Ye Olde Man & Scythe
Rebuilt in 1636 on the remains of an 11th century inn, Ye Olde Man & Scythe was already centuries old when its regulars watched the Civil War unfold outside the window.
Yes, that’s right, you’re getting a history lesson, but don’t worry... We’ll mention beer as much as we can while we educate you!
Ye Olde Man & Scythe, 12 Church Gate, Bolton. BL1 1HL Tel: 01204 451237
Few public houses can boast of being amongst the oldest in the country, but Ye Olde Man and Scythe in Bolton’s town centre is a member of an exclusive club which can claim just that. With almost 1000 years of history behind it, this old inn has seen more than its fair share of life and, unfortunately, death!
In fact there’s probably been a pub on or near to this site since the 11th century, but that ‘pub’ was likely nothing more than a small hut. In 1636 the pub had (for those days) a modernisation, and was rebuilt
on the remains of the original Inn. Many of the original features are still present within the current building, including a central beam which has been resituated at least 3 times. The two side rooms in the
pub are of the original layout and from the beer garden you can see remaining parts of the centuries old timber frame, allowing you to look back in time while enjoying a pint. The front of the pub is deceptively
new, coming during a remodelling barely 100 years ago. The oldest part of the Inn, and the only original part of the building is the vaulted cellars which are often left open so clients can look in.
Most grusomely, Ye Olde Man and Scythe, witnessed much of the Bolton Massacre, one of the most brutal events in Lancashire’s long history and one of the bloodiest episodes of the English Civil War which left an hundreds of Boltonians slaughtered.
Whilst most people in Lancashire supported the King under the leadership of the 7th Earl of Derby- James Stanley, the people of Bolton were firm supporters of Parliament. James Stanley wanted no part in any political disputes but when the war broke out he sided with the crown.
Bolton prepared for the Royalists, led by Prince Rupert of the Rhine, to attack and built earthwork defences to help defend their town.
The tactic proved successful as, when the Royalists attacked in 1643, they were beaten off. 3,000 men were sent by Parliament in 1644 to garrison Bolton. The Royalists attacked again in March of that year and were once again thwarted. Prince Rupert’s army of 10,000 were joined by troops led by the Earl of Derby for a third attack, and in May 1644 they succeeded in breaking through the defences.
Once inside they stormed the town, massacred numerous Parliamentary soldiers and any civilians who got in the way. Much of the slaughter took place in and around the streets of Ye Olde Man and Scythe and it is reported that more than 1000 people were murdered and hundreds taken captive, in 1644 was a large proportion of the population of Bolton. James Stanley was later hunted down and sentenced to death by the severing of his head for his part in the massacre and for the recently passed treasonable offence of corresponding with the King.
He was to be beheaded on October 15th 1651 outside Ye Olde Man and Scythe at the Market Cross, but if the prospect of being separate from your head wasn’t enough to make you nervous, he endured an agonising wait due to the fact that, when he arrived, the scaffold on which his execution was to take place hadn’t been finished. The Earl, therefore, spent his last few hours on the planet in Ye Olde Man and Scythe having a final drink with the landlord at the time, James Cockerel. When his time was up and the execution was to take place, no one would swing the axe, but George Whewell, a local farmer, stepped forward, happy to do the deed, fuelled by revenge, as his family had been killed during the massacre.
With all the history that surrounds the inn it’s no wonder some people think it’s haunted. It is rumoured that Stanley’s wife Charlotte de Tremoille’s ghost haunts the inn looking for her husband, and who knows perhaps you’ll meet James Stanley himself!
Outside of things that go bump in the night, Ye Olde Man & Scythe is now a thriving town centre pub where you can wander around the pub’s museum room and even see the chair the Earl of Derby sat in,
having his final pint while waiting for his execution. The owners seem to take a real pride in the history of the pub and adorn the walls with information, antiques and models which make it easier for you to picture the pub which, at least in parts, is now close to eight centuries old.
For more information on the history of Ye Olde Man & Scythe you can visit their website at:
Old Man & Scythe Timeline
1th A pub is likely to have been built
near to the local church on the
spot where Ye Old Man & Scythe
The pub’s cellar was constructed
in the late 11th/early 12th century
and the original timber building is
in place above.
Visitor’s today can still see what
remains of the original building
from the beer garden.
The Earl of Derby, receives a
Royal Charter for the market. This
market would win top prize in the
Food and Farming Awards in 2011
several centuries later. The pub
came into the ownership of the
Pilkington family whose family
crest provided the basis for the
pub sign we’ve all come to know
The Stanley family take ownership
of the pub again after the
Pilkingtons fought on the side of
Richard the Third. Along with the
estates of the newly executed
Leonard Pilkington, Henry the VIII
reinstated the Earldom of Derby.
The Bolton Massacre takes place
and reports of the soldiers and
civilians massacred range from
the low hundreds to over 1000.
James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby
is executed for his part in the
massacre and spends his last
hours in Ye Olde Man & Scythe
waiting for the scaffold to be built.
The inn suffers from fire damage
and what remained of the wattle
and daub building is replaced with
less flammable brick. The flagstone
floor was laid and the bay