From as early as 1202 there have been records of Worsthorne. The name given then was Worthesthorn which is believed to mean “thorn tree of a man named ‘Weorth’.”
The history of human habitation in the area goes back to the late stone, bronze and Iron Ages. Earthworks and two prehistoric Stone circles on the moors to the east of the village; both are in a poor state of repair.
The village had a close association with the Thursby family, benefactors of the Burnley area, and has a number of listed buildings. These include Jackson’s House in the centre of the village, which was built in about 1600, and the Church of St. John the Evangelist which dates from 1833-1839
An earlier landmark used to be Worsthorne Methodist Chapel, near Jackson’s House, but it was demolished in the 1980s. The connected Sunday School building is now a home for old people.
There is a former cotton mill in Gordon Street, a relic of the time when the area, especially Burnley, was the world centre of cotton weaving.
The Towneleys, Spensers and the Tattersalls seem to have figured prominently in the historical background of the hamlet, and it is difficult to visualise a local area more conducive to romanticism, folklore and legend a couple of centuries ago. Tattersall’s House is the oldest building in the village, but Spenser’s House and Hurstwood Hall which are only slightly the younger seem to be more identified in the annals of Hurstwood and arouse more interest to visitors.
The principal house in Hurstwood is, of course, Hurstwood Hall, a building in the early Jacobean style, although considerably modernised during the last few years. Originally it was built by Barnard Towneley in the year 1579, as appears from the inscription over the main entrance: Barnardvs Townley et Agnes Uxor Ejus, 1579.
The hall stands in a commanding situation, not far from the edge of a steep clough, just at the point where Thorndean water meets the Brun. In the times of Barnard Towneley this venerable house w as doubtless one of the best in the
neighbourhood, and, although the fine oak panelling which once covered the walls has long since disappeared along with the inner fabric, the structure of the house is of such strength and solidity that it appears almost indestructible.
The Great Families of Hurstwood
There is proof that the Spenser family lived in Hurstwood from the year 1292 to 1690, when John Spenser sold the old house to Oliver Ormerod of Hurstwood and his son Laurence. After leaving Lancashire, Edmund Spenser went to live in the solitude of Kilcolman Castle, and while he was in residence there he was visited by Sir Walter Raleigh. Spenser is buried at Poets Corner in Westminster.
The name of Tattersall appears in the very early records of Hurstwood, and a descendant of the family, a certain Rychard Tattersall, was one of about a dozen local men who were called upon by no less a person than King Henry VIII to subsidise the royal exchequer after a spate of extravagance, among
which was the celebrated Field of the Cloth of Gold.
A later member of the family, yet another Richard, born in 1724, second son of Edmund and Ann Tattersall, was educated at Burnley Grammar School, and was a sturdy supporter of the Young Pretender, and it is said that he was only prevented at the last moment from joining the insurgents by the intervention of his father. Because of this the lad left home and later joined the household of the Duke of Kingston. He was passionately fond of horses, and later took up the business as auctioneer after renting premises at Hyde Park Corner, London. From this modest beginning, Tattersall’s Ring has become the biggest name in the world of horse racing and the turf.
Spenser’s House is built in a very substantial manner, almost entirely of millstone grit, with a quaint square porch, which was possibly added after the house had been finished. The first room to the left was originally a small chamber with a massive stone fireplace and an oaken roof. In this chamber was formerly a curious carved panel that later found its way to Ormerod Hall. This panel contained the emblem of Spenser of Hurstwood -Quarterly, argent and gules, on the second and third quarters a frette or over all a band sable, charged with three fleur de lis, argent. The house is structurally the same today, but modernisation in a minor form has been introduced in the interior with several of the original features apparent, including the flag floors. The dining room contains what must be one of the few coffered ceilings in the area and certainly one of the most attractive.