The Parish Church of St. Mary,
Note.. The present writer (Rev Kingsley Jones) has heard of yet other tunnels: from Church to Priory, from Church to a shop in Fishergate, and from Church to Old Penwortham bridge. He has heard one gentleman tell of a tunnel through the foundations of his house; another tell of a door leading downwards in the Priory grounds.
Obviously, it is difficult to tunnel below a river at sea level without the sort
of pumping engines that only began to appear in the late 18th Century, so the story
Several explanations have been put forward to explain how the story came to be told:
• Seemingly magical communication between (Roman?) lookouts on the hill at Penwortham and Tulketh may have induced the “Tunnel” myth.
•A mediaeval sewer from the Priory to the river would necessarily have been big enough for a man to crawl through in order to clean and maintain it. No trace of it exists, and such sophistication is unlikely for an establishment as small as Penwortham’s Priory.
•It is reported that there was in the Priory garden in the 19th century and early 20th century a tool shed (or perhaps an ice store) built into a rockery; this may have given the appearance of a tunnel closed by a door.
When the Squire, Lawrence Rawstorne, gave the land around Castle Hill to the Parish, he did so on condition that the parishioners raised a sum of money equivalent to the value of the land (see section on Churchyard). This money, when raised, was to be given to build a Vicarage, and to augment the Vicar’s stipend. Before this, the Vicar lived in his own house and used his stipend to pay the Curate.
Old Penwortham Bridge, at Middleforth, was until the 20th century the lowest bridge across the Ribble. Of yellow and red stone, it was built ca. 1760.
New Penwortham Bridge, built 1912, shortened the distance between Preston and Penwortham considerably, and consequently speeded up the development of what was until the opening of the new bridge a village.
At the junction of Cop Lane with Liverpool Road, it was built by Lawrence Rawstorne in 1890, at about the time the Vicarage was being built. It was rendered obsolete when the water mains were laid in 1895.
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