The name Lea is taken from the old English word ‘laeh’ meaning ‘a clearing in the wood’ and, the first recorded use of the name was in the Domesday Book of 1086. Lea (pronounced Lee-ah) is 4 miles west of the centre of Preston and lies north of the river Ribble.
In ancient times the district of Lea was divided into two hamlets called French Lea (presumed to be through Norman settlers) and English Lea the two being divided by the middle course of the Savick Brook. These designations have since disappeared and the area unified. In fact it was around 1207 when Henry ll swapped English Lea for land around the Mersey that the two Leas were united under the lordship of Henry de Lea.
Sybil of Lea, daughter of Sir William de Lea and a descendant of Henry married Richard de Hoghton and, to this day, the area’s connection with the de Hoghton family is maintained through their land ownership. Unfortunately nothing now remains of the manor house Lea Hall which was situated on the south side of Savick Brook and used by the family prior to the building of Hoghton Tower by Thomas de Hoghton in the 1560’s.
Thomas Harrison Myres (1842-1926) was an English railway architect who designed stations and ancillary buildings, he and his wife had various residences including one at Cottam. Thomas was greatly interested in the restoration of road side crosses and succeeded in restoring sixteen throughout Lancashire. After his death, a fitting monument was erected to him and his wife Catherine at nearby Lea bearing the inscription
“To the glory of God and in the memory of the pioneer of the restoration of roadside crosses, Thomas Harrison Myres of Lea Lodge and Catherine Mary his wife. The base of this cross originally stood 20yds from this spot and was removed here and dedicated July 28th 1929”.
The monument now stands close to the junction of Lea Road and Cottam Way,
The A583 Preston to Blackpool passes through Lea. The section from Clifton-Blackpool was, until 1902, a private toll road owned by the Clifton and de Hoghton estates. The toll was paid at Lea Gate where a crossing of Savick Brook was required. The name Lea Gate remains as the name of the pub occupying the same spot on the A583.
Cottam derives from the Old English words ‘cot’ and ‘um’ meaning ‘the cottages’. The first recorded use of the name was in 1230 when it was described as ‘Cotun’ but by 1235 it had become ‘Cotum’ much as it is pronounced today.
Cottam, until recent major residential development, was a rural village comprising mainly farms and smallholdings. At the end of the 13th century land in Cottam was in the possession of Henry de Haydock whose descendants continued to hold it until the early part of the 18th century. The interest of the Haydock family was mainly religious, William, a younger son of William Haydock of Cottam Hall, was a monk at Whalley Abbey and was executed there in 1537 for taking part in the insurrection in the north of England, commonly known as “The Pilgrimage of Grace”.
George Haydock (b1556) the youngest son of Evan and Helen Haydock of Cottam Hall was ordained a priest in Rheims, France in 1581. He returned to England in 1582 where he was promptly arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London. He was indicted for conspiring against Queen Elizabeth 1st and, after over a year in prison, he and several other priests were executed at Tyburn. His martyrdom is remembered by the sharing of the dedication in the naming of the church on Hoyles Lane, Cottam “St Andrew and Blessed George Haydock”.
George Leop Haydock 1774-1849 was a priest, pastor, and Bible scholar he is best remembered for his commentary for a new edition of the English Catholic Bible which was published by his brother Thomas. George retired in 1831 and settled at The Tagg, a family owned dower house in Cottam.
The fine timbered ancestral home of the Haydock family, Cottam Hall, was demolished in 1860 but the name has been adopted for the area of recent residential development that includes a road named ‘Haydocks Lane’. Today both Cottam Community Centre and Cottam Primary School are located on Haydocks Lane.
Canberra Lane, Cottam commemorates a sad event of 25th March 1952 when a test flight of a Canberra Mark2 was being made between Salmesbury and Warton by 29 year old Thomas Evans a very experienced and highly rated pilot. The aircraft was observed flying fast and low over north Preston when it suddenly went into a steep dive and hit the ground in what was at that time open farmland. The pilot was tragically killed but no other casualties resulted. The only nearby building was a bungalow on Valentines Lane which was fortunately unoccupied when the accident occurred, it did, however, suffer significant damage to it’s roof and windows from the impact of debris.
NB The Parish Council would welcome additional contributions to historical information relating to both Lea & Cottam. Please contact the Parish Clerk should you wish to do so.