, gave gifts at christmas and eid. Now I reckon all is left is very little of the old way it was.

Feeling rather despondent we marched along, to the end of the straight mile of the canal, through Thompsons Park, , under the road bridge, then onto Heasandford. Its amazing how the place looks in winter compared to the summer. In the latter its one sea of weeds, like a jungle almost. In the former, one can see between hedgerows, underneath fences. On along the track we were encounted by 2 great big dogs, I thought we were going to be bitten but they were quite friendly, just got mud on my clothes from where they jumped up. We turned left up towards Netherfield farm, through their stables, then up a track marked on the OS map. It is not a track as such, just a way across a field. And, what a boggy route it was, squelch squelch squelch. I had proper footgear on, Angie was in trainers. Halfway along the route I could hear, Mum. I am going to get trenchfoot!!! The poor girl wasnt used to sheep and thought they might attack her!!! God, I must have brought her up all wrong!!! I demonstrated how to shoo sheep away then she was ok.
At the foot of the hill we walked through a copse and were then in sight of Extwistle Hall. My God, how it had deteriorated from my last sighting of the building. All but one of the huge chimneys had gone, all the windows and doors were boarded up, all the roof on one wing was open to the elements. It was sad to see a builiding of such archictectural splendour reduced to almost rubble.
We ate our lunch on a slab of stone where the Burnley way crosses the farm track. For the time of year it was so mild, we didnt even need our gloves on. From there we made it to the main road and decided to go the Worsthorne instead of Briercliffe. At Roggerham we decided to go into the Roggerham Gate Inn for a coffeee and a toilet stop. At the door they had a hedgehog foot scraper, to get all the mud off out boots. After our coffee we set off for Worsthone, only to find out when we got there we had missed the bus by 5 mins and would have another hour to wait. So, once again we traversed on, another 4 miles added onto he walk.
Once in Fulledge we encountered the empty site where the school all my kids used to go to was. How anyone could sanction the demolition of such a wonderful place I willl never know. Feeling heavy in heart we returned to our house. At the canal bridge a skein of geese was passing over, about 100 in total, possibly travelling over to Martin Mere.