Ron Freethy's England: Lydiate

THESE days most people do not feel inclined to walk in the areas around towns and cities.

What we all forget is that cities were formed many years ago by absorbing several villages.

One super little village is Lydiate, which is on the outskirts of Liverpool and is set around a pretty length of the Leeds to Liverpool Canal. Lydiate is not an easy place to find but it is well worth the trouble. I found the Scots Piper, which dates to the 14th century and is said to be the oldest inn in Lancashire. It is also very tiny but I squeezed inside and began to enjoy my pint. The inn was built around the huge crook of a standing oak tree.

For those who are prepared to enjoy more than one drink (that's me!) there is time to follow not only the trunk of the tree but also several of its main branches which support the side walls and ceilings. Obviously the inn was there long before the Scots Piper gave his name to the thatched building.

It is thought that the name was changed during Bonnie Prince Charlie's retreat following his 1745 debacle.

The retreating Scots would also have known the building which is sometimes called Lydiate Abbey.

There are, in fact, no monastic associations here but St Catherine's Chapel, although ruined, is a wonderful building. It was built around 1540 and associated with Lydiate Old Hall, which was then the home of the Ireland family.

The hall is also now in ruins but some of its outbuildings are now used as a farm shop.

Also still there is the old farm pond which is attractive to wildfowl, some of which are associated with the farm while others are wild.

The stone used in the construction of the chapel at Lydiate is beautifully worked.

Did the Irelands obtain this dressed stone from a monastery which was dissolved by Henry VIII?

Burscough Priory is a possible source because it is not too far away.

There are, however, no facts to back this up, but I think that the stone may well have been purchased when the priory was dissolved.

Converted for the new archive on 14 July 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.