A Flying Visit to Warton Village, Lancashire.
A Flying Visit to Warton Village, Lancashire, England.
Uncle D and I were definitely in need of a breather. In fact, we’d been walking for hours and the prospect of a restful pint was just what we needed. After all, our efforts had seen us hike through the stunning Leighton Moss Nature Reserve. Then head up the equally pretty forest paths of Warton Crag.
Now we were back down the crag strolling towards the aforementioned beer in Warton village. I’d never heard of Warton before visiting my Uncle. Indeed this tiny English village, with its population of just over 2300, is unlikely to register with many people domestically, let alone overseas visitors.
And yet, as I was about to find out, Warton has some incredible history. Which seems to be the case wherever you go in Lancashire. I suspected something was up when we arrived at the George Washington Pub. Hang on, not that George Washington surely? And if so, what’s the connection?
Warton Village, Lancashire.
Needless to say it was that George Washington. Moreover, Warton played a major role in the story of the world famous Washington family. The tale goes all the way back to 1300 when a certain Lawrence Washington moved to the village from County Durham. That’s around seven generations prior to future U.S. president George and his family.
George’s direct ancestors left England for the U.S. in 1659, settling in the state of Virginia. George was born about 73 years later. Thus The United States’ first popularly elected president never actually set foot in Warton.
That doesn’t stop the village from celebrating its rich heritage. Ordering our drinks at the bar, I felt I really only had one choice. It just had to be a pint of George Washington Finest Blond Ale.
Outside, I drank in not just my beer but the understated comings and goings of life on Main Street. A man sauntered past clutching a newspaper. A car crawled by, window down, its occupant calling out to a nearby woman walking her dog. “Alright Emily, how’s your Tony getting on?”
As Uncle D worked on his own pint and checked in with messages, I decided to head down Main Street to look at Warton’s famous Washington House. Located at number 130, it’s an unassuming building in many ways with its pebbledash sandstone facade and simple tiled roof.
The Washington House.
Nevertheless, it’s cool to see the stone Washington House sign above the door. It also includes the year of construction, 1612. Unfortunately, and despite plenty of research, I’ve been unable to find out precisely which Washingtons lived here.
One article claims it was a general family home used by numerous Washingtons (of which there were many) throughout the 17th century. Most of them were wealthy landowners, one even owned the village water mill used to grind corn. Hence there are a couple of online pieces claiming the house most likely incorporated the family office.
Warton’s fascinating Washington sights don’t end with the house and the pub. You’ve also got the charming St Oswald’s Church. They say a church of some sort has stood here for over 1000 years!
The current structure largely dates back to the 15th century. They say a Mr. Robert Washington pitched in with the funding of the clock tower and even helped to build it.
Historians reckon the tower originally featured the Washington family coat of arms. That now stands on display inside the church which was… needless to say.. closed that day when Uncle D and I came to look. Annoying.
Warton Village, Lancashire.
Apparently, the Washington coat of arms was a huge influence on the U.S. flag, which also hangs within the church. Furthermore, come to Warton on the 4th of July (Independence Day in The United States) and you can see the Stars and Stripes flying from the church.
Unable to investigate the interior, we made do with a self-guided tour of the immaculate graveyard. Here lie buried nearly a dozen Washingtons, though only that of Reverend Thomas Washington and his wife Elizabeth have visible engravings. Interestingly, Thomas was Warton’s last Washington resident. He passed away in 1823 aged 69.
Elsewhere, the graveyard at St Oswald’s is home to a number of World War graves. 8 are related to WWI personnel who came from the village and its surrounds. One is a WWII Royal Artillery soldier. During the Second World War, the church became a pilgrimage site for U.S. soldiers stationed in Britain.
St Oswald’s Church.
It was time for Uncle D and I to continue our walk with a route that would take us out of Warton on the road back to Carnforth. However, I was keen to stay eagle-eyed as we progressed, ticking off a number of notable buildings.
First, I caught a glimpse of the Old Rectory, a grand 14th century house in which the rectors of St Oswald’s Church once lived. According to local historians, it fell into ruin sometime in the 1720s.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that George Washington was Warton’s only pub. But actually the village’s modest community has quite a choice when it comes to booze and grub.
Another option is the The Nib at Millhead, a little Victorian watering hole that puts on bingo and karaoke nights. A humorous sign informs visitors “Don’t be put off if we look shut, everybody uses the back door”.
There’s also the Old School Brewery situated at the foot of the crag. Founded in 2012, this award-winning craft beer joint runs out of an ancient barn converted by owners Ian Walsh and Ren Wallbank.
Some of the private residences are breathtaking. Not least School House, a Grade II listed 17th century home located at 78 Main Street. The cost of property in England never fails to shock me and indeed this three bedroom house is valued at around £700.000 ($920.000).
Warton village, Lancashire.
Nearby, there’s an actual former schoolhouse dating back to 1864. Infant School and Lecture Hall states the engraved sign between the top two windows. The facade also features an unusual First World War memorial that commemorates “Peace for the education of the children of Warton”.
There were two schools in Warton back in Victorian times. You can see the other (also now converted into private homes) across the road from the infant School. This one had separate entrances for girls and boys, check out the sign above the red door.
Before long my flying visit to Warton was over and we were on the main road out of the village. Soon, we passed the crag that we’d climbed just a few hours earlier. From there the countryside opened up beautifully, with expansive grassy fields and gentle slopes surrounding us.
It took us about twenty minutes to walk back to Carnforth. For the most part it was a piece of cake, just the odd pause at the side of the road whenever a car passed. What a genuine revelation the village of Warton turned out to be, another fine feather for Lancashire’s highly decorated cap.
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