Halton (St. Wilfrid)

HALTON (St. Wilfrid), a parish, in the hundred of Lonsdale south of the Sands, N. division of Lancashire, 3 miles (N. E. by E.) from Lancaster, on the mountain road to Kirkby-Lonsdale; containing, with the chapelry of Aughton, 694 inhabitants. A votive altar, for a body of Roman soldiers, discovered in the churchyard, would seem to indicate the immediate presence of the ancient conquerors in the neighbourhood. The manor was formerly of great extent. At the time of the Domesday survey, Halton had no fewer than twenty-two dependent townships, the property of the Saxon Earl Tosti; but the modern parish contains only those of Halton and Aughton. It is situated on the north bank of the Lune, and comprises 3738 acres, of which 1292 are arable, 2123 meadow and pasture, and 247 woodland. The surface is hilly; in the lower parts the soil is fertile and well-wooded, but a great portion of the rest is moorish: from the higher grounds are beautiful views of Lancaster town and castle, and Morecambe bay. There are several good stone-quarries, for building; and two cotton-mills are in operation. The Lancaster canal is carried over the valley by a magnificent aqueduct of seven arches. The sole right of the fishery on the Lune, for two miles here, from Escow beck to Denny beck (in the township of Quernmore), was granted in 1837 by the Queen to John Walmsley, Esq., of Richmond House, Lancaster.

The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at £22. 0. 7½., and in the patronage of John Thompson, Esq., of Holme Island: the tithes have been commuted for £480. The body of the church is the third recorded erection on the site, and was built in 1792; the tower, a large square massive pile, is very ancient. In the churchyard stands a Saxon cross, mounted upon three steps: the sides are rudely carved with foliage, human figures, a cross, and a horse; and on the top is a dialplate, inscribed "For St. Wilfride church at Halton, 1635." Thomas Withers, in 1747, gave property now producing £11 a year for instruction. On inclosing Halton moor, an elegantly-chased silver cup, bearing leaves, and the figures of a bull and a panther, probably copied from a Roman vase, was disinterred. It had two ears, like the diota of the Romans, and was filled with nearly 800 silver coins of Canute, among which was a beah, or neck-collar of thin gold, having in high relief the figure of a lion: nothing was more common than the use of this kind of ornament, among the AngloSaxons.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.

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