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Bewsey Old Hall set alight !


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I guess that's what happens when you stick things in lofts or cupboards that your parents give you or you acquire and never really read them properly :oops:


Laborious or not Algy... I expect you to enlighten us all more now with your info or you may get a bad rating fro me :lol::P


I'll try and scan the floor plans later or tomorrow and there is aldo an old 1906 press cutting but that is taped together and if 4 x A4 sheets so that could be tricky to upload.


It would be really nice of members of the Bewsey Old Hall Conservation Trust (which according to the leaflet in the folder is a registered charity and company) could show some of their old pics as I'm sure they must have some... PLEASE :D (Do they have a website as I couldn't find it and if not why not?)


Their pics would be nice to see especially as there may be no way of stopping development now anyway ... infact there may have been a lot more to gain and more public/business/other support if other people's interest had been trully awoken before now :(


Ah well... that's history I guess.

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Thanks Borris1066 I'll try that way now as I was putting the fill ref in... oops.


I'll stick some more of the info on that I have in the little folder over the weekend if I have time.


I guess I can't be done for copyright as I've no idea who the person is who did it bu they have neat handwriting anyway :blink:

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I'm not sure that the following will create a great deal of interest!, I did warn you in my previous post that it was "long and laborious".


The following text has been copied from a Volume of a “Lancashire & Cheshire Historical Society’s” Book (out of copyright) on the Internet Archive.


Bewsey Hall.


Appended to a Map of the Bewsey estate, apparently made

early in the last century, is a drawing of a house, no doubt

intended for a representation of Bewsey Hall at that period.

It is shewn as if composed of a centre and two gabled wings.

A moat is also shewn, with an arched gateway on the bank,

but no bridge is given, as if a former drawbridge had been

taken away. Later in the century, one-half of the building

was probably taken down (though the cellars are said to

remain underground,) and to the portion left standing a

modem suite of apartments at the north end, as represented

in the second vignette was probably appended. There is

a tradition that these modem dining and drawing-rooms were

specially erected for the reception of Charles Edward, the

Young Pretender, on his expected visit to Bewsey in 1745,

but were very luckily not required for this purpose. They

remained standing until about forty years ago, when they

were taken down.


The earlier history of Bewsey Hall, together with its local

traditions, are embodied by Dr. Robson, in the Introduction

to the Percy ballad, " Sir John Butler," which it is my good

fortune, by the kindness of Mr. Furnivall, here to introduce

from his already scarce edition of Bishop Percys Folio



In a 'Booke of Survey of the Baronye of Warinton in the countie of Lancaster, Parcell of the possessions of the Right

Honorable Robert Erie of Leicester, baron of Denbigh," as

taken on the 19th of April in the twenty-ninth year of our

Soverein Queen Ladye Elizabeth " (1587) we find the following

description of Bewsey Hall : —


" The Manorhouse of Bewsey is situate on the west side of the Town

and Lordship of Warrington, and is a mile distant from Warrington

Town, and is the South East Side of Bewsey Park. The house is

environed with a fair mote, over which is a strong drawbridge. The

house is large, but the one half of it being of very old building, is

gone to decay, that is to say the Hall, the Old Buttery, the Pantry,

Cellars, Kitchen, Day house and Brewhouse, which can not he

sufficiently repaired again without the chai-ge of lOOZ. The other

half is of new building and not decayed, being one great chamber,

four other chambers or buildings, a kitchen, a buttery, and also three

chambers and a parlour of die old building are in good repair. There

is also an old chapel, but much decayed. The seat of the manorhouse

with the garden and all the rest of the grounds within the mote

containeth 3 roods 20 perches.


The park is three measured miles about ; almost the one half of it

is full of little tall oaks, but not under wood. It is indifferent well

paled about There is in it little above six score deer of all sorts ; the

soil of the park is very barren."


The park and demesne lands together contained 804 acres

large measure = 644 statute.


