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Worsley St Mark
WORSLEY, a township, in the parish of Eccles, hundred of Salford, S. division of Lancashire, 7 miles (W. by N.) from Manchester, on the road to Leigh and Wigan; containing 8337 inhabitants. One of the earliest crusaders, Elias or Elizeus, founder of the family of Worsley, is said to have held the manor of Workesley soon after the Conquest. It remained in this family until the reign of Edward III., when Alice, sister and sole heiress of Sir Geoffrey Worsley, conveyed it by marriage to Sir John Massey, of Tatton, who, with his eldest son, Thomas, by this marriage, was attainted 1st Henry IV. The manor and estate remained in the Masseys three generations, when the heiress of Sir Geoffrey Massey married into the Stanley family; and the property came subsequently (temp. Elizabeth) to the family of Egerton. Worsley is eminently celebrated in connexion with inland navigation. In the 10th of George II., an act was obtained for making the Worsley brook navigable, but the design was not carried into effect. In the 32nd of the same reign, the Duke of Bridgewater obtained an act, and afterwards other acts, enabling him to construct a series of canals from his extensive collieries here to different places, affording the means of conveying coal and other necessaries through a populous manufacturing district. A canal, one of the earliest undertakings of the duke, and the first great canal constructed in England in modern times, runs through the village, and penetrates by a tunnel upwards of three miles in length to the collieries of Walkden. The under-ground canals and tunnels at Worsley are said to be 18 miles in length, reaching nearly to Deane, and their construction to have cost £168,960. The township comprises 2584¾ acres, Cheshire measure, whereof one-eighth is arable, and 82¼ acres woodland. The surface in the upper part is undulated, but the greater part is flat, with hedge-rows and many plantations, of which more are being made; the soil in some places is a light sandy clay, in others peat, and the views are fine and extensive. The coal wrought here is oi very superior quality, and produces the best coke in England. In the township are several cotton-mills (some established upwards of forty years), employing about 1500 hands. Worsley Hall, the seat of the Earl of Ellesmere, is a stately modern structure with an elegant portico, erected on an elevated site which overlooks the park-like grounds, and commands a view into seven counties. The old Hall, seated at the northern extremity of the gardens of the present mansion, was successively the residence of the Worsleys, Masseys, Stanleys, Breretons, and Egertons; and was remarkable as the depository of a series of spirited grotesque and allegorical heads, with an intermixture of ornamental devices, engraved in oaken panels, and brought, within the present century, from one of the state rooms of Hulme Hall, Manchester. This sculpture, referred to the 16th century, has been removed to the new Hall. Among other ancient mansions in the township are, Kempnall and Wardley Halls. The village has the appearance of neatness and comfort, and its inhabitants are extensively employed by the Earl of Ellesmere, owner of large property around: in its vicinity is the working-establishment for boat-building, and for the manufacture of all articles necessary for the canals. There are several useful institutions, among which are, a reading-room and library, supported mainly by the earl, and which numbers more than 150 of the villagers as subscribers; a savings' bank; and a clothing-fund, A troop of Yeomanry has lately been formed here, called the Worsley Troop, consisting of fifty members and three officers, and commanded by Viscount Brackley: it has a superior band. A very handsome church in the decorated style, dedicated to St. Mark, has recently been built at the sole expense of the Earl of Ellesmere, by whom it is endowed. It stands on elevated ground, and consists of a nave, south aisle, chancel, and private chapel, with a square tower and graceful spire 185 feet high, having pinnacles and flying buttresses springing from the angles. The arch of the west door is of elegant design, and above it is a three-light window with bold tracery; there is also a fine arch between the chancel and nave: the eastern window is of five lights. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the noble Earl; income, £100, with a residence. On the borders of the township is the chapel of Ellenbrook: the living is a perpetual curacy, also in the patronage of the Earl of Ellesmere; income, £137. At Swinton and Walkden, which see, are other incumbencies. The Wesleyans have a small place of worship; and schools for boys, girls, and infants, in which about 350 children are instructed, are supported principally by the noble family of Egerton. Three of these schools, and St. Mark's church, have been erected in a field called Cross Field.
From: A Topographical Dictionary of England by Samuel Lewis (1848), pp. 687-692. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=51431 Date accessed: 03 August 2010.
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