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Bury

BURY TOWN AND PARISH,

Bury is a populous and flourishing market town, and parlia­mentary borough, pleasantly situated on the banks of the Irwell, about two miles from the confluence of that river with the Roach, and at the junction of the Lancashire, and the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railways ; 6 miles E. by N. from Bolton, 10 miles N. from Manchester (rails), 41 E.N.E. from Liverpool, via Man­chester, and 195 N.N.W. from London. Besides Bury the parish comprises the townships of Coupe Lench with Newhall Hey, and Hall Carr, Elton, Heap, Musbury, Tottington Higher, Tottington Lower, and Walmersley, and its population in 1801 was 22,300

The Bury poor law Union is divided into the three districts of Bury, Pilkington, and Heap; the Bury district com­prising the townships of Bury, Elton, Tottington Higher, Totting­ton Lower, and Walmersley; the Pilkington district, the town­ships of Pilkington, Radcliffe, and Ainsworth; and the Heap district the townships of Heap, Birtle, Ashworth, Pilsworth, and Hopwood ; and its area in statute acres is 32,208. The population of the Union in 1851, amounted to 88,797 souls.

“ The name,” says Mr. Baines, “ is Saxon, signifying either a castle or a market town, and probably both were applicable to Bury at a very early period of English history. Attempts have been made by antiquaries, of no mean name, to show that this was a Roman station, and Camden says he was seeking here eagerly for C 0 C C I Y M, mentioned by Antoninus: it has been shewn, however, that this was not the site of a Roman station, but of a Saxon, perhaps of a Roman castle, and that one of the twelve ancient baronial castles of Lancashire, stood in Castle croft, close to the town, on the banks of the old course of the Irwell. The ancient structure has now totally disappeared; but remains of foundations are often dug up in the gardens ; and in the civil wars, which raged in Lancashire in 1644, it was battered by the cannon of the parliamentary army from an in- trenchment at Castle Steads, in the adjoining township of Walmersley. From that period the overthrow of this, as well as of a large proportion of the other castles of the kingdom, may be dated. Not far hence, at a place called Castle hill, the court of the royal manor of Tottington was held, where the power of im­prisonment, and the execution of criminals existed, and a neigh­bouring eminence is styled Gallows Hill. As early as the time of Henry II. John de Lacy was lord of this and the neighbouring manors, and the Montbegons were mesne lords under them. The family of Sir Henry de Bury afterwards came into possession of the Lordship of Bury, and they were succeeded by the Pilking- tons. In the time of Edward IY. a license was granted by that sovereign to Sir Thomas Pilkington to kernel and embattle his manor house of Bury, and this continued long] the old manorial residence, but by the attainder of Sir Thomas Pilkington in the reign of Henry VII,the estates here were granted to the Stanley family, in which they still remain. In the next reign, Leland says of this place—“ Bvri on Irwel Water, four or five miles from Manchester, but a poore market. There is a ruine of a castel by the paroch chirch yn the town, Tt longgid with the town sumtime to the Pilkentons, now to the Erles of Darby. Pilkenton had a place hard by Pilkenton parke, 3 miles from Manchester.’ Camden, in the reign of Elizabeth, describes it as a market town, not less considerable than Rochdale ; but Blome who wrote in the time of Charles II. says—‘ Bury is a market town of no great account on the Thursday.’ Till the middle of the following century it does not appear that any mite rial change took place, though the woollen business had been carried on for ages, and the cotton trade had begun to afford employment to a number of the in­habitants.”

The parish church,” continues the same writer, “ dedicated to St. Mary, had fallen into a state of dilapidation towards the middle of the eighteenth century, and in the year 1776, all the building, except the steeple, was taken down, and re-erected at the cost of abpUt £3,500. Amongst the old materials was found a piece of timber, technically called a pan, upon which was inscribed the Roman numerals D.O.LXXV. which would carry the date of the church to the first introduction of Christianity into this county. A relic so ancient naturally excited much speculation, but the secret is at length disclosed, and we have no less authority than one of the actors in the business, for saying, that the date in question was a mere fabrication, produced by the cupidity of the workmen, and meant to impose upon a searcher after antiquities. The history of the transaction is this : while the workmen were employed in taking down the Old Church, a gentleman in the neighbourhood, laudably anxious to ascertain the period of its erection, offered a reward of a guinea to the person who should discover the date. Excited by the hope of this reward, a diligent search was instituted, but in vain, for some inscription which might communicate the information required. Disinclined to lose the reward, the workmen determined to make that which they could not find ; and taking a piece of timber they inscribed upon it in rude Roman characters, the letters D.C.LXXY. to which they contrived to give an appearance of antiquity. The artifice suc­ceeded tolerably well, and with the aid of a few more C’s might have gone down to posterity as the true date of the ancient structure.” The present church is a spacious structure, consisting of chancel, nave, aisles, and tower, the latter rebuilt in 1843-4, at a cost of £2,250. The organ is a splendid instrument built by Wren, and enlarged in 1852 by Mr. Wrigley of Rochdale. There is accommodation for 2,000 persons. The living is a rectory valued in the Liber Regis at £29 11s 5^d., in the gift of the Earl of Derby, and now in the incumbency of the Rev. Edward James Hornby.

 

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