Stump Cross, Goosnargh, Lancashire

Wayside Cross:  OS Grid Reference – SD 57287 37421

Also Known as:

  1. Historic England Grade II Listed Building No. 1165108

Getting Here

The Position of the Cross near the road junction.

The cross is situated on the verge at the west side of the B5269 road near its junction with Ashley Lane at Stump Cross, north-east of Goosnargh.

Archaeology & History

All that survives is the socketed base of the mediaeval cross, into which a small modern carved stone cross has been inserted. A bronze plaque attached to the base informs the reader that the cross gives its name to the locality, and that the base was discovered during excavations in 1931.

Richard Cookson (1888), in his Goosnargh Past & Present, writes:

“We have the remains of several upright crosses in this township called “cross stones” all being placed near to some public road or path. The corpses of the Roman Catholics are rested at those stones on their way to internment, and those funeral attendants who are of that persuasion kneel down and offer up a short prayer for the repose of the soul of the departed individual whose body they are conveying to the grave.”

Further to the destruction of crosses in the township, Cookson writes:

“…the Reverend Richard Wilkinson, late minister, of anti-Romanistic notoriety, in his frenzied hostility to the Roman Catholics, caused [the cross] to be broken up and removed…”

The site is listed by Henry Taylor, in his 1906 magnum opus on Lancashire crosses, and speaking generally on the destruction of wayside crosses in the Hundred of Amounderness, he writes:-

The bronze plaque
Modern cross inserted into the Mediaeval socket

“The destruction of so many crosses, which at one time existed in this part of the Hundred, is due to the vandalism early in the nineteenth century of a vicar of Goosnargh, named Wilkinson. He was a vehement Protestant, and owing to his notoriety as a Prophet, was allowed to do much as he liked with these ancient monuments. Many crosses, indeed, it is said, were pulled down with his own hands. His prophesies foretelling the deaths of various persons often unfortunately came true, and he was thus, in this superstitious part of England, dreaded as a wizard. As this work of demolition took place before the date of the Ordnance Survey, there were in all probability many more crosses erected in Mediaeval times in this district than we have now any knowledge of, and it is quite possible that some of the crosses so recklessly destroyed may have been, like those at Halton and Heysham, of pre-Norman date and of great historical value. Fragments of them might even now be found were a diligent search be made.”

Further to this speculation as to the antiquity of these destroyed crosses, it is interesting to note the approximately parallel orientation of roads and field boundaries to the east of the Stump Cross. This may point to the area having been subjected to Roman survey, and the site of the Stump Cross having once been a shrine to the gods of the agrimensores (Roman surveyors) that had been Christianised.


  1. Cookson, Richard, Goosnargh: Past and Present, Preston, H.Oakey, 1888.
  2. Taylor, Henry, The Ancient Crosses and Holy Wells of Lancashire, Manchester, Sherratt and Hughes, 1906.
  3. Richardson, Alan, The Roman Surveyors in Cumberland, P3 Publications: Carlisle 2008.

© Paul T Hornby, The Northern Antiquarian 2017

Our Lady’s Well, Fernyhalgh, Preston, Lancashire

Holy Well:  OS Grid Reference – SD 555 335

Also Known as:

  1. Holy Well
  2. Lady’s Well
  3. St. Mary’s Well

Getting Here

The well can be reached along a narrow country lane to the east of the A6 road, some 3-4 miles north of Preston. Fernyhalgh is a tiny hamlet between the villages of Broughton and Grimsargh with pleasent countryside on all sides. The holy well of Our Lady is in the garden of a house with a Roman Catholic chapel and pilgrimage centre at the side of a secluded country lane; entrance through a little gate.

Archaeology & History

Our Ladys Well, Fernyhalgh

There was a chapel on this site way back in 1348, and the spring itself is obviously a pre-Christian one with its dedication to Our Lady – St Mary the Virgin.  According to the legend, in about 1471 a merchant sailing across the Irish sea was caught in a terrible storm; afraid that he was going to drown he prayed to the Virgin Mary and vowed that if his life was saved he would undertake some work of devotion to her.  Soon the storm cleared and he found himself washed-up but safe on the Lancashire coast but he himself had no idea where he was. At that moment a heavenly voice spoke to him and told him to find a place called Fernyhalgh and there build a chapel at a spot where a crab-apple tree grew – the fruit of which had no cores, and where a spring would be found. He began to search around for this sacred place but no matter how much he tried he could not find the place.

The merchant found lodgings in Preston and, was about to give up altogether, when he overheard a serving girl at the inn. She started to explain why she was so late on arrival.  She went on to say that she had had to chase her stray cow all the way to Fernyhalgh.  He asked her if she could take him to this place. In a short time he discovered the apple tree with fruit bearing no cores and beneath it a spring and also a lost statue of the Virgin and child. The merchant began to build a chapel close by in memory of Our Lady and soon pilgrims were visiting the holy well and receiving miracles of healing. However, during the time of persecution from the reign of King Henry VIII and through to the reign of King Edward VI the well was abandoned and left derelict; the chapel itself was demolished.

The holy well of Our Lady was fully restored in the late 17th century and a new chapel was built in 1685 when persecutions towards Catholics had eased.  Again, the place became a place of pilgrimage and many miraculous cures were being recorded there; the chapel (which is now built onto a house) being used by religious sisters as a place of retreat.  Today it is a renowned Roman Catholic pilgrimage centre with thousands of visitors coming from far and wide. The holy well stands within a rectangular enclosure with steps descending down; the well itself being a small-square shaped basin overlooked by a niche inside which stands the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus. It is very well cared for by the Catholic community with flowers usually adorning the site during the Summer months. Coins are often thrown into the well, though it is not regarded as a “wishing well”. Visitors are always welcome and, you don’t have to be a Catholic, everybody regardless of what persuasion you are can visit the well.


  1. Bord, Janet & Colin, Sacred Waters, Paladin Books 1986.
  2. Fields, Ken, The Mysterious North, Countryside Publications.
  3. Taylor, Henry, The Ancient Crosses and Holy Wells of Lancashire, Sherratt & Hughes: Manchester 1906.

© Ray Spencer, 2011