The Langley Hall Stone at St Leonard's
Placed on the grass beside a memorial to Thomas Langley at St Leonard's Parish Church is an ancient and mysterious looking stone. It was originally found after the demolition of Langley Hall in 1885 and so was placed next to our most famous son's memorial. Many artefacts were found during an archaeological dig before the Silver Birch estate was built on the site of the old hall and some of these can also be found at the Old Grammar School.
According to local historian Geoff Wellens, this stone in the church grounds is thought to be a cider press which worked by placing the fruit on the surface and lowering another heavy stone onto it. The four channels then drained the juice away. There is clear evidence of carved images on each of the four segments of the surface but it is now so worn that it is very difficult to make out the significance of what this carving may have represented.
Peter Langley from County Cork in Ireland is a descendant of the prominent Langley family, having a firm paper trail back to Richard de Langley (or de Langeleghe) who was born at Langley in about 1320. This Richard married well and his wife inherited the manors of Prestwich and Pendlebury. Peter's painstaking research into the very long history of the Langley's brought him to Middleton in the Autumn of 2009. Fascinated by this stone, and also having a keen interest in coat of arms and family crests, he took photographs back home with him to try to decipher exactly what was once carved into this mysterious object. Using various techniques in computer programmes combined with his knowledge of the Langley crests, his findings are somewhat remarkable.
The First Quarter appears to be a variation on the Middleton Arms. The Paly shield was first used by Ella, a Saxon prince in the sixth century. This means that either the Middletons were Saxon or a Norman married into the family and inherited the shield. The ancient shield is described as a paly of six with an orle of pellets (as shown here). The paly shield was used on its own by Thomas de Langley, Lord Chancellor and later Bishop of Durham, and also by the Hopwood family. The pellets were incorporated separately by a Shropshire branch and the Langley's of Ireland. The shield on the stone is depicted as a paly of six between ten pellets and differs in that respect from the Middleton shield either for ease of carving or to show descent from a younger son.
The Second Quarter appears to depict the Holt family crest. About 1250 (the date is apparently illegible on the deed), Sir Geoffrey de Chetham sold to Roger de Middleton land and tenements at Langley. The property being occupied by Robert son of Elis Del Holt by knights fee. It would seem that this occurred at the time of the marriage of Roger de Middleton’s younger son, William, to the daughter of Robert del Holt and becoming William de Langley who is mentioned in a charter of 1302.
The Third Quarter appears to depict a Cockatrice, or is it my imagination? It is uncertain how or when the Cockatrice came to the Langley family but from the branches that incorporated it in their arms it was either by marriage in about 1320 or prior to that. One branch in Yorkshire used it as their crest and also the Langley's of Agecroft Hall had it on their shield and it is used as our crest here in Ireland. The Cockatrice's head on the carved statue on the right might bear a closer resemblance to what is on the stone.
The Fourth Quarter had me stumped for a time! I have circled in blue what appears to be a dog’s head. The whole possibly depicting a Talbot Sajent, tied to a Halberd (a hound, sitting, tied to a spear). This crest is used by the Hunt families of Ireland. Also, in about 1600, Thomas and John Langley of London, sons of Robert Langley of Yorkshire, registered their armorial bearings as the cockatrice crest and shield as: Ermine, on a bend vert 3 leopard faces; this device also appears on the Hunt arms of Essex and Ireland. A William Le Hunt is mentioned in a Middleton inquisition of 1322 so this crest must have come to the Langley family by marriage at about that time.
Has Peter cracked it?
Peter stresses that this is own interpretation of the stone and does not claim to be 100% correct. I personally think the presented images are an excellent comparison job and it looks to me that he may well be spot on! What do you think? Your comments are welcome and will be published here.
Send your comments here to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact me here if you would like to get in touch with Peter Langley regarding either his findings or his family tree research which can be viewed here.
Middletonia would like to say a huge thanks to Peter for sharing his detective work with us here at Middleton and congratulate him on an excellent job well done!
The stone is called a verjuice stone and it is for apples. It was not found though in the 1880's but when the new estate was built by Roland Bardsley. Manchester Archeology Unit did the dig and Middleton Civic Association went along with it, hence the items can be found in the Old Grammar School. The coat of arms of the De Middleton's of green and silver, it is said were transfered to the Langley's and Hopwood's with additions.
I believe that Peter Langley got it right, it is logical and makes sense. I have been working on my family tree and have my ancestors back to late 1600. Langley's fought in Revolutionary, War of 1912, Civil War, World War II, Vietnam and Desert Shield. The family was located near Saint Mary City, the first capital of Maryland before moving to Annapolis, Maryland. The Langleys moved across the Patuxent River to Solomons, Maryland, in 1800. They have been shipwrights, commercial watermen, farmers and carpenters and stayed put until my generation moved elsewhere for better jobs and education. Be glad to let you share this information with anyone who wants to take a look at it
While stationed in Germany 76-79, I bought a coat of arms and it stated the surname Langley meant "He who dwells by the clearing in the woods". It had a shield with four panels and what appeared to be black panther heads (could have been black dogs heads which I misinterpreted as panthers), a diagonal stripe of silver which ran from top left to bottom right of shield, background was white with figures of ermine in gold (maybe yellow) with a helmet on top of shield with plumage and what I thought was a peacock most likely a cocktrice. It stated underneath that the Heraldry for family Coat of Arms had granted the shield in 1147 A.D. by Charles I, King of England.
I now wonder if there was an Irish connection in this Coat of Arms or even if it is legitimate. I have long since lost or misplaced the colored paper depicting such shield. There are now 11 generations of descendants of William Langley who came to St. Marys' City, St. Mary County state of Maryland, home of famed Chesapeake Bay, Annapolis and Baltimore. I reside in Delaware next to the Atlantic Ocean in Kent County town of Felton. I think maybe Peter Langley may find it fascinating about this coat of arms I bought while in Germany and may be able to see if it ever existed or was fraudulently sold to uninformed servicemen interested in family roots.
Francis G. Langley, decendant of William Langley St. Mary's County Md