PRIORSWOOD HALL

This old house in Dalton is thought to be originally connected with Burscough Priory, though in regard to its early history there is a lack of accurate detail. The Haydock family, one of whom was killed at Agincourt, held the property in trust for the Prior and a priest's hiding hole, a reminder of penal times, was found there. In the 1930s the house and its 119 acres was purchased by the Catholic Land Association, for 3,000. The aim was to make some contribution, however small, to the problem of unemployment then prevalent, by training a community that could work, and live off, the land.

Practical sympathisers donated a sow, a cow, turkeys, goats, a pig, poultry and two horses. Fr. Gregory Buisseret, O.S.B. was appointed Warden and Mr. J. Pope, farmer and market gardener, became bailiff. A room was fitted out as a chapel and dedicated to Blessed John Rigby, and a crop of potatoes, rhubarb, beet, turnips, peas and carrots was harvested within a year. A crop of wheat following. This represents much hard work by the original community as the paths and coppices were overgrown, the outhouses derelict, and some of the gardens untouched for seventeen years. But all was made festive for the official opening by Archbishop Downey, on May 12th, 1935. The Archbishop remarked that it was fitting that a Benedictine monk should have charge of the project because the influence of the Benedictines had been responsible for the civilization of much of Europe through agriculture. Crowds attended from Liverpool, St. Helens and Wigan and the scheme endured until 1950, when the Hall was purchased by Cyril Ainscough. Until his sudden death in 1980 he took an active interest in the Church and in civic affairs. In 1979 he was made High Sheriff of Lancashire.

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