On this day … 22 March 1696

The Corporation decided to buy the land to create the Avenham Walk that is now one of Preston’s most attractive features. We have the details of the transaction thanks to the Preston historian Anthony Hewitson, who transcribed the relevant passages from the Corporation’s order book and published them in his history of the town.

The account makes it clear that the area had already been a favourite resort of the townsfolk for some time; the diarist Thomas Bellingham frequently refers to strolling in Avenham in the late 1680s. The corporation was proposing to buy the land for £15 from its owner, Alderman Lemon, and create a formal gravel walk with an avenue of trees.

The corporation urged those charged with arranging matters to ‘get the work at Ænam Walk finished as cheap as they can’. Ænam, or more usually Enam, was how the Avenham district was frequently named in documents at this period. There are several uses of the Enam spelling in Bellingham’s diary, as in this example, ‘I walk’t wth Capt Barry att Enam, where we found ye soldiers robbing ye garden’.

The following is the order that Hewitson transcribed:

… that Mr. Mayor bee desired to take Mr Alderman Winckly, Mr Alderman Sudell, and Mr John Chorley, and to treat and agree with Mr. Alderman Lemon, if they can, on behalf of this Corporation, for the purchase of the ground upon Avenham now and heretofore used as a Walke, and that the same bee after wards planted with trees and made into a gravell walke, and a by passage for carts to the adjoining closes according as the said psons provide, and that the charges of the whole be Answerd out of this town’s revenue.

In the following July, the Corporation ordered:

… that a lease for 1000 years or a conveyance in fee of Avenham Walke bee taken from Mr. Alderman Lemon in consideration of fifteen pounds agreed to be payd him for purchase thereof in such pson or psons names for the use of the Corporation as Mr. Winckly shall think fit, and that Mr. Alderman Sudell pay the said fifteen pounds out of the town’s money now in his hande.

A year later, in May 1698, the Corporation ordered:

… that Mr. Alderman Lemon, Mr. Alderman Sudell, and Mr. Roberts [the Town Clerk] get the work at Ænam Walk finished as cheap as they can, and take an account in writing of the charge thereof. And that Mr. Sudell pay all and discharge the same out of such of the Town’s moneys as is in his hands.

Hewitson adds that there is no further information on the transaction in the order book.

Avenham Walk, Preston 1840s plan
1840s plan: National Library of Scotland https://maps.nls.uk/view/231280371
Avenham Walk Preston 1890s plan
1890s plan, an amalgam of two Ordnance Survey sheets, one coloured, one mono. Source: National Library of Scotland https://maps.nls.uk/view/231280599 and https://maps.nls.uk/view/231280611

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