It is interesting to look back to the special lists of Christmas gifts given to the Hall Place staff by the Morley family. The Historical Society has copies of many of these lists which have been kindly provided by Alfie Houghton.
The quietly philanthropic Samuel Morley almost certainly gave Christmas gifts to his staff in the 1870s and 1880s but the earliest records that we have are the “coal list” and the “meat list” for 1892. The coal list has fifty-six people on it, with a total of fifteen tons of coal – costing £2 a ton. The value of the coal to the workers was probably on average about three or four weeks rent. Chas Davis, the Head Gardener and Alf Sales, the Engineer both received 15 cwt. The amount was scaled down for the junior staff, such as Albert Stubbins, an estate worker, and A. Pankhurst, a gardener, who each received 8 cwt. A few people received other presents. Alex Campbell, who was in “the stables” and probably the head coachman, received “vests” for example.
The Meat List’s fifty-two recipients were between them given 209 lbs of meat at 9½d a lb, ranging from 8 lbs for the ‘Heads of Departments’ down to 3 lbs for the lower end of the social scale.
In the 1893 lists, there is also a “tea list”. Again there are over fifty recipients – mostly for the 232 lbs of tea (at 1/6d a lb) but a few people have clearly asked for other things. Once again Alex Campbell receives clothing – a cardigan. Was he old and needed keeping warm? But some of the other stable hands also received clothes too. So was it that Samuel Morley wanted his coachmen looking more respectable? We do not know.
The coal and the meat lists were given to the local coalman and butcher who then delivered the appropriate amount to people’s homes.
To give an idea of the scale of the outside staff at this period, the meat list shows eighteen gardeners, three keepers, two in the Engineering Department, ten doing general work on the Estate, two builders, six in the Stables and twelve working at Home Farm.
In 1922 there were even more people on the lists – up to sixty-four but apart from a doubling of the number of keepers, there were three laundry maids and seven pensioners. A pheasant list – with staff usually receiving two brace – was added around this time.
By 1938 the list was forty-seven Estate staff, plus eleven pensioners. It was the Second World War which drastically reduced the Hall Place staff, although there were still twenty-five people on the Christmas Lists in 1942.
Samuel Morley, his son and his grandson, ensured a more comfortable Christmas for many Leigh families for many years. Compared to most other villages in England, we were lucky.
Parish Magazine Article: Dec 2001: by Chris Rowley