History of Ashton Hall
Ashton Hall, the ancient seat of the Lawrences, is located about three miles to the south of the town of Lancaster, in northern Lancashire. It is picturesquely situated, commanding fine views of the estuary of the River Lune, and of Morecambe Bay, an extensive inlet of the Irish Sea. Ashton Hall is noted for the sylvan beauty of its spacious park, which is well diversified with hill and vale. The mansion is a large edifice, with many of the characteristics of an ancient baronial castle, having a square tower at one end, and numerous battlements, turrets, and machiocolations. Successive alterations and additions have been made at different epochs, in harmony with the medieval type of architecture. The oldest portion is probably from the fourteenth century. The interior contains a fine baronial hall.
In 1066 Ashton was one of three manors of Cliber, Machern and Gillemicheld and appears to have been accessed of two plough-lands. (The other twom manors, Ellel and Scotforth, retained their connection to Ashton being held by the Lancaster family.) Afterwards, it was granted to Count Rogers of Poitori and a little later formed part of the lordship held by the Lancaster family, being held by knight's service. In the time of Henry II (1154-1189) William de Lancaster I granted half a plough-land to Gilbert de Ashton to hold by service of half a mark yearly. The second moiety wash shared or inherited by the families of Stableton and Metham, Thweng and Pedwarding, and appears to have been acquired by the Lawrence family of Lancaster.
In 1226, the Millfield at Ashton rendered 5s. a year to the king. in 1323 it was held by many free tenants, who in all paid 5s. to the earl. This Millfield contained 20 acres. Tenants were William and Randle le Gentyl and John and Alice Lawrence.
The free tenants in 1301 were Roger de Slene; another who had a messuage and 5 acres for a rent of 20d.; Lawrence son of Thomas who rendered 6s. 8d. yearly; John de Ashton who held a messuage and 4 oxgangs of land and paid 6s.8d. rent; and Randle who paid 7d. In 1292 Gervase de Ashton claimed land against a Lawrence de Ashton. In a list of free tenants some 40 years later are recorded: William son of Lawrence, 2s. 6d.; the same William, for Brantbreck, 1d.; Alan de Ashton, 17 1/2d.; John Ward, 2s. 6d.; John, son of William the Clerk, 20d.; Gervase del Green, 20d.; Henry Alcok 5 1/2d.; in all 14s. 6d.
Traces of the Lawrence estate in Ashton appear in inquisitions of some of the heirs, though the tenures are not always recorded. By some agreement, the manor descended through Boteler (Butler) of Rawcliffe to Radcliff of Winmarleigh, and so by marriage to Gilbert Gerard woh purchase the other moiety from the Crown. Thus the whole became united in him and his descendants, the Gerards of Bromley and the Dukes of Hamilton. (Richard Skillecorne held part of it of the king in cocage in 1534. Thomas Regmaiden in 1520 held the reversion of the fourth part of the manor. John Boteler in 1534 held the manor of the king as duke in socage.) Sir Gilbert died in 1593 holding the manors of Ashton, Stodday, and Scotforth of the queen as of her crown of England in a fee farm by the hundredth part of a knight's fee and a rent of £16.11s. 4d.
On 10 August 1648, the 1st Duke of Hamilton stayed a night at Ashton Hall on his way to his defeat by Oliver Cromwell's forces. In March 1648 he was beheaded several weeks after the execution of Charles I. William, the 2nd Duke of Hamilton, accompanied Charles II to Ashton Hall in 1651 and died in the battle of Worchester shortly afterwards. Through the marriage of the 4th Duke of Hamilton and the heiress of the Gerard estates the Hamiltons became the owners of Asthton Hall.
Ashton Hall is currently the headquarters of the Lancaster Golf Club.
Photographs of Ashton Hall, Lancastershire, England, October 2000