Drawing of The Lower Lodge, birthplace of Jeremiah Horrocks

The history of the Royal hunting lodges of Toxteth Park has been covered many times before so I hadn’t planned to include it here, but ever since reading Robert Griffiths’ book, I have tried to find an illustration of the Lower Lodge and until now had failed. As other people might have had the same problem I thought I should share it on this post. First though, a little history of the house and its inhabitants.

The ancient Toxteth Park of King John (1166 – 1216) had two lodges, The Higher and The Lower. Although both were of great age it is unclear when the buildings were erected. The Higher Lodge gave its name to Lodge Lane and still stands (although much altered). The Lower Lodge was demolished in 1862 to make way for the railway with Otterspool Station being built on top of it. The station was closed in 1951.

“It was in connection with this Royal Park of Toxteth that the third Plantagenet erected two lodges. One of these stood at the junction of Lodge Lane and Ullet Road, not very far from the stream known as “Dickenson’s Dingle,”…  From this building Lodge Lane derived its name. The second, or “Lower Lodge” was erected near Otterspool, and is shown on Sheriff’s Map of Toxteth Park, published in 1816.”
Robert Griffiths ‘The History of the Royal and Ancient Park of Toxteth Liverpool’ 1907

Robert Griffiths visited the site of the demolished Lower Lodge for his 1907 book ‘The History of the Royal and Ancient Park of Toxteth Liverpool’. He found what he believed were sandstone architraves from its doorway, the whereabouts of these are now unknown. Griffiths also corrected what previous historians had mistakenly thought to be the Lower Lodge, explaining that this was in fact of another property nearby called “Bakers Shore Cottage”.

remains-of-lower-lodgeThe sandstone remains of what Robert Griffiths believed to be from the Lower Lodge, left after the house was demolished to make way for the railway.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe surviving Higher Lodge, Sefton Park Road. Photgraph by Kev at http://www.YoLiverpool.com
For more information and photographs of this treasure of Liverpool visit Kev’s page here:

yates-and-perry-lower-lodgeYates and Perry map 1768. I have coloured the Higher and Lower Lodges in red. Park Lane is the original name for Aigburth Road.

park-lodgeHigher Lodge, also known as Park Lodge, photographed in 1907 by Robert Griffiths.

Jeremiah Horrocks, “Father of British astrophysics”.
Born at Lower Lodge 1618

Of all of the noted residents of Toxteth Park, it is perhaps Jeremiah Horrocks who has made the greatest achievement. Horrocks is considered by many to be the father of British astrophysics. In 1639 he was the first person to observe a transit of Venus (where Venus passes in front of the Sun). He was also the first to prove that the orbit of the Moon was an ellipse. His discoveries where later used by Sir Isaac Newton to formulate his fundamental laws of Physics.

His family were Puritans, a community that had settled in the area and around the time of Horrocks birth (about 1618) they had erected the Toxteth Unitarian Chapel, still standing and now known as The Ancient Chapel of Toxteth. He died aged just 22 and is believed to be buried at The Ancient Chapel of Toxteth where a memorial was erected to him in. Other memorials to him in Liverpool can be seen at St Michaels in The Hamlet Church and more recently at the Pier Head.

SONY DSCThe Memorial to Jeremiah Horrocks in the Ancient Chapel of Toxteth, Liverpool
Photo: https://velvethummingbee.wordpress.com/2015/08/09/jeremiah-horrocks-1618-1641/

32113 HSLC 1935 vol 87
(From a photograph taken by the late Arthur W. Hall in 1896, of a Water-colour drawing made by the late Edward W. Cox about 1850.
Image and text reproduced with the kind permission of HSLC. http://www.hslc.org.uk.

The Chapel today.

St Michael’s Church in Hoole has a stain glass window dedicated to him. Horrocks had been a curate in Much Hoole had made his observations there together with Willam Crabtree.

In 1874 a memorial was erected at Westminster Abbey facing that of Sir Issac Newon:

“Called away to greater things which it is not seemly should be neglected on account of these embellishments”

Aged just thirteen Jeremiah Horrocks had entered Emmanuel College, Cambridge as a Sizar* and taught himself Astronomy. In 1635 He returned to Toxteth and used Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion to prove that the Moon orbited the earth elliptically. Following Kepler’s prediction that Venus would transit the Sun in 1631, Horrocks calculated that these transits were not isolated, but occurred in pairs eight years apart.

