This article has been supplied by Kim Z. Travis
The hall now has its own Facebook group:
Gary Cunliffe has made two films about the hall, here is one of them:
Tulketh Hall stood in Lancashire to the west of Preston until 1959. This is a compilation of information about Tulketh Hall and the whole area referred to as Tulketh.
The name Tulketh
The name has been spelt in a variety of ways including Tulket, Tulcheth, Tulkyd, Tookerth and Tookethe, but nowadays Tulketh. There are a variety of explanations for the origin of the name. The first element could be from an old English name Tulla/Tolle/Tolke or perhaps the old English word til meaning good. 1 The second element ‘keth’ may be from the Danish for landing place – in this case a landing stage for boats on the north of the Ribble estuary. 2 But keth is more frequently taken to mean wood, as it is also supposed to in the placenames Penketh and Culcheth. 3
Where is Tulketh?
Tulketh is in much the same place it has always been, but the surroundings have certainly changed! Here is Tulketh Hall on Yates map of Lancashire from 1786.
The small stream separating Preston from Tulketh is clearly visible, as is the marsh into which it flowed (called Preston Marsh4). Tulketh Hall had an uninterrupted view of the river, and being on the outside of a bend the view would have stretched quite a long way in both directions, making it a strategically important position.
A drawing was made during planning for the construction of the Lancaster Canal in the 1790s 5, but unfortunately it has no named roads and no indication of which way is north. To work out which way round this map is and to see how much the landscape around Tulketh has changed I’ve matched this map to the 1906 Ordnance Survey map. The two maps can’t be overlaid precisely because the earlier map was only surveyed approximately.
Here Tulketh Hall is shown on Lewis’s map of c.1840.
On this map Tulketh is clearly still outside Preston, though Preston engulfed it a few years later. The railway and canal have cut across the landscape.
Victoria Quay was built south east of Tulketh Hall in the 1840s and had its own railway branch line, built in 1846. In the 1880s the Ribble was diverted to a course much further south as part of the building of the docks that survive today 6 as shown on this map (I have marked the position of Tulketh Hall on the map with a star). The railway branch line that served Victoria Quay was extended to serve the new docks, and survives as the Ribble Steam Railway).
This close-up from the 1906 Ordnance Survey map shows the location of Tulketh Hall clearly amongst roads that still exist today.
To bring the story up to date, here is an overhead view of the site taken in 2015. This view can be easily compared to the 1906 OS map. It is notable that most of the site is grass or car-park. Other than the demolition of Tulketh Hall itself, all the other buildings on the plot shown on the 1906 map are still there, whilst the only additions are insubstantial.
What did Tulketh Hall look like?
This is the earliest known view of Tulketh Hall, though it shows little detail.
This ink drawing with watercolour by Anthony Devis was probably created in the 1760s or 1790s. It was drawn from just outside the western limit of the built-up area of Preston, and clearly shows the countryside gap before you reach Tulketh.
The earliest view showing much detail of Tulketh Hall is an engraving of 1825, shown below.
The artist here is facing north-west. Two parts of Tulketh Hall jut out forwards, and a single storey part sticks out to the right, which perfectly matches the outline of Tulketh Hall shown on the 1906 OS map (Figure 5). Trees surround the Hall, but a clear view to the river and marsh has been maintained.
A more distant view from Penwortham is shown in this print from an 1837 book about how to rear and encourage game birds for shooting. 7 It too shows the clear view down the hill to the river.
A closer view of the Hall is shown in this header from the ‘Tulketh Hall Mercury’ (see later section) in the 1840s.
The main entrance faced to the right as we see it here, facing north-east up the drive which leads to the road (now Tulketh Brow) as shown on Figures 1 & 2.
