Detailed History of Wrea Green

Pre-Roman

Brigantes and Druid influence

Environment – marsh land – oak forests. The Coast line was much nearer to the Isle of Man and then Ireland.

The influence throughout Europe of the Celts. Local tribe known as the Brigantes led by Druids – the learned leaders. Religion was Pagan – neither Jesus Christ nor Mohammed had been born! They worshipped nature, forecasting the seasons by use of standing stones locally at Roseacre and Wharles


Roman

-Local roads and defences (Ribchester and Kirkham). -Difficulties with local Celtic tribe (Brigantes)

-Difficulties experienced by Roman troops in cold, wet climate.

-Local Roman finds

-Influence of local occupation.

Suetonius Paulinus sent by the Emperor Nero to keep the natives ‘pacified’. This was impossible as long as the Druids were the priests. They were pursued by the Roman army through Lancashire and Cheshire. They were eventually slaughtered on Anglesey or fled to Ireland.

Again, well documented academic sources Link with newly established Kirkham Museum


Pre-1066

Angles, Jutes and Danes to 1066

The Romans gradually left after 400 years, withdrawn to protect Rome from the Vandals. Up to 1066 (Battle of Hastings) there were many local invasions by the Angles, Jutes and Danes. All left their mark through law, place names and family


Domesday

Domesday Book 1068 or thereabouts

This contains the first official mention of the village.

Ivy Farm, Wrea Green

Ivy Farm, Rural Wrea Green (R May)

Every animal and piece of land in England was recorded for ownership and taxation purposes. Equally important was the register of Dukes and Knights for the purpose of rallying (or forcing) their dependents and serfs to fight in wars in Europe. Very important locally was the formation of the Duchy of Lancaster headed by the Duc de Poitiers. The Duc de Poitiers granted the right to collect local rents to one of his Norman followers: Adam de Wra. Hence, Riggi cum Wra was converted through many misspellings to Ribby with Wrea.

Free men became serfs, working for the new landowner, clearing and draining the land. Farming as we know it now had started in a structured way.

Wrea Green is listed as Riggi.


Civil War

The Civil Wars of the mid-17th century.

We have seen how the local knights could summon people of the area to war. And wars were many in the 550 years between the time of the Norman invasion and the Civil Wars.

The Civil wars were to have a lasting effect on the region:-

town against town

church against church

family against family

brother against brother.

Poverty, wretchedness and destitution were so bad locally that there was a church collection throughout London to help the poor people of Lancashire. Locally, the Clifton family had gone into hiding to avoid being hanged by Cromwell’s troops.

A Spanish galleon was stranded off the Fylde Coast, which created a race between the combatants to salvage the cannons.

Cromwell’s troops hurried north from Chester. The River Ribble Guide, whose house was near Ribby Hall, was commandeered to lead Cromwell’s troops across the Ribble then through Wrea Green to the stranded Spanish galleon. A brief battle took place mid-way between Wrea Green and Warton near the present Birley Arms – that is why this hostelry was known until current times by the locals as the Bleeding Heart.


School

The creation of the local school.

Amazingly, after all the horror, bitterness and pain of the Civil Wars, a young man in the Village was thinking about the future. The Village then was a collection of cottages gathered around the Green. These were made from wattle and daub – woven sticks set in wooden frames and held in place by daub (clay) dug from the local claypits (dubs). There was no road. Cottage doors opened directly on to the Green, which was common land, where Villagers were entitled to graze their animals.

There was neither church, nor school. Local residents could gossip in a very primitive inn which would also maintain the local stables. Eventually, with the establishment of a postal service, it was called the Letters Inn, then The Dumplings and is now, of course, The Grapes.

When they were not working on their parents’ smallholdings and local farms, the Village children entertained themselves by rolling small stones into a hole (marbles, today) or by throwing a larger stone at a stool defended by another child holding a stick (cricket, today). Occasionally, cock-fighting would take place in the ‘cocksod’ outside the inn where the Millennium Clock has just been positioned. The local gentry would pit their birds against each other and the Villagers would bet on the outcomes or just listen to the news from the outside world – villages and estates just a few miles away.

Wrea Green School

Wrea Green School, today

In this enclosed, simple, uneducated environment, the young man with a vision emerged. He was called James Thistleton, the local tailor and he left money in his will to build a school in Wrea Green. There was also another Villager who had the same idea, an innkeeper who made his money in London. His name was Nicholas Sharples and he, too, bequeathed money for a Village school. The Thistleton-Sharples Trust was formed. Money was added from Queen Anne’s Bounty and by Christ Church Colloege, Oxford. Additionally, a local landowner, Mrs Bradkirk, donated money to provide shoes for the little scholars, some of whom had to walk miles to gain their education.

Local land was purchased to provide rental income for the running costs of the school (which included provision for clothes for the pupils). Nine substantial men were appointed to oversee the Trust (a similar idea to the Thirty Just Men of Kirkham) and this arrangements still exists today.