Saturday, 30 August 2008

Bentley House Ruins & illicit Whisky Tales

1300-1600hrs From Calf Hey Car Park to Bentley House and then back to St Stephens Churchyard (original site) and back to Calf Hey Car park....
Birds: House Martin - approx 30 plus over feeding up high over reservoir. Approx 50 Black Headed Gulls on reservoir. 1 female Mallard on reservoir. A late Willow Warbler calling from around Bentley House, Great Spotted Woodpecker calling near to Bentley House. Meadow Pipit (1), Swallow (5) over reservoir.
Insects: Common Darter Dragonfly (click over photo), also Immature Male Common Darter, Small Copper Butterfly - very fresh and superb condition (see photo), Speckled Wood Butterfly (1) Wall Brown Butterfly (in St. Stephens old Churchyard) Green Veined White B (10), Peacock (2) at Lower Ormerods, Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly (1) at Lower Ormerods.
Flora (Fungi) The largest Field Mushroom I have ever seen at approx 6" cap diameter and fresh (field between Hartley House and Lower Ormerods) Amanita umbrinolutea, Laccaria amethystea (young), Laccaria amethystea (underside), Laccaria amethystea (matured), Unidentified -Calf Hey prob Russellac .

Bentley House (To see photos of Bentley House Ruins Click Here

Not long ago, there always bred, Common Redstart and Spotted Flycatcher in the close proximity to Bentley House, though I have not seen any of these around for sometime now. Willow Warbler still breeds very close. In the distant past also Wood Warbler and Tree Pipit were regular summer visitors.. and a regular Winter visitor to the Alder copsed area beneath Bentley House where parties of Redpoll.

Bentley House does have some striking history, especially in regards to "illicit whisky distilling" which took place during the mid , 1800's - Here is a article published in the Blackburn Standard - May 20th 1857:

ILLICIT DISTILLATION OF WHISKY..... On Saturday at the Court-house, Haslingden, Jonathan Haworth, farmer, Bentley House, Haslingden Grane, was charged by Mr. Ellis Heath, supervisor of the Inland Revenue in the Blackburn Division, with being the proprietor of an unlicensed still for the manufacture of illicit whisky. Mr. Clough, who appeared for the Board of Inland Revenue, stated that this was one of the most compact and connected private distilleries which had been brought to light, at any rate in this neighbourhood; and but for the vigilance of the officers of the Board, it might have been carried on for a length of time without detection. At eleven o'clock on the night of 3rd April last, Mr. Ellis Heath, accompanied by the officers, went to the house of the defendant, which is situated at an unfrequented and isolated part of the township of Haslingden. On going into the house, the officers proceeded to a square weaving shop, but observed nothing there by two pairs of looms. On examining the room above that they found it was a much larger room. They descended again to the weaving shop, and tapped the wall, which defendant said was a gable end of the house. They found the mortar soft, but yet it corresponded with the other walls of the chamber. On looking at the flags they found that they had only breen freshly laid. A few were taken up and after taking up a quantity of earth, an arched entrance cut out of the solid rock was discovered with an aperture just sufficient for one person to enter in a creeping position. On the officers entering the chamber by this, the only entrance, they found a new still and every apparatus requisite for the manufacture of illicit spirits, with a number of tubs, a quantity of wash, &c., which were immediately seized and conveyed to a place of safety. The flue of the fireplace in the room had been cut out of the rock and taken below the floor of the weaving shop and house until a junction was formed with the chimney of the house, so that one flue only could be seen to emit smoke. With the stone cut from the flue the partition wall of the weaving shop had been built so that no material had to be brought to the house, --Mr. Ellis Heath and others proved the case and the bench inflicted a mitigated penalty of £50 and costs, in default of payment to be imprisoned during her Majesty's pleasure. -- On the 7th ult., the defendant had been convicted of being on the premises where illicit whisky was found and convicted in £30 and costs, in default to go to prison for three months. The prisoner then sold ten head of cattle and went to prison. The seizure reflects great credit on the vigilance of the officers and will do much to check illicit distillation in this neighbourhood.


Jonathan Haworth and his Wife Alice are buried at St. Stephens Church Old Site, near Crowtrees and here is photo of gravestone (click here).


At the side of Bentley House runs the old road which was the original road over Bentley Moss and made its way to Bolton, the gatepost at the sides of Bentley House does still have it engraved "To Bolton", I have taken photos (click here) and tried to highlight the Bolton in blue chalk so you can easily make it out....