In 1860 the architect Joseph Aloysius Hansom ‘restored’ Tulketh Hall and he himself later admitted that he had ‘thoroughly succeeded in defacing its ancient characteristics’. 4, 9 He also removed an avenue of trees that lined the approach to the Hall – an act he was to regret some years later. 4 Hansom designed Birmingham Town Hall, and many churches, mainly Catholic ones (he himself was Catholic), but is better known as the inventor of the Hansom cab, the horse-powered predecessor of the modern black taxi cab. Around the same period as Hansom’s work on the hall, the surrounding land was built on.
Joseph Gillow (1850-1921), a historian of Catholicism who was born in Preston, recalled Tulketh Hall being approached by an avenue of ancient trees from the marsh below, and being a large and very ancient structure. 10
The painting below shows the sweeping drive following the route seen on the OS map (Figure 5), going down to the new road, Tulketh Crescent.
The large building on the painting shown behind Tulketh Hall and to the right as we look, also shown on the 1906 OS Map, is not present in the earlier photograph.
The beginnings of Tulketh
Occupying a strategic position overlooking the river and estuary of the Ribble, Tulketh has long been a focus for human activity. It has in the past been suggested that Tulketh was Roman in origin, perhaps the sight of a stronghold, or castle or even a granary. However, no Roman remains have been found at or near Tulketh, and it was not the river crossing point in the Roman period, though it could still have been a lookout point. 12 Apparently, Mr West reported a mound and ditch south-west of Tulketh Hall in 1774 12, on a high promontory, which was levelled in 1855/6. Another source places the earthworks about 300′ south-west of the Hall, saying that there was a circular, conical mount, 125′ in diameter, and a semicircular ditch. 13 There was evidence of a building just outside the ditch 12, parts of which were still visible in the 18th century. 14 This building is supposed to have been a monastery (also indicated on Figure 5) of which more later. In the late 19th century, below the site where the monastery is said to have stood, a sealed-up well was discovered, 60 feet deep, and nearby were the remains of a stone culvert. 15 It seems certain that settlement at Tulketh must have started at latest in the Norman period, and possibly earlier.
I’m not aware of any modern archaeology having been conducted on the site. Now would seem like a good opportunity for this, whilst the site is mostly free of buildings – it can only be a matter of time before it is built on again.
Who lived at Tulketh?
There is an old story that a Norman called Travers came over with William the Conqueror, captured Tulketh from Marmaduke Tulketh, and made it his home:
I Travers, by birth a Norman,
To gain victorious conquest,
With William Conqueror in I came
As one checkrold among the rest:
His guerdon was a crown
And ours subjects spoyle;
Some ransomed tower and town,
Some planted English soyle.
Tolketh his castle and herison
My captives maulger were;
His doughter and heir, Dame Alison
I spoused to my fere:
Thirty winters thus were worne,
In sposalls mirth and glee;
Foure begotten she had and borne
Er crowned was Beauclark Henry:
Arnold and Jordan fitz Travers
The one me succeeded, the other toke orders;
With Constance and Blanch, my daughters,
The one to spousalls, the other vowed cloisters.
The Travers family of Tulketh told this to the official who was checking their entitlement to a Coat of Arms in 1567 and/or 1613, and it has been much repeated since. 38 This is a fanciful story, and although some have given it the benefit of the doubt, I do not. It is interesting to note that Peter Whittle assumed the pen-name Marmaduke Tulket to write his history of Preston in 1821. 16
The first inhabitants of Tulketh (the area of Tulketh, not the Hall) for whom there is reliable evidence are the monks who established a monastery there in 1124. Stephen of Blois, nephew of King Henry I, and later to be King himself, gave land at Tulketh to found a monastery. 17 Thirteen monks from the Abbey of Savigny in Normandy arrived on 4 July 1124 led by Ewen d’Avranches. 17, 18 On 7 July 1127 the monks transferred their monastery to what became Furness Abbey, and Tulketh was transferred back into Stephen’s ownership. 18, 19, 20 The Monastery at Tulketh was Benedictine, though about 20 years later Furness and Savigny became Cistercian. 17, 19 The historian Baines confused the site of the monastery at Tulketh with the site of the leper hospital of St Mary Magdalene, even saying that the monastery at Tulketh was on the site of a pre-existing hospital. 14 This mistake continues to be copied to this day. In fact, the hospital was in Maudlands (a corruption of Magdalene’s) in central Preston and there is no mention of it before 1178-86. 13, 12, 21 Others claim that the monks adopted the home of Marmaduke Tulketh as their monastery 14, 22 though there is no evidence to support this.
