Preston Geography

Information from DDX 194/2 /5/6/7 has now been collated and drawn to scale of 1 inch to 200 links giving all the properties a reference number shown on the enclosed plan.

There were eighteen residential streets in the town:-

Fishergate Street   St Johns Wind 
Church Street   Mordell Lane
Friargate Street  Marsh Lane (now Fylde Road)
Cheapside  Back Lane
Moor Lane  Church/Guild Row
Gin Bow Entry   Old Cock Yard
Tithemarn Street  Cheathams Wind
Salter Lane  Mince Pitt Wind/Dundee Lane
Sike Hill  Fryer Wind


There were about 400 occupied properties, which suggests a population of 1600-2000. To this figure should be added a further number for those people living on the outskirts of town whose names appear on the schedules for the route maps.

The schedules showing the names of the occupiers of the properties, firstly in street groups and secondly in alphabetical order, appear on pages 19-36 inclusive.

The Geography of the Town

One can just see the remnants of the original Preston village settlement of the Anglo-Saxon period showing through nearly one thousand years of development.

The escarpment along the north side of the river Ribble particularly from Freckleton all the way through to Preston was formed tens of thousands of years ago at the edge of a shallow sea. Many boreholes were sunk on the Freckleton, Newton and Clifton marshes on the north bank of the river in the 1980’s. This was carried out to study the geology of the area for the in preparation for a proposed landfill site. Some of these core records were analysed at the Earth Science Faculty at Liverpool University who found fossils consistent with a sea bed. Subsequent changes of relative levels of land and sea about the time of the ice age formed the escarpment.

This higher level ground on the riverbank facing south was an ideal location for street villages to be developed. Usually the houses were built on the south side of the street with gardens and orchards on the slope at the rear. Several had a water well. On the north side of the street were the barns and outbuildings approached from the back lane. Beyond the back lane were the open fields. The villages of Newton with Scales and Clifton are typical examples of this layout and have hardly changed over the centuries. Friargate in Preston follows the same pattern with its back lane and barns opening out to the open field system. The houses and gardens face southwest. By 1685 the town had developed to such an extent that the original street village had almost disappeared.

Celia Fiennes in her Journeys of 1697 wrote, “Preston stands on a hill is a very good market town, Satterday is their market which day I was there and saw it provided with all sorts of things leather corn coals butter cheese and fruit and garden things; there is a very spacious Market place and pretty church and several good houses; at the entrance of the town was a very good house which was a lawyers, (Edward Rigby’s No 7 Church Street) all stone work 5 windows in the front and high built; the generallity of the buildings especially in 2 or 3 of the great streets were very handsome, better than in most country towns, and the streets spacious and well pitch’d.”

Some twenty years later Daniel Defoe wrote “ the town is full of attorneys, proctors and notaries, the process of law here being of a different nature than they are in other places, it being a county palatine. The people are gay here, though not the richer for that, but it has by that obtained the name of Proud Preston.”

The barrs

These were gates strategically placed on various routes into the centre of town and in particular to the market place. It was not possible to reach the Market Square from out of town without passing one of these barrs. These gates were closed on market day until the opening bell was rung. This system controlled the time of entry and also the goods carried by the traders. The Guild Merchants thus ensured that the personnel attending met with their criteria. The location of these gates was at: -

1. Church Street west of the junction of Church St and Cocker Hole (now Manchester Road)

2. Fishergate near present day Chapel Walks

3. The bottom of Mince Pitt Wind

4. Friargate at the top of the hill on the town side of the Marsh Lane junction.

5. At the top of Moor Lane beyond the junction with Lancaster Road, near Moorgate Street.

At some stage during the 1715 rebellion some of these barrs were barricaded during skirmishes but it was not their prime function


Fishergate is laid out in a straight line, which suggests that it was developed much later than Friargate and Church Street and even after the market square. Initially when people wished to cross the Ribble on the ferry in the direction of Penwortham they would walk down Friary Lane (now Marsh Lane) from Friargate by the barrs at the top of the hill as far as the Ladywell. They would then walk across the path to Almshouse Lane (now Mount Street) and down to the river. Similarly people coming in the other direction on market day could not pass the barrs until the bell had been rung.

Walking along Fishergate from Church Street at the time of the survey the fifth property on the right was Ye Holy Lamb inn and opposite was the four story houses of Geo. Addison and Sir Jno. Mulinex followed by the town well at 424 links in the middle of the road (i.e. 93 yards by the present day Marks & Spencer’s).

A little further along on the left were two inns Ye Wheatsheaf and next door Ye White Horse. Ye is an abbreviation for the word “the”. The Anglo-Saxon letter ‘thorn’ pronounced “th” looks like but is not a letter “Y”. Where the surveyors wrote “Ye” read “the” and where they wrote “Yt” read “that”. Next comes the “barrs” (by what is now the new NatWest Bank) and the house of Grace Waring. She possibly opened the gates on market day at the sound of the bell to prevent forestalling. Beyond the “barrs” were only barns and a windmill with the exception of the eight almshouses. These were detached in the middle of the road at the top of Almshouse Lane (now Mount Street). Whittles jewellers now occupy the site and the building is now attached at its western end although the initial way through is apparent from the back of the premises in Mount Street.

