Singleton Thorpe

The "authority" for the Singleton Thorp story is Peter Whittle’s book “Marina, an historical and descriptive account of Southport, Lytham and Blackpool” published in 1831. He wrote:-

“1554. During the days of Mary Queen of England, a sudden irruption of the sea took place at Rossal Grange, — the sea washed in a whole village, called Singleton Thorp. The inhabitants were obliged to flee from the ancient spot, and erected their tents at the place called Singleton to this day”.- Dodsworth.

In the next paragraph Whittle stated: ­

In the year 1792 at low water mark, a number of trunks of trees lay in various directions upon the sands of the sea, which proved that there had been a village near Rossal. The inhabitants it is said fled - when the degradations of their property and homes took place, through the incursions of the tide - and planted themselves as a kind of colony, where Singleton village now is.”

In 1893, A. Halstead, editor of the Blackpool Times, led an expedition to search for Singleton Thorp and published a pamphlet describing its findings. For clues to where they were looking, here are excerpts from it.

“But what about Singleton Thorp? As we mentioned in our article our attention was first directed to it by Mr. Chew, of Albert road, who told us he had, some five years ago, noticed the signs of the buried forest at a low tide.

“We suggested another expedition to see if anything was still to be noticed. On that fine September afternoon we have before mentioned, and with one of the lowest tides of the year, we soon found evidence that we were walking over a buried forest—the site of the old village of Singleton Thorp—destroyed by an irruption of the sea in 1555, or 1588, probably the former date is correct. We saw enough to lead us, like Oliver Twist, to “ask for more.” Accordingly a small party of adventurous spirits, among whom was a well-known Town Councillor, hired a convey­ance, took spades, pickaxes, and other implements, bent on discovery of some good evidence that a village had existed there. We began operations at a point nearly opposite the hulking which slopes to the sea about half a mile from Rossall, and about four miles north of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. We could trace the buried forest in the way of fallen trees with their branches, and even their twigs and leaves, with mosses, ferns, etc., for about a mile along the shore at low water mark, and about half a mile inland. The nearer the sea and the more we saw.

“But our explorations revealed more than the mere forest and field remains. Evidences of the foundations of houses were not wanting. Our attention was first directed to what looked like a log tree. Closer notice revealed that it was quite different in shape from the other trees half buried in the sand. Digging and shovelling the sand from it laid it all bare, and we found it to be a straight and square piece of timber, about 17ft. long, and 13in. square breadth. There were the marks of other pieces of timber being fastened to it. One member of the party suddenly became full of reminiscences of a famous wreck near this place some 40 years ago, and was confident this piece of timber was a remnant of this wreck, but he abandoned this view as soon as the whole log was uncovered. It was, as plain as could be, the rafter of a large room of a house. This was confirmed by the fact that at an angle of 45? we traced the foundations of what was evidently the wall of a house. There was a large trench, with rough lime mixed with large cobble-stones near the bottom of the trench, the stones getting smaller towards the top of the trench. There was no mistaking this rubble-wall foundation. The course of it was in a straight line; it measured about 22ft. in length, though we could not find a clear and unmistakable finish to it at one end, though we could at the seaward end, and the angle of the wall where it joined another was clearly visible. Besides, the clay on each side of the wall was evident enough. There was no antecedent improbability about the matter. That there was a cottage there is admitted on all sides. Therefore, there is every reason to suppose that some remains of the buried village would be found, if a sufficient opportunity presented itself. When Mr. J. Chew told the writer of his visit to the spot five years ago, and of what he had noticed there, the expedition was organised with the above interesting result. We found in another place, about 150 yards from the fallen rafter, the same evidence of some sort of building. The rubble foundation, and the coarse lime and pebble mixture upon it was plainly visible; but it was too near the waves to follow it to the end. That we were on the site of the ruined and wave-swept village, there could be no doubt. Wherever we dug our spades we came upon the forest growths that we have described — not exactly as peat, but the peat in process of its formation.”

Some of our members chose to investigate this site at low tide on the 9th April, 2016.  The various sightings mentioned above fail to pinpoint the exact placing of Singleton Thorpe so the group, starting just south of Rossall school, split into two; one walking approximately 1 mile north of Rossall and the other approximately 1/3rd of a mile south.  The southern group came across a number of wood and stone features.

A discussion on the discoveries took place at our May meeting but without any real consensus.  Another visit to the site is required.

River Wyre

Kings Scar is the local name given to a sand bank North of Fleetwood. After various comment on this, and the surrounding area, on the Wyre Archaeology forum it was decided to bring some of this data together.

