Stand Prick Lane and its fields

Plan of Stand Prick fields in 18th-century Preston
A plan of Stand Prick Lane and its adjacent fields based on Lang’s 1774 plan of Preston. Modern features are indicated in red.

See also: Preston Street Names

Bow Lane, the Preston address of Lancashire Archives, was earlier named Spring Street, probably on account of an abundant stream that flowed from the field named Springhead at the corner of Bow Lane and Fishergate Hill. Even earlier it had a somewhat indecorous name: Stand Prick Lane.

I am trying to discover the meaning of this earliest name, with little success.

When named Stand Prick, the lane began at the junction of Bow Lane with Fishergate Hill and took a short left into what is now named Good Street but was formerly named Back Christ Church Street.

The first record of the name that I have found is in the Preston court leet records for February 1702/3 when James Hodgkinson was warned ‘for not scouring his ditch Stand Prick Lane’. There are only two more occurrences of the name in the court leet records: February 1709/10, ‘John Cook for laying Rubbish in Stand Prick Lane next adjoyning to ffisher Gate Lane’; October 1725, ‘Henry Watson for laying his Dung in the bottom of the New Way over agt Standprick Lane end to ye annoyance of the highway And do amerce him in xls. if not removed in ten days time’. See David Berry’s transcription of the court leet records.

In the Preston Poor Tax Survey of 1732 several fields are identified as being adjacent to Standprick Lane (more information can be found in the records dated 31 July 1732 and numbered 678-686 here).

The most detailed record of Stand Prick Lane is found in George Lang’s survey of the town in 1774 in which the lane and its adjoining fields are named and mapped. The lane at that date simply gave access to the adjoining fields. Details of owners, acreage and rental values of the fields can be found here.

No mention of the lane is found in any of the many histories of the town, even though some of the writers must have been aware of its existence. Charles Hardwick included a section of Lang’s plan in his history, but did not extend it sufficiently to encompass the lane and its fields, which are not mentioned. [1] Anthony Hewitson also included a section of the plan in his history, and again his did not stretch to the lane, which again is not mentioned. [2]

The closest Hewitson comes to discussing the earlier names of Bow Lane is in a footnote in his extracts from the Preston court leet records:

7. Springhead was the name of a field on the north side of the upper part of Fishergate-hill. The present Spring Bank crosses the higher portion of the land which formed this field. There was a very copious spring here, and water from it ran very freely on the north side; a considerable depression in the surface of the land on that side much facilitating its flow. In a cellar under a shop at the south-east corner of Euston-street, directly in line with and a short distance — between 70 and 80 yards from Spring Bank, there is now a very full-flowing spring of water. This water unquestionably comes from the old ‘Springhead’ land; and it now runs into a drain or street sewer. Formerly the water was allowed to accumulate in a well-shaped hole in or close to the cellar, and many neighbouring people got water from it. [3]

Hewitson chose to place a fig leaf across the representation of the Stand Prick Lane area on the map he included in his court leet book. While he names adjoining fields, the Stand Prick ones are not named, being labelled simply meadows and croft.

section of Hewitson's plan of Preston
Section of the map in Hewitson’s court leet book with the ‘fig leaf’ applied. See the full map on David Berry’s court leet site.

So Hardwick and Hewitson were aware of the existence of Stand Prick Lane and its fields, but clearly did not wish to offend Victorian sensibilities by discussing the subject in print.

Neither the Oxford English Dictionary nor the on line version of Joseph Wright’s English Dialect Dictionary [4] could offer any help.

A search of the Lancashire Archives catalogue yielded no results for ‘stand prick’. It did supply entries for Prick Marsh on the Clifton estate at Lytham and Warton; another Prick Marsh at Out Rawcliffe; a piece of 13 acres of waste named Prick Rush at Preesall; and a meadow named Prick rough brow at Little Hoole. These were dated between 1711 and 1839 (DDCL/825, DDCL/666, QSP/1373/12, DRB/1/155 and DRB 1/190).

Ekwall offers:

Prickshaw (Whitworth): Prikkeschagh 1292 WhC 689, Prikkeschaghsiche 13 cent. ib. 663. Cf. O.E. pricþorn 956 BCS 945. The first el. is no doubt prick sb. (O.E.prica) “prickle, thorn,” but the exact meaning is not apparent. Prickhedge (1601ff.) means “a thorn hedge.” Cf. Prickley, Worc.: Prieleye, Prielea (for Pric-?) 1275 (Duignan), Prickwillow (vil. near Ely). [5]

The best suggestion I have had so far for the origin of the name came from Steve Tilly on the Preston Past and Present Facebook site:

A stand can be a name for a group of trees. So if you link that with Ekwall’s definition of prick(e)… I think that Stand Prick Lane is a much more interesting name than Thorntrees Avenue.

Any further suggestions gratefully received, and credited.

Mapping the transformation of Stand Prick Lane and its fields:

Plan of Stand Prick fields in 1824 Preston
Stand Prick Lane Fields located on Baines’s 1824 plan of Preston, with Stand Prick Lane now extended and renamed Spring Street.
Plan of Stand Prick fields in 1840s Preston
The Stand Prick Lane fields located on the 1840s six-inch Ordnance Survey map, by which time the top end of Spring Street has been renamed Bow Lane.
Plan of Stand Prick fields area in 1890s Preston
By the time of the 6-inch Ordnance Survey map of the 1890s the fields had disappeared under housing.
Map of the Bow Lane area of Preston
The Stand Prick Lane area shown on the modern Open Street Map, courtesy of OSM contributors

[1] Charles Hardwick, History of the Borough of Preston and Its Environs, in the County of Lancashire (Preston: Worthing, 1857), facing 429.
[2] Anthony Hewitson, History of Preston, reprint of 1883 edition (Wakefield: S. R. Publishers, 1969), facing 41.
[3] Anthony Hewitson, Preston Court Leet Records: Extracts and Notes (Preston: George Toulmin & Sons, 1905), 144–45.
[4] ‘EDD English Dialect Dictionary Online’, n.d.,
[5] Eilert Ekwall, The Place-Names of Lancashire (Manchester University Press, 1922), 60.

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