In the mid 12th century there was a civil war between the factions of Stephen of Blois, by now King Stephen, and his cousin the Empress Matilda. King David of Scotland took advantage of the anarchy, and from the 1130s to 1149 held all Lancashire north of the Ribble. Perhaps you saw the fictional TV series Cadfael, set in Shrewsbury Abbey at this time? Well, in 1140-2 King David issued a charter to the monks of Shrewsbury Abbey when he was at ‘the new castle of Thulchet’ (Tulketh). 23 This is the earliest reference I’ve found to a castle at Tulketh. There was clearly some kind of structure at Tulketh when the monks of Savigny arrived, but no source I’ve found mentions a castle. Sources speculate that perhaps Stephen built the castle and David repaired or rebuilt it, or else David himself had it built. 24, 25, 23 The castle may have been wooden, but stone keeps were built at Carlisle and Lancaster in this same period 24 and it seems likely that the one at Tulketh was at least partly stone-built.
Tulketh is in the Manor of Ashton, but since early times one carucate (very roughly 120 acres), which contained Tulketh, was held separately from the Manor of Ashton itself. In 1189-94 John, Count of Mortain (in Normandy), was the feudal lord of Ashton, Tulketh and Ingol, and a carucate of land here which had previously been held by William Peverel (before about 1153 26), was regranted and confirmed to Arthur de Ashton. 27 In 1199/1200 a charter for a carucate of land in Ashton, Tulketh and Ingol was granted to Arthur de Ashton by King John in thanage for 10 shillings a year. 14,28,29 (thanage meant that Arthur was a thegn, a high rank in society). Arthur’s son Richard succeeded him in 1201, though the land ownership became divided around this time and the succession of each division unclear. 13
In this murky period some of the land went to the Lea family and some to the Haydock family, and some more was granted to Cockersand Abbey. 26,15 Alice, daughter of William the son of Arthur of Ashton, owned land at Tulketh and Tulketh Carr, and Great Tulketh is mentioned in a deed of William son of Richard of the Cross. 30 Some of the land passed to the Kibald family, and in the mid-13th century Margery, Margaret and Helen, daughters of William Kibald, granted land in Tulketh to the Hospital of St Mary Magdalene, Preston. 31 Adam de Tulketh was a witness to some of these charters. In one of these Helen, daughter of William Kibald, and Roger the Spicer, granted land in Tulketh to the hospital of St Mary Magdalene, Preston. 31 In 1292, William, son of Roger, leased to William son of Paulinus de Preston, his lands called ‘Tulket in the vil of Aston’. 15 At this time there are also references to Margery, wife of Richard de Tulketh, Margery being a granddaughter of William son of Henry de Kellamergh (in 1292 32), and also to Roger, son of Walter de Tulketh (in 1293 33).
