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When Sir James Allan Park (above), the recorder of Preston, laid the foundation stone of St Peter’s Church (now the University of Central Lancashire Arts Centre) on a summer’s day in 1822 on land donated by his son, also named James Allan, he can hardly have expected the ceremony to have sparked an angry article in the Manchester Guardian in which he was accused of ‘unparalleled humbug’ and his son of property speculation.
Piety and profit in 19th-century
The Rev John Owen Parr was vicar of Preston from 1840 until his death in 1877. He arrived in town with a wife and several children, and shortly after his wife died. His first marriage appears to have been a conventional one. His second was less so, for it seems very likely that he married one of his servants, who had been in his household at the time of his first wife’s death. His third marriage was the scandalous one, which he kept secret for several years, passing off his wife as a servant in his house, until he was exposed in one of the town’s newspapers.
The many wives of the Rev John Owen Parr
See also: The public face of the Rev John Owen Parr
Archaeologists using modern technologies and watching briefs on residential and industrial developments have established the exact routes of many of the Roman roads around Preston. Within the town boundaries the routes are more uncertain and modern speculations have added little to the suggestions of Preston’s 19th-century historians. Offered here is a very speculative suggestion for a route from Walton-le-Dale to Ribchester.
Preston’s Roman roads
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 ……Keep reading
On this day … 21 March 1861
Edward Pedder, senior partner in the Preston Old Bank, then aged fifty, was found dead in bed at his home, Ashton Park. An examination of his affairs following his death revealed that he and his brother, Henry Newsham Pedder, had been borrowing heavily from the bank to fund their extravagant lifestyles … Continue readingKeep reading
On this day … 20 March 1689
Thomas Bellingham’s Preston diary entry for the day illustrates the disorder and disruption that affected the town following William of Orange’s invasion and James II’s flight to France, the events now termed the Glorious Revolution … Continue readingKeep reading
A selection of some of the other items on this site
Does the district known as Little Ireland that was firmly established in Preston by the middle of the 19th century qualify as a ‘ghetto’? It was home to Irish immigrants attracted by the town’s employment opportunities and driven by the famine that was devastating their country. See Irish ‘ghettoes’ in 19th-century Preston
When the 1871 census seemed to show just how much land was held in so few hands the Radicals were jubilant. The Conservative Earl of Derby was prodded to stand up in the House of Lords to demand a recount by way of a government survey. The result showed who owned most of the land in Lancashire. See Who owned Lancashire?
– Nigel Morgan’s ‘lost book’: the best guide to middle-class housing in Victorian Preston and a detailed source for the social history of the town. Rediscovered only very recently. See Desirable Dwellings – Nigel Morgan’s ‘lost book’
Why did so very few conscripts from Preston’s working-class districts find a place in the officer’s mess, and what does it say about the class divide in Edwardian Preston? See Great War conscription and Edwardian Preston’s ‘class ceiling’
The diaries of Thomas Bellingham (above) and Lawrence Rawstorne open a window on life in 17th-century Preston, and reveal the web of family and social connections that enabled the gentry to govern Lancashire. See Bellingham/Rawstorne diaries
From the back streets of Preston to the back streets of Farnworth by way of Cambridge and headship of Rivington Grammar School, the life of Septimus Tebay is a remarkable story of clogs to clogs in one generation. See Septimus Tebay — maths prodigy
A number of Catholic priests from Preston volunteered to serve as army chaplains in the Great War. They included Fr Bernard Page who saw service on the Western Front and in revolutionary Russia. Clerics in khaki
Alexander Rigby, one of the key figures in the Civil War in Lancashire, never let principles get in the way of a good deal: he was ‘never knowne to bee worth one [thousand] till hee became a publicke robber by law: but you must remember hee had beene a lawyer and a bad one.’ Alexander Rigby and his family.
Kim Travis has traced the history of the Tulketh district of Preston and its hall from pre-Norman times up to the present day. It is a marvelously detailed reconstruction. See Tulketh and its hall.
One of the foulest of the many obnoxious trades of Victorian England was the tanning of leather. The Dixon family of Bank Parade, Avenham, developed Preston’s largest tannery on their own doorstep. See Frenchwood Tannery.
Preston’s claim to have created Britain’s first public park with the opening of Moor Park in the first half of the 19th-century was, some years ago, called into question by a leading academic. Was he right? Preston’s first park.
Bow Lane, the Preston address of Lancashire Archives, was earlier named Spring Street. Even earlier it had a somewhat indecorous name. See Stand Prick Lane.
More of Preston’s historic places
Maps and Plans
Preston Market Square in the later 17th century. Find this and other plans of the town at that date here.
A plan of the route to Inglewhite from Ribbleton in the later 17th century. More Lancashire road plans here.
Plan of Preston in 1774 showing the holdings of the principal landowners. The 1774 Preston survey.
Map shows what the road network round Preston might have looked like in the late 11th century. Note no Walton bridge. Preston after Domesday