reet gradely folk


27th NOVEMBER 2008 





On 27th November 1295 the first elected representatives from Lancashire were summoned by King Edward I to attend Parliament at Westminster, this was later to be know as the Model Parliament and was the beginning of democracy in Britain.  On 27th November 1995, Peter Thurnham, the MP for Bolton NE, tabled an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons calling on all local authorities to signpost the boundaries of Lancashire and other historic counties. Because of its historic connections, this date has been adopted as Lancashire Day, and was proclaimed as such throughout the county on 27th November 1996.

As an act of unity, and no matter where they were in the world, Lancastrians were asked to raise their glasses at 9pm GMT and drink the Loyal Toast to "The Queen, Duke of Lancaster".







Know ye that this day, November 27th in the year of our Lord Two Thousand and seven, the 56th year of the reign of
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Duke of Lancaster,
is Lancashire Day.

Know ye also, and rejoice, that by virtue of Her Majesty’s County Palatine of Lancaster, the citizens of the Hundreds of Lonsdale, North and South of the Sands, Amounderness, Leyland, Blackburn, Salford and West Derby are forever entitled to style themselves Lancastrians.

Throughout the County Palatine, from the Furness Fells to the River Mersey, from the Irish Sea to the Pennines, this day shall ever mark the peoples’ pleasure in that excellent distinction – true Lancastrians, proud of the Red Rose and loyal to our Sovereign Duke.




 Many schoolchildren learn about the history of LANCASHIRE – everything from the War of the Roses to the cobbles and chimneys of the Industrial Revolution – but few know about Lancashire’s earlier history. If you’re one of them and would like to know more, Sit thi’ deawn, put kettle on’t th’ob an’ let’s ‘ave a natter,There’s nowt wrung wi gradely folk.

  Now read on. . . . . .

When people say "the old things are the best" they’re obviously not thinking about Lancashire because it is one of the newest of all English counties – if you can handle something that’s over eight centuries old being described as new! Lancashire wasn’t formed when the Normans came over in 1066, whereas most of the other English counties were around by then. But by about 1180 our splendid shire had gained an identity of its own. Let’s not jump the gun, though. The history of our lovely part of the world goes back way beyond then.The Romans were here in Lancashire (in the two or three centuries immediately after the birth of Christ!) We’ve got proof because of the remains archaeologists have found – everything from pottery to pickaxes. The Romans built towns too, some of which survived and developed into places that are still around today. Places you might just have heard of. Places like Lancaster and Manchester! Other Roman towns disappeared, or ended up as tiny villages, such as Burrow (in the Lune Valley near Lancaster). You can always tell a Roman town because its name often ends in caster or cester or chester.Roman towns also tend to have these rather straight roads arrowing across the landscape towards them. The Romans obviously wanted to get to places in a hurry – usually because some of the Ancient Britons (or Celts) were causing a spot of bother. They probably didn’t appreciate the Romans coming all the way from Italy to take over their country. After a while though they did start to realise that the Romans had brought the odd benefit to this country. Things they had never had before. Things such as proper roads, proper drainage, well built housing, well organised farming, public baths, central heating, law and order, civilisation!

The Anglo-Saxons invaded Britain from the continent when they cleverly noticed that the Roman Empire was on its last legs. The Romans were packing up and leaving for Italy while the Ancient Britons were shaking in their boots wondering how they’d get on without the Roman army to protect them. They were right to worry because the Anglo-Saxons were total barbarians – good grief, they weren’t even Christians! They were pagans who believed in strange gods like Thunor (or Thor) and Wotan (or Odin). They spoke a language called Old English (or Anglo-Saxon) which later developed into the modern English which we use. The only places they didn’t take over were the bits that were furthest away from where they first landed (which was near London). So they didn’t invade Cornwall, Wales and northern Scotland. That’s why these places still have their own languages – Cornish, Welsh and Gaelic – which are what is left of the languages of the Ancient Britons. OK, so the Anglo-Saxons might have been clever in the way they invaded this country; but they didn’t govern it half as well as the Romans had done. For a start off, they split their new land (which now had the new name England – meaning Angleland – instead of Britannia which the Romans knew it by) into seven different kingdoms. Seven! And to cap it all, they spent most of their time fighting one another. We in Lancashire were in the Kingdom of Northumbria. That is until the Kingdom of Mercia beat Northumbria in battle (642AD, at Makerfield) and snaffled the southern half of Lancashire. Confused? Really, you’ve got to feel sorry for the poor old Celts (as the Ancient Britons were often called). They’d just about got used to everyone speaking Old English instead of British or Latin, they’d more or less adapted to the different Anglo-Saxon kingdoms scrapping over Lancashire, when a worse disaster happened: the Vikings invaded.

