As with most of the ancient farmhouses in this vicinity, there is a steep climb to reach Pighill, otherwise known as Pexes Farm and Pex House. It stands on the old road that linked the Bacup Valley near Gauxholme with the farms in the higher reaches of Todmorden Edge and Sourhall.

Pighill land rising upwards from Gauxholme in the valley, taken from the opposite hillside


The present road winds up, with a steep drop and certain death should you miss any of the hairpin bends. The hill is almost perpendicular in places. The ground is covered with heather, and in days gone by was heavily wooded.

It comprised something in excess of 14 acres of land rising steeply from Gauxholme on the Todmorden side of the valley. It begs the question as to how anyone managed to farm the land.


The earliest known tenants were the Lords; and a John Lord died there in 1715. In April 1717, brothers James and Simeon Lord purchased the estate from Roger Mainwaring, James Mainwaring, Sir John Wentworth and a Mr. Bradshaw at a time when an Elizabeth Lord was the tenant. The farm then passed to Simeon Lord the younger, and then to his son Charles Lord.

Charles was married to Elizabeth and they lived at Pighill where they had two daughters, Susan in 1752, and Jenny in 1754.  In January of 1755 Jenny died, followed a few months later by her 30-year-old mother. This was a sad year for Charles, who had also made a decision to vacate Pighill and sell or rent it out. He entered into a Mortgage by Demise agreement with James Fielden of Langfield whereby James agreed to pay £180 plus interest for the estate with a 1000 year lease. This meant that Charles retained ownership of Pighill until the debt was paid off.

The debt never was paid off, as James died the following year, 1756, leaving his sisters Mary Riley of Swineshead and Martha Ogden of Gorpley to administer his affairs. The mortgage was transferred to a Jonas Lister.

This latter agreement must have broken down as on 9th December 1760 there was a legal agreement between Charles Lord, yeoman, and JOHN HAIGH THE ELDER OF PASTURESIDE for John Haigh to purchase the:

“Said messuage, tenement and pastures Pig Hill alias Pexes with the closes of land thereto belonging called the Meadow, the further Meadow, the further Bank, the little Bank, the Royd, the Crofts, the Great Bank, the Daisy Bank and the Wood … by estimation 14 acres, together with 2 cottages at Pexes in the occupation of Wm. Lord.”


Pexroyd cottages, 2003

At the same time, John Haigh separately purchased a newly erected cottage situated in the Royd field, believed to be Pexroyd. This dwelling was to become home to various members of the wider families of the Haighs and Fieldens.


John Haigh had little interest in living at Pighill and was content for it to be rented out to tenants whilst he continued to accumulate other properties until his death in 1772. John’s eldest son, JOHN HAIGH THE YOUNGER OF PASTURESIDE, inherited from his father the:

“Messuage and tenement called Pighill (otherwise Pexes) in Hundersfield with three cottages thereunto belonging in occupation of Charles Lord, Samuel Woodhead, John Ogden, and James Farrer"

Thomas Fielden became the tenant. He was from yeoman stock, born in 1740 the son of Abraham and Susan Fielden of Knowl Top in Walsden. He married Elizabeth Woodhead and they moved to live at Pighill about 1773 where they raised their eight children. Thomas was assessed for land tax at Pighill, paying between 9s and 10s 8d annual tax. He died at the farm in 1810 aged 69 years.

Their daughter Betty married distant cousin Enoch Fielden and together they lived in the attached farm cottage from about 1804 until after 1841. All but the eldest of their ten children were born at this cottage, where Enoch earned a living as a weaver. Betty’s mother lived there with them after she was widowed until she died in 1824, aged 85 years.

The barn and cottages


Betty's only brother, John Fielden, was living at the cottage known as Pexroyd when he first married, but on the death of his father in 1810 he took over the tenancy of the farm. His wife died at Pighill in 1820 aged 49. John then made a good move by marrying Jenny Haigh, the widowed daughter of his landlord John Haigh the Younger. Jenny's first husband was LUKE HAMER OF STONESWOOD MILL who died young, leaving her with 3 children. Lydia Hamer, her youngest child, continued to live with John and Jenny at Pighill until she married sometime after 1841.

In April 1817, during John Fielden’s tenancy, John Haigh the younger purchased from Samuel Greenwood part of a meadow called The Lower Meadow on the Stones Estate, measuring 4574 yards, which he annexed to one of his existing fields on the Pexes Estate. Stones was just about the nearest neighbour.

When John Haigh the Younger died in 1831, he left the Pighill estate and cottages equally between his two sons, JOHN HAIGH OF CHADDERTON and REUBEN HAIGH OF MOORCOCK, with the condition that during her lifetime, his spinster daughter Ann should receive all the rents and profits from this estate. Ann died in 1847 at which point the right to receive the rents and profits reverted to John and Reuben between them.

