Here is just a little info to let you get to know our pub better...
Here is just a little info to let you get to know our pub better...
Here is a little potted history of our pub and the local area... if you have a spare minute or two and maybe a cup of tea (or is that a G&T), we think it's well worth a read.
The name Mitton derives from the word Mythe, meaning the 'junction of rivers', as the Ribble and its major tributary the Hodder converge nearby.
The Domesday manor of Mitton encompassed both Greater Mitton and Little Mitton, stradling lands on both banks of the River Ribble. The river itself was once the county boundary, with Little Mitton being on the Lancashire side of the river, and Great Mitton being on the Yorkshire side. Since the boundary changes of 1974, both villages are now very solidly in Lancashire.
From the late eleventh century, Mitton fell under the Lordship of Bowland, the Lords of Bowland being lords paramount of the Royal Forest.
Mitton was a mesne manor from the early twelfth century. Its first lord, Radulphus le Rus, may have been a scion of the de Lacy family. Descendants of Radulphus assumed the surname de Mitton. In the late thirteenth century, the family adopted the surname Shireburne by marriage, thereby laying the foundation for the dynasty of Shireburne of Stonyhurst. Stonyhurst was the family seat, two miles from Mitton, and is now Stonyhurst College.
It is the Shireburne family whose tombs are in the Shireburne chapel in All Hallows church, Mitton, which dates from 1270.
The manor passed out of Shireburne ownership in the fourteenth century but was re-acquired in 1665. With the extinction of the Shireburne male line in 1717, the manor passed to the Hawksworth and finally, Aspinall families.
Great Mitton is also the geographic location that Tolkien used in many cases as inspiration for his trilogies about a similar 'Middle Earth' or or from Norse mythology 'midgard' description. Tolkein often walked Great Mitton and was well aware of its definition from ancient times.
The first historical record of a church at Mitton comes from 1103 when a man with the name of Ralph the Red was the rector of a church that was probably made of timber.
The oldest surviving portion of the church dates to around 1270, the chancel having been added early in the 14th century. The impressive tower is mentioned in a document dated 1438, and the whole of the interior is an architectural gem: All Hallows is held to be one of the finest Medieval churches in England.
William Turner visited the church and sketched the tombs and the chapel of the Shireburn family.
One of the most notable features of All Hallows - aside from the notable slope of the nave from west to east - is the 15th century chancel screen, which may have been brought here from nearby Sawley Abbey after the abbey was dissolved by Henry VIII. Aside from the screen, which was installed in 1593, much of the impressive interior is due to the efforts of the Shireburne family of nearby Stonyhurst. Memorials to generations of Shireburnes stand within the Shereburne chapel.
When we were refurbishing the pub, Martin Aspinall directed us to the Aspinall coat of arms on the walls of the church, which is the most accurate representation of the crest. It is this that we copied for the coat of arms on the pub's sign, which was painted for us by a heraldic artist in America.
A hole in the outside wall of the church is known as the "hagioscope" or the "Leper's Squint." This allowed the sick to peep into the church and take part in the service without infecting the healthy.
Little Mitton Hall is just up the road from the Aspinall Arms on the south side of the river, and is not to be confused with Great Mitton Hall on the opposite bank of the river next to All Hallows church.
The present Hall was built in the reign of Henry VII (1485-1509). Little Mitton was purchased about 1665 by Alexander Holt, of the Gristlehurst family, and descended to the Beaumonts of Whitley Beaumont, in Yorkshire.
Following the failure of the Beaumont line, Little Mitton Hall was purchased by John Aspinall in about 1857-60, who undertook a great deal of rebuilding and additions to the Hall. The old walls of timber were removed, but the entrance hall was left untouched. From John Aspinall the Hall descended (via his son ?) to his grandson, Ralph John Aspinall who was the owner in 1872.
Little Mitton Hall was sketched by William Turner who travelled extensively in the Ribble Valley in the early 19th century.
The details Turner highlighted are still evident to this day:
Great Mitton Hall dates to the period between 1374 and 1393 but there have obviously been a number of alterations since that date.
Now privately owned, the hall was built to house a group of priests in training and under the control of the Dean.
This how Great Mitton Hall would have been in the 14th century. The center part was probably where the original manor house was, and would have been just one great room. The cross wings were probably added to make an H configuration. One side would have been for the servants with a cross hall to service the manor lord family. The structure would have been made of wattle and daub with a wood frame. This was confirmed with a recent renovation.
Later, probably in the 17th century, the stone facade was made over the original Tudor style house for fire prevention. During some of its history, Great Mitton Hall has been used as a refectory as well as a hospital.
With thanks to http://thefamilydemitton.wordpress.com
Mitton bridge, adjacent to the pub, is built over the River Ribble, and probably dates from the early C19th when it replaced the oar-propelled ferry crossing of the river.
It is Grade II listed, and described in the listing text as 'Sandstone ashlar. 3 segmental arches with rounded cutwaters. Solid parapet with string and weathered coping. The southern parapet is inscribed 'LITTLE MITTON LANCASHIRE. GREAT MITTON YORKSHIRE'.
William Turner sketched the bridge on his travels in 1816. Curiously, the pub is not shown in the sketch, presumably because it was just out of the frame: we know this because the pub, then known as the Mitton boat, pre-existed the bridge.
