On this day … 17 December 1859

The Preston Guardian reported that Lark Hill, the former home of Samuel Horrocks MP, built in 1796 and now part of Newman College, had been sold for £4,525. This was roughly £267,737 in today’s money according to the National Archives historic currency converter, which seems remarkably cheap, although exact currency comparisons are difficult.


According to Anthony Hewitson in his History of Preston, it ‘was purchased on behalf of St. Augustine’s, and afterwards transformed into a convent (“Faithful Companions”), the stables being made into schools.’

Samuel Horrocks was MP for Preston for 22 years. According to Hewitson:

… he figured in the House of Commons mainly, if not entirely, as a “silent member”. It is related that on one occasion a hawker of street literature created some excitement, in Preston, by carrying a bundle of papers up and down and crying out— “Speech of Mr. Sam Horrocks in the House of Commons.” People eagerly bought the papers, wondering whatever Mr. Horrocks had been speaking about; but, on examining them , they could find nothing — the sheets were blank; and when one or more persons remonstrated with the hawker, and told him there was nothing on the paper, the reply given was: “Well, he said nothing.”
Another story, pertaining to Mr. S. Horrocks, runs to the effect that the only “speech” he ever made in the House of Commons consisted of the interjection “Oh!” At one or more of the elections in Preston, when Mr. Horrocks was a candidate, a large “O” figured amongst the skitting shots aimed at him.

This item was prompted by an entry in Preston historian Henry L. Kirby’s four-volume digest of articles in the Preston Guardian covering the period from 1844 to 1905: https://prestonhistory.com/…/preston-guardian-digest…/

Lark Hill House, Preston
A sketch of Lark Hill by I. Shaw c.1850. Source: Preston Digital Archive

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