Our November talk - Reviewed by Mary Champion

Don Allerston talked to us on Tuesday 13th November 2007. Don lives in Hale village, enjoys living there very much and is exceedingly knowledgeable about the whole area. He says that, traditionally, people have associated Hale with thatched cottages, cream teas and wild flowers, but there is much more to it than that. His standard tour of Hale (by minibus) takes three-and-a-half hours!

There have been three churches on the site of the present one. The most famous grave is that of the 'Childe of Hale', John Middleton, who was 9ft 3in tall and died in 1623. He lived in a cottage in the village, and slept with his feet sticking out of the window! His walking stick, 4ft 11in long, was later displayed in Hale Hall. Middleton became nationally famous after fighting - and defeating - the King's wrestler in London.

There is a Duck Decoy Pond - once a prolific source of food for Hale Hall - about half a mile from the village. It has existed for at least 350 years and is nowadays home to many species of wild duck. A salt refinery was built on the Mersey shore nearby, at Dungeons Lane, in the 17th century; it was later owned by Nicholas Ashton of Woolton Hall. There was a shipbreaker's yard, which became a stonemason's and later the site of Price's fireworks factory. The first lighthouse was built in 1836, and replaced by a new one in 1906.

The village has had two charters, the first one in 1203 gave the Lord of the Manor rights over things like ferry tolls and salvage, and in 1304 a second charter gave him 'seigniorial' rights - including the right to appoint a Mayor. Today there is still a Lord Mayor of Hale, and the Annual Court is held in January. In the High Street, next door to the Court, were the blacksmith's shop and the wheelwright's, which later became a Telegraph Office.

Education was not neglected. William Part, a sea captain, paid for a school to be built - its weather vane in the shape of a sailing ship. By 1876 it was not big enough and a new one was built. There are also a few pubs in the village - including the 'Childe of Hale' which is the southernmost pub in the old county of Lancashire. Of Hale Hall itself, all that is left is the walled garden, nutwalk, stables, a dovecote and an icehouse.

This was an interesting talk, full of surprises. Don told us at the start that the love of his life - apart from his wife! - is History, and that was well demonstrated to us during the course of the evening.

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