Lancashire has many beautiful villages within its boundaries, and one such place is Aughton, just outside the town of Ormskirk…
Aughton (aw-tun) :
Status: West Lancashire District, Lancashire, Village, England
Eating & Sleeping: N/A
Attractions: St Michaels Church, Holt Green, War Memorial, Holt Green House, Aughton Old School, Church Sundial, The Stanley Arms etc
Our journey began outside St Michaels Church, located at the North end of the town as you come off “Northway”, a major road linking Ormskirk with Liverpool. The Church is rather unusual in it’s layout, as instead of a linear Nave/Chancel, with a Tower at one end, it’s Tower is in the centre, like a Cathedral. The Chancel is shown here at the back of the building, to the East of the Tower, whilst the Nave is on the other side, to the West.
The buildings history can be traced back centuries, to the earliest surviving sections completed in the 12th & 13th centuries, in Norman times. These have been incorporated into the main body of the Church which dates to the 14th century. This comprises areas such as the Nave and the stunning Tower topped by a stone Steeple. The Chancel however was originally built in the 15th century, and later rebuilt in 1876 by W & J Hey. This later work does stand out when you realise the difference in the build dates, as the stone around the rest of the Church is weathered much more than the Chancel, and the North Vestry which was the final addition, in 1914.
Outside in the Churchyard there are many fine memorials, as well as this ornate Sundial, sat atop a well crafted column, from 1736. A Latin inscription can be seen on the outer radius of the column, and it translates as “I only count the sunny hours”. Unfortunately there didn’t appear to be a shadow at all on the Sundial, so it’s a good job I had a watch on!
This area is part of Aughton Conservation Area, which also covers nearby “Aughton Old Hall”, a large 15th century House that has seen various restoration jobs over the centuries, and alterations in the 18th.
As well as having numerous Conservation Areas, Aughton is also the proud holder of the following title:
“Best Kept Village Competition: Small Village Class. Winner 1994 – Holt Green”.
Holt Green is 1 of 3 areas that together form the Parish of Aughton. This Northern section which covers the Church, the Old Hall as well as the village Green which we visited later on, all come under Holt Green, which is the villages most charming and historic section, named after the village green, called Holt Green. Apparently there was another important historical event in 1588 associated with the Church when a large number of troops gathered here to train for battle against the Spanish Armada. England of course eventually went on to destroy the Spanish Fleet, with Sir Francis Drake emerging victorious.
Directly across the road from the Church lies “The Stanley Arms”, the local pub. Before the pub was built, drinks were served at its predecessor, called “The Ring O’Bells” which was located as part of a row of cottages, sited where St Michael’s Churchyard now lies. In 1877 the Churchyard was extended, forcing the demolition of the pub, along with the rest of the cottages, and the construction of a new building, which became “The Stanley Arms”. This makes this charming village pub around 150 years old, and I was quite surprised to find that it isn’t featured on the British Listed Buildings list for Aughton.
The Pub is still open today, and if you are interested in visiting this snapshot of history, then its the perfect place to call in as you take a tour of the village, especially if you are visiting the Church.
We moved off, heading South down the aptly named Church Road, which runs past the East end of the Church, towards the actual Holt Green. The Green sits on a small triangle of land, formed by Church Lane splitting off in 2 directions, to connect up with Smithy Lane to the South West, and Bold Lane to the South East.
In the centre sits Aughtons War Memorial, presumably erected just after World War I in memory of the fallen soldiers of Aughton Village and the surrounding parish which also covers nearby Town Green. That area also contains a 2nd much larger Church, called Christ Church. The building is however slightly newer, as it was built by the Victorians. Whilst Town Green is officially part of Aughton, on the map its appears to run contiguously with Ormskirk, and is located further away from the rest of Aughton.
At the South end of the Green lie the former buildings of Aughton School, originally completed in 1836. The date stone also states that it was built by Subscription, and whilst it doesn’t feature the word Public it is likely that it was the local population that helped to finance the School. The previous School was located next to the cottages which were later knocked down to allow St Michael’s Churchyard to expand, although it moved out around 50 years before demolition occurred.
The original 1836 section is the area to the centre and right on the above picture, whilst the section to the left was a later addition, from 1953. The buildings are now part of Aughton Nursing home, although I am unsure what year they took over from the School, or if there was an intermediate use for the complex.
One of the other notable Listed Buildings in this area of Aughton is located where Smithy Lane and Brookfield Lane meet with Church Road. The building is Listed as “Holt Green House”, and dates back to the 19th century, constructed out of Brick using the Flemish building style. This follows a pattern whereby longer bricks sit above and below smaller square sections, which are surrounded by longer bricks to make an interlocking system of large and small bricks.
Although we only had time to visit the Holt Green and main Village areas of the overall Parish of Aughton, we still saw a number of interesting and historical buildings, dating back centuries. Thanks to its proximity to both Liverpool and Ormskirk, Aughton is well connected by rail, as it lies on the Northern Line of the Merseyrail Network. 2 stations lie within the Parish, being Town Green and Aughton Park, which is the closest to the Holt Green area. Aughton is a beautiful little village, and it’s historic centre is a must see if you get to visit this area of West Lancashire.