It is the pastoral Lancashire village that is far from the madding crowds with a vibrant community and a creative hub of independent shops and restaurants.
With verdant hedgerows and bucolic spring flowers that come into their own at this time of year, Mawdesley sheds its wintry cobwebs to become an idyllic destination.
Home to just under 2,000 people, the village has two churches, schools, a village hall, a pub and a host of independent traders at its creative hub of business and restaurants, Cedar Farm. In fact, you could call Mawdesley the perfect little stop for a walk, maybe a stroll and a pint or a coffee.
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Located near Chorley and eight miles north-west of Wigan, the village is close to similar pastoral villages like Bispham, Parbold and Newburgh, while the ancient village of Rufford is also within easy reach.
With all of this in mind, we traveled to Mawdesley to get a feel for what it’s like to be in the village which could arguably be described as one of Lancashire’s best kept secrets.
Jo Barham, owner of Bay Tree Flower Farm just on the border of Mawdesley and Bispham, is flushed and about to close up shop when I manage to catch up with her at the end of what has been an extremely busy day.
The mum-of-three told LancsLive: ‘It’s a lovely, peaceful place – we opened in October 2020 for three days before restrictions shut us down, then we opened in December, then we reopened in April 2021. I just don’t think any of us thought it would be anything like it was.
“There are three fishing ponds at Crook Hall Farm Fishery, as well as two vacation homes. Mawdesley is beautiful – it’s a beautiful area; the people are very friendly and very supportive.
“I live in Rufford but am involved in some of the things we do in the village. There is a party and a walking day coming back this year.
Have you visited Mawdesley? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Cedar Farm is nestled, with Wordsworthian flair, on a winding, winding road lined with bouncy daffodils. A creative hub of restaurants, independent traders, artisans and boutiques with its own small cattle farm, the destination has come a long way since its launch nearly 35 years ago.
The original shop around which the whole complex was built, now known as The Gallery, sells an eclectic range of handmade and designer goods from across the UK as well as art materials and is now run by Kate O’Farrell, daughter of the founders. and artisans Sally and Paul O’Farrell. She told Lancs Live: ‘When mum and dad opened these stores they had a cafe and a gallery, and all the other buildings were pig farms.
“You could hear and smell the pigs. It was the only place around here and the agents used to come and say, nobody’s going to come here, but they did and it grew, and it’s fantastic.
“Gradually the buildings changed over time, and so you now have studios and a design shed, and there are now about 30 businesses, including a hair salon, jewelers, glassmakers, a photography studio and many different places to eat or have a coffee.The Pig Barn was once home to 27 pigs – now it hosts nutritionists, a glass melter, a ceramicist and a classroom.
“There are different places to eat, and there are studios, where the makers are based. We sell art materials, homewares, British crafts, designer goods, cards, gifts.
“People want somewhere to go – it’s a destination; you can come and have a coffee and feed the animals, because people like to see things. It’s so different from shopping online because we make sure to have very different and creative things from independent and creative traders.
Besides, pastel colours, vintage patterns and soft fabrics are on display at Etcetera Clothing & Accessories, an independent boutique for women. Ella Fleming, 19, says everyone was “thrilled” to come out.
She told Lancs Live: “It’s nice to be back and chatting with the customers – you get to know them. I literally love working here – it’s great. I love the people I’m with. work and I enjoy talking to customers.
“I’m from Newburgh, but Mawdesley is lovely – I’ve done a lot of volunteering in the past and it’s a really nice place. It’s a bit in the middle of nowhere, but it’s really fabulous.
The enticing scent of lemongrass essential oil draws me to Apothecary Oils, sellers and creators of a tantalizing line of skincare, soaps, gels, candles and more. Sarah Gaskell, one of the team members, is as helpful as she is knowledgeable.
She tells me that 90% of the products are made in the shop, using essential oils, adding: “Mawdesley is lovely – and it’s a place where you can shop, in a safe environment. You can have coffee, have a mooch, have lunch, then have another mooch.
“Mawdesley has just had a lovely family atmosphere here, and all the traders and businesses help each other – there’s a real spirit of collaboration at Cedar Farm.”
Like many beautiful towns and villages in Lancashire, Mawdesley is believed to date back to the reign of Edward I (1272-1308). Records show that a settlement existed before, as a mansion is said to have existed around 1250 AD on the site of present-day Mawdesley Hall.
Yet the village has its sights firmly set on the future, with exciting events in the works, including the village fete and the traditional day’s march. Mawdesley parish councilor Grahame Green told LancsLive: “It’s very dynamic and there’s a lot going on; we have two very good schools and a pub, the Red Lion, which is reopening; we have lots of facilities, such as cricket clubs, tennis, bowling, a high quality village hall and a very successful U3A club.
Putting aside the delights of Cedar Farm, he pointed to the village’s beautiful, newly refurbished war memorial, adding: ‘The Red Lion is right in the center of the village and has reopened its restaurant, and of course we are delighted to see only because it’s right in the center and we need a pub. We have a very successful store, which is the Spar store and the post office. »
Kindness and compassion have come to the fore during the pandemic, he added, with the store helping people make deliveries. However, speed could be an issue, he said, with the parish council trying to encourage people to observe 20mph speed limits, and he is keen to protect the village’s green belt.
The village has been crowned winner of Lancashire’s Best Kept Village three times and has a thriving calendar with upcoming highlights like the Millennium Green fireworks display, Walk Day in June and Village Fete in September with flower displays.
He added: “We have three wind turbines in the village – some people were not happy when they came up, but we are reducing our carbon footprint. We are a ‘very green village’ and many people are aware of the pollution.
“Like many areas, we get a lot of housing development, and one of my main interests on council is to protect the greenbelt. The Millennium Green is very, very well maintained, and it’s all done by volunteers, and we have many who are happy to join in doing a lot of things to help each other and support people.
Meanwhile, one of Mawdesley’s best kept secrets is the Rainbow Hub charity, a charity supporting children and young people with physical and neurological disabilities and their families which has been greatly supported by the late owner of PNE, Trevor Hemmings. Lyndsay Fahey, Managing Director, Rainbow Hub, said: “Mawdesley is a lovely village and the area is perfect for the children and their families who use our services.
“They can enjoy being in beautiful countryside but it’s not too far to travel. The local people have always been very welcoming and supportive of our charity – both with donations, by attending our events and giving of his time to help us, which we really appreciate.