John and Jenny Fielden were still living at the farm, Jenny now being the sister of the landlords.


Pexwood cottages

Reuben and his brother John were quick to realise the potential in their land at Pexes. It was desperately unsuitable for farming, so they turned some of it over to building, erecting cottages to house the influx of workers to the valley. They built the first block of houses a few hundred yards up the hill from Gauxholme at Pexwood in 1836.

At about the same time the Haigh brothers were building houses, John Fielden and his sons John and Abraham, not to be outdone by their landlords, built a block of six houses at Shade in Todmorden. It was a housing boom, necessitated by the increased number of mills and foundries in the valleys that required a workforce.

In 1848, the Haigh family divided the Pighill land, separating the area where the cottages are situated at Pexwood from the rest of the estate.

In May 1849, John Fielden and Jenny appointed John Ridehalge of Soyland and Peter Ormerod of GORPLEY MILL as their trustees as regards Jenny's legacy from her father. John Ridehalge wrote to her brothers, John and Reuben Haigh, putting them on notice that part of Jenny's legacy was still in their hands as executors of their father's will, and that the sum owing (£666 13s 4d) was charged:

"upon a certain messuage, farm or tenement called Pecks Farm situate in Hundersfield aforesaid, with the cottages, buildings, lands, hereditaments and appurtenances thereto belonging, and the other residuary real and personal estate of the said John Haigh deceased."

John and Jenny are still there in 1851 farming 12 acres without the aid of labourers. John was 81 years old, which makes this a remarkable feat. He died in 1853 whereupon Jenny left to live with her married daughter Lydia.

It seems that John, “Old Jone at Pexhouse”, was the last farmer at Pighill. He had lived there the best part of 80 years. It also seems clear that when John died, so did the name Pighill. Future residents used the name Pex House.

Reuben died in 1857 at Pex House. He may have decided to live there after John Fielden died, as it was marginally more convenient than his home at the Moorcock. He died in the presence of Robert Suthers of Church Street Todmorden of an epileptic fit after 5 hours of being treated. He was 69.

After Reuben, the next occupier was his widowed son-in-law, William Crossley. JINNY HAIGH, his wife, died of cancer 3 months after her father. Jinny and William (her fourth husband) had run the WHITE HART INN for the past few years. Prior to his marriage to Jinny, William was a butcher as were his father and grandfather before him, and his brothers and nephews. After Jinny’s death, William moved to Pex House where he also died, aged 41, in 1859.

It is very likely that at this point the Haigh family sold their interests in the farm, but retained ownership of the land and cottages at Pexwood.


Peter Ormerod

By 1861, the owners of the farm were the Ormerod family, headed by Peter. He was the youngest of the three Ormerod Brothers who were major cotton manufacturers and employers in Todmorden, possibly second only to the Fielden family.

Gorpley Mill in the Bacup Valley was their first large concern and it was here where Peter met one of the mill hands, Mary Dawson. They fell in love, and despite family concerns as to whether this was a wise course to take, they married in March 1851. After the arrival of their four children, they moved to live at Pex House where they remained until Peter’s death in 1884.

All four of their children were married from this house. On 22nd November 1882, Peter's youngest daughter, Sarah, was married to Frederick Ashworth of Rose Bank, Todmorden. The ceremony took place at PATMOS CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH in Todmorden, and after the event, the party continued the celebrations at Pex House. The proceedings were marred by an unfortunate event. The horses attached to one of the carriages took fright, broke away from the carriage, fell over a low wall, rolled down a steep incline and ended up in a back yard of some cottages below. One of the horses, a valuable black mare belonging to the Todmorden Carriage Company, died on the spot. The other escaped with minor injuries. No one was in the carriage at the time.

Mary (Dawson) Ormerod


The Ormerod Brothers added to their stash of mills over the course of time, finishing up with GORPLEY, RIDGEFOOT, ALMA and HOLLINS where they employed upwards of 750 people. Peter had responsibility for Hollins Mill in Walsden. He died at Pex House on 1st January 1884 aged 72 years. His wife Mary left the marital home to live with one of her married children and died 11 years later in 1895.


Pex House about 1894

In 1891 Pex House is unoccupied, and in 1901 is not listed. The house remains today and is occupied.
The Haigh family retained ownership of the land and cottages at Pexwood, and in 1887 Elizabeth Barwick, only daughter of Reuben Haigh of Pastureside, succeeded to the ownership of 28 cottages under her father's will. On the 22nd August 1895, certain plots of land at Pexwood were put up for sale by the family. They were auctioned at the White Hart Inn by Mr. Gledhill and knocked down to Mr. S. Fielden of Dulesgate for the sum of £235.
The houses are still there today, and a stone above the door of one of them bears the initials of John and Reuben Haigh and the date, 1836.