A SELF-STYLED Lord returned to his manor this week to celebrate the legacy of one of Bolton’s most influential families.
Malcolm Howe, the Lord of Sharples, returned to the historic village for the launch of his book, The Genesis of Education in Bolton, which commemorates the 500th anniversary of the endowment by John Barton in the 1500s.
The Barton family, who owned the Smithills estate, extended considerable influence over the affairs of the Smithills Deane district over several centuries — and in 1516, John Barton left £10 in his will to “teach grammar at Bolton upon the Moors”.
A book launch was held at Smithills Hall, the home of the Barton family until 1721.
Mr Howe said: “I grew up in Sharples and have many treasured memories of happy schooldays in Bolton.”
During his visit to Bolton, Mr Howe visited Sharples School and his old schools of Sharples Primary and Bolton School.
He was welcomed to Sharples School with a melody sung by a girls’ quartet.
The school was built after his family had left their home in nearby Hill Cot Road.
Headteacher Rachel Quesnel said: “Mr Howe was extremely impressed with the talent of the girls.
“He was also very pleased to hear about the school’s most recent excellent exam results.”
The Friends of Smithills Hall hosted the book launch and the guest of honour was archdeacon emeritus Alan Wolstencroft, formerly curate of St Thomas’s, Halliwell and Vicar of Bolton-le-Moors.
Mr Howe has given copies of the book to Bolton School, Rivington and Blackrod High School, Canon Slade, Thornleigh College and Smithills School and to public libraries in Bolton.
The book is on sale at £15, including postage, from Bolton School with all proceeds going to the bursary fund. Mr Howe, a heraldry expert, was responsible for Sharples getting its own coat of arms after buying the lordship of Sharples for £15,000 in 2006, which he bequeathed to the people of Bolton.
Four of the badges commissioned by Mr Howe are now in Bolton. He gave one to each of his old schools and also to Smithills Hall. One was presented to the then Mayor of Bolton, Cllr Tony Connell, while the other two are kept at Mr Howe’s houses.