On the 24th November 1639, the date of the second transit, Horrocks was now working as a curate in the village of Much Hoole near Preston. Using a simple telescope set on a wooden beam, he was able to project the Sun’s image onto a piece of paper marked with a six inch graduated circle. Horrocks recalled:

“I watched carefully on the 24th from sunrise to nine o’clock, and from a little before ten until noon, and at one in the afternoon, being called away in the intervals by business of the highest importance which, for these ornamental pursuits, I could not with propriety neglect. But during all this time I saw nothing in the sun except a small and common spot… This evidently had nothing to do with Venus. About fifteen minutes past three in the afternoon, when I was again at liberty to continue my labours, the clouds, as if by divine interposition, were entirely dispersed, and I was once more invited to the grateful task of repeating my observations. I then beheld a most agreeable spectacle, the object of my sanguine wishes, a spot of unusual magnitude and of a perfectly circular shape, which had already fully centred upon the sun’s disc on the left, so that the limbs of the Sun and Venus precisely coincided, forming an angle of contact. Not doubting that this was really the shadow of the planet, I immediately applied myself sedulously to observe it.” http://www.schoolsobservatory.org.uk/news/2012/horrocks

In 1640 he returned to Toxteth, wrote his “Venus in Sole Visa” but on the 3rd January 1641, aged just 22,  Jeremiah Horrocks life and work came to a close . His findings were almost lost to Science:

“Part of Horrocks’ findings were destroyed in the course of the English civil war, part were taken by a brother [Jonas] to Ireland and never seen thereafter, and still another portion was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. The remainder passed into the hands of an antiquary, who also managed to obtain letters by Horrocks from the Crabtree family”.

Jeremiah Horrocks observing the 1639 transit of Venus
(The Founder of English Astronomy by Eyre Crowe, 1891) Wikipedia

*Sizar: Allowed free education in consideration of performing certain, at one time menial, duties. They were sons of poor parents, frequently the clergy. Wikipedia

The Lower Lodge

Jeremiah Horrocks was born at Lower Lodge,Toxteth Park to James Horrocks and Mary Aspinwall. His father had moved to Toxteth Park to be apprenticed to Thomas Aspinwall, a watchmaker, and married Aspinwall’s daughter.

“Toxteth Park was originally a royal hunting ground which had been held in the custody of the Stanley family for generations but in 1596 William Stanley, Earl of Derby sold it to Edmund Smolte and Edward Aspinwall for £1,100. It is possible that Smolte and Aspinwall were acting as agents for Richard Molyneux, Earl of Sefton as they sold it to him 8 years later (1604) for £1,100.”

“Toxteth Park, now a suburb of Liverpool, had been the property of the Crown from the time of King John. But in the 1604, Richard Molyneux purchased the land. Prior to this time, Toxteth Park was described as a “wasteland without inhabitants. “Eventually, many people settled on the land and began its cultivation. Among the new settlers was Edward Aspinwall, whom Richard (Mather) lived with, when, at the age of 15, he was called to take charge of the school there. During this time, Richard converted to Puritanism. There seems to have been some conflict between his beliefs and that of his host family, as reflected in Richard’s own words, stating that there was “a difference between his own walk and the most exact, faithful and prayerful conversation of some in the family of the learned and pios [sic] Mr. Edward Aspinwall of Toxteth Park. . . .” http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~mather/Mather/Richard.shtml

Richard Mather

Rev. Richard Mather (1596-1669) had lodged at the Aspinwalls home, he was a teacher at the newly erected shool in Toxteth, a preacher at the chapel and was a teacher to Horrocks:

mather border.jpgThe Mather Family by Enoch Pond 1844

Illustration of Richard Mather by John Foster, circa 1675.

Both Mather and Horrocks have avenues named after them in south Liverpool.

Aspinwall family

“We meet with another group of Puritans, although their Puritanism seems to have been of a milder type than that of the moorlands, in and around Toxteth Park, near Liverpool. They erected a chapel in which they could hear the evangelical doctrines of the Reformation preached in their purity, and lift up a standard against the popery abounding in their neighborhood. They invited Richard Mather when a boy to teach their children, and, when only a youth, to teach themselves. Time has spared the name of one of them,… Edward Aspinwall, the intimate friend of the sainted Mrs. Brettargh, and her comforter in her last hours of mortal sickness. The Church of Christ has some reason to venerate his memory, for by the influence of his holy conversation, his beautiful example, and his domestic peity the young schoolmaster, Richard Mather, was won over to the puritan cause and prepared for the great work which he did so well in New England. What the Mathers, father and fours sons and many grandsons did for New England may, under God, be attributed in no small degree to the holy life of Edward Aspinwall.”
Robert Halley, D.D. (1869). http://www.genealogy.com/ftm/m/a/c/Michele-Macdonald/WEBSITE-0001/UHP-0189.html