The Vikings have got a bad reputation, I’m sure you’ll agree. Their average day consisted of sailing up various English rivers in their Viking longboats, slaughtering the local population and making off with all the loot they could lay their hands on – or so we thought. Nowadays people realise that they weren’t as bad as all that, and that they did as much trading as raiding. It all began in the 9th Century. Vikings from Dublin in Ireland (where they’d settled) came over the sea and started landing in places like the Fylde (near Blackpool) and the Lancashire Plain (near Liverpool). These were Norwegian Vikings originally. (The Vikings who settled in Yorkshire were Danish Vikings who’d sailed direct across the North Sea, and hadn’t gone by the scenic route via Ireland!)  After a while these Vikings (or Norsemen as they are sometimes called) were living peacefully in Lancashire. We sometimes find evidence of this. For instance at Cuerdale near Preston a massive hoard of Viking silver was found! For those of us not fortunate enough to stumble onto such an amazing treasure trove we have to rely on other evidence to prove that the Vikings were in Lancashire. Evidence such as place names anywhere that has a name beginning with grim-, or ending in –by, -ness, or -thwaite is Viking (or Norse). Similarly, anywhere that has a name ending in –ham, -ton, or ley is Anglo-Saxon in origin. Celtic (or Ancient British) names often start with pen-, wal-, or eccles and sometimes end in –keth. Have a look on the map and see which of the ancient Lancastrians lived near you!

In 1066 (as every intelligent schoolchild knows) William the Conqueror came over from Normandy and became King of England. Lancashire wasn’t fully a recognised county at that stage but the hundreds which made it up were around. Lancashire is historically divided into six of these units: West Derby Hundred (around Liverpool), Salford Hundred (around Manchester), Leyland Hundred, Blackburn Hundred, Amounderness Hundred (Preston and Blackpool area) and Lonsdale Hundred (around Lancaster and including the area "north of the sands" where Lancashire lies in part of the Lake District).

Around 1070 William gave one of his most loyal supporters, Roger de Poitou, a massive area of land in the north-west and told him to keep the troublesome locals in check! This land stretched from the Lakeland Fells to the River Mersey. Little did the Conqueror know, but he had brought together for the first time the territories that would become our own dear Red Rose County! A document from 1181-2 is our earliest surviving evidence of Lancashire as a county in its own right. No longer to be fought over by Anglo-Saxon kingdoms such as Mercia and Northumbria, Lancashire was now a separate shire

At the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066 the County of Lancashire had not yet been defined, but its subsequent components already existed as administrative areas. Six or seven years after the conquest (1072/3) King William gave the land between the Ribble and the Mersey, together with Amounderness to Roger of Poitou. In the early 1090s King William II (William Rufus) added Lonsdale, Cartmel and Furness to Roger’s estates, thereby giving him control of all the land between the river Mersey in the south and the river Duddon in the north. Roger chose Lancaster as the site for his castle which thereby became the centre of administration for the lands that he controlled. As the area of lands held by a lord were known as his ‘honour’, Roger’s lands became known as the Honour of Roger of Poitou or the Honour of Lancaster. In 1102 Roger supported his brother Robert of Bellene in an unsuccessful rebellion against King Henry I and all his English estates were confiscated and given to Stephen of Blois the grandson of the Conqueror. In 1168 Lancashire was first termed ‘the county of Lancashire’ under King Henry II. 1267 Edmund Crouchback was created 1st Earl of Lancaster. In 1351 Henry, Earl of Lancaster, was made a Duke and was also granted Palatinate powers – the royal powers, or the powers belonging to the palace. These powers lapsed with Henry’s Death, but were restored to the most famous Duke of Lancaster, John of Gaunt and were made hereditary. Palatinate status was granted to Lancashire because of its strategic position in defending England from the Scots and conferred legal recognition of the extraordinary powers of the Duke within Lancashire. The county developed its own chancery, could issue writs under its own seal and even had its own dating year running from 6th March 1351, the date of the establishment of the palatine. The Duke was able to appoint his own sheriff who was answerable to the Duke, not the King. Lancaster had its own justices and the king’s writ did not run within the palatine county. The king did however still collect the taxes and reserved the right to correct ‘errors of judgement’ in the duke’s courts.

  A glorious future lay ahead for our county: in the War of the Roses the destiny of the English monarchy was shaped; in the Industrial Revolution our county led the way in a process that would change the world. Even now, Lancashire is famous for the robust and inventive character of its inhabitants and their amazing successes and achievements. Despite administrative changes, the TRUE County of Lancashire lives on. From the River Duddon high in the Lakeland fells to the River Mersey on the great Lancashire Plain on which Manchester stands, LANCASHIRE is the county of our birth. And yet its great story began so long ago, in the times of Romans, Ancient Britons, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Normans……


The Friends of Real Lancashire are concerned to promote the true identity of Lancashire which has been extremely confused in the minds of some people, especially those working in the broadcasting and newspaper industries, since the local government reorganisation of 1974.








3 thoughts on “reet gradely folk

  1. well I was not confused about the history as I knew nothing before reading this blog.   You shared the history of Lancashire beautifully…

  2. I really don\’t know much about your history there… so I always enjoy coming here and reading what you have posted.  I found it interesting how the ends of the names of places could direct you to where the place originated from.  Really enjoyable read.  Hope all is well out your way. 

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