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Hoghton Tower, a place of rebellion, gambling and royalty

Posted on - 26th June, 2022 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - History, Preston News, South Ribble News
Hoghton Tower gatehouse Pic: Geoff Whittaker
Hoghton Tower gatehouse Pic: Geoff Whittaker

Hoghton Tower has a long history stretching back to the 12th century. The building has seen attacks by Parliamentarian troops and visits from the King. Sir Henry Philip De Hoghton gambled away the family fortune. The De Hoghtons were intricately linked with Preston and their family seat has a fascinating history.

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The land that Hoghton Tower now sits upon, to the east of Preston, has been in the De Hoghton family since William the Conqueror. In fact the first building dates from 1109. The present house was rebuilt in 1862 .

Preston in the 11th century

So what was Preston like after the Norman Conquest? The Domesday Book is the main reference for England at the time. Unfortunately the north was not covered as well as the south.

Preston was part of the Amounderness Hundred. Notably this area had been taken over by Earl Tostig of Northumbria, in the 1060s. The Domesday Book is vague but suggests that Preston was the main Manor for the purpose of tax collection. Other settlements are mentioned – ‘sixteen of them have a few inhabitants’ – but there is little else of note.

The Amounderness Hundred Pic: Preston Digital Archive
The Amounderness Hundred Pic: Preston Digital Archive

The main Norman focus was on the castle town of Lancaster.

King James I visits Preston and ends the Puritan ban on Sunday entertainment

The gatehouse date-stone Pic: Geoff Whittaker
The gatehouse date-stone Pic: Geoff Whittaker

King James I stayed at Hoghton Tower and, in response to a petition, he visited Preston. James I was Protestant, although his mother Mary I was Catholic. The Puritans were notorious for their miserabilist policies on recreation. However due to the Preston petition the King lifted restrictions on Sunday entertainments.

Falling into ruin

In 1768 the family permanently moved to another house. The Hoghton site was rented to weavers, spinners and local farmers. Consequently, by the 19th century, it had fallen into ruin. This was not the first time part of the house had been destroyed’ the Pele tower was blown up, allegedly by accident, in the Civil War. The De Hoghtons were Royalists and the tower was used to store gunpowder.

In 1867 Charles Dickens visited the house and he used it as a location for his short story, George Silverman’s Explanation.

“…by some rugged outbuildings that had once been fortified, and passing under a ruined gateway we came to the old farmhouse in the thick stone wall outside the old quadrangle of Hoghton Towers… A house, centuries old, deserted and falling to pieces, its woods and gardens long since grassland or ploughed up, the Rivers Ribble and Darwen glancing below it…”

Dickens added the ‘s’ to tower.

Hoghton Tower is restored

In 1862 Sir Henry De Hoghton, the 9th Baronet, inherited the house and it underwent a long restoration. The family moved in in 1880 and the restoration was complete by 1901. The De Hoghtons still live in the house today.

The house now

The 1565 gatehouse, looking back down the driveway Pic: Geoff Whittaker
The 1565 gatehouse, looking back down the driveway Pic: Geoff Whittaker

Hoghton Tower is now an active place’ events are held regularly in the grounds, including re-enactments of the battle of Preston. The house was opened to the public in 1946. However, today you can only see the interior by guided tour. Notably, an arch in the chapel, is thought to be from Whalley Abbey. Parts of the Abbey and some of its contents were hidden by Catholic families after the dissolution.

Re-enactors prepare for a performance Pic: Geoff Whittaker.
Re-enactors prepare for a performance Pic: Geoff Whittaker.
Scottish troops are also represented Pic: Geoff Whittaker
Scottish troops are also represented Pic: Geoff Whittaker

Events for this year include a supercar show in June and a performance of Cinderella in July.



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