The family of Botyller, Boteler, and many other variations

of spelling, becoming Butler in the reign of Henry YII, was

seated at Warrington in the time of Henry IIL A William

Butler was then in ward to Earl Ferrars, and sometime about

1240 bought the manor of Burtonwood from Robert de Ferrariis.

Here he built Bewsey Hall, and thereafter took the style of

Butler of Bewsey instead of Butler of Warrington.


It is not intended to go into the family history of the Butlers.

As lords of various manors held in capite, they had to lead the

retainers in the Welsh and Scotch wars ; and Froissart has a

characteristic narrative of the rescue of John Butler of Bewsey

by Sir Walter Manny in the French campaign in 1842.| This

seems to have been the prosperous time of the family. A

priory of Hermit Friars of St. Augustin in Warrington was

probably founded by them towards the close of the thirteenth

century. The chancel of the parish church dates about 1860.

Sir John Butler rebuilt Warrington Bridge, which had been

washed away by floods, 1864. He seems also to have founded

the Butler Chantry in the church. His grandson, another Sir

John, died about 1482, leaving a son a year old and a widow

Isabella, whose petition to Parliament may be seen in the

Rotuli Parliamentorum»%


Seven years after her husband's death she was forcibly carried

away from Bewsey Hall by one William Poole, gent, of

Liverpool, " in her kirtle and smok " to Birkenhead — another

petition says the wild parts of Wales — and there compelled to

enter into a forced marriage. What the end of it was we are

not told, but her son John grew up and married, first Anne

Savile, and secondly Margaret Stanley, sister of the first Lord

Stanley, and widow of Sir Thomas Troutbeck. Here we come

into much entanglement. Some accounts make Lady Margaret

the wife of Troutbeck after her marriage with Lord Grey. Sir

John Butler had two sons — William by Anne Savile, and

Thomas by Margaret Stanley. William died about the time of

his coming of age, and Thomas finally succeeded as heir in the

year 1482. Sir John died in 1462, and he seems to have been

the hero of the ballad, of the traditions of the neighbourhood,

and of the narrative of Dodsworth.


The Old Church, as it is always called by the inhabitants, the

High Church of Warrington as named in the ancient charters,

seems even then to have lost the name of the saint to whom it

was dedicated — St. Elphin in Domesday Book. It has been

rebuilt within the last few years, and consisted then (1860) of

a nave, north and south transepts (private chapels), chancel

and central tower. The chancel and tower arches were good

decorated work of about 1860. The north transept was the

chapel connected with Bewsey Hall, and had the name of the

owners — the Athertons. In the sixteenth century it was the

Butler Chapel or Chantry. It contained in the centre a magni-

ficent altar tomb, apparently of the time of Edward IV, which

still exists.* The lord and lady are recumbent, life-size, he

in armour, and the sides of the tomb are ornamented with

statuettes in relief, of various saints, but there is no inscription,

nor any appearance of there ever having been one. In an arch

in the north wall of the chapel was a monument, in black

marble, of a recumbent female ; and to the east of this, in the

position usually ascribed to the founder, was a cinquefoiled

arch which held a stone coffin, the contents of winch had

disappeared before the chapel was pulled down. This chapel,

except the cinquefoiled arch, was of late perpendicular work,

and most likely built by the widow of Sir Thomas Butler,

1520-80. The name of the Butlers had vanished from their

resting place, but the memory of the lord and lady and their

unfortunate end, was handed down from generation to generation

in connection with this monument, no doubt receiving additions

or suffering mutilation according to circumstances.


The tale, as generally told, was that certain of the lord's

enemies bribed his steward, and that the faithless servant placed

a light at a window over the hall door, to give notice to the

assassins, who crossed the mote, and found the door open.

They made their way to the lord's chamber, and were met and

opposed by a negro servant, who fell in defence of his master,

whose murder soon followed. The heir, a baby, was carried by

the nurse in her apron, covered with chips, out of the house,

under the pretence that she was going to light a fire. Two

large dark patches on the oaken floors, one in a narrow passage

leading to the lord's room, the other within the room, near the

door, were left as evidence to all following time, and it was said

that every room on that floor, the second, was more or less

stained with blood.