By 1322, Lawrence Travers and William Laurence had married Elena (or Aline) and Alice, daughters and heirs of Henry Haydock of Ribbleton, and by these marriages had acquired half of the manor of Ashton on Ribble, for which they paid a rent of 5 shillings 34, 35, the other half being held by Richard de Houghton who paid the same. It was stated that this land consisted of one ploughland (the same as a carucate), and had formerly been held by Henry Arthur in drengage (a form of land tenure involving a requirement for military service). 36 In 1327 Lawrence is specifically described as being of Nateby and Tulketh. 4, 10, 15 In 1339 Lawrence Travers and his wife were in dispute with Richard and Adam de Hoghton and Isabella and Alan de Marehalgh for the ownership of the manor of Ashton. 34 This dispute was probably part of long-running dispute which started before 1308 and continuing until at least 1360/61. 37 The Travers family had earlier connections with Preston, as Lawrence Travers’ grandfather, also a Lawrence, was a warden of the Hospital of the Blessed Mary Magdalene, at Preston 13, and in June 1287 was juror at the inquest of Adam de Preston, warden of this Hospital 38 – this earlier Lawrence was apparently also described as being of Tulketh or of Nateby and Tulketh, though I’ve not seen evidence of this myself. With time, references connecting the Travers family to Tulketh increase. In 1402/3 Thomas Travers (I reckon him to be the great-great grandson of the later of the two Lawrences already mentioned) is described as being of Mount Travers, alias Tulket 16, which must surely indicate that by this time the family lived on the site later known as Tulketh Hall. But the Travers family never owned all of the area of Tulketh: when dissolved by Henry VIII, Preston Friary held land in Tulketh. 39
The Travers family remained Catholics after the Reformation 40 and gradually lost their lands as a result of persecution by the Protestant authorities. Suffering fines, imprisonment and other indignities, they tried to emphasise the worthy, loyal and ancient character of the family. This included, in my opinion, inventing the verses at the start of this section.
In 1577 Thomas Preston let out the ‘capital messuage’ called Tulketh in Ashton, which was previously held by Richard Travers, deceased. In September 1607 the Jesuit Reverend J Bannister celebrated mass in a small chapel attached to ‘Tulket-hall’. 15,41 Although the Travers family still owned much of Ashton, by this time their main residence seems to have been Nateby, in Garstang parish well to the north. Fines for their adherence to Catholicism accumulated, and in 1625 William Travers, Richard Travers and William Werden sold the manor of Ashton, with lands in Ashton, Ingol, Clayton, and Leyland, and a free fishery in the Ribble, to Hugh Rigby 26, who was still there in 1633. 42 But Tulketh was still in Catholic hands. In 1687, Bishop Leyburne toured the north of England and confirmed about 20000 Catholics. 42 As a part of this tour, he confirmed many people on 7 September in a small chapel attached to the Hesketh family house at Tulketh. 9, 10, 15, 44 The Heskeths, Walmsleys and Wordens are associated with Tulketh in this period. In March 1710/11, Stanley Worden of Tulketh, gentleman, is referred to in a lease, as is Helena his mother, widow of James Worden late of Tulketh, clerk.45 Stanley Worden/Werden of Tulketh was named in 1722, 1727, 1742 46 & 1746/7 47. By 1733 Roger Hesketh had apparently renounced the Roman Catholic faith, and was described as being of North Meols and Tulketh. 4 Roger Hesketh remodelled Tulketh Hall, and a water downspout dated 1759 carrying his initials is apparently in the Harris Museum in Preston. 4 Perhaps the costs of this building work are detailed in his surviving 1756-89 account book.48 Tulketh Hall is prominently marked on a map of 1786, with ‘Sir Roger Hesketh Esq’ marked by it.
It seems that Tulketh Hall became divided into more than one residence in this period: Lawrence Rawstorne of Tulketh Hall is named from 1796 until his death in 1804 48; however, Bold Fleetwood Hesketh was in Tulketh Hall in 1798 50, 1808 51 & 1811 52. An 1802 source lists both of them as being of Tulketh Hall 53 – perhaps one part was let out, as later the Heskeths clearly owned the whole property. There are hints that the division of the property may have started in the 17th century, but with no clear proof for this earlier period. When Mr Hesketh died, Tulketh Hall passed to Sir Peter Hesketh and was occupied by his spinster aunt, Lady Hannah (or Anna) Maria Hesketh. 54 The owner Sir Peter Hesketh built the new town of Fleetwood and also changed his name to Fleetwood. Lady Hesketh died on 27 February 1841. 55, 56 The area around Tulketh Hall has been known as Cannon Hill 55, due to the large number of cannons once in place there. The prospect from Tulketh over the Ribble makes it a good location for a gun battery – perhaps the cannons were to defend against any French invasion in the Napoleonic Wars? Sir Peter moved the cannons from Tulketh Hall to line the waterfront at Fleetwood. They were fired in 1840 to mark the launch of a ship 57 and witnessed Queen Victoria’s visit in 1847. Postcards of Fleetwood showed that there were at least nine cannons, though only one now survives. 55
Tulketh Hall may have been empty at the time of the 1841 census in May, shortly after Lady Hesketh’s death, as I cannot find it in the census. Mr Hesketh was financially crippled by building Fleetwood and its railway line 57, so in 1845 he sold Tulketh Hall Estates, i.e. the land surrounding the Hall but not the Hall itself, as building land, see the clipping below.
