As we made our way to Clitheroe over the unspoilt moors that make up the Forest Of Bowland , below us lay the small town of Sabden. Probably better known for its association with Pendle Hill and the witches of the 17th century, who had their lives curtailed at the end of a rope on the moors around Lancaster after being tried at Lancaster Castle and found guilty (mostly by hearsay, rumour and superstition) of witchcraft, the town also boasts a ‘treacle mine’ the whereabouts being a closely guarded secret. Personally I would put this story alongside the tales of the Spaghetti Tree and the Wild Haggis, but it adds a quirky mysteriousness to the village.
Pendle Hill dominates the landscape and as well as giving its name to the Witch Trails (1612) and the surrounding area (Pendleside) the hill was also witness to Richard Townley‘s Barometer experiments in 1661 and in 1652 George Fox visited the hill and was said to have had a visitation which led to the formation of The Quaker movement.
We eventually arrived in Clitheroe and parked the car to set off to the Castle, wherein lies a rose garden with a little piece of history and folly as its centrepiece.
As we made our way up Moor Lane the aroma of fish and chips from the Castle Chippy grabbed our olfactory senses and refused to let go. Having ‘dined’ here before I knew the quality of the fare was excellent and another tasting was in order. The staff in the chip shop are friendly and chatty and after discovering the owner was in the process of compiling a ‘Chiptionary’ (a lexicon of regional chip shop terms) I took my order and left him with a few more entries for his project – Wigan style.
Still happily munching our impromptu meal we neared the castle and made our way up one of the entrances into the grounds. The castle stands atop a 115 ft (35m) outcrop of limestone and is one of the oldest buildings in Lancashire. It is also the only remaining castle in the county which had a royalist garrison during the English Civil War. It is said to have been built around 1186 by Robert de Lacy as an administrative centre for his estates in the area but later passed by inheritance to the Crown. It consists of one of the smallest Norman keeps in the country and at one time it was surrounded by a curtain wall. It was anciently the seat of the Lords of Bowland.
The castles’ most prominent feature is the hole in its side which was made in 1649 as ordered by the government of the time. It was to be put in “such condition that it might neither be a charge to the Commonwealth to keep it, nor a danger to have it kept against them”
We continued along the path around the castle and presently we were in front of the folly we had come to see. At the centre of the rose garden stands a ‘turret’ from the Houses Of Parliament.
Used originally as the centrepiece of a pond in the rose garden to the South of the castle, it is an octagonal stone
turret with 4 lions rampant with shields at the base. The turret sits upon a plinth. There is a Lancet ornament with
cusped heads, gargoyles and crocketed finials.
A plaque on the plinth records the presentation of the turret, which originally formed part of the parapet of the Houses of Parliament (erected 1840-54), and was presented to the Borough of Clitheroe by Captain Sir William Brass M.P. in 1937, in commemoration of the coronation of George VI.
We drove back using the same route and whilst driving through Sabden I kept a keen eye open for any Diddy Men looking for work at the Treacle Mine after the great Jam Butty Mine disaster of ’76 in Knotty Ash.
Since our visit I have tried find out where exactly on the Houses Of Parliament the turret originated but to no avail. My best guesstimation would be that the turret was rescued from the great fire of 1834 that razed the parliament buildings, but as to where it was stored prior to its presentation and why it was given (did other councils get something similar) for the coronation? I have no idea.
Description: Turret from Houses of Parliament in Gardens of Clitheroe Castle
Date Listed: 30 September 1976
English Heritage Building ID: 182769
OS Grid Reference: SD7423041569
OS Grid Coordinates: 374230, 441569
Latitude/Longitude: 53.8697, -2.3934
Location: Woone Lane, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 1BA