Goosnargh - packed full of history and great food
PUBLISHED: 00:16 09 July 2012 | UPDATED: 21:36 20 February 2013
It's a community that is packed with history and plenty of delicious things to eat. Martin Pilkington reports. Photography: Kirsty Thompson
In the wider world, Goosnargh is probably best known for its corn-fed duck and chicken. Those culinary delights just one of many here date back just one generation,
however, whereas the church and village has roots back to Domesday.
Precisely what constitutes Goosnargh is, open to argument: the vicar of St Marys Church, Steve Cooper, tries to clarify the matter:
If you look at the civil parish of Goosnargh it incorporates Whitechapel, whereas ecclesiastically that part got split off. Whittingham is a separate civil parish although it is included within the ecclesiastical parish. Thus the church is only just in Goosnargh, and the massive Goosnargh Green and much of what people think of as Goosnargh village are at least officially not. Distant Beacon Fell, by contrast, is!
Two of the villages architectural highlights are definitely in Goosnargh, the church with its magnificent wooden roof, and the unexpectedly grand Georgian mansion next door, known as Bushells House. There was a priest here at the time of the Domesday Book, so there must have been a church of some sort then, says Steve. The chancel is the oldest part,
but there are only little bits around the windows that may go back as far as the 1300s, possibly as far back as the 1200s when Chingle Hall was built. My guess is that the beams here are from the original 16th century roof, and the A-frame over the top of it, whereas the rest is Victorian restoration.
Bushells House can be dated to 1722. Wealthy landowner William Bushell, a High Sheriff of Lancashire whose father had been Minister at Goosnargh, stipulated in his will that were his daughter to die before the age of 21, as she did, his estate should fund a charity to maintain decayed gentlefolk of either sex. There was a proviso that they not be counsellors, attornies [sic] or practicers [sic] of the law, or Papists. An echo of less tolerant times.
Chingle Hall is a third gem of Goosnargh ecclesiastical parish (though in Whittingham civil parish), hidden away down a private road. It is thought to have been built in 1260 by the Singleton family, minor gentry who doubtless enhanced their prestige with this once moated manor.
The moat was partly filled in according to local lore when the Preston bypass was built. There is a Singleton tomb in St Marys assumed to be from the late 15th century. Like that church the hall is an organic structure, added to over the centuries.
The village pub is handily close to the St Marys. The Grapes was once the vicars pub, part of the glebe, says Steve wistfully. This being Goosnargh there is another a mere four miles away, Ye Horns Inn. The building dates back to at least 1782, as you can see from the marriage-stone outside. Its always been a coaching inn, says Louise Martin who works there.
The tradition of hospitality continues: We serve lots of local foods it was one of the first places to have Goosnargh duck on the menu. It boasts an almost unique feature too. The seating area behind the bar is very unusual one of only two in the country, which is why CAMRA designated the place a heritage pub.
If you wanted to make a four-course meal from Goosnargh fayre and you can - that duck or chicken would be the main. It was Paul Heathcote who said he fancied an English corn-fed chicken at the time, says Kara Johnson, daughter of the celebrated Reg who established the Goosnargh duck and chicken name. Reg played around with the mixture and eventually got it right and then Nigel Haworth came on board. Then we added the ducks we do a wheat-fed duck which was the original, and we do the corn-fed duck as well.
The starter would be eel, fished from ponds and streams all over the district by Paul Gavaghan of Brabiner Lane, then cold-smoked for nine hours. Warmed, with a few fried potatoes, some bacon and cream beautiful, cant beat it, he says, though as most of the catch now ends up in London you may have to travel to try it.
When it comes to the cheese youd be spoiled for choice, with half a dozen makers in the parish including Shorrocks and Greenfields, though the most famous is surely Mrs Kirkhams Lancashire, its reputation now spreading globally. Weve just done 600 cheeses for Whole Foods in the US, says maker Graham Kirkham.
Thats six tonnes, 100 cheeses to the tonne. Quite a boost for a farm that makes about 80 tonnes a year.
There could only be one pudding Goosnargh cakes, supposedly the result of a happy accident long ago when food at a pubfair ran out and local women created makeshift treats with the ingredients to hand butter, flour, sugar and caraway seeds baked in already cooling ovens.
The Post Office proudly advertises their availability. But they arent made in Goosnargh, they actually come from a place in Longridge! says shop assistant Kirsty Smith.
What a shame!
Its a very friendly place, concludes Steve Cooper. And it still has the
essential elements of church, school, pub and village green. People stay, and where people have grown up in Goosnargh even if they cannot first afford a house here they try to move back when they can.
So in some ways it is more stable than other communities. And maybe better fed too.
Goosnargh mini guide
Where is it? Between Broughton and Longridge on the B5269, though approaching via the many high-hedged lanes is more enjoyable.
Where can I park? There is a small car park outside the church, but theres plenty of roadside parking near the green too.
What can I do? Visit the fine old church, have a pint or a Goosnargh cake, and tire the kids out playing on the vast village green.