Wednesday, 26 November 2014


NANTWICH is noted for its salt springs which date back to Roman times.
Its fine restored church has a 14th century chancel and choir stalls.
A 600 years old carving on one of the choir stalls clearly depicts a fowl with a face in its rear end!   Apparently a medieval  wood carver had a disagreement with the parson of the time and produced this curious carving for all to see.   Hence  ‘The parson’s nose’.

Standing not far from CONGLETON is a superb example of Tudor architecture which is now in the care of the National Trust.    The building of Little Moreton Hall was started in the 15th century and it has remained virtually unaltered since 1580.   It is regarded as the most perfect example of a timber framed, moated, manor house in the country.


A cottage garden in the tiny hamlet of PECKFORTON has a very fine ornament – an ornamental stone beehive in the shape of an elephant with a castle on its back. Standing some 8 feet high, it was carved in 1840 by the stone mason
who lived there.
Nearby BUNBURY has an interesting restored church which has retained many of its historic monuments.
One fine memorial in this church tells us that Sir George Beeston, 1499 – 1601 (102 years), served four monarchs.   He was Admiral of the Fleet and Captained The Dreadnaught against the Spanish Armada when he was 89 years old.

A statue commemorating Jane Johnson, the young wife of Henry Johnson the dancing master of Nantwich, originally stood close to the main altar.  
Jane died 6th April 1741 aged just 24 years.
In the 1760’s, the then vicar was ‘so disturbed by the bulging udders of Jane,’ that he had the statue removed and secretly buried in the churchyard.    It was re-discovered by chance in 1882 and now stands proudly back inside the church, albeit at the back.


St Oswald’s church at LOWER PEOVER is one of the last remaining black and white, timber framed churches in the country.   It was built in 1269 and the stone tower was added some 300 years later.   

One of its notable possessions is a ‘bog-oak, dug out’ chest with five locks securing a huge lid.   Local legend has it that at one time, any prospective bride of a Cheshire farmer was required to be able to lift the heavy lid with one hand.


A gravestone near to the chancel door of the parish church at Prestbury bears the following curious epitaph :
Sarah  Pickford
Was here interred Aug ye 17 Anno Domini 1705
And died a bachelour in the 48 yeare of her age.


A tomb grave in the same churchyard records that William Wyatt, 41 years, of Adlington, a quarryman, fell shot through the body whilst gallantly taking the lead in the capture of two armed highwaymen in Shrigley in 1848.  £100 was raised by public subscription for his widow and children. 
His brother Thomas was shot in the arm in the same incident.



The naturalist and broadcaster who used the name ‘Romany’ back in the 1930’s and 40’s was in fact a retired Methodist Minister, The Rev. George Bramwell Evens.  Apparently his mother Tilly Smith was of gypsy stock.  Evens died in 1943 and his ‘vardo’ or caravan, was restored and is preserved as a memorial to him in Parkway at WILMSLOW.  
Romany’s famous dog, Raq, died in 1947 and is buried in
a memorial garden alongside the caravan.
Lovely CHESTER is the former Roman City of Deva situated on a sandstone spur north of the River Dee and the best preserved walled city in England.

Before a by pass was built to the east of the town, the Old Dee Bridge carried the road from England into Wales and it is still used by local traffic today.
There was a bridge at this point in the Roman era and the present seven arch bridge, a Grade 1 listed building and scheduled ancient monument, 
dates to 1387

But it is the Grosvenor Bridge carrying the A483 road that is the main crossing point for local vehicles. When it was opened in 1832 by Princess Victoria, it was the longest single arch bridge in the world.

The original model by the architect of the bridge, Thomas Harrison,
is preserved nearby.

Through the archway is an area known as The Roodee now Chester Racecourse said to be the oldest course still in use today and dating to the early sixteenth century. The site was originally a harbour during Roman times and beyond but the river silted up making navigation impossible. It was also the site of a small cross where a statue of the Virgin Mary was buried and known as a 'rood' and Roodee is a corruption of Rood Eye meaning Island of the Cross.
The east side of the racecourse abuts onto the ancient city walls where once Roman trading vessels were moored.

Some 2 miles of red sandstone ramparts and towers form the walls
which still surround the city. Although some Roman stones are evident, the wall are mainly medieval.
Newgate is a red sandstone arched bridge which was built in 1938 when the walls were breached to facilitate modern traffic and is Grade 11 listed.
 The compact town centre clusters around its mainly 14th century
red sandstone cathedral. It was built over a 10th century church containing the relics of St Werburgh, a Mercian princess who died in 707. It was a Benedictine Abbey until 1540 when it became a Cathedral. 
 The  compact town centre has medieval galleried streets with a plethora of Tudor buildings of plaster and wood and  a variety of architecture
 At the very centre is the Cross dating to 1946 and taking its name from the medieval High Cross which stood here until this Royalist town fell in the Civil War and fragments of which are preserved in the town museum.
The unique Rows which consist of two tiers of shops, one at street level and the other set back on the floor above with their overhanging storeys making a covered walkway over the top of the lower shops which are accessed by steps from the road. Dating from the 14th century this distinctive style is thought to have been developed over the old Roman buildings, the remains of which can be found in many of the cellars below. 

Some of the old buildings have carved inscriptions on them, many of them with religious connotations.  In Watergate Street is God's Providence House, so called because of the inscription, 'God's Providence is mine inheritance', being the only one in the street to escape the plague.
One of the delights of this place is the combined variety of architecture
as seen along Eastgate Street.

 The old wall crosses Eastgate Street via a single arch bridge  built in 1769 to replace an older structure, upon which is an elaborate ornamental clock
dating to 1897 the year of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.

This elegant modern shopping mall compliments the Rows.

The present day castle was built in 1811 as military quarters and to house the Assize Courts and Town Council, although there had been a castle on the site from Saxon times
Although much of the Roman town is hidden beneath the modern town, a huge amount of artefacts are preserved in the Grosvenor Museum.  However one important part of the Roman era has been excavated in Northgate in the shape of the largest amphitheatre so far discovered in Britain. 

and nearby, within a park,excavated Roman remains have been preserved whilst part of a hypocaust or heating system of a Roman house has been reconstructed from excavated remains.

WARBURTON, historically in Cheshire, is a village dating back to Saxon times.
The 14th church, dedicated to St Werburgh, is of Saxon foundation and is probably the oldest timber framed church in the country.

 In the neglected churchyard the many gravestones are weatherworn and covered in moss and foliage.    Beneath one of them William Noblett has lain for more than 150 years.   His demise,  at the age of 81 years, brought peace to this tiny hamlet because Willie was an incurable whistler and from an early age had been known as Whistling Willie.   But why should the people of Warburton be so relieved when Willie gave his last whistle?  Well, at that time the area was noted for its poachers with many of the locals taking great pride in their brigandage.  However, Willie and his whistle upset the apple cart because the local landowner, upon hearing Willie and his whistle, engaged Willie to act as a sort of gamekeeper.   His job was to patrol the squire’s grounds at night and when he found a villager up to no good, to give a loud extra special whistle to bring the squire’s servants running and the poacher to justice.   
The epitaph on Willie’s gravestone once read :   
‘Though herein he lies dead
Whistling Willie’s fame has spread
For his double tone, piercing drone
Which chilled the marrow to the bone
And will be made by him no more
T’will surely continue by the law.’
 What does it mean?   One of the Squire’s most frequent visitors was Sir Robert Peel, founder of the modern police service.  It was on one of his visits to Warburton, when he heard Willie, that Sir Robert got the idea of the policeman’s whistle, that double tone and piercing drone, mentioned in Willie’s epitaph.


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