Lancashire TelegraphTourist guide to Pleasington (From Lancashire Telegraph)

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Tourist guide to Pleasington

Lancashire Telegraph: LANDMARK: Pleasington Priory was built after laws against Roman Catholics were relaxed LANDMARK: Pleasington Priory was built after laws against Roman Catholics were relaxed

PLEASINGTON is a very pleasant name for a very pleasant and still largely rural suburb of Blackburn.

Dominating the settlement is the Priory - not a parish church, but the Roman Catholic church of St John the Baptist.

If people were asked to list their top 20 favourite churches in Lancashire, I doubt if many would include Pleasington Priory and few would even know where or what it is.

Its dominant feature is the magnificent rose window over the entrance, which is fine enough to be the pride of many a cathedral.

The building is historic in the sense that it was built around 1820, a period when the religious laws passed against the Roman Catholics in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I were only just being relaxed.

After this period Catholics were allowed to worship openly, but obviously all their original places of worship had been taken over as parish churches by the Church of England.

Money for Catholic buildings constructed from scratch was hard to come by and the erection of such large and magnificent buildings was a rare luxury.

Churches, like good red wine and whisky, mature very slowly and perhaps in time Pleasington Priory will be appreciated for what it is - an architectural treasure.

The design of the West doorway was copied from that of the chapter house at Whalley Abbey.

Some observers have compared the Priory to chapels associated with Oxford and Cambridge universities.

The money to pay for it was given by the owners of Pleasington Old Hall.

This was built by the de Hoghton family in 1587, the year before the Spanish Armada.

Near the hall is a nature reserve incorporating a walled garden.

This is full of garden flowers which have attracted 14 species of butterfly.

A series of footpaths lead alongside the River Darwen to Witton Country Park.

This is an excellent place to enjoy natural history as the Darwen is now much less polluted and fish are returning.

Pleasington village itself was in existence in Anglo-Saxon times and was listed in the Domesday Book under the name of Plesigtune.

This means "a settlement owned by Plessa's People." Plessa was obviously a Saxon landowner.

At one time local people earned their living by farming, some quarrying and especially from handloom weaving.

Some of the 17th and 18th century cottages relating to this period can be seen around the Railway Hotel.

Other cottages can be seen close to the Clog and Billycock pub.

The pub takes its name from a landlord who also had an interest in the textile industry.

He wore clogs and was never seen without a billycock hat on his head.

Pleasington is one of those places which should not be rushed.

There is a very restful atmosphere and the Priory and old hall add character to this wonderful old village.

The fact that it is set on a hillside overlooking the River Darwen only serves to add to its haunting beauty.

Supporters of Blackburn Rovers FC should look carefully at Pleasington Football Club.

In 1877 this was home to Blackburn until they began to be Rovers and eventually finished up at Ewood.

Modern-day Rovers will love strolling around Pleasington.

Do you agree or disagree with Ron Freethy's guide? Where do you think tourists should visit in Pleasington? Add your comments below.

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