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Tourist guide to Bolton-by-Bowland
THE most attractive feature of any English village is its green and so what can be said about Bolton-by-Bowland which has two?
The larger green is fringed by trees on one side and the other by an assortment of attractive and well-proportioned buildings constructed of local stone.
Among these buildings is one which is surrounded by a weather vane and was used as the Court House from the 15th to the 19th centuries.
It seems however, that the smaller and less obvious green which is overlooked by the Coach and Horses pub, may have been the focal point of the old village.
It is here that we find the broken stump of the old market cross and also the posts which once supported the stocks. Both greens are overlooked by the parish church of St Peter and St Paul which is sandwiched between them.
Inside the church is one of the hidden wonders of Lancashire.
The memorial to Sir Ralph Pudsay is a 15th century miracle!
It celebrates in stone his three wives and the 25 children which this fertile trio gave him.
I'll bet that the sculptor did not get many commissions as good as this one.
On the slab of limestone all 29 individuals are carved.
These include Sir Ralph and his wives Matilda, Margaret and Edwina.
On the lower folds of the ladies dresses, the number of children they bore are carved in Roman numerals.
The statistics of six and two are not very remarkable but Edwina's 17 which survived beyond infancy in those days is nothing short of amazing.
The children and the names of each are also carved on this remarkable slab.
A staunch supporter of the Lancastrian side during the Wars of the Roses, Sir Ralph concealed King Henry VI after his defeat at the Battle of Hexham in 1464.
Poor Henry seems to have visited a number of villages in the Clitheroe area, but he was so harassed by his Yorkist enemies that he was kept constantly on the move.
Sir Ralph Pudsay did an excellent job in protecting his monarch at the same time that the owner of Bolton Hall was rebuilding his church.
It is said that the king influenced the design of the church of St Peter and St Paul.
The Pudsay family seems to have had its share of eccentrics, not least the one who made a famous leap.
Towards the end of the 16th century William Pudsay, who was renowned for his lavish hospitality, ran short of money.
Legend has it that he went for a ride in a local woodland to have a quiet think.
Here he met a bunch of fairies who gave him a magic bit for his horse.
This bit was supposed to provide any horse wearing it with superior strength.
He also followed up on the little people's' hint that if he dug a mine at Skelhorn near Rimington he would find silver.
Facts do indicate that Pudsay did find silver and set up a mint of his own and produced what became known as Pudsay shillings.
All went well until the authorities got wind of the illegal currency.
Legend says that as the law closed in, Pudsay grabbed the magic bit, saddled up and galloped off with the officers close behind.
It was then that his horse leapt a cliff and over the Ribble and the place is still called Pudsay's Leap.
He went on to appeal to the Queen who reacted by shutting down the mine, but she did pardon him.
As the Queen was William's godson he got away with it and one suspects that he also paid a fine in silver.
The Pudsay shillings with the escollop' emblem still exist but are very, very rare.
You would think that Sir Ralph Pudsay's virility would have ensured a male heir for many years, but by 1770 they ran out of men and the lands were owned by Bridget Pudsay and when she died the family were extinct.
The estate is still a valuable area, but it is sad to see that the grand old hall is now only a ruin.
Bolton-by-Bowland was listed in Domesday and was a Saxon manor.
Buul-Tun translates as a settlement close to where the river bends.
This relates to the meander of the Ribble which is still a very rich farming area.
Indeed Bowland means an area of cattle.
Bolton-by-Bowland may still be small but it is beautifully formed and full of history and natural history.