Times had changed. The Lancaster Canal opened as early as the 1790s, the railway in 1840 and the growing industrial and port town of Preston was enveloping Tulketh.
By the time of this sale the house itself was already in a new role as a private school, see for example the newspaper advert below.
George Edmondson was a prominent Quaker educationalist and has his own entry in the Dictionary of National Biography. His pupils produced a small newspaper, the ‘Tulketh Hall Mercury’, copies of which from 1841-7 are in the Harris Museum. In 1847, George Edmondson relocated his School to Hampshire to be able to expand, and Dr Satterthwaite and William Thistlethwaite took over Tulketh Hall as a school for the remaining period of George Edmondson’s lease. The two advertisements below give a good idea of the differing educational priorities of the former and new proprietors. George Edmondson was certainly an innovator, as the teaching of agriculture in schools was very unusual at the time, and his new school in Hampshire had what was probably the first school science laboratory in the country. 58
In the 1851 census, William Thistlethwaite and his wife Hannah are at Tulketh Hall, with an assistant housekeeper, five domestic servants and 37 male scholars aged 11-16. In nearby Tulketh Cottage were Michael Satterthwaite and family. Another teacher at the school, George Bennet, was in Tulketh Lodge. During Dr Satterthwaite and William Thistlethwaite’s tenure the woods surrounding Tulketh Hall were felled, spoiling the neighbourhood 59, and they decided to move when the lease expired. 60 Their new premises at Lindow Grove, Alderley Edge, Cheshire, opened in 1853.
Tulketh Hall itself was sold by Roger Hesketh to Joseph Bray, a Preston solicitor, in about 1848 4 – this may have been in 1850, as the Harris Library has a sale catalogue for Tulketh Hall from this year (which I’ve not seen). In the 1861 census Joseph Bray, wife Eliza and son Herbert Joseph are living in Tulketh Hall, with a nurse maid, cook, house maid and parlour maid. Mr Bray sold it to Rev Thomas Johnson, who used it as a vicarage for St Mark’s Church. 4 Joseph Hansom improved/decimated Tulketh Hall in 1860 (see earlier), and the surrounding estate of houses must have been built around this period. In the 1871 census, Thomas Johnson, wife Jane and five children are living in Tulketh Hall with four servants. In the 1881 census Joseph Eccles, a cotton mill owner, his wife Elizabeth, four sons and two servants are living there. Apparently Tulketh Hall was sold to George Thompson in 1876 15, but it is not until the 1891 census that we find him there, a man described as living on his own means, with wife Ellen, seven daughters and two servants.
Although the censuses do not record the family, according to his birth certificate a Charles Dawson was born at Tulketh Hall on 11 July 1864. 61 Charles Dawson (1864-1916) is known to history as the likely perpetrator of the Piltdown Man hoax, when he found in Sussex a fossil claimed to be the ‘missing link’ between apes and man. He was the son of Hugh Dawson, a Preston cotton spinner, who soon after moved the family to London and then Sussex.
