The History of Melling
The Origins of the Melling
Historically part of Lancashire, Melling and was recorded in the Doomsday Book of 1086 as Melinge. The name Melling is derived from the Old English name ‘Mellingas’, which literally means ‘the followers of Mealla’. It is a tribal name, preserving the memory of a small independent group of migrant settlers of the 6th century AD, who came across to England and reached Lancashire, probably via the valleys of Pennine rivers, over thirteen hundred years ago, and is among the most ancient of English place names according to Dr Wainright who in his studies of Scandinavian England writes ‘The Mellingas apparently wandered west until they made a permanent home in south Lancashire, on the edge of a low-lying swamp’.
J.R.Green describes the group of 6th century AD settlers in his famous ‘History of the English People’, as ‘Little knots of kinsfolk drew together, not as kinfolk only, but as dwellers in the same plot, knit together by their common holdings with the same bounds. Each had its moot hill or a sacred tree as a centre’.
During surveys undertaken as part of the construction of the M57 motorway, a number of anomalies were found which were concluded as being the remains of a Stone Age settlement based around Melling Rock.
It is also noted that the local Wood Hall farm, was the location of a very minor battle during the English Civil War, which was concluded from a number of cannonballs dating from that era along with Melling House, which is shown to have been seriously damaged as a result of such action.
The Leeds and Liverpool Canal passes the village, and during the years of the Industrial Revolution the village flourished through passing trade. Over the years Melling’s local economy has been supported by industries such as a quarry, a pottery and, most recently, the BICC factory (which was demolished in the late 1990s). Farming has always been prevalent in the area and remains so today with much of the land being grade 1 agricultural. However with the growth in population over recent years this has seen a significant number of residents commute to work in Liverpool or other surrounding towns.
A study of the old Melling field names enables a picture of ancient Melling to be drawn, with its woods, groves, copses, glades, meadows and arable land with hedges and ditches.
When the great stretch of water, moss and bog called Hengerther Lake which covered much of the land from Melling to Maghull, was finally drained in the 14th century, by the initiative monks from Cockersands Abbey, who used local labour to cut the drainage ditches, the long term result was to convert the watery wastes in to highly fertile land.
This area was owned, about eight hundred years ago, by Henry of Melling, who in 1184 AD, gave it to Cockersands Abbey. The monks had the dykes and ditches dug to drain the water into natural brooks. With the constant clearance of land with fire and axe, and as the drainage of the swampy bog, meadow and arable land increased, there were the usual boundary squabbles. The Domesday Book records a great wood in Melling and Victorian history confirms this. There must have been many other woods in Melling besides the great wood, for as late as 1704 it is recorded that dwellings were being made in oak and ash in Melling.
There is mention in the Cockersands Chartulary, towards the end of the 12th century AD of three ancient roads in Melling. One of these being Cascough Lane (Brewery Lane), Cascough meaning ‘Jackdaw Wood’, so this road would go through the wood recorded in the Doomsday Book.
It is clear that the principle farming families in Melling at the end of the 13th century were the Tatlock, Bootle and Molyneux.
Tatlock family settled in Melling about 1200 in the 17th century and over three centuries of settled farming at ‘The Bank’ for they were usually referred to as ‘Tatlock de Bank’. John Tatlock and his family founded the Tatlock charity for Educational purposes.
There is records of the Molyneux family in Melling from the 13th century referred to as Moyneux of the Wood as they claimed a manor and made Melling their principle home, their house being known as the Hall in the Wood.
The name of Bootle (Botul) appears early in the 13th century. This distinguished family married into the Wilbraham family. Lethom House was built by Sir Thomas Bootle about 1734.
It is fascinating to realise how complete was the independence of the occupants of Melling in the 17th and 18th century, and if you take a selection of the trades and crafts in Melling, then a picture of a self-contained village emerges: basket maker, shoemaker, nailor, plasterer, blacksmith, spurrier, watchmaker, joiner, tanner, ropemaker, stonemason, brewer, miller, carpenter, slater, weaver, taylor, school master, clerk, inn keeper, attorney, hatter, doctor, solider, sailor, tobacconist.
Places of interest
St Thomas Parish Church (C of E), Rock Lane
It was founded before 1603. An ancient preaching cross or rood has stood on the site of the church for centuries. A chapel mentioned in a deed of 1190 A.D., when land in Melling was held by the monks of Cockersand Abbey near Morecambe Bay. The present church of St. Thomas and the Holy Rood was built in 1835 it is in the early English style, and forms, from its elevated situation, a conspicuous object in the scenery. It replaced an earlier church of the Holy Rood dating from about 1195. The chapelry is elevated, and from the churchyard it has panoramic views including Liverpool and in the distance the Welsh mountains.
St Kentigern Roman Catholic Chruch
The church was built in 1897, as a chapel of ease, to be served from St George’s Maghull. St. Kentigern or ‘Mungo’ (the nickname meaning ‘well loved’ is found in Scotland and the Isle of Man, for the same Kentigern) was a 6th century monk who founded the monastery where the modern city of Glasgow stands.
The Tithebarn has been a part of life in Melling since the mid 18th century when it was built to house the tithe which was due to the Rector of Halsall.
Originally there would have been two great barn doorways facing each other which were constructed to enable hay carts to be driven into the barn. At harvest time the corn was brought to the barn and stored in the side bays. During the winter months it was gradually threshed by flailing on the hard central floor and then winnowed by being tossed in the draught between the open doorways.
Eventually it was used as a coach house when the adjacent Vicarage was built in the 19th century and after the 1914 -18 war it was rejuvenated by local labour and used as a Parish Room.
In 1974 the Tithebarn was modernised and nowadays it serves as St Thomas' church hall and community centre, still serving the community nearly 200 years on.
Melling Church School
The school appears to have been founded built in 1844 and is described as a neat school, erected corresponding in style to the church, the old school then being used as a dwelling for the master and mistress. The school taught 25 free children and was allowed to take boarders.
This area was once a quarry from which high quality sandstone was removed for building projects probably including the present St Thomas Church situated opposite The Delph. In the early 20th century it was used as a rifle range and occasional recreation area but later began to be used as a landfill site.
From the mid 1970s the Parish Council, in conjunction with Sefton MBC, sought ways of improving the site but it did not prove possible to get effective ownership of the whole site until the early 1980’s. The conversion of the site to a wildflower meadow with public access was finally realised in 1988, with help from Landlife, the environmental charity which later went on to build the National Wildflower Centre in Court Hey Park, Knowsley. The Delph remains a successful example of creative conservation and has received visits from landscape professionals, some from distant shores. We are ensuring it has the management it deserves, and adding to a species compliment to ensure this area has a secure future.
The sandstone walls that border The Delph and Rock Lane probably date from the early 18th Century.
Wild flowers to look for are: Greater Knapweed, Yellow Rattle, Agrimony, Ox-eye daisy, Birdsfoot-Trefoil, Meadow Cranesbill and Wild Parsnip
Butterflies include: Red Admiral, Commas, Speckled Wood, Peacock, Small Skipper and Greater Burnet Moth
Birdlife includes: Goldfinches, Linnets, Tree Sparrows, Jays, Song Thrushes and Wrens
Church on the rock
Gardening Club 1915
Melling AFC 1906-7
Old Post Office
Procession at Festival 1911
Rev Hayes & Tithebarn work Party
Unloading Clay, Melling Pottery
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