The Heald family of Preesall House
On the 7th. of december. 1878, Abraham Heald, farm labourer of Rowell, Westmorland, married Alice Wilkinson of Leighton Beck in the chapel of Witherslack. After the marriage the couple lived at first in Rowell Cottage, and eventually were able to set themselves up on a farm in Yealand Redmayne, where several of their children were born. Abraham prospered and by the late 1880's they were ready to upgrade and the move to Preesall House was undertaken.
The story of that move was related some 80 years later to Gordon Heald in a remote cabin in the forests of Canada by Polly (Mary Elizabeth), daughter of Abraham and Alice, who had taken part as a very young girl.
The entire household, bags, baggage , parents and children was loaded on to a horse drawn cart for the journey of some thirty miles. It was to be a whole day's journey and an early start was made. In order to avoid a long detour it was necessary to follow a route which crossed the marshes of Cockerham where the road was, until construction of a modern sea wall in the 1970's, covered by water to a depth of several feet at high tide. The family were unaware of this possibility and it transpired that, having reached a certain point, they could proceed no further because the road ahead was flooded by the rising tide. They then discovered, to their consternation, that the way back was now also flooded , and the tide still rising rapidly!
According to Polly the tide continued to rise until it was more than half way up the wagon wheels, and the castaways had to sit it out on top of the pile of baggage for several hours in some trepidation waiting for the water to subside before they could continue their journey.
Despite this adventure their destination was eventually reached safely and the connection of the Heald family with Preesall, which continues to this day, then began.
The family settled in, Abraham eventually becoming a substantial landowner, Justice of the Peace, and Chairman of the Council. Several minor moves followed over the years, including to the Village Farm in the centre of Preesall and Bourbles Farm out on the Tongue. When funds were being raised for the construction of St. Oswald's Church Abraham became Treasurer and one the Guarantors. He died in 1928 and is commemmorated by a stained glass window in St. Oswald's.
The photograph shows Abraham and Alice at Preesall House circa 1900 with their six surviving children, Frank, Polly (Mary Elizabeth) and Laura who all emigrated to Canada, Dorothy who retired to Australia, John who set up the family business in Fleetwood and William who remained to farm in Preesall, raising four sons.
Preesall House, a fine late Georgian house with farm attached, demolished for road widening many years ago, was located on Lancaster Road at Heald's Corner,as it became known, near the junction with the present Grasmere Road (See the lower map on Home Page). Nothing now remains except its name on the gravestone of Abraham and Alice in Preesall Cemetery.
Stained glass window in St. Oswalds church in memory of Abraham Heald