Over 100 people
Chorley Unitarian Chapel on Park Street to capacity on
Thursday evening 29 Nov 2012. It was the venue of Lizzie Jones’s
character presentation to Chorley Historical and Archaeological
Society members and friends. Doreen Jolly started the evening
with a potted history of the chapel’s beginnings and its
connections with the subject of the evening’s story, Lord Derby.
firstly, set the record straight by explaining she was not,
contrary to rumours, retiring and this was not going to be her
final talk. She added that for 20 years she has done a different
character talk each year and does not envisage doing any more
characters. She does, however, intend to carry on giving talks
in the future so this will not be her last.
The Unitarian Chapel is packed to
Lizzie then set
the scene for this evening’s talk by explaining the period
costume she was wearing, which was that of, what she called, a
woman of the working poor of the mid 17th century. In actual
fact an innkeeper of the Dog Inn, which, during the Civil War,
was located at the top of Standishgate in the centre of Wigan.
Her character, as an innkeeper, would have lived in a prosperous
and industrious town. There would always be travellers staying
at the inn as Wigan was on a main north-south route. Market
days, too, would bring in many customers to the inn and,
naturally, was a source of news from around the area and from
further afield for the townsfolk.
The conflict in the country had, however, affected Wigan and it
was going through tough times. It was a defeated town and was in
the hands of the Roundheads.
Lizzie gave the
date of the 25 August 1651 as the start of her story regarding
Lord Derby. News had arrived that the new King Charles had
raised an army in Scotland. Lord Derby, a Royalist, well known
to the people of Wigan and the innkeeper, in particular, was at
Standish with soldiers and a conflict ensued with Roundheads. It
finished with the Roundheads defeating the Royalists and Lord
Derby seeking refuge in the inn. He received shelter, food and
drink from the innkeeper although having a £500 reward on his
head before making his escape to fight another day.
Lizzie Jones in costume.