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Turnpike Leap


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I don't know if this should be a new topic or a following thread from the "Hill Cliffe" thread but.......

I have tried to research this further and I have a theory which I would like you all to consider.

The Rockcutting in Firs Lane Appleton was cut in 1750 as a new road to Bellfields Farm (this seems to be a definitive date) and before this the only way to get to Bellfields was from what is now London Road (A49) which was a "Turnpike Road" ie  you had to pay to use it.

I wonder if, when Admiral Hore built his house and farm at Bellfields and created the Rockcutting through Firs Lane he inadvertantly created a short cut (or leap) which became a short cut for anyone who could try to get from Stretton to Stockton Heath without paying the Turnpike tolls?




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No one has replied to this to date, I guess that you all think that my theory is wrong?

come on algy

RC, Sorry mate!, I honestly hadn't read the post about Admiral Hore, and yes your theory sounds very likely, it's the only explanation that has been offered and unless anything better comes along I for one will settle for that, the reason I hadn't continued with your Hill Cliff thread is that I had nothing else to offer!.

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I thought this had been discussed here sometime in the past or maybe I read something about it, but I seem to recall it not being so much an excavation to create a road but a road being created by a quarrying operation. I seem also to recall that the stone in the area has some odd properties that made it very suitable for something to do with the construction of the ship canal? 


Probably a load of old tosh as a result of my declining brain cells but something is ringing bells about this.


Bill :)

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Hi Bill, if you could find previous discussions about this I would be grateful.

I, also, have heard the theory about the Rockcutting being a fortuitous quarrying operation... but I find this very hard to believe.

The sandstone in this area is very weak, especially on it's top layers ie where it is subject to water.

The "well" in the Rockcutting is a natural spring and was there well before the cutting was dug.

The sandstone from the quarry (where the gun club now is on Quarry Lane) was much deeper and much harder and was used to renovate Warrington Parish Church ( St. Elphins) in the C19.

Any help, however, would be very much appreciated! 

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I've still not managed to find anything else out so far (despite trying) which is why I haven't replied either yet RC.


However, here is the link to the previous topic that Bill refers to.




I read through it again as a refresher when you first posted your other topic but we never really got 'there'.  I presumed you had already seen that one hence I didn't mention it sorry.


There is also a link on it from Tracey B to a flickr page with some suggestions about how it may have come about including like Bill mentions lining the Manchester Ship Canal.


Given that Algy mentioned on the old topic that the road was shown on the 1777 map and as the MSC was built over 100 years later that theory definately doesn't seem to stand up and even more so now you too have confirmed that the cutting was done in 1750..... but then again maybe they planned ahead better in those days :wink:


All that sandstone must have gone somewhere though even if it wasn't strong enough for building works.  Maybe it was all just dumped in a field and used many years later or who knows maybe they dug out and lined Appleton reservoir with it as that wasn't there at the time.


I'm intrigued about Admiral Hore too now though.  I've never heard of him and can't find anything about him, who was he as he must have been a wealthy and possibly notable chap.

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On the Hill Cliffe topic Algy shared a receipt from Arley Hall paid to Peter Swinton for carting stone from Hill Cliffe to Arley Hall in 1759. It's from this website  http://www.arleyhallarchives.co.uk/index.htm .


By the way - thanks for that link Algy, Peter is on my family tree and I've found out loads of detail about his day to day life as an 18th Century farmer. It's an amazing site and the books available to buy are very useful too. 

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Possible theory as to why the Firs Lane cutting was constructed.

On the 1777 map of Hill Cliff there is a Windmill at the top of Hill Cliff, is it possible that the cutting has been made to allow the easier transportation of grain from the fields belonging to Bellfield farm to the Windmill at the top of the hill, the cutting has been constructed on the edge of the cliff that is the shallowest part of the ground in the area, approx. 250ft above sea level, to choose a more direct route to the mill would have involved cutting through another 70ft of ground/sandstone - 320ft above sea level, the second map shows the topographical heights above sea level, the well in the cutting would have provided water for the pack horses hauling heavy loads of grain up the track to the mill.

