Notes on Moon in Scorpio

Table of Contents

The location
The Lancashire plot
Characters and Families
LEYBURNE of Cunswick near Kendal in what was then Westmorland
NOWELL of Read
The LANGLEYS of Agecroft or Edgeworth
HOGHTON of Park Hall

The activity in London is quite straightforward and all the place names are real. The road taken by John Leyburne to the north is not specified until he reaches Warrington and crosses the Mersey. From there he takes the main post road north to Wigan, (which is now the A49 and goes on to Preston, Lancaster, Carlisle, and Scotland). We deal elsewhere with the human element: the Whitakers, Nowells, Barlow/Booth, Mansells, Payne, Hoghton, Gill, Tompion, and Leyburne families. From Wigan the detail of his journey increases, 3 miles north of Wigan he comes to the junction at the Boar's Head (which still exists) and takes a right fork on the road towards Adlington climbing over hill and dale to the rolling moorland that must be Bolton parish. He does not reach Bolton, but apparently heads east from somewhere around Adlington, clattering down the slope to drop down into the valley of the Goit and passes Thornclough, home to the Mansells. This locates Thornclough somewhere in the Goit valley, but we can get closer than that after his first day with the Langleys. After little more than a mile he comes to the parkland of Langley House. We can locate Langley House from his ride the next day when Miss Penelope led him behind the house and up a steep and grassy track ... up and up ... to a vast and sunlit moor. We now see that the day before he must have crossed the Goit and climbed up the gentle slopes of the valley to the start of the steep approach to the moor. Penelope gives us the name Anglezarke Moor which certainly still exists. Looking at the map we can now locate Langley House easily, it must be the Manor House (GR 621171) situated at the top of its park land and at the foot of the steep climb to the moor. At this point we also learn that Park Hall, the home of the Hoghtons, is about 10 miles to the west, in Standish, just across the post road. So Park Hall is west of the Post Road.

Next we look for Thornclough. They ambled along the ridge of the moor until Penelope pointed out down there .. she was pointing to the valley below; and there on its further slope ... was Thornclough. But which valley were they looking across? The are three possibilities. First there is the valley of the Goit running from slightly west of north down to slightly east of south. (This valley is now completely flooded with Anglezarke Reservoir to the north of Rivington Reservoir. Secondly, at the junction of the two reservoirs the River Yarrow comes in from the east into the small Yarrow reservoir before joining the Goit. And thirdly, there is another valley, to the north east underlying Anglezarke Moor, with another stream that joins the Yaroow close to its reservoir. This third valley appears to be the one Penelope was pointing to, which puts Thornclough on its further slope. The Ordnance Survey marks a ruin on this slope at GR 638165, possibly the site of Thornclough, a little more than a mile from Langley House, but I rather favour a site on the bank of Yarrow Reservoir.

There remains a remote possibility that both houses might have been imagined as under Anglezarke Reservoir, however, these reservoirs were built between 1850 and 1857, and were well established long before Neill visited the area, and the Mnor House park is well above the level of the water. I think we might conclude with confidence that Langley House was based on the Manor House above the Goit and under Anglezarke Moor.

Perhaps more tentatively that Thornclough was based on the ruin across the tributary valley to the Yarrow, as seen form from Anglezarke Moor.

On the Sunday after church at Standish (St. Wilfred's) they take The post-road through Standish to the North and after a short distance on the Post Road (A49) Penelope turns off down a narrow lane ... less than half a mile to Park Hall where Will Hoghton lives. Langtree Old Hall (GR 552120) is about a quarter of a mile down a narrow lane from the A49 about a mile and a half from Standish. We learn that there is a lake ay Park Hall, Will's father has the gout, and It's the lake he thinks. There is a small lake close to Langtree Old Hall. We also learn that Park Hall is a genial mellowed house suggesting it is old relative to 1679. (There is a new Langtree Hall (GR 560111) which also has a lake, but it is on the wrong side of the Post Road and closer to Standish (half a mile), and obviously newer than the Old Hall.) I conclude that location intended for Park Hall is confidently identified with Langtree Old Hall. Howver, four or five miles to the north of Standish, at Charnock Richard there is a Park Hall which was owned by the Hoghtons, which also has a lake, but this is about a mile off the Post Road. This is discussed in more detail below. It seems that Neill might have adopted the real names of Hoghton and Park Hall, but transferred them souuth to Standish.

