Lost Village of Kilgrimol

Lost Village of Kilgrimol

The Lost Village of Kilgrimol might be fact, it might be fiction. It’s a local story of another lost village, possibly to the rising sea. This one is said to have been lost off the coast of St Annes. We sent our Fylde contributor Sue Massey to start finding out what she could about the lost village of Kilgrimol… Above photo: Looking for the lost village of Kilgrimol, across the railway line with Blackpool ahead. By Sue Massey

The Lost Village of Kilgrimol

Ghostly inhabitants of the long-lost village of Kilgrimol wander in the dunes on moonless nights, and on New Year’s Eve the church bells toll hauntingly beneath the waves.  Allegedly!

Jane Rabbit, publisher of Visit Fylde Coast, asked if I’d like to investigate the lost village of Kilgrimol.  I had a dig around the world wide web to find a starting point for my quest. Considerable fascinating historical and archaeological research came to light.

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Where do I start? Numerous bus routes run along Clifton Drive, passing Kilgrimol Gardens. There’s a clue, surely?

Kilgrimol Gardens St Annes

Could I find physical evidence of the remains of Kilgrimol Chapel and its cemetery that once stood at Cross Slack?

Olden day maps show Cross Slack, a tiny hamlet of 4-5 houses, situated somewhere close to the 10th tee on the Old Links Golf Course.

I peered through binoculars from the nature reserve. That’s about as close as I could get without trespassing or joining the golf club!

This lovely painting is in the possession of the Lytham St Annes Art Collection. It shows Gillett’s ‘Cross Slack’ Farm at St Annes On Sea. Painted by Walter Eastwood, 1867-1943.

Gillets 'Cross Slack' Farm by Walter Eastwood. Lytham St Annes Art Collection
Gillets ‘Cross Slack’ Farm by Walter Eastwood. Lytham St Annes Art Collection

St Annes Nature Reserve

Could the nature reserve reveal any clues? The “Slack” part of Cross Slack means a boggy place, a freshwater pool.

From the Old Links Golf Course, across the railway line, there’s a pool and boggy area on the nature reserve. Is this the slack?  Today, even though overgrown, it’s a popular watering hole for visiting herons, wildfowl and mammals.

Looking across the overgrown slack at St Annes nature reserve, Blackpool Tower ahead. Photo: Sue Massey
Looking across the overgrown slack at St Annes nature reserve, Blackpool Tower ahead. Photo: Sue Massey
What's left of the slack at St Annes nature reserve. Photo: Sue Massey
What’s left of the slack at St Annes nature reserve. Photo: Sue Massey

This lovely haven for wildlife, situated between the sand dunes and railway line, is worth a visit at any time of the year. With carpets of wild flowers and grasses, footpaths criss-crossing the humps and hollows. Birds skulking in low-growing shrubs, and a regular kestrel hovering high above seeking a furry feast. There’s always something to see. Even Blackpool Tower!

St Annes Sand Dunes

Next, I crossed Clifton Drive and headed for the sand dunes and beach.

The dunes, vast expanse of sand, sea, and sky between St Annes Pier and Starr Gate offer a breathtaking panorama. The magnificent sand dune habitat also supports a rich variety of plants and wildlife.

The Irish Sea along this stretch is popular with kite-boarders, while the beach provides a wonderful gallop for horse-riders.

Kiteboarders on St Annes Beach
Kiteboarders on St Annes Beach

The Lost Village of Kilgrimol

What did I find on my travels?  Sadly, there’s no physical evidence of a Kilgrimol settlement at Cross Slack, only facts and folklore. The local tale that Kilgrimol Church was flooded and buried at sea is haunting and romantic.

Looking at this map indicating where the coast line once probably was, it’s very possibly true.

Map of the old Fylde Coast shoreline. Source unknown.
Map of the old Fylde Coast shoreline. Source unknown.

Or is it more likely that it became a victim of a lack of parishioners and was buried in the wind-blown sands of a time long ago. Some time before the 14th Century?

Auld Lang Syne

I might well have a walk down on New Year’s Eve, to listen to those tolling bells and check out the ghostly figures in the dunes.

Further reading

With thanks to the following for insightful historical facts

http://wyrearchaeology.blogspot.com/2007/07/legend-of-kilgrimol-part-one.html

http://wyrearchaeology.blogspot.com/2007/08/legend-of-kilgrimol-part-two.html

https://fyldecoaster.wordpress.com/2015/01/31/in-pursuit-of-cross-slack/

Have you got anything to add?

Do you know anything about the lost village of Kilgrimol?

If you do, whether it’s fact or folklore, please get in touch. We’d love to collect everything that you know together in one place in this article for everyone to enjoy.

Just email jane@theRabbitPatch.co.uk

Other Lost Villages

Have you heard the stories of other villages and habitation, lost to rising seas on the Fylde Coast?

Singleton Thorpe was said to be lost after an ‘inundation’ at Cleveleys. Pennystone Rock is still visible off Bispham where another settlement was said to exist.

Find out More

Have a look at the Visit St Annes website homepage for more of the latest updates.

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