AS part of St Helens 150, I am looking back further at the early history of the four townships. 

This is from the Victoria County History, looking back from around 1900 at Windle, at a time before the world changed in 1914. 

“In 1320 it was Wyndhill. This township stretches from east to west for over four miles.

"The portion of it in the south-eastern corner was called Hardshaw, and here, around St Helen’s chapel, the modern town of this name has sprung up.

“North of the town is Windleshaw, and to the west are Cowley Hill and Denton’s Green. On the south a brook divides it from Eccleston, and is joined by the Rainford Brook, which runs across Windle.

“The highest point to the west of the latter brook, 185 ft., is at the northern boundary of St Helens; but to the east over 260 ft. is attained at Moss Bank.

“For the most part the country is rather bare and undulating. Windle Hill from the north looks fairly steep, but from the south its height is completely dwarfed.

“As a rule the hills of South Lancashire have their steepest incline to the west, but Windle Hill is an exception.

“The land is principally divided into cultivated fields, where potatoes and corn are chiefly produced. On the east the township possesses more timber trees than westward, and there are more pastures. 

“The eastern boundary line runs through Carr Mill Dam, a large sheet of water, with strictly preserved plantations surrounding it.

“The manor of Windle was among those granted to Pain de Vilers, the first baron of Warrington, and continued to form part of this fee until the dispersal of the estate about 1585.

"The customary rating was two ploughlands, and in 1346 it was held of the earl of Lancaster by the service of the third part of a knight’s fee.

"In 1242 the lordship was in the hands of the earl of Ferrers. About 1260 Robert de Ferrers granted his right in Windle to William le Boteler of Warrington. 

“Alan de Windle III, was acting as juror at various inquests from 1242 onwards.

"In 1252 William de Ferrers, earl of Derby, was pardoned for a false claim against him, and next year Alan de Windle and Thurstan de Holand joined in resisting an encroachment by the earl.

"Ultimately the whole inheritance was held by the Gerards.

"The manor has descended regularly to the present Lord Gerard of Brynn in Ashton.

“Among the suits of the time of Edward III relating to Windle was one between the families of Hindley and Urmston.

"A family of longer standing was that of Colley, or Cowley as the name was spelt in later times.

“They appear from the end of the thirteenth century to the beginning of the seventeenth.

"The families of Harflynch and Eccles also appear in the sixteenth century; and others of the neighbourhood, like the Byroms, Parrs, and Woodfalls, were also owners of land.

“The Gerards appear to have made a park, and this portion, Windleshaw, is sometimes described as a manor. Manor courts are still held for Windle. 

“Adam Martindale, a puritan divine, born near Moss Bank in 1623, has recorded some interesting details as to the neighbourhood. 

“The land tax returns for 1785 show that the township was then divided into Moss End, Moss Bank End, and Hardshaw.

"The principal contributor to the tax was Mr Bailey, paying about an eighth. The early history of Hardshaw is quite unknown.

"It was the property of the Hospitallers and ranked as a separate manor.  It seems to have been held of them by the Orrells, and from about 1330 until the seventeenth century by the Travers family.”