Old Boar’s Head Wall Paintings and Graffiti

The age of the historic Olde Boar’s Head in Middleton had long been a subject of speculation when, in 2016, some early timbers were dated to 1622. However, one mystery remains: the origin and meaning of the rare set of wall paintings and graffiti in the OBH upper rooms.

Uncovered in the mid 1980’s, the decoration and graffiti date from the 1620’s to the 1650’s, a time of great political unrest in England. The standoff between Charles I and Parliament over religion and taxation resulted in 1629 with the king ruling alone for eleven years. A recall of Parliament was followed by the Civil Wars of the 1640’s, Charles’ execution and a Parliament-led republic until 1660.

Middleton’s General Ralph Assheton was both a prominent war commander and dedicated Puritan, active both in the Lancashire wars and in establishing a radical replacement for the Church of England. It is feasible that the graffiti and elements of the wall paintings could be linked to Assheton’s role in those turbulent times.

This paper by MAS member Anne Falloon sets out to explore what was happening in Middleton in the first half of the 17th century and to consider the possible political motivation behind the paintings and graffiti.

Download the essay here

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