In 1612 Jane Southworth, Jennet Bierley and her daughter-in-law, Ellen Bierley, were accused of witchcraft by Grace Sowerbutts, the teenage granddaughter of Jennet. It was acclaimed that they had killed Grace’s twelve-month-old baby. Once the child had been buried, the three women exhumed the body from the graveyard, cooked it, ate it and saved the fat to rub into their bodies in order to change their appearance. The three accused women were incarcerated at Lancaster castle.
Surrounded by Yew trees which are traditionally found in graveyards, the old stone cross is a reminder that this was once a graveyard to the Catholics of the family who couldn’t be buried anywhere but on private land.
Sir Thomas Egerton purchased this estate in 1598. Although the Egerton family had ownership of the estate, the old medieval hall was rented out to tenants. It took until 1716 when John, the great-great-grandson of Sir Thomas, built the first mansion on the land that the family actually resided on the estate.