Lower Lodge “The only correct and authentic drawing of the place” 

In an article in the 1936 edition of ‘Transactions Of The Historic Society Of Lancashire & Cheshire’ Lawrence Hall referred to early errors that had been made to identifying the Lower Lodge. Robert Griffiths had already brought this to attention in 1907 but a correct drawing of the house at that point had not been located.

An early candidate was the house known as ‘The Three Sixes’ but this had been ruled out (if only because it was built too late, its date-stone being 1666). Ramsay Muir had said that Horrocks was born “in the farmhouse of Jericho down by the river”. Hall also points out that an illustration that had appeared in ‘Palatine Note Book’ and later in Edward Baines’s ‘History of Lancashire’, 1893, was in fact of another house nearby, Bakers Shore Cottage. This mistake had already been pointed out by Robert Griffiths.

“Here someone has blundered and that very badly. The sketch in question is not that of Jeremiah Horrocks’s birth-place at all, but an excellent drawing of Baker’s little whitewashed ‘ Shore Cottage’ which still stands on the verge of the cliff overlooking the Mersey.”
Robert Griffiths 1907

Lawrence Hall then goes on to reveal that Edward W. Cox had drawn the lodge just prior to its demolition and had lent the drawing to Edward’s father Robert Cunningham Hall. He also tells of a brass plate bearing the inscription ‘J. Horrox was born in this House’ was on one of the beams in the kitchen. I wonder where that plate is now?

Transactions Of The Historic Society Of Lancashire

Communicated by Lawrence Hall.

In his History of Liverpool published in 1825, Henry Smithers makes the statement that “Jeremiah Horrox was born in the year 1619, in Toxteth, and from all that I have been able to discover, at the house called the Lower Lodge, near the shores of the Mersey.”

In this house it is believed according to Smithers (Henry Smithers History of Liverpool 1825), and indeed all other writers, Jeremiah Horrocks was born in the year 1619. It is much to be regretted that not a vestige of this house remains. An aged labouring man who was employed in the taking down of the Lodge, informed my friend Mr. Williams that a brass plate, somewhat worn, was taken from one of the oak beams, and he believed this relic was in the possession of a gentleman residing in Wales. The inscription was all but illegible.”

In confirmation of the existence of this brass plate I am able to quote from the rough draft of a lecture on Horrocks which my father, Robert Cunningham Hall, had prepared about the year 1891 when the tablet to the memory of Horrocks was put up in the Ancient Chapel of Toxteth.

‘I have often seen Horrox’s Birth-place and in the summer of 1859 I spent an afternoon and part of an evening in it, as some of my friends were then lodging there. , It was a snug comfortable farm house, the road to it being from the narrow lane near Jericho Farm, which led to a well kept garden . . . There was a room on each side of the doorway and as we were in one of these rooms at tea time we were talking about its being the house in which Horrox was born, and my friends told me that in the kitchen there was nailed up on a beam an old brass plate stating ‘ J. Horrox was born in this House.’’

The position of the Lower Lodge is plainly marked in Yates and Perry’s Map of the Environs of Liverpool drawn from an actual survey in 1768. Jericho Farm, about 200 yards away, is also shown, as well as the ” Three Sixes,” which however is given its older name of the ” New House.” These three buildings can also be seen in the map of Toxteth dated 1769 reproduced in Professor Ramsay Muir’s History of Liverpool. It is plain from these maps that the position of the Lower Lodge was where Otterspool Station is now. In support of the theory that the Lodge was the birth-place, there is the photograph of the water-colour drawing by the late Edward W. Cox on which he had inscribed ”

In June, 1891, Edward W. Cox lent this sketch to my father for the purpose of being photographed, and in a letter he said :

“The drawing of the Horrox house was found yesterday. . . . I believe it is absolutely the only correct and authentic drawing of the place. It was taken immediately before the railway cut through the farm; the line runs between the house and the barn, and the original level has been lowered for the station. On the right side of the picture next the shed was the great ‘ House Place ‘ or Kitchen and Scullery. On the left the best room, with oak timbered ceiling. The projection in the centre was originally a porch, with small chamber over. Much of this face was old oak framing, covered with roughcast, but part has been renewed in brick. The East gable was so rebuilt in living memory (not that with the great chimney.)”