These almshouses were erected for the habitation of many old, impotent, decrepit, and other of the most needy persons, to preserve them with charity from starving and the extreme necessities; and these for many families apiece, are placed at the ends of the three several streets for the commodious assistance.

A footpath led from here to the Ladywell. The begging friars before the dissolution of the monasteries would have used this well and later by the inmates of the House of Correction on the site of the former friary. This site was outside the town barrs at both Friargate and Fishergate.

On that side of town was formerly a large and sumptuous building, belonging to the Friars Minor or Gray Friars but now only reserved for reforming vagabonds, sturdy beggars and petty larceny thieves, and other people wanting good behaviour; it is now the county prison to entertain such persons with hard work, spare diet and whipping; and it is called the House of Correction.

The windmill was on the high ground on which is now Fishergate Methodist Church. The end of the Fishergate buildings was by the current Railway Bridge.

Church Street

Heading east from Cheapside after passing the Guildhall with its shops, both shambles [butchers’ shops], and the small town hall came the narrow lane or wind called Mince Pitt Wind sometimes Dundee Lane. In it were fifteen residences and near the bottom was a well used by them and the milkmaids bringing daily their milk and butter to the town from beyond the river Ribble. Roger Sudell tended the barr at the bottom.

The big house at number 7 was occupied by Sergeant Edward Rigby a very important person. He was a barrister-at-law had been Member of Parliament for Preston and had even been in prison on two occasions. See Appendix No 5.

Town Sergeants Oath

You are elected and chosen to the office of the town sergeant for the next ensuing year. You shall therefor well and truly execute and exercise the said office called the Town Sergeant within this township of Preston franchises and liberties thereof from the feast day of St Wilfred the Archbishop next now coming until the feast day of St Wilfred next following that is to say for one whole year if you live thereunto and so continue in your said office and from that date to another to person be to your office elected and sworn. You shall also obey your mayor. You shall bear the toll box every market day and in the time of the fairs after the bailiffs of this town upon them wait then assist in the gathering of tolls and customs belonging to the mayors bailiffs and burgages of this town during the time of your office.

You shall be ready to come to the mayor, ring the common bell every market day and all other times that the mayor commandeth you so to do and at due and convenient times during the said office you shall be ready to assist the sergeant at the mace commonly called the mayors sergeant for and concerning all manner of executions by the said sergeant to be made or done within this borough and the liberties thereof and such person or persons goods or chattels as by the said sergeant shall be taken in arrest or execution you shall take into your custody and the same safely keep and deliver over with all speed unto the bailiffs of this town for the time being during the said time of your office.

You shall not exact or extort of any person or persons for or concerning the execution of your office any money gift or reward or any other thing whatsoever other than such fees as heretofore had been allowed and is usually taken by sergeants of this town your predecessors except it shall be otherwise ordered by the mayor and his bretheren. You shall not take any money gift or reward of any common gamster which you shall find or take in any unusual play or game within this town during the term of office to the intent to bear with or oversee their offence all such persons you shall find offending you shall bring or cause to be brought before your said mayor or otherwise make known to him without delay.

If you shall find any or know any lewd bad or suspected persons to be relieved harboured or kept at any house within this town or the liberties thereof you shall do your best endeavour to apprehend them or else shall show your mayor thereon to the end they may be apprehended and taken without giving your knowledge by yourself or any other by your means turn in such persons in anywise. But you shall present to your mayor the name of all such householders as shall relieve or keep or harbour any such lewd persons to your knowledge. SO HELP YOU GOD.

Church Street continued

Two small winds or narrow entries, Old Cock Yard and Cheathams wind, each ran down to Sike Hill and had eight households. Church Street widened out by the inn called the White Bull, just before the church and was used as a cattle market. After the inn came “Stone agate Lane” with houses between it and the church. Opposite was St Johns Street leading on to Tithe Barn Street, Salters Lane and the road running north to Lancaster. A little further along was a short road called Church/Guild Row with ten properties.

The church nave measured 105 feet by 55 feet and the chancel 46feet by 28 feet making the overall length 151 feet externally. The porch on the south side was 15 feet square. There were three buttresses on the north face plus a single diagonal buttresses at each corner. On the south face there was one at each end making seven in all. On the west face were three, one at the south corner plus the diagonal at the north corner. In the middle of west wall was a door.

Next came the barr before Cocker Hole (now Manchester Road) and the Crown Inn, the big house on the left No 38 being the residence of Colonel Patten. For more than 150 years Patten house was the mansion of the Stanleys, having come into the family by marriage in 1688. It was considerably damaged in the Preston Fight of 1715 and was rebuilt in 1749. It was demolished in 1835 and it is said to have occupied the site of a great house owned by Ergham, Guild Mayor of Preston in 1397. At number 72 lived Ed. Kuerden but Dr Richard Kuerden, aged 62, is not listed as a resident of Preston. At the far end of Churchgate Street the road opened out, as it still does, with two houses at the roadside and one in the middle of the road alongside eight almshouses. The continuation of the road was called New Hall Lane (now Stanley Street) leading to Wigan via Ribble Bridge. The other branch was called Ribbleton Lane.

