11th Century

The first Parish Church was built. There would have been a pub nearby, most likely at the same site where the Man and Scythe stands today. This was probably little more than a hut that was open all the time. Literally - no walls!

12th Century

The barrel vaulted cellar was built some time before 1200. Above was a timber, wattle and daub building which formed the pub, in the layout of the two present-day side rooms. The remaining parts of the timber frame can still be seen from the steps of the garden.


Robert de Ferrers, 2nd Earl of Derby, was the owner of the lands containing the inn.

The Pilkington Crest

1251 & 1253

The Earl of Derby, and therefore Bolton, was granted a Royal Charter for the market, which is celebrated by special events to this day. Ownership of the pub passed through marriage from the Ferrers family to the Pilkingtons, from whom the pub sign was taken. The origins of the sign are described in Malcolm's book "Death, the Grim Reaper - The Pilkington Crest"


The inn's ownership returned to the Earl of Derby. The pub became the property of the Stanley family, after Leonard Pilkington was executed in Leicester for fighting on the side of Richard III at Bosworth. Henry VII gave them the Pilkington estate and went on to re-introduce the Earldom of Derby and make Thomas Lord Stanley the "new" Earl of Derby. Thus the inn was once again Derby property.


The modernisation. This converted some of the wattle and daub walls to brick. The half of the cellar under the building was altered and its ceiling lowered by the construction of the wooden floor. The original floor is level with the present flagstones and the bottome of the old door, which can be seen in the main bar. The central beam in the front bar was moved to its current position to support the floorboards above. Before now, this beam was the cross member from the front gable roof support that had been re-used from the 12th century building when the angle of the roof was reduced.

1644 - May the 28th

The Massacre of Bolton. This occured outside as described in the late Victorian book, 'John o' God Sending' or 'The Lass at the Man & Scythe.' Somewhere between 100 and 500 soldiers and civilians were killed. The main killing ground was in the centre of the town, which was in front of the pub.

James Stanley, Earl of Derby

1651 - October the 15th, 3 o' clock pm

James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby, (left), was beheaded in the marketplace outside the pub. He took his last meal at the inn with James Cockrel, the licensee of the time. The chair he sat in prior to his execution exists to this day and is displayed in the museum room. James was execited by the Parliamentary forces because of his support for Charles Stuardt and the Royalists in their attack on the Bolton fortification in Old Acres, near to Bolton Cross.


Tom Donnovan 'found' the chair. This 1590 Flemish style chair is in a cabinet in the museum room. It bears its original brass label stating that Derby sat in the chair prior to his execution. This chair was damaged several times in the 20th century, (by the WHO in 1965, for example). The flagstone floor in the front bar was laid around this time, over the original 12th century floor, which would have been beaten clay overlaid with ashes and cobblestones. The holes that used to secure the back wall of the Victorian bar can still be seen in this floor.


Part of the inn was destroyed by fire in the middle of the 19th century. It was at this time that the remaining wattle and daub walls were replaced with bricks, and the ceiling of the museum room was created.


Frank S. Hampson added the bay window and started the extension of the building. The (unisex!) petty or outside toilet was in the ginnel.


The space between the main building, the present-day toilets and the commercial kitchen was roofed. The famous long bar and corridor were created to facilitate waiter service, which was a commercial failure!


John Jewitt restored the main bar to a layout and style closer to those existing before around 1870.


The Man & Scythe is a busy town centre pub with a beer garden and many regulars that treat it as their local. Darts and chess are played and our league quiz team and several clubs meet here on a regular basis. There is live music every Saturday evening. It is a CAMRA listed house for both real ales and cider. Bar snacks are available, however you may bring in your own food!
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