Thornsgreese is situated high above the western side of the Walden valley on Inchfield Moor. It is part of a small community of farms in the area, lying on a rough track that links the farms along the plateau of the moor with the valley below. This area of higher Inchfield was once known as Scotland and was a wild outlying region of Walsden.

Thornsgreese apparently means, "A long stepped, steep pathway bordered by thorn trees". It is barely accessible these days, so in centuries gone by, a visitor would be a rare thing.

The picture is of the long, stepped, steep pathway leading up to the farm from Ragby Clough and beyond, with the thorn trees in full blossom

In 1792, John Haigh of nearby Pastureside Farm leased the area round this community from the Rev. George Travis for 37 years for the purpose of opening a coalmine. These were shallow drift mines, dug in to the hillsides. This encouraged the Jackson family to move to the higher parts of Inchfield and obtain work at the mine. The Jacksons settled at various farms and cottages on the plateau, and one of them, Robert Jackson, married the daughter of the farmer at Thornsgreese. She was Mary Howarth, daughter of Zachariah. Robert and Mary lived with Zachariah at the farm.

By 1808, Zachariah was an old man of 70, and from a date stone over the barn entrance at the back of the farmhouse, it appears that Robert and Mary took over the farm and rebuilt it. The date stone reads RJM 1808 and can be seen on the stonework above the present glass door.

Zachariah Howarth died in 1809.

Thornsgreese in 2005

Robert later became known as Old Schemer. For several years after he married there were no children, which he admitted made him very unhappy, but after 4 years the children came after the other, after the other, 10 in all. Robert then complained he couldn't afford all these children! They were all born at Thornsgreese.

Robert supplemented his income from his farm by working in the coalmines nearby and in time he was able to buy the farm and land.

His beloved wife died in 1823 and he then married a twice-wed widow, Mally, the daughter of John Fielden of Bottomley. She brought a further 9 of her own children and 8 stepchildren to the family, although most were adults by this time. Mally died in 1837 and Robert, who enjoyed the company of a good woman, married for a third time at the tender age of 75.


Thornsgreese and neighbouring Brownroads

from the meadows behind

This time Robert chose badly. She was Betty Greenwood and it is reported that they did not get on at all well. There were frequent arguments. She had 3 previous husbands and one of these was her favourite to the extent she kept mentioning his name all the time. One day, in pure frustration, Robert agreed with her and said " yes, he was a good man alright and he has surely gone to heaven if there is such a place, and it would be a welcome place of rest, but he made one mistake." When she asked what this mistake was, he replied: "He didn't take you with him."

Despite this, Robert and Betty paddled on at Thornsgreese for a considerable number of years, both living to a great age. Robert died there aged 91 and is buried at St. Mary's with his first wife and mother of all his children.

In 1825, a chapel and Sunday school was formed at Thornsgreese by the United Free Methodists, instigated by a break away group of teachers from Frieldhurst in Cornholme. They used one room at the end of the house. The chapel closed its doors to worshippers by 1891 and the faithful moved down the hill to Inchfield Bottom. The chapel was sited at the far left of the building.

There were 4 cottages at the farm in addition to the chapel. Old Schemer and his wife had one from where he farmed his land. Three of his sons and their families occupied the remaining 3 cottages and worked as labourers and carters. Between the brothers there were at least 25 children, so plenty of scholars for the Sunday school.


Following Robert's death, his son Zachariah and wife Martha took over the farm, by which time was 12 acres. They continued until Zachariah died 27 years later. Martha plodded on at the farm another 13 years, helped by her son Zachariah and his wife Sarah.


By 1891, the farm had been in the hands of one family for over 100 years. Throughout this period various members of the family occupied the cottages.

One 20th Century occupant was George Mitchell, married to Christiana Pilkington. They moved to Thornsgreese from Stonehouse with their children. This photo, kindly sent in by their great grandson Chris Wadsworth, shows the family outside Thornsgreese. They moved from there in 1935 when George bought Naze Farm. The farm is now a large private house overlooking magnificent scenery.