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Dig at Stand Old Hall 2009
Stand Old Hall
Archaeology Dig , Summer 2009
The archaeology group of the Society, led by Jack Barrett, have been digging on the site of Stand Old Hall in Whitefield. This stood at the T junction of Stand Lane and Ringley Road.
The hall was built about 1405 to replace Old Hall in Pilkington, which was further down Ringley Road in the area called “Old Hall”.
Stand Old Hall was the manor house of the Pilkington family, Lords of the Manor of Pilkington and Bury. It was built on the highest point in Whitefield overlooking Pilkington Deer Park.
Stand Old Hall itself was replaced by Stand Hall, about 100 yards to the south. This was built about 1515 after the Earl of Derby took control of Pilkington.
Stand Old Hall was converted by the Derbys into a barn. The wings at each end were demolished and replaced by brick ends with quoins on the corners. One source suggests that Sir Thomas Pilkington in about 1470 had permission to “kernel and embattle” his manor house at Stand. This means there might have been a stone tower at Stand as at Radcliffe Hall.
In the nineteenth century Stand Old Hall became a cowshed. It was a ruin by the 1950s. A survey was made of it by the Ministry of Works. Attempts were made to List the building as an historic monument. But the roof was off and it was damaged by the weather and by fire. The building was finally pulled down in the early 1960s and the site covered with a mound of demolition rubble from it.
Our Committee member, Sara Gremson, has obtained a section of the top of one of the large square windows (shown in the picture above). This was rescued from the demolition of the hall and has been kept safe all these years. Sara applied for and got a grant from Whitefield and Unsworth Area Partnership to have this window section measured, drawn and put on display in Whitefield Library.
The archaeologist doing the work on the window has counted 300 tree rings. This means that if the hall was built about 1405, the oak tree that supplied the wood for the window must have started growing in about 1100 A.D.
One of the reasons for the dig this summer was to find information about the Hall that the window came from. We also wanted to know whether the site was in or outside the gardens of Kibworth Close. It turns out the remains are partly outside the gardens on land owned by Bury Council.
The Council gave permission for us to dig on its land and supported us financially.
Other issues that the dig was trying to resolve were whether or not the Hall had wings at each end and whether there was a stone tower.
The digs took the form of a series of tests pits focussed on particular parts of the site. These revealed a superb stone wall which was the base of the hall, a bricked up end and a possible bricked up doorway.
One thing that eluded us was a medieval floor surface inside the hall. There was a sloping brick floor from the cowshed period and below that a floor of Yorkstone flags. But there was brick rubble under the flags suggesting that it was not the medieval floor.
The finds were from the later use of the hall and no medieval domestic material was unearthed. The kitchen and service area were probably at the south end of the site and we were only able to access the north end on this dig.
Bury Council paid for the hire of secure fencing, and a digger so we were able to leave the pits open and extend them into a proper trench ( shown below).
Many questions remain to be resolved ( e.g. was there a stone tower ). Fortunately the County Archaeologist, Norman Redhead, is keen on the project and a full dig next year by professionals is a possibility.
Search terms (Prestwich, Prestwich Heritage,Prestwich history, Prestwich photos ; Whitefield. Whitefield Heritage, Whitefield History, Whitefield photos , Heaton Park, Heaton Hall)