One of the earliest charts of the area was produced by Fearon & Eyes. A, very good, photocopy of the northern section is shown below:-

The original for the coast from the Ribble to Formby can be found in Lancashire Records Office (DDBL/24/25) but, unfortunately, the northern section is only available as a poor photocopy. This is shown below:-

When Fearon & Eyes charted the area they also produced a manuscript giving sailing details and of safe anchorages. Again this is added below. The document is difficult to read/interpret in many areas and, if any readers can give better guesses perhaps they could report these on the forum.

A description of Wyre Between North Wharf and Cockerham sands is the entrance to Wyre Harbour, which is mostly dry at Low Water except some places hereafter mention'd. Here it flows at Hollock? at Full and Change. The water rises about 18 foot in Neap, and 26 foot in Spring Tides. This place is not subject to alter, as the Channel is narrow and mostly bounded by hard Patches on each side, as appears in the Chart, and hereafter describe'd. Towa? The lowest Patch is call'd Towa?, and never dries but in Low Ebbs. By the Directions for this Place you go between this Scar and Cockerham Sands, leaving the Scar on the Starboard hand, or rather going over a part of it. Green Scar Above this lies the Green Scar which covers in about an House? Flood in Spring Tides, but in Neap Tides does not dry. Black Scar Further up lies the Black Scar, which is a patch of Stones and Clay that the Perch stands on, joining the Main on the Starboard Hand going in. This Scar is lower between the Main and the part where the Perch stands, which part hath about 8 foot of water over it in Neap, and 17 or 18 Foot at High Water in Spring Tides. The Knot Farther up on the Starboard Hand is the Knot, which is a high and rough stony Patch. When Prishall Mill is in a line with the Watch House, you are at the lower end of this Scar; and when you see any part of the House which stands near the Watch House to the Southward of the Watch House, or Hackensea Hall shuting in with the Point of Min-end Haws, you are clear of the Knot, between it and the Main. Amongst these Patches before describ'd are several Places of 4 and 5 foot of Water; likewise between the Knot and Black Scar 2 or 3 Fathom, but so small a place and rough Ground all hereabouts, that it is not safe for a vessel to come to here. Where to lie in Wyre Harbour Abreast of the Point of Min-end Haws, between and the Kanc?, is 3 fathom at Low Water, but so small a Place and the Ground so loose that it is not safe for a Vessle to come to here; nor is there any Place in this Harbour to lie afloat in; but in several places there is good lying aground, as close in by the Min-end Haws on that side, or on Prishal side opposite to this; likewise at the Neckings a little below Hames? Hill, where Vessels generally lie, til with a Pilot they go up at Stakes?, or Buks? Bank, where Vessels of 80 or 100 Ton may go in Spring Tides. At the Enterance to Wyre Harbour, between the North Wharf and the lowest Scars, is a place of 2 and a half or 3 Fathom at Low Water, and room sufficient for a Vessel to come to here, and be shelter'd from all but N.N.E. Winds; which place may be of good service for Vessels that can't keep short, but are oblig'd up here too soon in the Tide. In such a case coming along the North Wharf, with Lancaster Castle just open to the Southward of Highfield, 'til the lower Perch which stands on the Black Scar, be in line with the pint of the Minend Haws, which Marks you may keep on when farther to the offing in 8 or 9 Fathom of Water if you please, and keeping them so, will bring you along the side of North Wharf at the out or Northermost Point of the same, in 2 Fathom at Low Water. And being past the Point, you may edge in more to the Westward along the side of North Wharfe, where you will find about 2 Fathom and a half at Low Water, where the North Perch which stands on the North Scar, is half way between Min-end Haws and Hackinsea Hall (which is the Westermost Building on the Point of Prishal side) also you will have a white House appearing about its length within the North-end of the rising Land Prishal Mill stands on, and Wharton Cragg in a line with the Highest part of Heysham Land. At this place a Vessel may lie very well 'til there is water sufficient into Wyre; or 'til the Tide be slack near High Water, which is the best going up here, with small Winds or jar? Southerly. To sail into Wyre, if from Sea, keep Lancaster and Highfield open as before in figure (AL) which will bring you along the North Wharf, 'till the Entrance of Wyre begins to open, as figure (AK) bearing S. and the Southermost Perch which stands on the Sand Hills, near the Point of Min-end Haws, be about a Handspikes Length open to the Westward of the other Perch which stands on the Black Scar, keep them so steering away near S., and taking your Soundings on the Starboard Hand (which are pretty good until near the Perch, and then steeper to, hereabouts) will bring you near the lower Perch which give a small birth to on your Starboard Hand, stand away S. as before, sterning? in with the Perch on the shore, 'til Hackensea Hall or he Barn to the Westward of the Hall touch the Point or Scar that grows on Min?-end Haws, or you see any of the House which stands near the Watch House, to the Southward of the Watch House, then you are clear of the Knot, and may stand right in with the Prishal shore, 'til you get your Soundings on that side (where Vessels may lie very adry with the Wind far Southerly or Easterly) or stand along the shore up to the Neckings between Hackensea Point and Hames? Hill, where in the Bight near the shore it is good lying aground, but there is not Water sufficient for large Vessels to come up to this place in Neap Tides. Or if you would lie on the West or Min-end Side of this Harbour, steer right up from the lower Perch as before, and close along the shore 'til any way about the point of Min-end Haws, after Burn Hall is seen without the point, where it is good lying aground, and not Tide either Ebb or Flood; here is the best place in the Harbour for a stranger to lie a Vessel on, which is very easy coming into, and out of all Danger when in it, according to the old Proverb, As safe as Wyre. Observe in coming up here, that when above the Knot, Poolton Church is seen within or to the Eastward of the Point of Minens Haws, you are about the Point of the loose shilly Bank call'd the Tranch?; and here to shun it, must either keep the Starboard Hand aboard pretty near if you design to lie on the Minend Haws side, or then stand wll over to the Prishal side, and leave the Thanch? on the Starboard hand. This Thanch?, which lies in the middle of the Channel, and is dry at Low Water, runs down with a narrow spit and becomes broader above, joining the Kirk Scar, and leaving the Channel on the Prishal side. On the Rossall or Min-end Haws side, between the Kirk Scar and the Main, runs up a hollow to Fleak? Fleet, where small Vessels may go up at High Water, above a Mile within the Point of Min-end Haws.