The Aspinall Arms is a coaching inn believed to date from the 17th century, and was originally known as the Mitton Boat.
Before the bridge was built there was a row boat ferry on the site of the Aspinall Arms pub which took travellers across. The old boathouse is reputed to be incorporated into the current structure of the Aspinall Arms.
At that time, the River Ribble enjoyed some of the finest fishing in England...until in the mid 19th century, it suffered from industrial pollution.
In 1880, Mr Ralph John Aspinall, high Sheriff of Lancashire and owner of large estates along the Ribble, and Mr Hick, his wealthy tenant, look the local cotton mill to court for polluting the river and destroying the fish, so that Mt Aspinall's stretch of the river, with the most valuable fishing rights in England, had been destroyed, and the Aspinall Arms, formerly a favourite inn amongst anglers, no longer flourished because the fish were gone. They won the case.
Concealed shoes - that is, shoes intentionally hidden in wall cavities, chimneys and beneath floorboards, are relatively common throughout England - indeed, over 1,200 examples have been recorded.
The belief was that they were a charm of protection. The local village 'Cunning Man or Woman' would advise householders to conceal a single shoe in the fabric of a house with the intention it would act as a magical decoy and evil spirit or ill intent sent upon the family would be caught in the shoe and dispersed.
This belief harks back to the end of the 13th century when the rector of North Marston in Buckinghamshire is reputed to have cast the devil into a boot.
These ancient shoes, which measure only 7.5cms in length (3 inches), were discovered under floorboards when renovation work was undertaken several years ago. The landlord at the time apparently subsequently returned the shoes to their hiding place.
Rebecca Shawcross, shoe resource officer at the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery, which has a special boot and shoe section, identified them as 'an interesting example of two individual and well worn children's Latchet shoes from the 17th century'.
If you have any further information on the pub that you think would fit nicely here we would love to hear from you.
Sus is our own little German. She joined us soon after the opening of the Aspinall, having previously worked as a hotel manager in the Ribble Valley. As of June 2016 Susanne took over the reigns here at the Aspinall! She has enormous energy and is always working to make everyone happy. When she's not in work she spends quality time with her dogs, Billy and Barnaby, and is a very keen gardener and gin-drinker.
Simon joined the family in May 2016 and it has been a great addition to the team. Originally from Uttoxeter, Simon has a great deal of experience in hospitality management and his enthusiasm and passion rubs off on all of us! He is dedicated to the pub lifestyle and if not found behind our bar, he can be found in another 'sampling' and 'researching' as he calls it.
Trainee Assistant Manager
Molly came to help out from a nearby pub one weekend back in June 2017. She liked it that much here that she never actually left. Molly was promoted to Supervisor in April and is doing a fantastic job, we look forward to having her around for a long time to come.
OCH NAW we have gained another Scot! Chris joined us in October 2018 and has fit into the Aspinall team like a glove. He brings with him a wealth of knowledge and is as cool as a cucumber. Being new to the area, on his days off he enjoys nothing more than a ramble through the Ribble Valley with wife Vicky and two dogs Bonnie & Millie. Don't let that dour look fool you he is smiling on the inside.
Blake is always on hand to welcome you at the bar with a warming smile and his quick banter. Whilst not at work he enjoys watching his beloved football team Accrington Stanley (who are they) in the Jack Barrett Memorial Stand which we think is quite appropriate as it is named after his great grandad, a founding member of the modern day Stanley. Blake is a big family man and cherishes time spent with his, especially his little sister Erin.
Kris has been the driving force behind the kitchen since we opened back in 2014 and became Head Chef in June 2016. Kris should come with subtitles most times. With being Scottish, he has a broad accent although, we find that some Irn Bru generally calms him down. Respected by the team, Kris is a problem solver and if he cant fix it, its not worth fixing.
Peter or "Pudding" as he is known here at The Aspinall has been here since day one. He started life in our kitchen on puddings and the name stuck! He is now our fantastic Junior Sous Chef & the kitchen wouldn't be the same without him. Pud is a chatty man and can talk a glass eye to sleep. His is a key member of our Aspinall family and we are very proud of him.
Chef de Partie
Shaun started with us at the beginning of Summer 2018 and brings experience and a calming influence to the kitchen team. He has slotted straight into life here and having worked with several of the team before felt right at home. He does have a playful and mischievous side, however with Mrs Griffin working front of house she manages to keep him in check.
Colin has been our resident gardener & Mr fix it since we opened back in 2014. He is married to Christina (see below) & has two sons, two dogs, two cats, six chickens & two ducks! Colin took an early retirement from his job with the council & he now spends his time maintaining our beautiful garden & he loves nothing more than riding around on his lawn mower.
Christina is our flower buff, she knows everything & anything to do with plants and flowers! She has a horticultural degree & is married to Colin (see above). While she has her own garden to look after, Christina came to work for us after taking an early retirement but decided to keep an eye on Colin & the gardens here at the Aspinall.
Use the calendar to book a table. If the time you're after is not available, give us a call and we will try our best to fit you in. We keep some tables for phone bookings.
We don't reserve any of our outside tables so if you enjoy a little alfresco dining these are first come first serve.
Friday 29th November to Tuesday 24th December