A new servant had always to get accustomed to the visits of

an apparition, a rattling of chains along the narrow lobby, and

three raps at the bedroom door at midnight, till use made the

thing pass as a matter of course. The traitor steward was

promised great exaltation, and they hanged him on an oak as

they came away through the park. A tree pointed out as the

infelix arbor was cut down some forty years ago.


The lahole of the chapel has been pulled down, but the tombs have been

preeen'ed ; the only part of the old pile left is the chancel.


This tree was certainly not so old as the time of Elizabeth. As an attendant spirit (on the domain however, more than its lords) was a white rabbit, which made its appearance when trouble or change was impending ; it is said to have been seen within the present century.



So was the tale sixty years ago. It had, perhaps, been

modified by being introduced as an episode in a poem published

with Dodsworth's account in 1796, the first effort ot the author

of the interminable epic Alfred — Mr. John Fitchett Pennant,

who travelled after the middle of last century, heard that both

the lord and lady were slain ; and a century before that, Roger

Dodsworth had taken the pains to put in writing what he had

heard, and his narrative is still in the Bodleian Library.


Dodsworth's account is as follows : — When King Henry VII

came to Latham, the Earl of Derby sent to Sir John Butler,

who was his brother-in-law, to desire him to wear his cloth for

a time — a request which the Lady Butler answered with great

disdain. This gave rise to great malice on the part of the Earl,

which was increased by various other matters, till with the

assistance of Sir Piers Legh and William Savage, they corrupted

his servants and murdered him in his bed. His lady, who was

in London, dreamed that night that Bewsey Hall swam with

blood. She indicted twenty men for the murder ; but after

marrying Lord Grey, he made her suit void. Upon which she

left him and came back into Lancashire, and said, If my lord

will not help me, that I may have my will of mine enemies,

"yet my body shall be buried by him," and caused a tomb of

alabaster to be made, where she lyeth upon the right hand of

her husband Sir John Butler. The faithful servant was the

chamberlain named Holcroft, and the traitor was his brother,

the porter at the hall, whom the assassins hanged in the park.


Dodsworth's tale, no doubt, represents the tradition as it

existed in the middle of the seventeenth century, but it is

altogether at variance with facts. During the whole of the

reign of Henry VH the lord of Bewsey was Sir Thomas Butler,

who succeeded (as already stated) to the estate in 1482, and

died in 1622. He certainly went quietly to his rest, after provid-

ing amply for the foundation of a grammar school in Warrington.

His father, Sir John, according to the Inquisitio Post Mortem still

extant in the Bodleian Library, died in 1468, leaving, besides

Thomas, who succeeded, a brother William, ten or twelve years

older. They were wards to the king, and the younger one is

said to have been of the Stanley blood ; in fact, there are

documents still in existence showing the interest Lord Stanley

and his son Lord Strange took in the latter just before the battle

of Bosworth Field.* But not a title of evidence has turned up

to show that there was any murder at all. The record of the

outrage on the previous Lady Butler is given in the Rotuli

Parliatfientorumj but every thing connected with the murder of

the last Sir John seems to have vanished like Macbeth's witches.


• Oent. Mag., Sept., 1863.


There had certainly been bad blood between the Leghs and

Butlers for some generations, which continued for two or three

generations after ; and this Sir Piers Legh of the tale is said to

have been compelled to build a chnrch at Disley, near Lyme,

to expiate the guilt he had incurred in the bloodshed. His

monumental brass, where he is represented as wearing a priest's

robes over his armour, is still to be seen in Winwick Church ;

and as he died in 1527, aged 65, he could only have been an

infant at the date of Butler's death. It seems out of the

question to connect Lord Stanley, his brother-in-law, with it ; and

nothing is known about William Savage. As to the blood-marks,

that portion of Bewsey Hall is not older than the sixteenth

century, and was most likely the part described in the Surveye"

as having been then newly built, so that we meet only with

phantom .evidence, which we can neither grasp nor realize.


