New history documentaries highlight Cottam Hall and Lancashire’s Haydock family

Posted on - 25th October, 2021 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Cottam, History, Ingol, Nostalgia, Preston News
Aerial view of the Cottam Hall area
Aerial view of the Cottam Hall area

A local history buff has covered Cottam Hall and the Haydock family in two new documentaries.


Former Preston teacher Gary Cunliffe, who has produced history films on Courtauld’s factory and Fulwood, recently discovered some interesting historical insights on Cottam Hall.

He then spent the first half of 2021 researching the site and has accumulated enough information to produce two films on Cottam Hall and the notable Lancashire Catholic family, the Haydocks.

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The last will and testament of William Haydock, the last squire of Cottam. Pic: Lancashire Archives – Lancashire Archives: WCW/Supra/C312B/13)

Gary discovered the last will and testament of William Haydock, the last squire of Cottam, who died in 1717.

Cottam is now a modern residential suburb to the north of Preston, but its history links to Cottam Hall and the Haydock family.

At the end of the thirteenth century, land in Cottam came into the possession of Henry de Haydock, whose descendants lived in the moated Cottam Hall until the 18th century.

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The last will and testament of William Haydock, the last squire of Cottam. Pic: Lancashire Archives – Lancashire Archives: WCW/Supra/C312B/13)

The ancient hall was situated at the present Cottam Hall farmhouse to the rear of The Ancient Oak pub and was only demolished in the late 1850s when the new farmhouse was built on the same plot.

The Ancient Oak tree still stands close by, if a little forgotten, and features in stories of anti-Catholic attacks against the Haydocks during the years of Catholic persecution.

In the films, Gary tells the story of Cottam and this influential Catholic family that, after the time of Henry Vlll, became one of the many persecuted, recusant Catholic families of Lancashire when it was illegal to follow the Catholic faith.

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As a result, two Haydock sons were publically executed, a William Haydock at Whalley Abbey in 1537 and George Haydock at Tyburn in London in 1584. The present chapel at Cottam, completed in 1793, is dedicated to ‘St Andrew and Blessed George Haydock’ and its story is closely linked to the history of Cottam Hall.

The chapel makes a shorter third film in its own right.

The earliest mention of a chapel in Cottam Hall comes in the first half of the 14th century. Over generations, sons of the Haydock family went to Rome and France to train as priests. The Haydocks were regularly listed in the Guild Rolls of Preston from the earliest existing roll of 1397 onwards.

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In 1985 and 2003, two archaeological surveys were published on the Cottam Hall site at a time of rapid development and building in Cottam. A University of Liverpool study of 1985, led by historian Dorothy O’Hanlon, included some reconstruction drawings of Old Cottam Hall might have looked like.

The studies provide insight into the history of medieval farming and land use in Cottam, including ridge and furrow earthworks, ditches, fishponds and the finding of musket balls and clay pipes by the farm residents. These may suggest the site of a civil war or a Jacobite skirmish.

The death of the last squire, William Haydock, marked the end of the family’s ownership of Cottam Hall. In 1715, William supported the Jacobite rebellion, which failed at the Battle of Preston that same year. It is likely that Cottam Hall was raided immediately after The Battle of Preston in a reprisal anti-Catholic attack.

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William Haydock’s younger brother Gilbert was a priest in Cottam at the time and was said to be found hiding in the great oak tree in what was later called The Catch Field. It is the ancient oak tree that still stands close by today on Cottam Hall Lane.

There were other alleged fierce anti-Catholic attacks in Cottam in 1745 after Bonnie Prince Charlie was welcomed as he passed along Sidgreaves Lane on his way into Preston.

William Haydock, the last squire, was unmarried with no heir, and he died in 1717.

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Under the historical Catholic penal laws, his three priest brothers were not allowed to inherit the estate. He left the hall, his possessions and his lands in Cottam, Ingol, Preston, Ashton, Lea, Woodplumpton, Freckleton and elsewhere to trustees for sale after his death.

He wished to leave bequests to his family members, including the grand sum of £150 each to his brothers. However, the authorities were notified that the money was going to support the ‘superstitious purposes’ of Catholic priests, and it is likely that the funds were confiscated and never received.

Although the Haydocks no longer owned Cottam Hall, the family continued to make history even into the 19th century. Two brothers, Thomas and George Haydock, were born at another nearby family home called The Tagg and worked
together, one priest and one publisher, to publish in 1814 a new English language version of the Catholic Bible.

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The Haydock Bible became the most popular bible of the 19th century and beyond on both sides of The Atlantic. The Tagg was located at the end of Cottam Hall Lane, where Tag Farm Court now stands near the junction of Tanterton Hall Road. It was demolished in 1985.

The site at Cottam Hall today is remarkable, as it has been occupied since the 13th century. The estate and stories of the Haydocks now lie long forgotten beneath the new homes and developments of Cottam.

Watch the first part of ‘The Story Of Cottam Hall and The Haydock Family’ below. If the video doesn’t load, view on YouTube.

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What are your thoughts on this fascinating bit of history? Let us know in the comments below

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