THIEVES and vandals have turned an historical cottage where Oliver Cromwell’s troops were based during the English Civil War into a crumbling ruin.

Ivy Cottage in Cunliffe Brow, Smithills, was the dream home of owner Stephen Turner, but it has been slowly stripped of anything of value and targeted by teenage vandals who have set fires after breaking in.

Mr Turner, bought the 500-year-old cottage in 1998 when he was manager of Bolton’s Moat House Hotel, but he left the property three years ago when his job in the hospitality industry took him to other parts of the country.

He initially rented the property out and travelled home whenever he could to keep on top of the maintenance.

But once it became known locally that the house was empty the vandalism and break-ins started. Mr Turner, aged 49, said: “It’s heartbreaking to see it in the dilapidated condition it is now in.

“It was a fantastic house and I loved living in Bolton. I lived there on my own, but it was really ideally suited to a family.

“To live in a cottage with such a connection to local history was amazing.”

Mr Turner said he would like to return to Bolton and renovate the house, but may also consider selling it.

The condition of the house has been a concern to neighbours in nearby Brentford Avenue which leads on to Cunliffe Brow.

Nigel Worrall who lives next door to the cottage said he had regularly challenged teenagers who were gaining access to the building.

“What they are doing is highly dangerous,” he said. “They have lit fires while thieves have come in and taken everything valuable. It’s a crying shame.

“But there is so much interest in the house. There have been people turning up in fancy cars asking about it. I don’t think the owner would have much trouble selling it, even in the condition it’s in now.”

Bolton Council’s specialist empty buildings officers have been in contact with Mr Turner over measures to make the property secure.

A council spokesman said: “We have had several dealings with the owner of this property over the last few years around issues such as rubbish, anti-social behaviour and security.

“The owner has carried out the work we have asked him to do. We have also been out recently to assess the property and currently the situation does not warrant us pursuing formal planning enforcement action.

“We will continue to monitor things and take appropriate action if things change.”


  • Ivy Cottage is believed to be where Cromwell’s troops were based just before the Bolton Massacre, sometimes called the Storming of Bolton on May 28, 1644.
  • The strongly Parliamentarian town was stormed and captured by Royalist forces under Prince Rupert. It was alleged that up to 1,600 of Bolton’s defenders — Cromwell’s men — and inhabitants were slaughtered during and after the fighting has ceased.
  • The “massacre at Bolton” was a staple of Parliamentarian propaganda during the duration of the Cival War.