Exploring many of the hidden villages in my area brought us to the village of Lydiate, not far from the town of Maghull, which also includes the oldest Pub in Lancashire…
Lydiate (lid-ee-ut) :
Status: Sefton District, Merseyside (historically Lancashire), England
Eating & Sleeping: Lydiate Hall Farm, The Scotch Piper
Attractions: Oldest Pub in Lancashire, Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Lydiate Hall, St Catherine’s Chapel, Our Lady’s Church, St Thomas’s Church, Parish Hall, C C Lollies Bridge etc
We parked up outside “The Scotch Piper”, which has the distinction of being the oldest pub in Lancashire. Although Lydiate was transferred to the new county of Merseyside in 1974, it remains part of the historic County Palatine of Lancashire. Lydiate is located just past Halsall, not far out of Southport, and despite having lived in this area for years I had no idea that the oldest pub was on my doorstep.
Dating back to 1320, this charming old thatched building was originally opened as “The Royal Oak”, due to it being built around an old Oak Tree. This still exists and parts of it can be seen inside the building. The change in name occurred many centuries later, and the story goes that in 1745 an injured Piper from the Highlands of Scotland stayed here at the Pub, and eventually went on to marry the Landlords daughter. In honour of his visit this lead to the pub being renamed, and it has kept the name ever since.
Heading North West just a few metres away from the Scotch Piper, we came across another of Lydiates famous landmarks, the ruins of St Catherine’s Catholic Chapel, which some of the locals have nicknamed Lydiate Abbey. Not quite as old as the Scotch Piper, the Chapel was built around 1500, and it was used for the next 50 years as a Chapel for the private use of the Ireland Family who at the time owned the land the village lies on. It is thought that it was Laurence Ireland (1410 – 1486) who started the building work, however he passed away long before it’s completion so it was probably finished by his son.
The Chapels history was cut short in the 1530’s as Henry VIII instigated the Dissolution of the Monasteries and turned on any Catholic Institutions, so the Chapel was abandoned. All that remains today are the ruins, however records indicate that it wasn’t until the 18th century that the building began to decay and the roof collapsed, so its possible it was still being used by the local community over the interceding centuries, until the present Catholic Church was built, just a bit further up the road. You can walk around the ruins, as the Nave is in good condition aside from missing the windows and roof. At the West End stands the tower, and you can look up into the empty shell which presumably once contained a bell.
The Ireland family lived at nearby Lydiate Hall, which also stands as a ruin, but more on that in a moment.
Continuing along the same road, we arrived in the Churchyard of “Our Lady’s Catholic Church”, 1 of a number of Churches in the area, which became the 1st proper Catholic Church in Lydiate since St Catherine’s Chapel. The Church was completed by J. J. Scoles between 1854 and 1855, and one of the most notable additions to the building since it was completed is the Reredos (Large decoration behind the Altar) which was added in 1878.
Exploring the Churchyard, there are a variety of intricately designed headstones, from large Crosses to statues. The Church is accompanied by another building (brick) directly to the South of the Nave although I am unsure exactly what it is, although its probably a Vicarage.
Crossing the road, you get a great view back at the Church, which has a small Porch leading into the Churchyard. There are supposedly the remains of a medieval cross located somewhere in the Churchyard but I didn’t spot it as we were exploring.
Also from here you get a great view towards the Church of St Thomas, located just outside the village on the way towards Halsall and Southport. It predates Our Lady by about 15 years, as it dates back to 1841. It has a very similar layout to Our Lady, with the central Chancel and Nave, and a Tower at the West End, however in this instance the Tower is in front of the rest of the Church rather than just to the side.
Like Our Lady, it too has had at least 1 notable addition/change since it was built, as the Chancel was rebuilt in 1913. Lydiate is a great place for Church Spotters, as we have already found 2 current Churches, the ruins of a Chapel and looking at the map there is a Roman Catholic Presbytery further into the Village to the South.
