5 Read Hall
Go back to the ByPass A6068. Turn Left for about a mile, and 1st on yr right is Higham Road. Take this until junction, turn right into Sabden Road, and follow along, keeping left. Until Cross road straight over along Whins Lane. Keep going near to Read HAll grounds, where take left turn down George Lane until the main road (Whalley Road A761). Turn left. All along on your right is the Read Hall estate. But there is no parking at the lodge house (2pt).
Keep on round road for another mile, until you come to an unusual traffic lights, where you turn sharp right up (not main road!) into Portfield Lane. Carry on bear right, then sharp right into Sabden Road. Few yards and right again on left hand bend down Old Roman Road. Go few hundred yards over a Readbridge and park up on right. There you can follow an official footpath up to the Hall (5pts) on the right (53"48'49.49N 2"22'36.16"W)
This is how Read Hall used to look. It was here that the JP Roger Nowell would meet visitors from Preston and beyond, including Mr Potts from Lancaster Assizes who was the crucial character and whom kept notes at the Trials (more below). The present Read Hall was built around 1825 ( a time when new manufacturers invested in rural lands). We have been politely asked by the present owners to remove the picture of the present Hall that we had on this page, as it is not the original building inhabited by Roger Nowell. The land is the much same size - about 200 hectares, but would have been farmed in Nowell's time whereas it was landscaped at about the time of the new building; no access is allowed.2 Points for the Lodge Gate
Roger Nowell JP
'Roger the brother of Thomas Nowell succeeded and on his death in 1591 was followed by a son Roger. (fn. 22) The family prospered, not surprising those marriages to local wealthy landowners.. The estates were augmented by the purchase of lands formerly belonging to Whalley Abbey and of the fifth or remaining part of the manor. Roger Nowell thus became sole lord. (fn. 23) He was sheriff in 1609–10, (fn. 24) and was later a zealous witch-hunter. (fn. 25) In 1615–16 he obtained from the Crown a charter for view of frankpledge, &c., in his manors of Read and Simonstone. (fn. 27) Roger Nowell died 1624' (from British History online)
'Roger Nowell Esquire,[B2a] one of his Maiesties Iustices in these partes, a very religious honest Gentleman, painefull in the seruice of his Countrey: whose fame for this great seruice to his Countrey, shall liue after him, tooke vpon him to enter into the particular examination of these suspected persons: And to the honour of God, and the great comfort of all his Countrey, made such a discouery of them in order, as the like hath not been heard of: which for your better satisfaction, I haue heere placed in order against her, as they are vpon Record, amongst the Recordes of the Crowne at Lancaster, certified by M. Nowell, and other'. From Potts 'Discovery'.
He was ' Justice of the Peace for the area of Pendle' and had been busy prosecuting those who refused to attend Church of England services, then a criminal offence. He had long been aware of the prominence of witchcraft in Pendle and when he received a complaint from Abraham Law regarding Alizon Device, He now had the opportunity to prosecute it.
Roger Nowell had been Sheriff of Lancaster in 1611, and had come across Potts as an attorney there. It is Potts account of the trial that enables us to see so clearly what happened then. Potts was the client of Sir Thomas Knyvet, who had foiled the gunpowder plot a few years previously. Nowell also took him on and dedicated his famous book 'Discovery of Witches' (see left hand navigation to get copy) to him, indicating that he saw a connection between this trial - where threats were made to blow up the caste to get their friends free, and the gunpowder plot just a few years previously, that had put the wind up the king. And he knew the king didn't like witches as he had written a tome om it.
According to Potts: 'that the magistrate, Roger Nowell, entered actively as a confederate into the conspiracy from a grudge entertained against her (Alice Nutter) on account of a long disputed boundary is an allegation which tradition has preserved, but the truth or falsehood of which, at this distance of time, it is scarcely possible satisfactorily to examine.
Of course this same Alice Nutter was one of the 'witches' that Nowell had executed. She was said to be hiding in Downham Old Hall when she was wanted for trial at Lancaster. The village (with no village signs,TV aerials or satellite dishes, has been in the hands of the Assheton family since 1558. There you can find the Assheton Arms, and very nice too, known for the fish dishes.