Obvious names like Prishal (Preesall) and Hackensea (Hackensall) have been left unchanged.

An "improved" version of the Fearon & Eyes chart has been obtained from Blackpool Libraries and we have permission to reproduce it here.

Notice that this copy contains lines of sight or bearings and this would imply a later, more complete version. The colouring could have been added at any time.

A map that has recently come to light showing the Hesketh-Fleetwood estate. It must be dated between 1824 and 1836.


The area around Westby reservoir offers many potential digs. If the OS maps are right then the Roman Road/Danes Pad should cut across, underneath the reservoir. Some initial ground work has been carried out either side of the reservoir but permission to dig has yet to be acquired.

Some background information is contained in the following article written by R. Sharpe France in 1945 and published by the Historic Society of Lancashire & Cheshire.

In 1912 the Fylde Water Board had obtained an important Act which enabled them to make very large new reservoirs in the hills of the Forest of Bowland, and this scheme entailed the erections of a compensation reservoir at Westby, where the land reaches a height of 100 feet. The site chosen was the point where the road to Blackpool took a turn to the left and where the Clifton Arms Inn and several cottages - of the two windmills which had once stood there, the survivor was burned down about 1873. The act provided that the necessary diversion should be paid for by the Fylde water board, and when completed should be handed over to the County Council. In practice the County Council did the work, and the Water Board paid. The work commenced in April, 1913, and completed in July, 1915. To the east there is still a length between its original hedges, about 12 feet wide; while to the west its track can be seen winding down, through the Hell Hole, and up the hill towards the reservoir. To the east of the Weeton road a small length of the original road remains, with the Westby Catholic church by its side.

The three maps below show the same area pre-reservoir, the present day and, finally, and a mixture of both to show the relevant landmarks.






Some extra information can be found in the first part of the Areas of Interest/Danes Pad section


Stalmine offers several places for digs including some that we have visited before. There is a potential Roman road that follows part of Highgate Lane and closer to Stalmine Grange there is a possible water mill. Stalmine Grange, in some form or other goes back to the late 12th century so there is great potential there. The Furness Abbey Coucher book refers to several watermills in the area - is just a matter of finding them.

Slightly out side the present Stalmine area, the first edition 10000 OS map shows a watermill to the east of Preesall. This is a place for investigation.

Looking at Highgate Lane first. The tithe map below shows Highgate Lane traveling vertically. Unfortunately the tithe map isn't quite N/S unlike the OS map.

The search for a Roman road was centred on an area just South of "The Willows".

In order to see possible "pools" or streams to feed a watermill an 1847 contour map is available.

A detailed view of the tithe map shows two named fields/areas (504/504a) where, in the past, a dig has taken place.

Original maps can be found at the Lancashire Records Office who gave permission to use the images.