Martin Mere:  Speeds map of 1610 shows the mere extending all the way from Ormskirk to the sea. On the first ride, as far as Parbold Hill the description is pretty minimal but accurate. Parbold Hill does slope up gradually from the east, while the west escarpment down to the River Douglas is very steep. The view of Martin Mere would have been exact in the seventeenth century, but most of the Mere has been drained and is now farmland. Once down the hill they cross the Douglas and follow the bank of the river north for about four miles to Rufford, which still exists. Then they follow the mere to the west, past what is now the Martin Mere Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, then up a short rise north to Mere Brow, which is still there. From Mere Brow they head due west for another four miles to North Meols, which is now at the north end of the seaside town of Southport. Meol's Hall still exists. Heading towards the sea and the church by the sea; there's a church by the sea and some houses. All you will find now is the district called Churchtown, the north part of Southport. Turning south through what has now become Southport, they cross the river here in winter ... where the Mere drains to the sea. No sign of it now of course as the Mere has shrunk to the small area of the Wildfowl Trust. Most of the year the Mere drained to the sea along the River Douglas, but in winter the Mere was bigger and often enlarged by high winds and tides from the sea: A good nor'wester sets the seas driving over. Down the coast they come to Birkdale, which was a ver small fishing village in the seventeenth century, but is now the south end of Southport. I suspect Water Lane is one of the two unsurfaced lanes south of Hillside staion, just south of the present Birdale, but this is guesswork. There is no mention of Water Lane on the 1850 Ordnace Survey maps at 10 inches to the mile. There is no obvious fictional need to create the name 'Water Lane', so I rather feel I have missed it somehow. After as short time at the sea and in the Hawes they return along the south side of the Mere to Park Hall to see Will Hoghton again. There is no mention of the route they took, but it would probably be to the south of the Mere and north of Halsall Moss. The 10 inch map mentions a house called Jumps at Birkdale, and in the book we meet the widow Margaret Jump, relict of Robert Jump of Birkdale a little further down the coast towards Ainsdale. Here they meet the widow Jump and her son, Jimmy, and see the windmill owned by Richard Rimmer, the mill house, and the White Otter pool - see the next ride.

Ormskirk. The next day they see Ormskirk from the top of Parbold Hill and head there to the (red) Rose (of Lancaster) where they meet Tom Greenhalgh at the Red Rose, and avoid George Rimmer at the Rising Sun. Ormskirk still exists, a big town, with several inns and pubs, but no Rose or Rising Sun that I can find. So I think we have to accept these as fictional creations, possibly inspired by the Buck i' th' Vine on Burscough Street (did Neill stay here?).

Tom Greenhalgh. Possibly he picked up the name Greenhalgh on a visit to Greenhalgh's Craft Bakery, also on Burscough Street. Very convenient if he stayed at the Buck i' th' Vine.

Rimmer. An old Ormskirk name, for example:

There are also many Rimmers in Ormskirk today:

Try googling for: rimmer family ormskirk history

The Scarisbrick road ... being also the road to Martin Mere is now the A570 to the north west out of Ormskirk. They head out of Ormskirk as the way wound north and west to the coast. Past Scarisbrick they have to pass between the south extent of Martin Mere and the northern extent of the smaller Halsall Moss, heading straight for the hawes and the coast between Birkdale and Ainsdale. Then they go south to Ainsdale to find the Widow Jump, the mill owned by Richard Rimmer, the mill house (separate from the mill) and Rimmer's Lane leading to White Otter, the Otter Pool, a mile or more inland. All exactly as marked on the 1850 map. White Otter Farm is still marked on the current 1:50,000 OS map (sheet 108).

Then a long ride back to Langley House.

Lathom House: Built by the Stanleys in 1496, was the last Royalist stronghold in Lancashire during the Civil War and was twice besieged by Parliamentary forces. During the first Siege of Lathom House by Sir Thomas Fairfax in 1644, the house was defended by Charlotte, Countess of Derby and 300 men who kept possession until Royalist forces under Prince Rupert of the Rhine arrived in the area en route to attack Bolton. After the siege the countess and her retinue fled to the Isle of Man. In 1645 the house was again besieged by General Egerton with 4000 Parliamentarian soldiers, and was surrendered after a protracted siege after which the fortifications were demolished. James Stanley, the husband of Charlotte was beheaded in Bolton in 1651 for his part in the Bolton Massacre, and the Stanley estates were confiscated by Parliament. The house was rebuilt in 1725-40.