Michael, St., On Wyre

MICHAEL, ST., ON WYRE, a parish, in the union of Garstang, hundred of Amounderness, N. division of Lancashire, 3¾ miles (S. W. by S.) from Garstang; including the chapelry of Plumpton-Wood, and the townships of Great Eccleston, Elswick, Inskip with Sowerby, Out Rawcliffe, and Upper Rawcliffe with Tarnacre; and containing 4786 inhabitants. This place is manifestly of as high antiquity as the heptarchy, and St. Michael's church is one of the three sacred edifices erected in Amounderness soon after the introduction of Christianity into the north of England, Preston and Kirkham churches being the other two. Dr. Whitaker supposes the parish of Garstang, from its contiguity, to have been severed from St. Michael's at a later date; but the Domesday survey does not favour that opinion, for Michelescherche is therein returned as containing only one carucate of land. The name of the parish is derived from the church, and the distinctive term Wyre is meant to distinguish it from the number of other St. Michaels in various parts of the kingdom. Nothing is known of the church from the time of the Domesday survey until the reign of John, when that monarch presented Master Macy; Henry, Earl of Lancaster, was patron in 1345, and the benefice ceased to be a rectory soon after the foundation of the college of Battlefield, in 1403. Since the dissolution of monastic establishments, the advowson has passed into the hands of various persons, most of whom have been incumbents.

The northern and eastern boundaries of the parish are formed by the parish of Garstang, the south boundary by the parish of Preston, and the west by that of Kirkham. The length from Plumpton-Wood, on the southeast, to Out Rawcliffe, on the north-west, is eleven miles; and the breadth, from Elswick, on the southwest, to Tarnacre, on the north-east, nearly four miles; forming an area of 19,532 acres. The land is in nearly equal portions of arable and pasture, with a small quantity of wood. The river Wyre, rising in the hills of Wyresdale and Bleasdale, passes Garstang and Garstang Church-Town, and arrives at St. Michael's, within artificial banks, which are in some parts thirty feet high, and extend about six miles, four of which lie to the west, and two to the east, of St. Michael's. A little to the east of the village, the Wyre is increased by the Brock rivulet, bringing with it the waters of the New Draft, a rivulet formed by the Plumpton-Wood and Barton brooks.

The living is a discharged vicarage, valued in the king's books at £10. 17. 6.; net income, £700, with a house, and a glebe of 24 acres; patron and impropriator, the Rev. Hugh Hornby. The vicarial tithes were commuted under a private act, 56th George III., cap. 11. The church, supposed to be a re-erection of the age of Henry VIII., is situated in the township of Upper Rawcliffe with Tarnacre, in which, also, is the village of St. Michael's. The edifice consists of a tower, nave, aisles, and chancel, and a chapel on the north side; the tower is a low firm structure with castellated parapets, and, like the greater part of the building, is cemented with white plaster. The roof is of blue slate, with excellent pointing; and this, and the white walls, give the church an air of neatness. At Great Eccleston, Inskip, Out-Rawcliffe, and Plumpton-Wood, are other churches. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, Wesleyans, and Roman Catholics; and various daily and Sunday schools. A large part of the moss of Pilling is in the parish, and beneath it are discovered great quantities of trees.

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

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