Regarding your comment trace on the carting of stone perhaps Bellfield's owner had found a market for disposal of the spoil from his excavating - "Killing two birds with one stone" so to say. :wink:




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Thank you all for this I find all your info. to be absolutely fascinating.

Admiral Hoare,Dizzy, (Hore in his will) was a Royal Naval Captain (later promoted to Admiral) who captured a pirate ship. As was the way in those days the pirate treasure was divided between the Crown and the crew (apportioned according to seniority) and Captain Hoare became a very rich man. He was a friend of Sir Peter Warburton of Arley who sold him some land and, according to Charles Foster a medieval farm house called "Southerns" which he then re-built in 1750 and called it Bellefields. Apparently he built it in the form of a ship, all bedrooms were cabins and the lawn at the front was his quarter deck.

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I've just been having a look at the fascinating info on that link.


There is a reference to Danial Hore esq for Bellfields for rent paid in 1752 and also another for Dan Hore esq for Stockton Heath Farm(1751 I think ).


There are also some other receips for 'Bellfields' for work done to the buildings and also a couple for James Clarke in Sept 1962, servant of the late Adml Hore for Ponys etc and also one for mowing.


Anyway..... having read through some of the info it says that from 1750 onwards the Warburtons started buying up all the land (leasehold and freehold) when it came on the market and to create dairy farms as cheese was big business then.  They then LET the farms etc at market rents.  It also says they improved and rebuilt farmhouses and other farm buildings.


As there are rents shown being paid for Bellfields by Adml Hore and others later at Bellfields I'm wondering if maybe the Warburtons made the cutting to make access to the farm as in my mind it seems to have been part of their estate and big plan.


Maybe not though as you know how my minds works at times.  Will have another look later as I've just been told off ha ha

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Oooh bugger... sorry RC your post wasn't there when I started typing so bang goes my theory now you've said that Admiral Hoare/Hore owned the land.  I wonder why he was paying rent though if he owned it.   I need a lie down.

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Well I searched for Admiral Hoare after reading your interesting info about him RC and google returned an old topic from on here in March 2008 where someone wanted to know about Jacobs Well and Jacobs Ladder (the cutting area).  I'd even posted on it at the time hence the reference to the witch again    :lol:   


You might find this post interesting from the topic by a member at the time called 'Man in Black' (he's a local historian, archaeologist and has also written many books about Warrington's history'.  He's not been on for years though which is a great shame.



As far as I know the following is true:


The reason the Sandstone Cut was called 'The Roman Cutting' is because a ghost story was current up to the 1970's that a troop of Roman Soldiers marched out of one wall and into the other on moonlit nights, waist deep in the road. Why this story should be so is a mystery due to another more factual story:


The earliest graphitti carved into the walls of the Sandstone Cut is dated '1742' and the story goes that the cuttng was made by workers preparing for the Bridgewater Canal - the deal being that the canal would proceed without difficulty and the sandstone taken used in construction providing the cut was made to allow local farmers improved access to developing farms beyond. Given the 'Enclosure Act' of the 1730's and improvements made by Admiral Daniel Hoare at Bellfields Farm in the 1750's and 1760's, this is quite believable.


A lime kiln from this period also exists in the private woods beyond the cutting.


When Jacob's Well was cleared of debris in the 1970's the oldest coin with a readable date was a penny of 1822, but older highly corroded coins were represented. About 75 coins were found indicating the limited use of Jacob's Well as a wishing well but I've never heared of a witch using it ! Cromwell's Cottage, which stood in the cemetary on Hill Cliff up to the early 1900'ds, was said to be lived in 'by a witch' but was one of only 4 houses/farms on the hill at that time.

