Todmorden Antiquarians: History of the Medieval Manor of Ightenhill

The pictorial fact- board at Ightenhill Manor site representing Medieval life there
The pictorial fact- board at Ightenhill Manor site representing Medieval life there

Burnley historian Roger Frost made a welcome return to describe the former Medieval Manor of Ightenhill, sited about ¼ mile east of Gawthorpe Hall.

Burnley Council acquired the two hectare field, but no archaeological plans exist for this strategic historic site which once controlled much of N.E. Lancashire. Ightenhill translates to ‘Hill where the rose grows’ but today only a few stones remain of the Manor House.

With £30,000 Heritage Lottery Funding 2014 and much voluntary work (especially from Roger!), Ightenhill Manor is being brought to public attention. Funding contributed towards geo-physics survey, booklets, organized groups visiting and the splendid pictorial fact-board depicting Ightenhill Manor in Medieval times.

Roger showed an overview map of the extensive ancient townships of Ightenhill, reaching as far as Cliviger and Pendle Forest. The De Lacy family then owned Ightenhill Manor for over 150 years, with De Lacy Lion Crest still seen on Burnley Borough’s Coat of Arms. The Lord rarely visited Ightenhill from his main castle at Pontefract, but the steward managed the estate and the bailiff would oversee the stock.

Roger showed many pictures of daily working lives on the huge estate in Norman times. Occupations included archery, pinders tending sheep, a horse-rearing stud, hedge-layers, a constable dispensing justice in the Manorial Court and an ale-taster! Oats, which have a short growing season, were ground at the corn-mill for bread, oatcakes and beer. Meandering through Ightenhill estate, Burnley’s River Calder was then teeming with fish. Some of these images, including clothing, were taken by Roger from beautiful medieval manuscripts and subsequently depicted on Ightenhill Manor’s publicity.

Roger described the Norman style architectural features still found at privately-owned Boothby Pagnell Manor in Lincolnshire and Millichope Manor in Shropshire. There were steep roofs, few windows, collapsible stairs all to secure the inhabitants from marauding soldiers!

Edward 11 visited Ightenhill Manor in 1323. The Manor-house was eventually abandoned by the De Lacy’s, and by 16th Century the manor house was in ruinous condition.