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Ye Olde Man & Scythe
Ye Olde Man & Scythe is one of the best known pubs in Bolton town centre, one of the oldest public houses in the United Kingdom and is reputedly haunted by James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby amongst others. Ye Olde Man & Scythe has stood in Churchgate since the 12th century. The earliest mention of the pub dates to 1251 and a Royal Charter giving permission for a market to be held in by the Earl of Derby who owned the property where the building stands. The pub has undergone some structural changes and according to a date stone was rebuilt in 1636, though some of the cellar dates back to the earlier building.
The sign depicts a man holding a scythe. Around the time of the Royal Charter of 1251, Ye Olde Man & Scythe passed from the Ferrers (Earl of Derby) family to the Pilkingtons through marriage. The crest of the Pilkingtons is that of a man mowing with a scythe which relates to a family legend concerning one of their ancestors who disguised themselves as a mower to avoid capture around the time of the Norman conquest.
The Pilkingtons fought for Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth on 22 August 1485 and Leonard Pilkington was executed for this in Leicester. The whole Pilkington family manor and estate was then passed to by Henry VII to Thomas Lord Stanley, the newly created Earl of Derby after the earldom had been re-introduced. Sir Thomas Pilkington of Pilkington is mentioned in the roll call for the Battle of Bosworth fighting for the Yorkist Richard and he later died at the Battle of Stoke in 1487.
The English Civil War
On 28th May 1644, the Royalists forces led by Prince Rupert of the Rhine and supported by those of James Stenley, 7th Earl of Derby stormed Bolton and massacred around one thousand five hundred inhabitants, civilians and troops alike. Much of this slaughter would have taken place in the streets around Ye Olde Man & Scythe.
James Stanley, however was to have an even closer connection with the pub as at 3.00pm on 15 October 1651 he was executed outside it. James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby (Knight of the Garter) (born 31 January 1607 – died 15 October 1651) acquired the Earldom after his father died on 29 September 1642, before this date he had been known as Lord Strange. Even though he had served as a member of Parliament for Liverpool and as Baron Strange in the House of Lords, Stanley was not involved with the disputes with the crown that resulted in the English Civil War, though once the fighting began he sided with King Charles I.
Stanley had been sent to fortify the Isle of Man for Charles I and whilst he was away his wife Charlotte de la Trenmoille and his home, Lathom House, described as the last Royalist stronghold in Lancashire, came under siege by the Parliamentarian forces of Thomas Fairfax. By joining the campaign of Prince Rupert of the Rhine in 1644 he was able to relieve this siege which had lasted from February 1644 through to May 1644. I can only assume that he took this attack personally and it may have account for his part in the Massacre of Bolton. After being the at the defeat of Marston Moor he retreated to the Isle of Man.
Following the war he was arrested for treason and executed in Bolton, for the part he took in the massacre. Before he faced the executioners block in the market place in front of Ye Olde Man & Scythe, he sat inside the pub with the landlord James Cockrel and had a final meal. The chair on which he sat is of a Flemish design dating from 1590 and still be seen today in the Museum Room of the pub. In 1965 the WHO apparently damaged this chair.
Ye Olde Man & Scythe is said to be haunted by a young girl named Jenny and the ill fated James Stenley, 7th Earl of Derby, who has reputedly been seen in the Museum Room. I found an article by Jennifer Minard dated 2006 and entitled ‘TV Shuts Door On Haunted Hostelry’ in which she explains that representatives from Living TV examined the pub for a possible appearance on Most Haunted, but it was deemed unsuitable as the haunted rooms did not have doors on them. Jennifer’s article mentions that the pub is said to haunted by 20 ghosts.