Halewood Local History Pages

Yew Tree House - Grade II listed building


Yew Tree House

Today, Yew Tree House is a private dwelling situated in Almond Close, at the junction of Higher Road and Wood Road, near to Halewood Community Comprehensive School. Part of the house was built in the mid 17th century and may contain earlier fragments of a simple rectangular house of two rooms with a centre passage and a storey above. However, even this earlier structure is of a later date than the moat which once lay alongside.(1)

Although the area has been recorded on earlier maps(2) it was not until the Tithe Map of 1843 before a detailed survey was made of the site. A three sided moat was clearly evident in 1843, with part of the northern range of farm buildings encroaching over the eastern filled in section of the moat. In fact, the boundary lines running from the moat to the south towards Higher Road indicate the possibility of either a double moat or an extended rectangular platform. By the 1890's, only part of the moat's western section was visible, the remaining sides being filled in and enclosed. This small remaining section had disappeared by the mid 20th century.

The moated site has also been suggested as once being used as a hunting lodge by the Earl's of Derby.(3)Part of the Manor of Hale was placed by Henry II within a Royal Forest (which also included parts of Simonswood, Smithdown, Toxteth and Croxteth). This land, declared to lie between the Flaxpool to the Quintbridge, is thought to be the western area of Halewood(4) (the eastern end being the medieval open field arrangement discussed earlier). Halewood appears to have been disafforested by the end of the 14th century, and the use of Yew Tree by the Earl's of Derby was during a later period. Nevertheless, the site may have had its origin contemporary to the period of afforestation.

In 1974, plans were drawn to build new houses on part of the Yew Tree Farm estate, although planning permission was not given until 1976 (this estate was to become Broom Way and Almond Close). Realising that the destruction of an important medieval moated site was imminent, a party of volunteer diggers, mostly from the University of Liverpool Archaeological Society, arrived with precious little time available.(5) In fact, development had already commenced and any thoughts of excavating the platform had to be abandoned. This was a great pity as the site may have yielded much useful information about a type of site of which little is known in this area.(6)

As it was too late to investigate the interior platform, work concentrated both on locating the northern section of the moat and on recording evidence from the trenches dug mechanically by the site developers. Sadly therefore, the team were denied the chance to seek an answer to the question as to whether or not a building had once existed on the site.

Regarding the moat, Margaret Warhurst reported, ... we located the north side of the moat and the approximate length, width and position of the north west corner. ... We still have no positive evidence for the exact position of the the east side of the moat...'.(7)

she concluded, '...We have no evidence for the use of the site, or of any buildings which might have been associated with it. From evidence found at similar sites in the North West we could expect the moat to have been dug originally in the 14th or 15th century, but we have no evidence for this site. The earliest material we found was some 16th century pottery.'(8)

The post medieval house built to the south east of the site (i.e. outside the moat - although part of the farm buildings lay over the filled-in eastern section) has changed its name several times; in 1783 it was known as Tarleton's House (after its owner Gilbert Tarleton); in 1843, Peacock House; 1848, Horrocks House; 1881, Peacock Farm; and from 1893, Yew Tree House.

The walls are of red sandstone with a slate roof. Stone mullioned windows, mostly of 4 lights, are still in existence with chamfered mullions also still exposed on an original rear wall. The interior has low ceiling beams in the earlier section of the house and a staircase possibly of the 18th century.

Gilbert Tarleton was probably responsible for the extension of the original post medieval structure, as additional wings were added c.1780 in red brick, with further additions in 1850 in similar fashion.

During the development of the site in 1976, several outbuildings of the farm were also destroyed leaving just Yew Tree House and two barns remaining from the former farm buildings. At the time of writing these barns are now undergoing modern conversion into dwellings, together with the addition of two modern houses close by.

The site has been closely monitored during the development, but so far little additional information has come to light.

Mike Royden (1992)


Footnotes


1. M.C.M. Records File; Moated Sites of Lancashire no.81 Horrocks House M.A.S. Records File; Knowsley Rural Fringes Survey records.
2. Earl of Derby Estate Map of Halewood (1783) William Yates Map of Lancashire (1786) Halewood Enclosure Map (1803) L.C.R.O. DDx/1171/1
3. Met. Bor. Knowsley. Listed Buildings Schedule 1977 (B3) Grade II listed 22.9.75. also in M.A.S. Survey Records File - Knowsley; Halewood Township ref. 4485/1
4. Farrer, op.cit. p. 141 and Cowell, Knowsley, p.28
5. It is significant to note that immediately after the conclusion of this excavation, a meeting of concerned professional and amateur archaeologists was held on the 25 March 1976. As a result the Merseyside Archaeological Society was launched and a Steering Committee formed, to act as a focal point for archaeological activities and to investigate and record threatened sites. Later that year consultations were held with other interested parties and the Society was officially inaugurated on 4 December 1976. Morgan,D. 'Formation of the Merseyside Archaeological Society, J.M.A.S. vol 1 (1977) p. 3
6. ibid.
7. Warhurst, M. 'Moated Site at Halewood',J.M.A.S. vol 1 (1977) p.8
8. ibid.


Bibliography


Warhurst, M. 'Moated Site at Halewood',Journal of the Merseyside Archaeological Society vol 1 (1977) pp 5-10
Hollinshead, J. Halewood Township During the First Quarter of the Eighteenth Century, M.Phil Thesis unpub, Liverpool University (1980)
vHollinshead, J. 'Halewood Township: A Community in the Early Eighteenth Century' T.H.S.L.C. vol 130 (1981)
Cowell,R. Knowsley Rural Fringes Survey, Merseyside County Museums- unpublished (1982)
Royden, M.W. The Effects of Enclosure: Halewood Township by the Mid Nineteenth Century, Liverpool University B.A. Thesis Unpub.(1989)
Royden,M.W. The Impact of the Coming of the Railway on Nineteenth Century Halewood, Liverpool University, B.A. Thesis Unpup.(1988) (copies held by Lp.R.O., Huyton & Halewood Libraries)
Wrathmell, S. 'Excavation and Survey at the Old Hutt, Halewood, in 1960', J.M.A.S. vol 8 1987 (pub. 1991)
Roberts,D. Research notes and photographs


1845 Tithe
Moat intact.
Farm known as Peacocks House


1849 OS
moat intact
Farm renamed Horrocks House (centre bottom)


1895 OS
moat intact on north side only
Farm now Yew Tree House


Modern 1978
Archaeological Report map during housing development

Yew Tree House is pictured in the centre of the photograph amidst the housing estate below the school
(photo: Mike Royden 1991)


Archaeological Report (from the Journal of the Merseyside Arch. Soc.)

Warhurst, M. 'Moated Site at Halewood',Journal of the Merseyside Archaeological Society vol 1 (1977) pp 5-10





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