The Brothers of Charity, a Catholic foundation, bought Tulketh Hall in 1898 creating the St Thomas’s Home Industrial School for Roman Catholic Boys, and Auxiliary Home (a kind of half-way house between life in the school and in the general community). 62,63 In the April 1901 census, the place is described as a Home for Catholic Working Boys, in the care of Superior Thomas W Bolton, Assistant Superior Francis de Clark, and four Brothers, and against their names is the following ‘Members of the Congregation of the Brothers of Charity who are employed in different works of Charity and whose employment is changeable at the will of the Superior of the Order’. In their care at the time of the census were 31 boys and men aged 9 to 53 (all but six were under 20), many with jobs, and others described as ‘patients in home for infirm and afflicted boys’. The month after the census was taken the Industrial School and Auxiliary Home were certified for 65 and 30 boys respectively, and in October 1903 the Industrial School capacity was increased to 150 boys. 63 On the 1906 OS map, Tulketh Hall is marked ‘St Thomas’s Home’, though the Auxiliary Home was in Tulketh Hall itself, and the Industrial School was in the buildings to the west.
A directory of 1917 has the following description: 62
St Thomas’s Home: Certified Industrial School and Working Boys’ Home. These fine buildings cover nearly three acres of ground on Cannon Hill, Ashton. The historic and ancient Tulketh Hall is now a beautiful and cosy home for poor and friendless working boys, who are carefully tended by the good brothers in charge. The Hall was purchased May 15th 1898 for the sum of £2800. [I’ve here deleted two inaccurate sentences about the ancient history of the site.] The home has accommodation for 30 boys. The Industrial School stands in the grounds of Tulketh Hall, and is certified for 150 boys. The original buildings cost £3000, and have been extended at a further cost of £4000, making with other alterations a total of £8000. The buildings were designed by the late Mr W E Withnall, architect, of this town, and built by Mr James Swarbrick, contractor, of Ashton-on-Ribble. The buildings are model in every way: replete with the most modern and scientific appliances in every department. The sanitation is perfect, the air pure and bracing and it possesses the advantage of a very spacious and well-fitted gymnasium. The medical attendant is Dr K Duncan; the honourary dental surgeon, Mr H H Edmondson; and the honourary ophthalmic and aural surgeon, Dr W R Richardson. Both the institutions are under the care of the Brothers of Charity, forming one of the units of their 42 houses scattered all over the world, and testifying by their rapid and constant increase the excellence and utility of the management of this charitable order. The superintendent is the Brother Patrick. There is also a visiting committee of business men, who regularly inspect the Homes.
In 1903, the institution was in the care of Brother Palladius Gibson and five Brothers of Charity, with schoolmaster Mr J Thompson. 63 At some point later the institution was under the guidance of Father Linus and two brothers, Patrick and Wenceslaus. The Home Office closed the school in 1924, though it was a school for ‘Brother Teachers’ until at least 1939. 64
The end of Tulketh
Apparently Tulketh Hall was bought by the Diocese of Lancaster for a school just before the war, but when war came plans changed and the Army moved in, using it as a barracks. 64
Shortly after the war, Tulketh Hall became the Army Infantry Records Office, but in 1952 a fire caused much destruction and a few years later the building was empty. 64 In 1959 Tulketh Hall was demolished. 64 Roger Fleetwood Hesketh, MP for Southport and presumably descendent of the early 19th century residents, bemoaned its demolition and salvaged some parts, including bricks, for his own Meols Hall. 64, 65
The photo below is taken looking to the north-west over a compound on which Tulketh Hall stood. The largest building in view is the one shown on the 1906 OS map as attached to the back of Tulketh Hall – the large patch of brickwork that covers the hole left when the adjoining Tulketh Hall was demolished can be clearly seen.
I’d like to thank Simon Green, the editor of www.ashtonribble.com for pointing me to sources for the 20th-century history of Tulketh, and providing me with scans of newspaper articles from the Lancashire Evening Post. I’d also like to thank the Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston for Figure 8, also Peter Smith, Ian Travis, Pat Kadwell and other helpful people who have contributed information.
If you have any comments, additions or corrections I would be very happy to hear from you,
Kim Z Travis, Berkshire, UK, 2017. Email: kimztravis