The Methodists of Paythorne Booklet In celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Methodist Church in Paythorne 1830 - 1980

Descendants of Robert Dodgson (pdf)

The Intriguing History of Paythorne's Ribble Stepping Stones

For many years, long before the River Ribble at Paythorne was spanned with its four-arched bridge , a series of Stepping Stones set into the river bed provided a dry crossing for foot travellers to the village.

Two of those water-eroded Stepping Stones, now returned from whence they came, were retrieved from  the river by Mr John Duxbury; (1845-1916). He was a regular user of the crossing during his Sabbath preaching visits to Paythome from his native Earby, and his popularity as a local preacher increased with his every visit to the village. Indeed such was the warmth of the welcome at Paythorne  where he was so frequently called upon to lead the Sunday services at Bethel that Mr Duxbury and his wife Sarah eventually moved away from the Earby cotton mills, to reside in this quiet village. They first took up residence at Higher House before removing to Englands Head where a footpath led down to the river crossing. 

Of John Duxbury, the 1830-1930 "Short History of Paythorne Methodism" says: 'Such an acceptable preacher was he that for the first few years he was away, taking appointments almost every Sunday'. Mr Duxbury was also prevailed upon to devote his energy and talents to Paythorne and to take charge of the School.

 though well attended by adults and children alike,! the little Chapel lacked a regular player to accompany the small community's enthusiastic congregation. To alleviate this problem Mr Duxbury eventually decided that his eldest son, Walter should be trained specially to occupy that vacancy. Walter, however, had only received a basic education at Newsholme School  the  former Toll House on the Gisburn-Settle trunk road so a musician prepared to teach the child first had to be found. Assistance here was no doubt' provided by the then School Mistress at Newsholme School, Ms M J Wood.

When in 1884 the family removed to Crook Carr Farm, between Barnoldswick and Bracewell, the two retrieved Stepping Stones had become treasured heirlooms and, as such, were transported from village to' farm along with other family possessions.

After Mrs Duxbury's passing in 1925, having succeeded her husband by nine years, John Duxbury's youngest son, Wilson, continued to work the farm until the tenancy at rook Carr expired. The river Stepping Stones were then moved to Wilson's residence at Nether Kellett whilst he returned to Englands Head to work and raise funds to buy Spen Head Farm, at Salterforth, which had been owned by Wilson's aunt and uncle.

For upwards of 30 years the two river Ribble Stepping-Stones graced the entrance to Spen, Head Farm which remained in Wilson's possession until 1966. The farm stayed within the family until 1981 when it was auctioned by Richard Turner who, incidentally, had married one of John Duxbury's great grand-daughters. The heirlooms next. became the property of Wilson's nephew, Mr Arthur Duxbury, who likewise had the stones placed at either side of the entrance to the family bungalow. 'Monkroyd', at Bamoldswick. (An address once well-circulated throughout the canine world, due to Mr Duxbury's
'Ribbleside' Border Terriers).

More than a century has now passed since the river Ribble Stepping Stones were retrieved from their watery grave The heirlooms became the property in 1988 of one of John Duxbury's great grandsons, the family historian, and the remainder of the family agreed that it was only right and proper that the long-cared-for Stepping Stones formerly used by one of Paythorne's early preachers. teacher and farmer, should be returned to the village Chapel that brought so much pleasure and satisfaction to the man whose foresight prevented them from being washed downstream.

Owen B. Duxbury 1998

Paythorne What's in a Name?

Concerning the origin of the name Paythorne, I notice your webpage on the subject focuses on the "n" spelling but the oldest spellings had Pa and Thorpe as the two components. I do not know what Pa means, but it is in several places around Gisburn (Nappa etc). Thorpe is of course a word for a village.

Best Regards
Andrew Lancaster
Of Belgium and Australia.

The earliest record of the name Paythorne, but with several different spellings, is in William the Conquerors great Domesday Book which recorded details of' 11th century land ownership throughout the country. In more recent years several interpretations of the meaning of 'Paythorne' have also been suggested, possibly 'a thorn bush beside a pathway', or even 'a peacock shaped thorn bush', but much the most popular definition results from the placing of the village in Gisburn Forest. The inn in Paythorne was traditionally in Medieval times the meeting place for huntsmen, a nearby large thorn marking the place where the steward of the hunt paid his retainers  the 'pay-thorn'. At that time:

.... there were only three farms in Paythorn: the Old Manor, Higher House, and Old Bank Top. During the 17th and 18th centuries however,....all available common and waste land was enclosed; Gisburn Forest was cleared, and ploughing and reaping took the place of deer and hunting. A mill to grind the corn stood at the old ford, near to the present bridge. Farms or small holdings increased to about 20, and these with some 40 cottages, eventually housed a population of 300

Many families worked both in farming and in other trades.... .... Colne, eight miles distant, was the market town. Farmers, shopkeepers and weavers would attend this market every week to exchange their goods.

The link with Colne would be emphasised by the greater importance of the rough road through Paythorne. It was not until the early l9th century that the turnpike road linking Gisburn, Nappa and Long Preston was built and before that time many travellers would be familiar with the more direct route from Gisburn to Settle through Paythorne. No doubt this road would be travelled by many Protestant preachers before the Methodists first came  the vicars of Gisburn, the Quakers, Presbyterians, Baptists and Independents from nearby villages. In the 18th century Methodism was just one of many influences at work in Britain, each attempting to fill the vacuum left by the disastrous breakdown of communications between the Church of England and a large part of the country's population.

It is not possible to assess the strength of the influences at work in Paythorne a hundred years ago, but it is certain that both Quakers and Presbyterians had established meeting places in Newsholme before the first recorded visits of Methodist preachers to the area.