Bolton Genealogy

SHARPLES HALL (From 'Historical Gleanings' published 1882)

Your correspondent, signing "Querist", asks for information respecting the old family of Sharples, of Sharples Hall, whose history, as he says, does not appear to have been much noticed by antiquarians. The reason there has not been much notice taken of that old family is that nothing is known,locally at least, beyond minor items, which could not be locked up or hidden from antiquarians. The secrecy has, for example, proceeded so far, that the old Sharples Hall tombstones in Bolton Parish Church graveyard are turned upside down to prevent the inscriptions being read. The Sharples, of Sharples Hall were lords of the manor of Sharples, Smithells, in Halliwell, being dependent on them as superior lords, the latter of which "claimed annually a pair of gilt spurs and an unlimited use of the cellars at Smithells for a week in every year, although the lord of Smithells was not bound to the quantity or quality of the liquor with which his cellars were then stored."

A Miss BOSTOCK entered the domestic service of the LAWSONS at Sharples Hall in 1776, she being then 14 years of age, and she was made the bearer each Christmas Day of the gilt spurs, for which service she always received a gratuity of fourpence from the lord of Smithells. Whilst she was in service at Sharples Hall, a young man named HARDMAN, an apprentice to James or Samuel ROTHWELL, saddler, adjoining the Old Cock Inn (the site of which is now occupied by the Star Inn) was sent to the hall to perform some piece of saddlery work for the LAWSONS, and whilst performing it, he fell in love with Miss BOSTOCK. He was accepted by her, but she being under 20 years of age, was remonstrated with by Madame LAWSON. It was all to no purpose, however, and ultimately Madame LAWSON became reconciled, and clinched the bargain on her side by promising the intended bride a kitchen dresser, to be constructed out of timber then growing on the Sharples Hall estate. Both agreements duly came to pass.

The first issue of the marriage was a son, James HARDMAN, who became writing master under the late Vicar SLADE for 32 years, and afterwards conducted a private school on his own account in Crook Street, where he died about 25 years ago. This James HARDMAN had a son and daughter, the former being Thomas HARDMAN, professor of music, of Nelson Square, who died on the 5th September, 1872 at the age of 50 years. His grandmother, the former Miss BOSTOCK, of Sharples Hall, died in 1851 at the age of 89 years. The kitchen dresser presented to her nearly a century ago by Madame LAWSON is still in the possession of her grand-daughters, who reside in Crook Street.  (The above kindly submitted by Colleen)

Please note that the Sharples Hall referred to above is not the present Sharples Hall, which was formerly called Ollerton Hall (see below): * "In the 19 Sep 1919 issue of the Bolton Journal and Advertiser there was an article accompanied by a photograph of the hall as it then appeared. James Rothwell had acquired the hall in 1749. Over the main entrance of this building there was an inscription 1749 RRR (Richard Rainshaw Rothwell) and the arms of the Marquess de Rothwell. It is assumed that the Rothwell family, when they built the place, brought these stones from some other residence since the building described and illustrated was a 19C house.

The newspaper said “much more recently than 1749 a coaching inn stood on part of the site of the hall”. The account then referred to an old volume of newspaper cuttings (quoting Bolton Antiquarian Notes as source) containing a notice of the sale by auction of the hall on 12 May 1812. In the Lancashire Record Office there are documents relating to this sale, to estimates for work to be done on the access road (1827) and to repairs and alterations to the hall “to make it habitable and comfortable” (1832). There is also an 1824 indenture naming Ellen Bretherton (widow) and Richard Leonard, both of Sharples Hall. The present-day Sharples Hall, formerly Ollerton Hall In 1919, according to the Bolton Journal and Advertiser account, the hall had “recently” been acquired as a nursing home for 14 patients.

The Lancashire OnLine Parish Clerk Project records that John Holden (1862-1926), who had become a mill owner and an influential figure in the textile industry, bought a large estate in the Sharples area, including Sharples Hall. Work commenced on a six-storey mill in 1920 but it was never finished because soon after Holden’s death at Sharples Hall in 1926 the cotton industry slumped. According to a personal account on the web site When Cotton was King - Clive Walsh (b.1935) claims to have been warden at Sharples Hall, which he describes as “a huge mansion with more than 50 rooms”. He says it had been the residence of Sir John Holden “who died in 1946 (sic)” when it was bought by the Combined Cotton Mills Company who converted it in a hostel for immigrant labour (Italian girls). He seems to suggest it was some time after 1960 that the hostel was closed down. A monograph written in 1980 (The Rothwell Clerics, March 1980) says “the original hall no longer exists and there is now a mill on the site, although about ¼ mile to the north there is a large house, now converted into flats, which is named Sharples Hall – rather misleadingly as it is of late 19th century”. [To the rear of this building there is a coach house and stable block.]" *(Notes kindly submitted by Ken Swallow)