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Old Bryn Hall

Q

Hello, I have a keen interest in local history, and have been trying to find information about Old Bryn Hall, only to find very little.  Has any excavation of the area ever been carried out? It would seem to be quite an important site in the heritage of Wigan, being the medieval seat of the Gerrard family.  The site still can be observed as a scar in the ploughed fields........... Looking at the 1851 map of the area, it still shows there being a moat at the site.  If not already excavated, are there any future plans to do so? I look forward to hearing any information......

A

As far as I am aware this site has never been excavated and, unless it becomes under threat, is unlikely to be in the near future. I agree it is an import site for the heritage of Wigan. In fact one of our members (Tony Bates) published an article about the site in our society journal in 1990 (eventually I intend publishing this on our website). In the meantime here is a short extract:

The only description available of Olde Brynne is in volume 2 of "Traditions of Lancashire" written by the Wigan born historian John Roby in 1820, listed under the chapter of "Dead Man's Hand". This Description is based on a manuscript collected by a Mr Barrett, a celebrated Manchester Antiquarian of 1780, (the original manuscripts cannot be traced at this stage)...

"Brynne Hall is an ancient seat of the Gerards and has been a good house, but it is now almost in ruins the venerable ivy rebelling without control on its mouldings walls. Within is a spacious courtyard, the approach to which is by means of a bridge over the moat which surrounds this fabric. The gatehouse is secured by very strong and large doors. Within the court is what has been a rich porch. The entrance into a spacious room called the Hall, on the Chimney Piece of which are the Arms of England in the reign of James I. Across one side of the Hall runs a railed gallery, on which persons might stand to see any entertainment below. This gallery is supported by double pillars in the front of pilasters, and forming arches bewixt each other under which persons may pass from one room to another. On these carved pillars and arches is abundance of rich carved work, but rotten with age and moisture... A popish priest resided here and above stairs is a Romish Chapel, still used by the neighbours. Here is kept in a white silkbag what they call Father Arrowsmiths Hand, who was put to death at Lancaster in the reign of William III as they same, for his religion."

The site is thought to date from the 14th century and the article goes on to say that until quite recently some stonework and rubble from the outer walls and base could still be seenů The central mound and moat could be clearly seen until Mr Baldwin of Landgate Farm, the landowner, reclaimed the site. He removed a quantity of stone blocks and rubble but found little of value... If we could get the present owner's permission it maybe possible for our society to excavate the site but we would need to argue a good case for a research project. The whole area around the site is of special archaeological importance as the Roman Road runs quite close by and just to the south is the site of a possible Pre-historic burial mound called Toot Hill (for more details [click here]).

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