X is for the unknown, a cross and Christ

Beloved of numerous maths questions, X stands for the unknown, for the answer to the problem, for the thing which must be found. The desire to find out about a place drives this hobby, and much remains to be uncovered. Some of the unknowns will probably never be answered, but we still wonder. Some of my great unknowns:
  • Who was the dead women after whom ‘Deadwenclough’ was named and how did she come to be dead in a stream?
  • Was John Ashworth (who built Springhill House) related to Charlotte Ann Hargreaves (from whom he bought the land)?
  • How did Charles Patrick, from a wealthy Middlesex family, end up as a sub-inspector of factories in Rochdale? How did he meet and marry the heiress of the Springhill estate?
  • What happened to the portrait of Patrick and his wife, mentioned in his will?

X is also a cross and the area contains four crosses:
  • two ‘Cross Cottage’ approx 100 yards apart
  • Cross Meadow, next to one of the Cross cottages and labelled as such on the 1844 OS map
  • New Cross Meadow, next to Cross Meadow, which figures I suppose

One of the Cross Cottages is C18 and one of the oldest buildings in the area. Why was it called that? There is no evidence of a religious connection or of its being used as a meeting house. It isn’t on a road junction or the crossing of ancient rights or way. It isn’t at a river confluence. The field isn’t cross-shaped. There is no apparent reason. And why two of them so close together?

X also stands for Christ - think Xmas and Christmas - and the question of how, or whether, he should be worshipped has had a big influence in the area. Meeting places and burial grounds for one of the oldest Baptist and Quaker congregations in the country are here. At least two, probably three and possibly four houses have been used as dissenting meeting places in C17 and C18. More recently Anglican, Baptist and Unitarian ministers have lived in Springhill. Some of the land which became Springhill Farm was held in Trust for the Rector of Newchurch to help provide his stipend. Why was the area such rich pickings for nonconformity and why was it such a big issue for cow-farmers and hand-loom weavers?

Much remains to be found, and its fun looking and questioning.

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