Hope that helps



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I love the idea of Roman soldiers marching across the Rocks and of the "witch" living in "Cromwells cottage" but I fear these tales may, possibly, be fanciful! Rest assured, however, that I will keep my eyes open for them from now on, if I see anything I'll report back. My friends and neighbors now living at Bellfields have done some research themselves and have compiled written and documentary evidence of the buildings history.I am sure that they said they have a copy of Admiral Hoares Will in which he left the farm and land to his servants. They have promised to lend me their file on this to help me with the book(let) I hope to produce about this area so I should be able to shed a little more light on this shortly. I think Algys theory about the rockcutting being made to allow easier access between Bellfields and the Windmill is credible. Infact the best yet but it doesn't shed any light on the name "Turnpike Leap".  I know that the natural spring in the rocks has traditionally been called Jacobs Well but I don't know why.....any ideas, anyone?  I don't know who the Man In Black is but I do know that Mark Olly and S.T.A.G (South Trafford Archaeology Group) surveyed Bellfields a few years ago and were able to identify several medieval features within the present building which seem only to confirm Charles Fosters statement that Admiral Hoare "re-built" Southerns Farm and called it Bellefields.

I would really appreciate any further info about this from any of you out there but don't forget that I intend to write about all of this (for charity) so ...Don't tell everyone!

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I've got a copy of Wally Barnes' book Ghosts, Mysteries and Legends of Old Warrington. He has a story about a witch at Hill Cliff. It says a gravedigger at Hill Cliff Cemetery called Richard Weevil, nicknamed Dick the Weasel, stole a ring with the initials 'RB' inscribed in it off a corpse he was burying. Naturally he began to suffer hauntings from the spirit of the robbed corpse. He confided in a local vicar, Reverend Beechwood who "after investigation discovered there had been a practising witch in the district 40 years before named Rachel Blood and no-one knew what had happened to her, but from all accounts Rachel was not a very popular lady". Dick tried to get rid of the ring but no-one would take it As one would expect, the gravedigger died of fright shortly after and his corpse was found in an open grave. Wally finishes the story with "There have been many ghostly tales told about HIll Cliff over the years". 


I had a quick look in various census records on the off chance that Rachel Blood may have actually existed but, you'll be surprised to hear, I can find no trace of her. The story isn't dated so '40 years ago' could mean anything. I haven't checked out the other names but I'm not optimistic that they'll be any more traceable than Rachel. Interesting to see that you're not the only one who heard a witchy sort of tale though Dizzy!

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I've never read his books but my mum would have done as she was always very much into 'all things local' and the history of the area.  She knew so much and I never really listened but oooh if the witch story she told me came from one of his books and she knew it wasn't real and scared me needlessly from going though there for all these years, well... I don't know who I am more annoyed with.  Him or my mum !!

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My friends and neighbors now living at Bellfields have done some research themselves and have compiled written and documentary evidence of the buildings history.I am sure that they said they have a copy of Admiral Hoares Will in which he left the farm and land to his servants. They have promised to lend me their file on this to help me with the book(let) I hope to produce about this area so I should be able to shed a little more light on this shortly.


I bet your neighbours research will make fascinating reading for you RC and I can't wait for you to produce your booklet to read more about the history of around there. PLEASE HURRY UP !! :wink:


As for Admiral Daniel Hore's will... I actually found it earlier today and read it, well I tried to anyway as being hand written it's a bit hard in places.


It says he left all his real estate and personal estate to his brother James and that if James died (presumably before he did) it was to go to James' kids Charles, William, James, Daniel, Ann and nephews and nieces to be divided equally between them.


He left lots of other things too including annuities to his sister of £30 a year for the term of her natural life providing she should remain a widow and not have £50 a year to live on and not be another wife. Mean sod ha ha


He also left the same amount to his siter in law each year (for her life term) and also between £10 and £15 per year for life term to many of his servants and gardener etc.  I didn't notice anything that said his servants got his land though but maybe I just missed it.


Many other bequeaths too and one to his brother (not sure if that was James or another one) for '?something@' for 1/2 year 'to be continued or to sell my real estate to Peter Warburton if he choses to buy it'.


Algy... I know what you are like and that you don't have access to the records me and tracey (or possibly others) have so if you want a copy of it to read in full over your night time horlicks let me know and I'll send it to you :wink:

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