The benefice of Eccles had been granted to Stanlow (or Stanlaw) Abbey in Cheshire in the early thirteenth century, and at that time Deane was one of its chapelries. The abbey at Stanlow was situated on the banks of the River Mersey and was liable to flooding, so by the end of the thirteenth century the majority of the monks had moved to Whalley, where the Abbey became one of the most important and wealthy Cistercian houses in the country.
The monks of Whalley provided a vicar for Eccles, which became a parish in the gift of the Crown following the monastery’s dissolution in 1537. In February 1538 a lease of the rectory of Eccles ‘and the chapel of Deane, annexed to it’ was granted to John Penne, the royal barber, who had extensive estates in Hertfordshire. However, because John Penne had not paid the rent the lease was transferred to Thomas Holcroft in 1545.
It was a discharged vicarage which means that any vicar of Eccles was ‘dischardged and acquited for ever’ from payment of a tax called first-fruits on taking over the vicarage because the value of the living was under £10 per annum. Thus, although the Crown retained the rights to all the tithes and other church dues of the parish, the vicar who served the parish was not very well paid.
The parish comprised the townships of Barton, Clifton, Pendlebury and the chapelries of Pendleton and Worsley.
The current church building is in the later English style and retains some fourteenth-century elements, but may have been built on the site of an earlier chapel as part of a Celtic cross was discovered nearby. The building was comprehensively reconstructed in the sixteenth century but then remained virtually unchanged until the nineteenth century when it was, again, substantially restored in 1862.
The area of the parish includes part of Chat Moss, moss being the local word for a peat bog. This area was waste until drainage schemes began in the early nineteenth century, and it has now largely been reclaimed. Most of the agriculture in the parish consisted of grazing and there was little arable land until this reclamation. Coal mining had begun in the parish by the sixteenth century and the development of canals in the eighteenth century stimulated development not only of the coal industry, but also textile weaving and spinning.
Eccles is a market town, now part of Salford, and has given its name to the famous Eccles cakes.
Dom Gilbert Dolan, O.S.B., ‘Notes on the ancient religious houses of the County of Lancaster’, Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, volume 43 for 1891 and volume 44 for 1892. Available online:
The Statutes of the Realm; volume the fourth (London, 1719, reprinted 1963). (1 Elizabeth, c. 4).
‘Eaton-Hastings – Eccleshill’, in A Topographical Dictionary of England, ed. Samuel Lewis (London, 1848), pp. 136-139. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-dict/england/pp136-139 [accessed 28 November 2022].