Whether the Lord Grey was of Codnor, of Groby, or de

Ferrariis is uncertain ; and is doubtful whether Lady Margaret

Butler was the widow of Troutbeck when she married Sir John,

or whether, another account states, she married Troutbeck

for her third husband.


We believe no other copy of this ballad has been heard of, and

besides its fragmentary state, the language has evidently been

modernized ; but the peculiar account of Lady Butler's absence

from home, and ''her good brother John," clearly the first

Stanley of Alderley, would lead to the supposition that it must

have been written soon after the murder, long before Lord

Stanley was created Earl of Derby. The introduction of Ellen

Butler, as a daughter of Sir John, may have been a mistake, or

put euphonia gratia for the real name AUce, who would have been

fourteen or fifteen at the time. Sir John is represented as

nephew to Stanley, which must be incorrect ; it may, however,

be from the ballad-maker's confusion of ideas, as Lady Butler

afterwards calls Stanley her brother.


The end of the Butlers was sad enough, but we have no space

for it here. Descendants in the female line are still in existence,

and a keen genealogist might trace them to our own time ; but

their place knows them no more, the very name is forgotten, and

when the fine altar tomb was opened some years ago, a very few

mouldering bones and the fragment of a heavy two-handed

sword were all that it contained.


The knight was dust,

His good sword rust,

His soul is with the saints we trust.


[Note. — Much of the " entanglement '* felt and expressed by our

learned friend, Dr. Robson, in the concluding part of his Introduction

to the above ancient ballad is capable of removal, by a communication

of later date by Mr. Beamont to the column of " Local Notes, Queries,

and Replies," of the Warrington Guardian newspaper for October 8th,

1870. After a long and careful analysis of the evidence for and against

the story given in the Bewsey ballad, Mr. Beamont thus concludes : —

“Upon the whole matter it is fair to conclude that a foul murder was

committed upon the Lord of Bewsey”, but it is probable that the

murdered man was not Sir John Boteler, who died in 1463, but his

father, who died on 12th September, 1430. This last Boteler had,

though his son had not, a daughter named Ellen, who was old enough

to raise an alarm when her father was attacked, and he was actually

nephew by marriage to the second Sir John Stanley, of Lathom, who

survived him. It was upon his widow Isabella that the outrage, led

by William Pulle, whom Lady Boteler in her petition describes as an

outlaw, for man's blood shed was committed, and it is not a violent

presumption to suppose that the blood he had so shed was shed in the

murder of Lady Boteler's husband at Bewsey. If the records of the

Crown Court at Lancaster should ever be indexed and made accessible,

then the mystery of the Boteler murder may be cleared up."] — J.K.




(From this point I have not made any corrections, leaving the ballad as printed in the original text – algy).


ivi Hon BtttUr:


DUT : word is come to waxrington,


& Busye ball is laid about ;

Sir lohn Bntler and his merry meu

stand in fifull great doubt.


when they came to Busye hall

itt was the merle' midnight,

and all the bridges were vp drawen,

and neuer a candle Light.


there they made them one good boate,


all of one good Bull skinn ;

wilU'am Sauage was one of the ffirst

that euer came itt within.


hee sayled ore his merrymen


by 2 and 2 together,

& said itt was as good a bote

1as ere was made of lather.


Basye Hall

i8 sur-


and Sir J.

Bailer in



At midnight

hia takera

came •:


on a bull-

akin boat


oroaaed over

tbe uioat.


raerke, dark. — P.


waken you, waken you, deare ffather !


God waken you wttLin !

for heere is your vnkle standlye

come yotir hall within."


if that be true, Ellen Butler,


these tydings you tell mee,

a lOOll in good redd gold

this night will not borrow mee."


then came downe Ellen Butler


& into her ffathers hall,

& then came downe Ellen Butler,

& shee was laced in pall.


where is thy flfather, Ellen Butler ?


haue done, and tell itt mee."

my fifather is now to London ridden,

as Christ shall haue part of mee."


