Continuing our series on the History of Bolton – an ancient manufacturing town famed as the original seat of the cotton trade. Here we cover the historic site of Rivington Pike – which was a signalling post used to warn the Spanish Armada was heading towards the English coast.
Rivington Pike – Bolton – 1588
But Rivington and its vicinity have other associations to claim attention not less interesting than the fading memories of the extinct Wiiloughbys. The tower-crowned summit of the Pike, rising to the height of 1,545 feet above the sea level, calls to remembrance the stirring times of the Armada, and the scarcely less anxious days of nearly a century ago when our grandfathers were in daily dread of invasion, and constant watch was kept in order that the beacon fire might flash the signal of danger from hill to hill should their fears be realised; and the “Two-lads,” a double pile of stones on the further side, has its tale of disaster to beguile the time if we care to listen to it. Those bleak mountain ridges that stretch away towards the south were once included within the limits of the great forest of Horwich, “a place of great sport,” as the old chroniclers have it, with its series of eagles, of hawks, and of herons.
Rivington was for centuries the home of the Pilkingtons, “gentlemen of repute in their shire before the Conquest,” as old Fuller tells us; if tradition is to be relied on, the chief of them bore himself bravely upon the red field of Hastings, and when sought for by the victors for espousing the cause of the defeated Harold, to avoid discovery, disguised himself as a mower, in commemoration of which circumstance his descendants have ever since borne the man and scythe for their crest.
A scion of this ancient house, Richard Pilkington, in the days of the Eighth Harry or shortly after, founded the church of Rivington, and his son, James Pilkington, who had suffered exile for the reformed faith in the time of the Marian persecutions, was nominated by Queen Elizabeth first Protestant bishop of the palatinate see of Durham, and was also founder of the Grammar School at Rivington, an institution that to this day perpetuates his name.
Excerpt from Historic Sites of Lancashire and Cheshire by James Croston published in 1883
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