Roughlee is a beautifully picturesque village full of history and intrigue, lying mainly in the valley alongside Pendle Water. In 1323 the village was known as 'Rughelegh' and then 'Rughlegh'. The place was also formerly called Roughlee Booths, as there were two vaccaries (monastic cow pastures or farms) in it, called Over Roughlee and Nether Roughlee. The two originally yielded 56s in 1324, when Richard de Marsden and Richard de Grenacre were the farmers. This land was passed on and on down through the years until in 1527 the five principal copyhold tenants were John Hartley, Miles Nutter, William Baldwin and the wives of Christopher and John Baldwin.
Pendle from Noggarth Road
The most interesting person connected with Roughlee is Alice Nutter, one of those accused of witchcraft and hanged at Lancaster in 1612. She was the wife of Richard son of Miles Nutter (see above), and had a son Miles and other children - but her paternal name does not appear to be known. She stood out from the others accused of witchcraft as being 'a rich woman, who had a great estate and children of good hope: in the common opinion of the world, of good temper, free from envy or malice'. The charges against her were that she was present at the witches' meeting at Malkin Tower, and that with old Elizabeth Device she had conspired to kill Henry Mitton of Roughlee because he had refused to give Device a penny. She resolutely denied her guilt and as the recorder says, 'she died very impenitent, insomuch as her own children were never able to move her to confess any particular offence or declare anything, even in articulo mortis'.
Roughlee Hall stands in a picturesque situation a short distance from Pendle Water. It is a long low two-story 16th-century building, built of local stone and with stone slated roofs. The hall became very dilapidated but is now divided into cottages and stands much altered from its original facade. It does still retain a lot of the original features including the mullion windows. The inscribed stone in the hall, now nearly illegible, is said to read, 'This house was builded by M. N. in the year of Our Lord 1536.', with M. N. being the initials of Miles Nutter. The house is sometimes known as the Witches' Hall, and it having believed to have been the residence of Alice Nutter, although it was more likely that she resided in a nearby farmhouse probably now demolished. One more recent notable resident was the late Jimmy Crewdson, one of the oldest scouts in the world.
School and Pendle Water
Stepping Stones over Pendle Water
Bench on Pendle Water
The village school was built in 1852 opposite Pendle Water, and is believed to have been the first school in Pendle, although now, reflecting the population of the village, it is the second smallest in Lancashire. Further downstream from the school is the waterfall, which can be quite a spectacle when Pendle Water is high or frozen. There have been at least two floods when the usually benign Pendle Water became a raging torrent. In July 1881, there was a storm which resulted in severe flooding, and more recently in August 1967, when part of the main road through the village was washed away.
Waterfall and road in flood
John Wesley preached in Roughlee around 1747, and the Wesleyan Methodists had a chapel built there, which was eventually demolished in 1976.
Most villagers now commute to work as there is little employment in the village itself. In the 19th century there were two cotton mills, Roughlee Mill and Thorneyholme Mill, which both spun cotton yarn for the handloom weavers. It is believed that Thorneyholme Mill may have been created out of a barn associated with Thorneyholme farm. In 1799 the mill comprised a twist mill, size house and warehouse operated by Hugh and John Roberts. The building was shown as a cotton mill on an 1847 map, but by 1850 it appears the building was again a farming building and was subsequently demolished.
Roughlee Mill was built in 1787 by Robert Judson on the site of a much earlier cotton mill. The mill, which for a long time was known as Judson's Mill, was driven by a waterwheel supplied by a large lake that was fed via a sluice gate at a weir further upstream on Pendle Water. The mill changed hands several times and at the time it was sold to Richard Stuttard in 1880 was 4 storeys tall and contained 2,672 mule spindles and 42 power looms. By 1909 the mill's use had swapped over to that of a laundry with some bleaching. In 1912 the Nelson corporation sold it to Alfred Waine and the mill yard was turned into a Pleasure Garden and a boating lake. The laundry itself closed in mid 1940s, and the building was empty for a long time before being demolished. The lake is now a trout fishery.
There are no longer any shops in Roughlee, but there is still a public house - the Bay Horse Inn across from the village centre. The village centre itself hosts many social functions throughout the year, including its annual fair in June and duck race in August, further details of which can be found on the village's website www.roughlee.org.uk.
Roughlee Village Centre
Bay Horse Inn Public House
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