A small track road almost directly opposite the Church of Our Lady leads West up to Lydiate Hall Farm. It’s a pleasant rural farm who we suspect breed Peacocks, as they were literally everywhere, with little pea chicks in tow! In one of my most well timed pictures ever I managed to snap one of the Peacocks taking flight off a fence post, and what a sight it was!
The Farm also has a cracking cafe, and was the perfect place to have lunch. Their Cheese and Bacon panini was delicious, and we highly recommend a stop here for a meal if you are visiting Lydiate.
What makes Lydiate Hall Farm even more interesting is the wood located next to it. In that wood lie the ruins of Lydiate Hall which I mentioned before, not far from the ruins of St Catherines Chapel.
The ruins are incredible, as you can walk around between the various sections of wall, and even look through the now empty window frames. The wood has grown up around it, and its like something you would find in the depths of South America, not rural Lancashire.
Lydiate Hall was built around a century before the Chapel, sometime in the 15th century, although some records put this at the 16th century instead, however it is generally agreed the building was complete by 1550. As noted before it was built by the Ireland Family who moved here from Garson, which is now a suburb of the city of Liverpool. They took control of the estate that covers the whole of Lydiate, and it remained in their family between 1410 and 1673.
The Hall is quite extensive and where I took the 2nd picture I was in the old courtyard, which had walls running across all 4 sides of it. Sadly by 1940 the building had fallen into ruin, after passing through various hands, despite attempts to stop the building decaying with improvements carried out at the end of the 19th century.
Moving away from the Northern edge of Lydiate, the Parish of which actually overlaps into the neighbouring district of West Lancashire, we wandered further into the main village, where we found the local Parish Hall.
Above the central window on the 1st floor is a large stone block which has the following carved into it:
“1935. Grayson Memorial. Lydiate Parish Hall.”
As this states the building was completed in 1935, although I am unsure which particular Grayson it was named after. Records show that there were a number of people with the surname here around the same time including a Joseph Grayson.
Continuing to head South we arrived at the Leeds & Liverpool Canal for the 2nd time in as many trips, after finding the place in nearby Halsall where the first ever part of the Canal had been dug. Crossing the bridge which carries the road over the Canal, we found a path which lead down to the Canal itself, and we spent the next 20 minutes having a pleasant canalside walk in the sunshine.
Construction of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal began in 1770, and it runs between the port city of Liverpool, and the Yorkshire city of Leeds. 2 branches run from Burscough towards Tarleton (and Locks to the River Douglas) and Wigan (to the famous Wigan Pier).
Whilst in Halsall we found bridge number 25 over the Canal. Here in Lydiate is bridge number 17a. Of course nowadays there are many more bridges over the Canal, as new settlements have grown up and others have expanded leading to many more roads in the area, however at the time this was only the 17th bridge over the Canal since it left Liverpool, which is 11 miles South of here. As we crossed the bridge on the road, we found an inscription which gives it an actual name “C. C. Lollies Bridge” as it was rebuilt in 1930 so it’s not the original crossing.
Lydiate is a beautiful little village in a great rural setting. There is something about a Canal that makes it so much calmer than a river, as it doesn’t flow so it’s very still, perfectly reflecting its surroundings. Lydiate even once had a train station on the “Southport & Cheshire Lines Extension Railway” which was a supplementary route from Liverpool in to Southport via Lydiate, Sefton/Maghull and Birkdale. The line opened in the 1880’s, and was finally closed in the 1950’s. The track is no longer there however you can still follow the route of the line as it’s now a cycle track like many old track beds, most notably in the Lake District.
Despite the lack of a train station today, buses run between Southport and Liverpool, via Bootle, Maghull, Halsall and Scarisbrick. Both terminuses of the route have connections to the mainline and the rest of the country, allowing you to travel onwards to anywhere in the UK. Lydiate is another stunning village in South Lancashire, along with the likes of Sefton Village, Little Crosby, Hightown and Halsall, all of which we thoroughly enjoyed visiting.