White Lion an Historic Inn - Huncoat
Map of Huncoat (1848)
The above map shows the extent of Huncoat in 1848, together with Huncoat Hall at the bottom of the map. Further exploration of the map oustide of the map area, and at different magnifications can be made by visiting the link to www.old-maps.co.uk.
Huncoat was mentioned in the Domesday book as 'Hunnicot'. The original village centred around Town Gate where the village stocks, dating from 1722, can still be seen. The cotton carding machine was invented by John and Ellen Hacking in Huncoat in 1772.
Huncoat Hall of late medieval origin, was the home of the Birtwistle family from 1275 and later Henry Sudall lived there. Spout House Farm appears to be the home of the Clegg family. Hillhouse Farm near Lowergate was the main residence of the Sudall family. The Griffin Head Inn is also relevant to the Rawcliffe family as well as the Sudall/Ridge family.
(From records held, John (born 1758) and Sally Rawcliffe (nee Ryley born 1767) had children that mirrored the names recorded from parish records for Lawrence Rawcliffe's children. John and Sally were both born in Huncoat around the same time. The connection has not yet been made between the two families, but the suspicion that they are related, perhaps brothers is very strong. Lawrence Rawcliffe's grave can be seen in the graveyard at Altham Church. The details for Lawrence Rawcliffe have not been included within 'The Tree' at this moment.)
White Lion Inn - Huncoat
From History and Associations of Altham and Huncoat.
Within the tavern fronting down the lane
The old inns of Huncoat were the earliest public places of resort in the village, long preceding any places of worship. They were the only public institutions to which the villagers could resort for social intercourse, to discuss affairs, and learn the news of the day before newspapers were known. All festivities were held in the two old inns of the village, the Black Bull and the White Lion. The former has already been referred to in connection with the old corn market, which adjoined it.
The White Lion, Huncoat's leading hostelry from the 18th, century, presents the appearance of an inn of that date, with an imposing frontage of three storeys, facing Town Gate, and represents the former "hub" of the village between Higher Gate and Lower Gate. The windows have been modernised but the original doorway is retained, and is a fine example of an English inn of the days when George III. was king. The inn was built about 1780 by Lawrence Rawcliffe, who was host in 1783 when the sale of Huncoat Hall took place. He was also the owner of property in the village, including the two cottages adjoining the inn, in one of which the early Baptists met. Lawrence Rawcliffe had a wonderful memory and related tales without end about occurrences in which he was interested. He would search into the particulars of everything that he undertook and if lie failed it certainly would not be for want of enquiry. So widely was this trait of his character known that years after his death if anyone happened to show undue interest he was described as "another Lawrence Rawcliffe.
He erected a place of worship for the Baptists, 32 ft. by 27 ft. wide inside - the present old chapel, at the end of the cottages. This he sold, with the consent of his wife, Ellen, who "of her own freewill'' gave up the property to certain parties by an indenture bearing date 1st of May, 1810, taking care however that provision was made in the deed that the property should be put under trusts conforming to the views of the Particular Calvinistic Baptists of the day.
Lawrence Rawcliffe has been described as a friend in the village, one of the old type of innkeepers and the chief personage in Huncoat at that time, as his house was the principal public place where the business of the township was transacted and where the Fishermen's Club, and the once famous Women's Club were held.
The members of the Fishermen's Club met as a friendly society or sick club. They held an annual procession on Midsummer Day, and made a great display. Two men rode on horseback, each bearing a miniature ship, the other members following on foot wearing silk aprons and beautifully-figured blue sashes. They carried staves on the top of which were representations of various kinds of fish (probably Fish Lane received its name from this club). The procession was headed by the Huncoat Reed Band, acknowledged by the villagers as the best of its kind in this part of Lancashire. "Nickie" (Nicholas) Bentley was the leader with his clarionette. He afterwards went to Clayton-le-Moors and founded the famous prize band there.
The procession started from the White Lion, passed along Fish Lane, Scatchen Lane, over Whinney Hill to Enfield, then along Whalley Road to Accrington, up Burnley Road back to the White Lion, after that road had been opened for traffic. Festivities and feasting were the order of the day. This club afterwards merged into the Foresters.
The Women's Club, a still more famous club, met at the White Lion. The annual "dinnering day" was the second Tuesday in July - a great day in Huncoat and the ladies made the most of the occasion. After dinner there was dancing, prizes being given for the best dancers in the "country" and "step" dances, then in vogue, as well as prizes for the best caps or head-dress, as then worn. The village fiddler, a famous violinist of the district named Matthew Hindle, played at these gatherings for many years. In later years John Smith was a player for the Women's Club. Members of this Club married men prominent in Accrington and district. The six daughters and their mother, of the Lingard family of Lower Hill House, were members, including the writer's own grandmother, Susannah, who married Richard Bond, mother of Richard, Thomas, and John, and Margaret and Mary Lingard.
The Huncoat town's meetings were held at the White Lion during Lawrence Rawcliffe's period and later when Richard Edmundson was host in 1820. Mr. Marshall was the assistant overseer at that time, and only farmers and those of estate were allowed to attend business meetings of the township. On these occasions £5 was allowed out of the rates to entertain those present. It is not surprising that the proceedings were invariably lively. Later, these meetings were held in the Baptist School and were open to all ratepayers.
Lawrence Rawcliffe removed from the White Lion to the Walton Arms, Altham. He had a family of five sons and two daughters - Peter, George, Hindle, Lawrence, Thomas, Ann and Ellen. Perhaps the most remarkable of the sons was Lawrence, born at the White Lion in 1805. He became a pupil of the Rev. William Perkins, of the Huncoat Baptist Chapel, afterwards attending the Rev. William Wood's Academy at Highbrake Hall. Commencing employment at Dugdale's Lowerhouse Printworks, he rose to be manager, holding that position for forty years and, on retiring, built a residence in Burnley Road, Huncoat, and was well respected as "a fine old English gentleman." Lawrence Rawcliffe died on the 23rd of August, 1891, in his eighty-sixth year. He was of a retiring nature, never seeking public office, a staunch Churchman, Liberal, Free Trader of the Cobden and Bright type. He was churchwarden at Habergham Eaves Church and later attended Altham, St. John's, Accrington, and St. Augustine's, Huncoat. He was a man of integrity, straight in all his dealings, and kindly with all. He was succeeded as manager at Lowerhouse by his son Hindle Rawcliffe, who also was followed by his son as manager. A fact worthy of note that the post of manager of a successful concern should be held by three generations of the same family. It would be difficult to find another such record, which speaks highly of the ability and character of these Huncoat worthies.