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Simister


Watch a video of the area developing over time.



[based on Wilson's History of Prestwich 1980, and expanded]

James Simister, lived where the township of Simister is now. He bought a farm at Little Heaton and later bought three more farms there.Back in 1212 The land of Heaton had been divided into two manors:

Great Heaton (later also known as Heaton Reddish, 866 acres, including Lands End belonged to the Langleys, and passed to the Reddishes, the Cokes, and the Drinkwaters)

Little Heaton (also once known as Heaton Fallowfield,531 acres - belonged to the Hollands, and later passed to the Egertons.

Grant of 1321"John de Prestwich in 1321–2 granted to John his son certain lands in Heaton in Prestwich; and in 1329 the younger John granted to his son, also John, all his lands in Heaton, Salford, and Manchester. A few years later (1338) John son of John de Prestwich gave a rent of 40s., charged on his lands in Salford and Heaton, to Margaret, who had been the wife of Henry de Worsley. This was followed in 1343 by a grant to her of all his lands in Heaton. In 1368 and later Thurstan son of John de Prestwich made several grants and releases to Thurstan de Holland"


Inquisition of 1514"in the inquisition of Robert Holland, taken in 1514, his seven messuages, 60 acres of land, &c., in Heaton were stated to be held of the king, as of his duchy of Lancaster, by knight's service"



The two Heatons were split by all this dealing, and they appear on the maps of 1579 and onwards. The resulting disjointed sections of each Township are shown in the below map.


Great Heaton (495) and Little Heaton(494)

Little Heaton included the location of Three Arrows (no longer a pub) and beyond to an area called Lands End in Rhodes. The first mention of the Simister family in St Mary's records was in February 1663/4, dual dated because the year used to start on the 25th March, with the baptism of Theophilus son of Thomas Simister.Unfortunately their abode is unknown because the paper is damaged.


Heaton ~1610

The first Simister entry with an abode of Little Heaton, appears in Jun 1733 with the baptism of Anne Somister, daughter of James Somister & Elizabeth, James was a

YeomanYeomen owned their land, and could keep the profit from it, thus employing servants and staff to look after them or farm their land. They could spend their money and free time on education or other interests, but still turn their hand to labour if required. They were what we would call today, a middle class.


In 1738 James Simister built himself a house and in 1756 he was a churchwarden for Little Heaton when, with his fellow wardens, he rebuilt the south porch of St Mary's and raised the walls of the aisles of the Church to allow more light in for the balconies.


South Porch St Mary's


James died in 1780 and was buried at St Mary's Church, recorded as "Somister". He died owning 52 acres of Little Heaton and having given his name to the village and to Simister Lane. Elizabeth his widow moved to Unsworth and was buried with James in 1786.

Further InfoAfter Ann, they had baptised a further two daughters at St Mary's , Esther (1769) and Margaret (1772). Ann and Esther also had their marriages at St Mary's (1756 & 1791), and with no sons it appears that the family name was lost.


A Simister gravestoneA Simister family stone does exist at St Mary's, recording the burials of infants Jonathan (1789), Nicholas (1800) and their father William(1824 - recorded as Simistor). Jonathan was baptised in Ringley and the missing mother appears to be Maria. William's abode was listed as Salford, and there is also the record of a John Simister of Salford, son of John, buried in 1719


By 1837 the first entries at St Mary's to mention Simister Lane appear, and the tithe map of 1839 shows a small cluster of buildings around what is now the Farmers Arms (though the pub dates from the 1880's) and some other outlying cottages and farm buildings, stretching over towards the present day Same Yet pub (originally the Bulls Head, dating from the mid 1860's).


Tithe Map of 1839



Simister Stone [St Mary D Section]



As of 1849 the population of the whole of Little Heaton stood at 814 (out of a total population in Prestwich of 5,152). In 1850, the School at Simister (Simister Lane, Lady Wilton, CofE), now The Lady Wilton Hall, was built by the 2nd Earl & Countess of Wilton, and it was also used as a Church and expanded several times over the next 50 years. Due to over crowding when it was used as a Church, several parishoners would prefer to attend St Margaret's (which opened in 1851), and so a fund raising campaign was started with the aim of building a dedicated Church for the village.

Sanitation ReviewA review of the area performed for the Sanitary Committe in 1886 observed:
As regards Little Heaton, the population is very widely scattered: commencing my survey in Simister Lane I found but little there for remark, the drainage from the houses falls upon the land,and the usual privys and ashpits seem to be provided. The supply of water altho not very convenient is sufficiently plentiful from springs in the land.

The Grade II listed Saint George's Church, was started in 1914, and is the only church in the Manchester Diocese to have been started and finished during World War I. The first turf was cut by two old inhabitants, James Partington (aged 90) & Charles Heywood (aged 70) and it was dedicated by the Bishop of Manchester in October 1915.


St George's Church


The Manchester architect Richard Bassnett Preston designed the church, in a Norman style, comprising a sanctuary, chancel, north transept (used as a vestry), nave, semi-circular baptistry at the west end, and cellar with heating boiler. Preston’s design also included details for the future provision of a south transept, north and south aisles and a tower. However, these have never been added. The same architect also designed the memorial cross at St Margaret's church.

In 1920 a solid oak screen also designed by the same architect was added, dividing the north transept from the nave. It is in memory of the 15 men of the village who died in the First World War. The choir stalls, made of Japanese oak, were added in 1923, designed by Robert Martin architect and diocesan surveyor.


St George's & School 1915


The stone on the East end of the chapel records it's erection by the children of James Carver. Between 1870 (when his wife died) and 1912 (his own death) Alderman Benjamin Carver J.P. lived at Polefield House, he was a cotton merchant who held the house under a lease of the trustees of Colonel Ridehalgh.

Colonel RidehalghThe Colonel of the Westmoorland volunteers, had lived at Fellfoot on Windermere and had died in 1887 when jumping from a runaway hansom cab in Manchester.

Benjamin was church warden of St Margaret’s from 1885-1888 and topped off the extension to St Margaret’s Church in 1899. He also donated the park land in front of the church in honour of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, and also added two bells to the peel at St Mary's. After Benjamin's death in 1912, the family paid for the East end of St George's to be built, the rest was raised from local donations. The land itself had been donated by the 5th Earl of Wilton in 1909.


Comemorative stone laid by Miss Carver in April 1915.


Georgina Jaggard was the first child baptised here on November 14th 1915, she was the neice of Private Jesse Jaggard. Jesse had joined the Army in 1903 at the age of 21. He was put on the reserved list and eventually called up in 1914 and sent to France in 1915. He was posted missing on the 12th October 1917 during the crossing of the Broembeek at Ypres, and sadly confirmed dead on the 24th July 1918.


Jesse Jaggard



St George's Memorial Panelling



To read more about the sacrifices made by the people mentioned on the St Georges Roll of Honour here.



Read more about the School and Church here

About 1926, the toll gate on Long Lane (Droughts Lane?) at Simister was abolished. Tollgates were also inplace up to this time on the Eastern approaches to Simister from Bowlee.


Simister from above