Wycoller Country Park
Wycoller (from the Anglo Saxon Wic-Alr, meaning dairy farm among the alder trees) is a delightful Lancashire village, approximately 4 miles east of Colne, and is slowly being brought back to life after virtual abandonment. From the 15th century the Wycoller area was a sheep farming and weaving community, but the invention of power looms eventually led to the village’s decline. In the 1890s there were plans to create a reservoir by damming Wycoller Beck, but fortunately the plan never materialized. ‘The Friends of Wycoller’ were established in 1948 in an effort to preserve Wycoller Hall and the village. Lancashire County Council bought the land from the Water Board in 1973 and the village and surrounding countryside were designated a Country Park.
Wycoller Hall, is thought by some to be the inspiration for Ferndean Manor in the novel Jane Eyre written by Charlotte Bronte. The Brontes spent much of their life in Haworth, close to Wycoller. The Hall was built by the Hartley family at the end of the 16th century but by the early 1900s much of the Hall was unoccupied. Stone was later taken from the property to be used in other locations or for local walls. Restoration work on the Hall began in 1950 and the fireplace (picture 4 above) has been rebuilt with help from ‘The Friends’.
Wycoller’s population peaked at 350 in the year 1820 but weavers later moved to live in nearby towns, close to the developing mills. Thirty five dwellings have been lost since that time. Houses that remain have been restored. Wycoller Cafe and Craft Centre has pleasant proprietors and serves good meals at reasonable prices.
Seven bridges cross Wycoller Beck. Pictured left is the Pack-Horse Bridge, a twin arched bridge which may have originated almost 800 years ago, but has been reconstructed over the centuries. Sally Owen, mother of Wycoller’s last squire has led to the bridge’s alternative name – Sally’s Bridge.
Clapper Bridge is close to the ruins of Wycoller Hall and probably dates from the late 18th or early 19th century. Grooves in the bridge from the weavers’ clogs were allegedly chiselled flat by a farmer whose daughter was fatally injured on the bridge.
Clam Bridge is possibly more than 1000 years old and is listed as an Ancient Monument. It is a single slab laid across Wycoller Beck and once had a handrail. In 1989 and again in 1990 the bridge was swept away and cracked in two. It was repaired and replaced in 1991.
The leaflet ‘Wycoller Country Park’, published by Lancashire County Council – (Lancashire County Planning Department and County Public Relations Section) is acknowledged in the compilation of text for this web page. Copies are available from Wycoller Cafe and Craft Centre. The very informative leaflet gives an in depth history of Wycoller, its flora and fauna and a map of the area, showing footpaths (including footpaths for the disabled) and bridleways.
Several online leaflets are available, click the links below for PDFs.
To be able to download the leaflets you will need to have the Free Acrobat Reader installed on your PC.