LYDIATE, a township, in the parish of Halsall, union of Ormskirk, hundred of West Derby, S. division of the county of Lancaster, 3½ miles (S. W. by W.) from Ormskirk; containing 848 inhabitants. In the reign of Richard II., this place was possessed by a family of the local name, whose heiress married into the Blackburn family; and an heiress of the latter conveyed Lydiate to Thomas, son of Sir John Ireland, of the Hutt, and Hale. The Irelands continued to hold the property till the latter part of the 17th century; in the middle of that century, Lawrence Ireland, the then proprietor of Lydiate, had two daughters, one of whom was married to Sir Charles Anderton, of Lostock, who died in 1691, leaving his widow with five sons and a daughter. The two eldest of the sons died young; the third became a Benedictine monk, and the fourth, Francis, risked his fortune and life in the cause of the Stuarts, in 1715: after the battle of Preston he was attainted, but his life was spared; and being liberated from prison, he resided at Lydiate with his mother until her death in 1720, and possessed the property until his own decease in 1760, having survived all his brothers. Their sister had married Henry Blundell of Ince-Blundell, and in 1700 she became the mother of Robert Blundell, who, on the death of his uncle, took possession of Lydiate, which has since continued in the Ince-Blundell family.
The township comprises by computation 850 acres of arable, 972 of meadow and pasture, and 6 acres of woodland. The soil is in a high state of cultivation, from the abundant supply of excellent town manure. The surface is generally flat, broken occasionally by eminences affording extensive views of the valley between the Ribble and the Dee, and of the bold mountainous range of North Wales, with the shipping in the offing of the Mersey. The road from Preston to Liverpool, and the Leeds and Liverpool canal, intersect the township; and the Sudell brook, a small tributary to the river Alt, winds through it. The Liverpool, Ormskirk, and Preston railway passes within a mile and a half, at the Aughton station. Lydiate Hall was built, or, more properly, renewed, in the 16th century, though portions of it indicate a later date; it was of quadrangular form, but the front, becoming greatly dilapidated, was taken down about seventy years ago. The interior presents several objects of interest to the antiquary, ancient sculptured effigies of saints and martyrs, carved oak, richly-traced cornices, and other details; the upper rooms of the central part have been thrown into one, now used as a Roman Catholic chapel, and it is said that ever since the Reformation the Roman Catholics of the district have resorted to the Hall for the exercise of religious worship. Fir-Grove, a well-wooded seat, is the property of Peter Bretherton, Esq., and the residence of his mother.
A church was built in 1841, at Lydiate-Cross, at a cost of £1500, raised by subscription. It is a stone edifice, in the early English style, with a square tower, and contains 450 sittings, whereof one-third are free; the organ and the communion-plate were gifts, but no name of a donor is recorded. A district has been assigned to this church, consisting of parts of Lydiate and Down-Holland, and containing a population of 1130: the living is in the gift of the Rector of Halsall. There is a parsonage-house; also a daily and Sunday school. John Goare, in 1669, bequeathed the rents of certain estates, now producing nearly £100 per annum, to be distributed half yearly among the poor of the township; and there is a self-supporting clothing society. Here is a picturesque little ruined chapel, erroneously called by the people Lydiate Abbey, erected in the latter part of the 15th or beginning of the 16th century; it seems to have been originally intended for the convenience of the family and immediate neighbourhood, owing to the distance of the parish church. The tower is in tolerably good preservation, but the roof of the building has entirely disappeared; its low pitch, however, is clearly ascertained by the moulding still remaining against the east wall of the tower.