History of Roughlee Village

The Pendleside village of Roughlee has roots going back to before the time of the Norman Conquest. It has had various, earlier names including Rughelegh, Rughegh and Rughley. Roughlee was formed into a Civil Parish in 1866.

Roughlee’s biggest mill was built in 1787 by Robert Judson for cotton spinning. It was located in the centre of the village and known as Judson’s Mill. In the early twentieth century its lodge became a boating lake and pleasure gardens and was a popular day out for people from the local towns. The mill was demolished in 1961 and the former mill lodge is now a trout fishing lake. Refreshments were available at a small lakeside cafe as well as at the tea rooms at Happy Valley. On the site now is a thriving community centre, home to the Parish Council and other groups.

The early pioneers of Socialism built the Clarion House in a place recognised for its scenic qualities. The first site was at Thorneyholme Square and the second at Nabs Farm before the third, current site was built in 1912.

Roughlee is particularly associated with the story of the infamous Lancashire Witch Trials of 1612, through one of its better known residents, Alice Nutter. There is a mistaken belief that she lived in Roughlee Hall whereas there is now a greater certainty that she lived in a farm near to Crowtrees. In 1612 she was taken to Lancaster Castle for sentencing and subsequent hanging. During the renovations to the centre of the Village in 2006 a new fingerpost sign was erected pointing the way to the castle. To coincide with the 400th anniversary of the trials, a statue was erected. Close by is a memorial stone commemorating the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War.

The village is also associated with the early days of Methodism. In 1747, John Wesley preached here in one of the Waterfall Cottages and again at the bridge opposite the Bay Horse Inn. The Methodist Chapel, demolished in 1976, was situated behind these cottages but there are no longer any remains. Opposite the cottages is the stunning waterfall which was originally built to power the mill.

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Further resources

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