Along Cocker Hole was a footway leading to Ribble Bridge via Sike Hill. Standing in the middle of the road was the school with two chimneys by the small stream called Sike. Further down was Jno.Ridings ‘wooll’ house leading on to Ellis Mekin’s three-storey Aynham [Avenham] house. (The first spelling of Ellis Mekin’s name is different from the second, Ellis Meakin, on the same piece of paper. English spelling was very unsettled and can be misleading but pronunciation phonetically is usually constant)


In Cheapside lived Dr Worton and Thomas Yates, Jewellers, still there and now occupies the half timbered building, in which he lived. Two doors away was the Golden Anchor inn which in turn was next door to the White Horse inn (not to be confused with Ye White Horse inn in Fishergate). Other inns in the Market Square were the Golden Lyon and the Mitre. The market cross was in a different location to the current obelisk, which was moved when the Harris Museum was built.

There was a total of ten inns the others being the Boars head at the top of Friargate Hill, Ye Wheatsheaf and Ye Holy Lamb in Fishergate, the Crown and the White Bull in Churchgate Street, but all are now gone. The only reference left is Anchor Court in Cheapside on the site of the Golden Anchor.

At which inn Gregory King stayed is not known but he set a conundrum (see Sheet DDX194/6) for other patrons as follows:-

“A flagon has two lids ye weight of ye flagon wth ye pewter lid weighs as much and a third more as it did with ye wooden lid and these two lids together weighed 3li [lbs] I demand ye weight of ye flag as and each lid”

The Town Hall was small being 80 feet long by 20 feet wide and most likely had the market bell mounted high above the roof at one end.

In the middle of the Borough is placed an ample yet beautiful guild or town hall or toll booth to which is annexed at the end thereof a council chamber for capital burgesses or jurors at their court days, to retire for consultation, or to secretly retire themselves from the common burgesses or the public root of the people, as occasion shall require.

The public hall hath a decent cheq,( a desk where accounts were settled) and above it an elevated bench, whereat the three portmotes or the two leet days and the grand leet or court of election for new magistrates, sits the mayor, aldermen, and such gentry as attends these meetings, and likewise at their court of common pleas, held each three weeks for deciding suits and controversies. In this place is held the honourable court of chancery for the county palatine of Lancaster and there sits the most worthy and most judicious Sir John Ottway in whose equitable breast and judgement remaineth the deciding the deciding of all controversies brought before him; with the excheq sits the learned gentlemen of the long robe.

To this place is joined quarterly the public sessions of the hundred of Blackburn and this of Amounderness where the Justice of the Peace for the county do administer justice, at their session for the country’s peace and security of the people, upon all malefactors thither brought before them as likewise for the trial of matters and causes before there depending. Here likewise is held the election of burgesses in parliament forthe borough when occasion doth require the same; and often, upon long poles, by adjournment from Lancaster for the County’ ease the election of Knights of Shire, if the contest be not quickly reconciled amongst the gentry. And lastly, this likewise is the place where the guild-mayors, stewards, aldermen, and clerk of the guild, with much state and grandure each 20 years, hold their guild merchant, receive the claims of ancient burgesses concerning their franchise and their 7d pro foedis suits for penning of their priverledges as well as the admission and establishing of burgesses, who in great numbers at each guild are admitted into this guild or fraternity. Many persons of honour and great quality are entertained nobly and Honourandi causa admitted gratis into the society, as well as many, for traffic sake, by composition are made and incorporated free merchants of the guild and members of the foresaid borough of Preston, which though they served apprenticeship in this place, their freedom could not be completed.

Gin Bow Entry & St Johns Wind

These streets are now gone and in their place is the town hall, courts and the covered market. In St Johns Wind was a horse-driven gin mill and in Gin Bow Square was a draw well, into which square the Mayor and council intended to transfer the fish stones from the market place. Edward Rigby had recently bought the property shortly after his acquisition of Preston Hall at the far end of Friargate Street. The family named Preston formerly owned both properties

Friargate Street and Back Lane

Only a few houses at the Market Square end of Back Lane had been built by 1685, the remaining buildings being barns. The Friargate Street “barrs” were at the top of the hill just before Fryer Lane (now Marsh Lane). At the far end the road opened out as it does today. On the left was the Garden House of Richard Bray whilst on the right lived the Preston family at Preston Hall in Moor Lane. Opposite on high ground, four chains away [88 yards], was the windmill shown as a peg mill as were all other windmills shown on the pmaps. At the junction of “Mordell” [Maudland] Lane, leading to St Mary Magdelen leper hospital and Marsh Lane (now Fylde Road) stood the pound adjacent to the houses of John and William Bray. The pound was a closed enclosure where stray animals were impounded and released on cash payment by the owner. Rather like wheel-clamping currently in vogue.