Appleton Village
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  The History of Appleton Village

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Appleton, recorded as Epletune in the Domesday Book of 1086, means ‘a settlement where apples grow’.  According to the Domesday Book the population of the Widnes area of Lancashire was very sparse, just a few scattered farms and hamlets in an area that was mainly marshland.

Originally Widnes was the name of the district, with Appleton being the township name. The hamlet of Appleton was close to the centre of Widnes. Farnworth later the site of the chapel, being to the North, Upton to the North West and Denton to the East.

There are no written records to tell us about life in this area before the Norman Conquest but with the arrival of William the Conqueror things certainly changed. As a reward for his part in the victory over the English, William granted the Earldom of Lancaster to Roger de Poictou. The Earldom was divided into baronies, Widnes being one of them. The barony totaled about 4,000 acres and included Appleton, Tarbock, Rainhill, Huyton, Roby, Knowlsley and Eccleston.

The first Baron of Widnes was Yorfrid, who when he first visited his barony and found it to be half marsh and half moor, decided he would live elsewhere and only visited the area when his final ruling was required in court proceedings. Yorfrid died in 1133 and his barony was split between the husbands of his two daughters. William FitzNigel, 2nd Baron of Halton added Widnes to his title and became Baron of Halton and Widnes. Initially Widnes was governed from Halton Castle, south of the River Mersey. A charter was granted for the operation of the first ferry during this time.

Later in the twelfth century, the running of the area was passed back to the north of the river. Courts were held in Farnworth for ownership, dues and other disputes of the time and these courts continued for centuries. The first chapel was built around 1180 on the hilltop at Farnworth, originally dedicated to St. Wilfrid, later St. Luke. In 1310 the existing church tower was built.

There are many variants to the early spelling of Appleton. It is recorded as Apelton in 1180, Appelton in 1198, and Apulton in 1332. 

In 1350 Henry, Duke of Lancaster, gave the villiens (people who lived in villages) of Widnes the right to become free men, allowing them to choose their own bailiffs and later their own court officials. Strong and powerful families began to carve up the area. Hale and Cuerdley came under the Ireland family. Bold had long been the property of the Bold family, who also owned Farnworth. The area north of Appleton and Appleton village itself were controlled by the Appleton family. 

Speed's map of 1610.jpg (183073 bytes) A map produced in 1610 by John Speed shows the location of Appleton, Farnworth and Halton Castle. Click on the map here to see a larger version. 

This section of Speed's Map is reproduced by kind permission of Lancashire County Council. Speed's complete map can be viewed on their website by clicking on the following link.

 http://www.lancashire.gov.uk/environment/oldmap/speed/speed.jpg

In the sixteenth century, King Henry VIII severed the allegiance of the English Church with Rome, the English Bible was introduced into churches and the keeping of registers of baptisms, marriages and burials was also begun. Farnworth Chapel is one of only three churches in the whole of Lancashire whose registers go back to 1538 when this practice of registration was introduced. Many families in the area resisted the Reformation and stuck firmly to the 'old' faith. In 1639 the area was noted for secret masses and houses with priest's holes

Farnworth Register.jpg (58055 bytes)A transcription of the first page of the Farnworth Chapel Register can be seen by clicking here >> This first page shows a simple list, in date order, of baptisms, marriages and burials including the baptisms of Ellen and Margerie Appleton!  The original registers have been filmed but they are difficult to read due to the ancient script and the use of Latin. Thanks to the sterling efforts of the Lancashire Parish Register Society they have also been transcribed into modern print in book, microfiche and CD formats. A full list of the volumes transcribed by the Lancashire Parish Register Society can be found at http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/LAN/lprs/lprspub.html

Life in the quiet, sleepy villages of Widnes continued almost unchanged for many generations. Farnworth Wakes began in 1714, a 'mock' mayor was elected and the area began to put together the basis of self-government. The local lord of the manor let Farnworth court administer the region. The court was a rural court and the area from Hough Green right down to Wood End was an agricultural area. This is how Appleton entered the nineteenth century.

By the middle of the 1830's plans were well in hand for the extension of the St Helens Railway to Widnes Dock. The canal was transporting quantities of raw materials for the chemical Industry and the area was set to change dramatically for ever. Chemical factories rapidly developed along the Mersey and the factories needed workers. It was obvious that the local villages could not supply enough hands and word went out that there was plenty of work in Widnes and the employers set about building cheap houses for the influx of labourers. The villages of Hough Green, Ditton, Wood End, Appleton, Simms Cross, Farnworth and Cronton were all overwhelmed by the new chemical town of Widnes with it's multitude of smoking chimneys and acrid choking fumes.    

Appleton, now part of Widnes, can be seen on modern day maps. The following link is provided courtesy of Multimap.com

http://www.multimap.com/p/browse.cgi?pc=WA87UA

 

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Appleton Village still exists within the town of Widnes and here are few photographs to prove it!

 

                                               Appleton Village.jpg (60299 bytes)                    AV Post Office.JPG (47650 bytes)                    AV Appleton Arms.JPG (36118 bytes)

                                                 Modern Day Sign                            Village Post Office                          The Appleton Arms

                                              AV Surgery.JPG (42872 bytes)                    AV Bus Stop.JPG (35979 bytes)                    AV Lower Appleton Road.JPG (41038 bytes)

                                                  Village Surgery                              Even the Bus Stop!                   Junction of Appleton Road

                                                                                                                                                                & Lower Appleton Road

                                                                           AV Appleton Road.JPG (56703 bytes)                    AV Appleton Road2.JPG (42578 bytes)

                                                                           Top of Appleton Road                         Appleton Road 

                                                                           AV Victoria Park.JPG (75855 bytes)                    AV Park, Pub & St. Bede's Church.JPG (49894 bytes)

                                                                                  Victoria Park                      Looking from Park to Appleton

                                                                                                                               Arms & St Bede's RC Church

 

                                                      Victoria Park is reputed to be on the site of the original hamlet of Appleton

 

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