The story of Red Scar Manor is a romantic tale of a lost mansion and a now defunct railway. Once there was a rich lawyer who wanted to be Lord of the Manor, his dream came true.Advertisement
On a bright spring morning in 1803 William Cross rode up Winckley Street on his sprightly bay mare. He turned down Fishergate towards Longridge, somehow he knew this was going to be a great day. Mist drifted and mixed with smoke from the houses along Churchgate. He clattered through Market Square noting the stalls being setup. Tradesmen doffed their hats at this well respected man. Turning down the tree lined London Road, he picked up speed and trotted towards Walton Le Dale and the Ribble bridge.
He halted and decided to follow his favourite path along the river towards Grimsargh. At a bend in the river, he rested his horse and took in the magnificent view. Nestled in a grove of trees, above the river bank, he saw a lovely Tudor style cottage…
The Manor of Grimsargh and Alston was long held by the Hoghton family. In 1803, Sir Henry Philip Bart Hoghton sold the manor to William Cross of Preston. As a result the manor remained in the hands of the Cross family until the mid 20th century. The story of the Cross family is fascinating.
A ‘Manor’ usually consisted of a manor house, large fields, split into strips and some common land that could be used by all. Under the medieval feudal system a Manor was administered by a Lord.
Land was granted by the King to a ‘Lord of the Manor’. This was before land ownership was common. Each Lord ‘rented’ strips of land to peasant farmers who paid the rent in goods or money. Furthermore, the peasantry could not easily move to a different Manor.
By the 18th century, land and the title Lord of the Manor could be bought by the wealthy. Many rich professionals such as lawyers did this, including William Cross of Winckley Square Preston. He became Lord of the Manor of Alston in 1803.
The Cross family had been prominent in Preston since 1700. They were granted freedom of the city and were well respected, socially. They were devout churchgoers and often gave to charity.
John Cross lived in Preston and became a prominent lawyer. He married Dorothea in 1770. Known as Honest John Cross, he was well liked. William Cross was born in 1742 and Dorothea died shortly afterwards.
William Cross was brought up by his maternal Aunt Mary and developed a passion for the outdoors. For example, he travelled, often on horseback, around Preston and the Ribble Valley. It was in 1803 that he discovered Red Scar Cottage. The cottage was in a beautiful location overlooking a bend in the Ribble.
He wrote: ”…The edge of the bank is very beautiful and commands a noble view of the river and valley.”
William bought the cottage and land and became Lord of The Manor of Grimsargh and Alston in 1803. He set about building a more suitable home. However, he kept the original cottage as part of the new house.
Another Cross family project was Winckley Square. John and William lived on Fishergate initially. But as the Industrial Revolution progressed, the upper classes began to move to less polluted environs. Thus in 1799, a new house was built on Winckley Street, on the then outskirts of the town.
The adjacent field was acquired and Winckley Square gradually became the place to be for cotton magnates and lawyers.
After purchasing the cottage, the new Red Scar House was built in the Jacobean style, unlike most 18th century houses. This was an early attempt to blend the old with the new. As the original cottage was of this style.
Red Scar was part of the Manor of Alston.
William died in 1827 and his wife, Ellen, continued to run the estate until 1849. After William died, his son William Assheton Cross took over. The house remained a vibrant place until 1934 when the last resident member of the Cross family died. The sad house remained unoccupied and gradually fell into ruin. It was demolished in the late 1940s.
The Longridge branch opened in 1840 and became a regular commute for the Cross family. They had a distinctive carriage that often met the train at Grimsargh station, which has now been demolished. However, the former Ribbleton station building has been acquired by the new tram operator for Preston, and is to be their headquarters.
Read more: Preston trams project to convert Gamull Lane listed building into new HQ
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