Prescot is a Town truly stepped in History having first been recorded just over 100 years after the doomsday book, the town continued to flourish and has been world renowned as an industry leader in particular industries, Watchmaking and Insulated Calendar Cable.
Origins of Prescot
The earliest mention of Prescot in any surviving records appears in the Pipe Rolls of 1178. The 11th century Domesday records for Lancashire are very poor and little more than short notes added onto Cheshire’s records. The name Prescot originates from the Anglo-Saxon words Preosta-Cote meaning ‘Priest’s Cottage’. Both the circular shape of the area surrounding Prescot Parish Church, and the ancient Lady’s Well that stood nearby, also point to Prescot being at least Anglo-Saxon in age. In the 12th and 13th centuries it appears that Prescot was divided into two small settlements, Prestecote in the west and another little hamlet called Churchlee in the east. By the 14th Century the town was just known as Prescot. The importance of the town is reflected in it being included in the 14th century Gough Map of Britain, donated to the Bodleian Library by Richard Gough, an 18th century collector of maps. It is believed to be the oldest surviving route map of Great Britain. Medieval Prescot was at the centre of an extensive parish which comprised of 15 townships. It was the largest parish in the ‘West Derby Hundred’, the ancient administrative unit of South West Lancashire. The area covering much of South West Lancashire, stretched 12 miles north to south and 8 miles east to west. It was the size and wealth of the parish, which helped turn Prescot into an important market town.
For most of the 13th century, the D’Acre family owned Prescot Manor. In 1333 William D’Acre, 2nd Baron and Lord of the Manor, obtained a charter for holding a Monday market and a 3 day fair at Prescot, to begin on the Wednesday following Corpus Christi. In 1355 the Rector of Wigan petitioned for leave to destroy the market at Prescot, which he declared was causing great injury to his own market at Wigan, as the two towns were only eight miles apart. Prescot retained its market, and a further grant was made in October 1458, by Henry VI. In 1391 Prescot Manor was sold to John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and the 3rd surviving son of King Edward III. On his death the Manor was inherited by his son, who subsequently became King Henry IV. In 1445 King Henry VI established the University College of Saint Mary and Saint Nicholas in Cambridge, which later became King’s College. Among the gifts King Henry gave to fund the new College, were the Manor and Rectory of Prescot, making Kings College, Cambridge, Lord of the Manor of Prescot. The Royal Charter gave the people of Prescot special privileges, including exemption from paying tolls when they travelled to Liverpool. It also allowed the town to adopt the King’s College crest as its own. The coat of arms was originally on the old Town Hall, and can still be seen in Vicarage Place. Due to its distance from Cambridge, the day-to-day running of the town was left to the Steward (the Earl of Derby), his deputy and the Court Leet – an early form of local self-government.