From information given to me by an official of the Cheshire Lines Railway, it seems probable that the Lower Lodge was demolished in 1862, which can be taken also as the date of E. W. Cox’s sketch which is here reproduced, from the photograph taken in 1891.

It will be recalled that Edward W. Cox described his sketch as the “only correct and authentic drawing of the place.”

The drawing of the Lower Lodge

32113 HSLC 1936 vol 88Birth Place of Jeremiah Horrockes Otterspool Toxteth Park, Sketched before its Demolition.”
by E. W. Cox 1962.
Image and text reproduced with the kind permission of The Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire. Any reproduction must have the approval of the society.

Bakers Shore Cottage

32113 HSLC 1936 vol 88The house wrongly identified as Lower Lodge in the Palatine Note Book of 1882
Image and text reproduced with the kind permission of HSLC.

32113 HSLC 1936 vol 88Bakers Shore Cottage from Edward Baines’s ‘History of Lancashire’, 1893
Robert Griffith’s pointed out that this had been wrongly identified as the Lower Lodge.
Image and text reproduced with the kind permission of HSLC.

Images and text reproduced with the kind permission of The Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire. Any reproduction must have the approval of the society.
You can read the full transaction here: http://www.hslc.org.uk/documents/PDFS/1936.pdf

bakers-shore-cottageBakers Shore Cottage, from Robert Griffiths’ book.

The Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire

The society has an amazing resource of 150 journals published since 1849 that are available for viewing online. The society started “for the purpose of establishing a society for collecting, preserving, arranging and publishing such historical documents, antiques specimens of ancient and medieval art, etc. as are connected with counties Paletine of Lancaster and Chester”.

I wish to thank the society for proving such an important archive and for their permission to repoduce content on this post.

1841 Census

In the earliest census for Toxteth Park in 1841, over 200 years after the birth of Horrocks, there are still Aspinwalls living at Lower Lodge. Ellen Aspinwall aged 20, John aged 6, Alfred aged 6, Benjamin aged 4 and Albert aged 1.

1841-lower-lodge1841 Census for Toxteth Park, Lower Lodge

Otterspool Station

The now derelict Otterspool station is located between that of St Michaels and Aigburth. You can still see the station from Jericho Lane and, if you keep your eyes peeled, from the window of the train on the Hunts Cross to Southport line. It is so overgrown it is easy to miss, as it is obscured by overgrow trees.

The original Garston and Liverpool Railway line ran from the St Helens and Runcorn Gap Railway line at Garston Docks to Brunswick railway station. From Hall’s description work on the demolition of Lower Lodge had commenced in 1862 and Otterspool Station was opened in 1864. Due to the low number of passengers using the station it closed in 1951, ironically a year after Otterspool Promenade was opened.

liverpool_rjd_42_-_garston_and_liverpoolGarston and Liverpool Railway

Below I have overlaid the Tithe Award Map of 1845 on Google Street view. This was quite tricky as there are few matching streets but aligning St Michaels Church (shown blue top left), The Three Sixes and the routes of St Michaels Road and Jericho Lane it was possible to get a rough idea of the location of the Lower Lodge and its barn (shown red). The station is marked blue. The location shown fits perfectly with Hall’s description that:

“the line runs between the house and the barn,
and the original level has been lowered for the station”

otterspool-overlayedThe approximate location of the Lower Lodge.
Tithe Award Map of 1845 overlaid on Google Street view. The Lodge and Barn are shown in red between them Otterspool Station is shown in blue.

otterspool-station-map-18641860s map showing the new railway. Map courtesy of National Library of Scotland.

20131110_121802Otterspool Station today

Further reading:

The Higher Lodge

Jeremiah Horrocks
http://archive.churchsociety.org/churchman/documents/cman_053_4_bate.pdf http://www.liverpoolpicturebook.com/2013/03/JeremiahHorrocks.html http://www.encyclopedia.com/people/science-and-technology/astronomy-biographies/jeremiah-horrocks

Richard Mather

Unitarian Ancient Chapel Toxteth Liverpool

Otterspool Station




One comment on “Drawing of The Lower Lodge, birthplace of Jeremiah Horrocks

  1. David Steers says:

    Excellent post. Very informative.

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