Hall i’th’Wood Museum was built as a home for wealthy Yeoman farmers.
1483 The Brownlow Family
1635 The Norris Family
1654 The Starkie Family
1899 Lord Leverhulme
1902 Bolton Corporation.
The Starkie family let the house out to various tenants. Amongst these were
Samuel Crompton and his family who came to the house from Firwood Fold, 1758. In the rooms upstairs Samuel invented the Spinning Mule in 1779. This machine revolutionised spinning, making it possible to produce strong, fine cotton thread.
The importance of the property as part of Bolton’s heritage led to Lord
Leverhulme purchasing and handing it to the Corporation for the people of Bolton 1902.
Medieval Symbols Hall i’th’Wood museum and its previous occupants form a big part of the history of the estate and residents are incredibly proud of the building and the history associated with it.
In 2016, Bolton Archaeology and Egyptology Society began to investigate strange markings and symbols on the walls of Hall i’th’Wood. The research was part of a wider project, the Greater Manchester Graffiti Survey, which itself was in response to a national interest in deliberate markings made on buildings during the medieval period. The word ‘graffiti’ today has quite negative connotations. In its literal sense it just means writings or drawings on things. For this project the word encompasses all its meanings.
The marks were first noticed on medieval religious buildings in the south of England. Surveys conducted over several years noticed patterns both in the types of markings but also in their placement. They protected against the many supernatural perils of the medieval world.
Dating back to around the mid-1400s, the hall, which has gone through many changes and additions, revealed some of the superstitious beliefs of its medieval inhabitants. Interestingly, the practice of protective marking, whilst not permitted within the Catholic Church, was tolerated, whereas by the time of the English Civil War such practices were outlawed. This change in marking -practice can be seen in the absence of markings in the 1648 Norris Wing – all marks being to the earlier parts of the hall. Unfortunately, it is likely that later renovations by Lord Leverhulme to turn Hall i’th’Wood into a museum inadvertently destroyed visible markings, leaving the un-renovated attic spaces as the main source of discoveries.
Several types of marks were found; a curious mark known as a taper burn. The burn mark, in the shape of an elongated teardrop, had been noticed in medieval buildings across the country for many years, but had mostly been attributed to careless occupiers or to the placement of candle holders on walls. Recent experimental work has shown that these marks are deliberate, being made by careful burning at a specific angle and for an extended length of time. At Hall i’th’Wood these marks are also the most numerous and widespread, being found on window ledges, fireplaces, structural beams and even beds. One interpretation of this practice likens it to a modern medical inoculation – give the building a ‘fire jab’ and in the event of a real fire the building won’t burn down. Ian Trumble – Archaeologist & Collections Access Officer – Archaeology, Egyptology and World Culture at Bolton Libraries and Museum Service, Bolton Council.
Local Memory: Relatives of the Starkie family, still live in the area.
I am related to the Starkie’s. My distant relative is John Starkie who first lived at Firwood Fold, then he came to live at Hall i’th’Wood.
My Grandfather was John William Starkie, his father was Charles Starkie and his father was John Starkie of Tottington. His daughter married into the Ainsworth family and the other branch of our family lived at Walton-le-Dale who are buried there.
There is a stained glass window about John and Anne who are buried in the churchyard. Some of the family lived at Salmesbury Hall and Houghton Towers. Philip Starkie was a Captain in the Civil War and lost his life at Houghton in a skirmish there with roundheads.
Also I heard from my family – one of my distant relatives was called John Starkie, he was a Witchfinder General and sat at the trials of the Pendle Witches at Lancaster.
Patricia Newbury – in her own words