" Now nay. Now nay, Ellen Butler,


ffor soe itt must not bee ;

fifor 'ere I go fforth of this haU,

your ffather I must see.'


the sought thai hall then yp and downef


theras John Butler Lay ;f

the sought thai hall then vp and downe

theras lohn Butler Lay ;


fifaire him fifall, litle Holcrofft !


soe Merrilye he kept the dore,

till that his head ffrom his shoulders

came tumbling downe the fflore.


yeeld thee, yeelde thee, lohn Butler I


yeelde thee now to mee I "

J* I will yeelde me to my vnckle Stanly e,

& neere to ffalse Peeter Lee."


a preist, a preist," saies Ellen Butler,


" to housle and to shriue I

a preist, a preist," sais Ellen Butler,

'' while thai my father is a man aliue 1 "


then bespake him william Sauage, —


a shames death may hee dye I —

Sayes, he shall haue no other preist

66 but my bright sword and mee."


EUen Boiler

roaMB her



His anole

Stanley Sa



No money

will saTe



Ellen eomea

down to the



" Where is


father t "


" Gone to


I swear.


" No, he is



we must

have him."





find him,


and sam-

mon him

to yield.


" A priest to

shrive my

father," aaja





" No priest

hat my




the Ladye Butler is to London rydden,

shee had hetter haue beene att home,

ehee might haue beggd her owne marryed horcl

att her good BroUier lohn.


& as shee lay in leeue London,


& as shee lay in her bedd,

Shee dreamed her owne marryed hont

was swiminnge in blood soe red.


shee called yp her merry men all


long ere itt was day,

saies, wee must ryde to Busye hall

with all speed that wee may."


shee met with 8 Kendall men


were ryding by the way :

'tydings, tydings, Kendall men,

I pray you tell itt mee I "


'heauy tydings, deare Madam !


firom you wee will not Leane,'''

the worthyest knight in merry England,

lohn Butler, Lord ! hee is slaine ! "


ffarewell, fifarwell, lohn Butler !


ffor thee I must neuer see.


ffarewell, fifarwell, Busiye hall !


for thee I will neuer come nye."


Now Ladye Butler is to London againc,


in all the speed might bee ;

& when shee came before her prince,

shee kneeled low downe on her knee :


a boone, a boone, my Leege !' shee saycs,


' fifor gods lone grant itt mee ! "

" What is thy boone, Lady Butler ?t

or what wold thou haue of mee ? "f


What is thy boone, Lady Butler ?

or what wold thou haue of mee ? "

'(/iat fifalse Peeres of Lee, & my brother Stanley,

& wiUtam Sauage, and all, may dye."




Lady Bntler






She dreams

Ihat her

lord awims

in blood,


oalla up her



and ridea



She meeta

Kendal men,





" John

Batler is



She turna

back to



and prays

the King


to kill her

lord'a three




• O.N. — LeinOf to conceal. — F. Iane is a Cheahire prononnciation for layne

conceal. This proTincialism occurs in the previous stanza, where way rhymes to

metf and elsewhere in the ballad. How far south it extends I don't know,

but about Frodsham it is very peculiar. — Dr. Robton.


come you hither, Lady Butler,


come you ower this stone ;

wold you haue 8 men flfor to dye, foTfr' *


all fifor the losse off one ?


come you hither, Lady Butler,


with all the speed you may ;


if thou wilt come to London, hsdy Butler, No. Do you


100 thou Shalt goe home Lady Gray."



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Great stuff Algy and thanks for uploading all that. My little brain will have to read a few times though to digest and for it all to sink in. Time for after another lemsip I think,


In the mean time here are some scanned old press cuttings if anyone is interested. I will try and scan the large 1909 one later an piece it together somehow to upload.


These below may have been collected by my mum as they are in the folder in an envelope but are not stuck in or referenced as part of the project


Press cutting from WG dated Friday 11th March 1983




Date unknown but possibly from the WG




Hand dated 17 Jun 1988



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