Can you help solve a Burnley historical mystery?

THE BARDEN MYSTERY: Dean's Farm, Byerden Lane, Burnley. (S)
THE BARDEN MYSTERY: Dean's Farm, Byerden Lane, Burnley. (S)
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This week we revert to keeping you up to date with what is going on with regard to the heritage and environment issues current in Burnley. I will refer, possibly for the last time, to the Ightenhill Manor House Project, the Brun Valley Park Festival, which is to take place on Sunday, June 21st, and I am going to ask for your help with a little historical problem I have not resolved.

The Manor House Project

TRANSFORMED: Heasandford as it was over 100 years ago. (S)

TRANSFORMED: Heasandford as it was over 100 years ago. (S)

Since, I last mentioned Ightenhill Parish Council’s Heritage Lottery funded Manor House Project, the work associated with it, which has been considerable, has been drawing to a close.

In association with the Friends of the Park the final event, the “Medieval Afternoon in Ightenhill Park”, took place at the end of April. The weather was good and it was very pleasing that a large number of people turned out to see what had been achieved.

There was a minstrel, who played some delightful and most appropriate music on several instruments and he was joined by a number of artists and craftsmen and women who set up medieval booth in which to display their skills. Food was provided by the Friends, who also ran a raffle (what are Friends for but to run raffles?) and the Parish Council put on a historical display about the work it had completed.

In addition, Lord Shuttleworth kindly agreed to open the new information board at the Manor House site and I gave a brief talk on the project and what we have discovered. However, the star of the event was the model of the Manor House as we think that it was in about 1380. Lots of people were fascinated to see it and, since that time, we have taken it to St Mary Magdalene’s school to show the children what we think the building, which last stood in its ancient form as long ago as 1523, looked like.

MANOR HOUSE PROJECT: Ella's painting of the Manor House at Ightenhill. (S)

MANOR HOUSE PROJECT: Ella's painting of the Manor House at Ightenhill. (S)

Members of the Parish Council have been distributing the booklets on the manor house throughout the parish. The Year 4 children of St Mary Magdalene’s helped to produce these booklets and they were given copies for themselves to keep. The school was also presented with a banner made using the drawings contributed by the children. We hope that it will be displayed in a prominent place in the school in remembrance of this successful project.

We have not quite finished everything. There is to be the publication of an Ightenhill Parish Map, the artwork for which has been undertaken by Pendle Artists. As yet, though we have seen the individual paintings, we have not seen the finished product but, when printed in full colour, it will be available to anyone who wants a copy. It is going to be a real work of art but, unfortunately, this is not going to be free. We will keep the costs down as much as we can so that everyone who wants one can have a copy.

Then there is to be the publication of another, but larger, booklet. This is also by Roger Frost and its subject is the Lords of the Manor of Ightenhill from the Norman Conquest up to the accession of Henry IV when Ightenhill became a Royal Manor. The book has not been easy to write but I have enjoyed doing it, something I have intended to do for some time.

So the “Medieval Afternoon” was a great success. I am told that something like 500 people attended. Of course, the Parish Council would like to thank Lord Shuttleworth, for coming to the event, and all those who served on the Committee, but especially, Parish Councillor Maria Chattle, Irene Hardy and Christine Blythe, from Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale CVS and Chairman of the Council Parish Councillor Tony Mitchell. A vote of thanks should also go to Gary Smales and Paul Barlow of Burnley Council’s Graphics Unit.

Lastly, there are still a number of the booklets to get out to partners in the project but it may be that the Parish Council will be able to make remaining copies available to those who would like a copy. I will keep you informed about this, the forthcoming Parish Map and the booklet on the Lords of the Manor of Ightenhill.

Brun Valley Park Festival

This is to take place, at the Park, on Sunday, June 21st.

If you have not visited the new environmental and heritage work carried out in the Heasandford area, in recent times, you will be amazed at what has been accomplished there.

The Brun Valley Park, in one respect, is located in the Heasandford and Rowley to Pike Hill areas, but, in another, the project, which over 40 years, has transformed this part of town, starts at Thursby Gardens, by Burnley Central Station, and is linked, by the old mineral railway, to Thompson Park, Queen’s Park, Bank Hall Park to the upper parts of the valleys of the Brun and Swinden Water.

On the day, there will be lots to see and do. I can’t give you locations for many of these but they will be published in the local press very soon. What I can do is give you a flavour of what is going on: the Burnley Youth Theatre is to be present with a show and a circus; Dog Agility is putting on a show; there is a barbecue at the Thornton Arms;, the Friends are to put on a Treasure Hunt; there are to be lots of birds of prey on display and there is to be a willow weaving exhibition.

In addition, there are to be three guided walks, one by Keith Wilson which, I think, is going to concentrate on Rowley Lake, another by Lancashire Wildlife is looking into habitat management and I am going to lead a walk from Burnley Central Station, along the old mineral railway to the Thornton Arms. I will give more details about times and starting points when I have them, but keep your eyes on the local press.

The Brun Valley Park is a very interesting area, historically and environmentally, but it was something of a Cinderella, for visitors, until quite recently. This was because of the great coal mines at Bank Hall and Rowley. They hindered visits even after they had closed, but as you will know, Bank Hall Park is now a splendid green space, which contains the Kaylen Antiques Centre, the new boat yard and the little canal side garden. The site of Rowley Colliery, though work is on-going, is becoming the great asset which we all hoped it would be.

So, if you want something to do on Sunday, June 21st, bring the whole family to the Brun Valley Park Festival and let’s hope that we get some good weather. See you there!

The Barden Mystery

Now we come to the little problem I mentioned at the beginning.

It concerns a photograph we have had in the Briercliffe Society Collection for some time. Recently we have acquired a much better copy which is reproduced here. It is described as “Dean’s Farm, Byerden Lane”.

Byerden is the old spelling for Barden Lane. A “byer” is a cow house and “den” is a Viking word for a valley, so Byerden means “cow house valley”. If the spelling, originally, had been “barden”, the name would have meant “barley valley”. I know which one I prefer, but the problem is that I am not sure where Dean’s farm was.

I have looked at the old maps of the area hoping to find a Dean’s Farm but to no avail. I have also searched the Commercial Directories and, though Dean’s Farm appears in several of them, all they say is that the farm was on Barden Lane. There is no reference to an actual location.

Barden Lane is upwards of a mile in length and much of it is now developed. More development appears to be on the way at the sites of Barden and Lodge Mills which have recently been demolished. So, for most of its length, little remains of the Barden Lane of more than 100 years ago when the photograph of Dean’s Farm was taken.

I have unearthed some other clues, one of which might not solve the problem but it is interesting all the same. It could be that the Dean family, who ran the farm, are the same Dean’s who operated a farm in Ightenhill. The one at Barden Lane disappears from the Directories as the farm operated by the Dean’s at Ightenhill is listed. There is a short period when both are included in the Directories. Incidentally, it was very common to use the name of the family which operated a farm rather than its actual name.

My studies of the old maps indicate that there were two places that appear, to me, to be the most likely locations for the farm.

One is at Pendle Bridge and the other is at Holme End. Both of these names are evocative ones in our local history but neither are in Burnley: they are in Reedley Hallows. However, Burnley people were not only familiar with the Pendle Bridge Inn, which still stands as a cottage, they knew Holme End because it was the home of Jack Moore’s Monkey.

I have written about the latter in this column before so I will not trouble you with that now, but I would be interested to know whether either of these sites was home to Dean’s Farm. Similarly, I would like to know if Dean’s Farm had another name. If you can help, I would like to hear from you.