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Title: Cheshire
Author: Kelsey, Charles E.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Cheshire" ***

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  [Illustration: CHESHIRE. ROADS]








The aim of the present volume in the Oxford Series of County Histories
for Schools is to assist the study of the progress of the English people
by an examination of local antiquities, visits to ancient sites and
buildings, and suggestions of big national movements from local
incident. An attempt is made to foster the powers of observation in
children by showing them how to connect various styles of architecture,
for instance, with successive stages in the story of their county, and
to construct from familiar objects the broad outlines of national
history. Thus it is hoped that sooner or later the teaching of history
may become, to some extent, an _out-of-school_ subject and take its
place side by side with outdoor Nature-study and Practical Geography in
the curriculum of our schools.

In rural districts this end is obviously more easily attainable than in
large industrial centres. In the latter the expense of moving classes of
children from their schools to visit a site some miles distant would be
no doubt considerable; but is it too visionary to hope that before long
a motor-bus, capable of carrying a class of thirty or forty boys and
girls, will be deemed by Educational Committees a necessary part of
their 'apparatus'?

Apart from the educative value of such work there would, as the children
grow up, arise a body of public opinion which could give valuable help
in saving historic sites and buildings from loss or destruction, and
preventing the removal of antiquities from their natural home. Cheshire
has suffered perhaps more than her share of both these evils, and looks
with sorrowful eyes at many of her treasures housed in the museums of
towns beyond her borders.

All students of Cheshire history owe much to Ormerod's great work. But
his history is largely genealogical, and personally I wish to
acknowledge a greater debt to the labours and transactions of local
societies, particularly the Chester Archaeological Society and the
Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society. Many learned members of
these two bodies have made most important contributions to our knowledge
of ancient and mediaeval Cheshire within the most recent years. Among
other works consulted I may mention the _Palatine Note Book_, _Cheshire
Notes and Queries_, and Morris's _Diocesan History of Chester_. I have
received kindly assistance from several Cheshire clergymen, and to all
who have given me permission to take photographs within their churches I
express my thanks.

The maps, drawings, and photographs are original, with few exceptions. I
am indebted to the Council of the Chester Archaeological Society, and
the Grosvenor Museum for the loan of the block of a Roman tombstone from
a photograph by Mr. R. Newstead, and to Mr. Alfred Newstead, Curator of
the Museum, for photographs of the Runic stone and Roman altar.

The Rev. J. F. Tristram, of the Hulme Grammar School, read the two
geological chapters and made valuable suggestions. To the Clarendon
Press I am grateful for much kind help and criticism.

    _July, 1911_.


  CHAP.                                                       PAGE
     II. THE MAKING OF CHESHIRE (1)                             16
    III. THE MAKING OF CHESHIRE (_continued_) (2)               21
     IV. EARLY INHABITANTS OF CHESHIRE                          25
      V. THE ROMANS IN CHESHIRE (1)                             29
     VI. THE ROMANS IN CHESHIRE (2)                             36
    VII. SAXONS AND ANGLES COME TO CHESHIRE                     43
   VIII. THE CROSS IN CHESHIRE                                  47
     IX. THE COMING OF THE NORTHMEN                             51
      X. THE NORMANS COME TO CHESHIRE                           58
    XII. THE EARLS OF THE COUNTY PALATINE                       74
    XIV. GROWTH OF TOWNS IN CHESHIRE                            87
     XV. EDWARD THE FIRST AND CHESHIRE                          92
    XVI. THE COMING OF THE FRIARS                               99
   XVII. A DEPOSED KING                                        107
  XVIII. THE RIVAL ROSES                                       114
    XIX. CHURCHES OF THE MIDDLE AGES                           118
    XXI. ELIZABETHAN CHESHIRE (1)                              134
   XXII. ELIZABETHAN CHESHIRE (2)                              143
  XXIII. THE RULE OF THE STUARTS                               150
    XXV. CIVIL WAR: (2) A MEMORABLE SIEGE                      158
  XXVII. THE FALL OF THE STUARTS                               167
 XXVIII. THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY (1)                            173
   XXIX. THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY (2)                            180
    XXX. THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION (1)                         183
   XXXI. THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION (2)                         188
  XXXII. THE RAILWAYS OF CHESHIRE                              192
  XXXIV. THE REIGN OF A GREAT QUEEN                            204
   XXXV. FAMOUS MEN AND WOMEN OF CHESHIRE                      211
  XXXVI. CONCLUSION                                            216

  INDEX                                                        220



Few English counties owe more of their history to their geographical
position and surroundings, and to the character of their natural
features, than Cheshire. Not only in the past have the rocks and rivers
of Cheshire helped to make history, but even to-day they have a very
direct bearing upon the fortunes of Cheshire men and women. How many of
us reflect, as our eyes travel over the plain to the distant hills, that
on the wise and orderly arrangement of mountain and valley, forest and
winding stream, our very existence and means of livelihood depend? Truly
Nature has other work to do than merely create picturesque landscapes.

Cheshire is situated in the north-west of England, washed partly by the
Irish Sea, and guarded as it were on its eastern and western sides by
two great ramparts of hill country, that on the east formed by the
southern spurs of the Pennine Chain, while the Welsh hills of Flint and
Denbigh are the natural frontier on the west.

The western boundary, however, which has been frequently changed, now
follows roughly the Valley of the Dee. A semicircle of hills of lesser
height fringes the county on the south, and the river Mersey divides it
from its northern neighbour, Lancashire.

In the north-west of the county a rectangular stretch of country known
as Wirral is washed by two great estuaries and by the Irish Sea, and a
wedge of moorland in the north-east penetrates into the heart of the
Pennines. Here the hills reach their greatest height, Black Hill the
highest point in Cheshire being just under 2,000 feet above sea-level.
The low-lying lands enclosed by this amphitheatre of hills form the
Cheshire Plain, broken only by ridges or terraces of low sandstone
hills running north and south.

A glance at a map of the British Isles will show you that Cheshire lies
in the very heart of the three kingdoms. Its geographical position has
thus made it a meeting-place of nations, and you will see in later
chapters that all the peoples that have helped to make our national
history have in turn realized the importance of its position, and have
fought desperately for its possession. Briton and Roman, Angle and Saxon
and Dane, Welsh and Norman have all left some mark of their presence in
the county, and from these many elements is derived the blood that flows
in the veins of nearly all Cheshire boys and girls of to-day.

Now look at the map opposite. The shaded portions represent land over
300, 600, or 1,000 feet above sea-level. In the south, the eastern and
western uplands slope gradually down towards the bit of white which
touches the centre of the bottom of the map and forms what is known as
the Cheshire Gap. Through this gap the Midlands lie open to the
north-west and to the Cheshire Plain, and over these lower heights
naturally passed the great highway from London to the Irish Sea.
Chester, built on a rocky plateau at the head of the tidal waters of the
Dee and protected on its western side by a natural bend of the same
river, was clearly a position of great importance for guarding alike the
coast road into North Wales and the roads to the north of England; and
there is no doubt that it was held as a fortified post long before the
Romans built the Roman city of Deva.

For many centuries this stronghold was one of the chief military
outposts and frontier towns of England, not often free from war's
alarms, and the sentinels on her walls and watch-towers ever on the
look-out for the approach of some new enemy. Chester became the 'base'
or head-quarters from which all military campaigns in the north-west, in
Wales or in Ireland were carried out, united with the metropolis by the
great road that passed through the heart of England, along which armies
could march without any difficult hills to cross and hardly a river of
any great size to bridge. In later and more peaceful times, for the
same geographical reasons, the London and North-Western Railway, the
lineal descendant of the ancient 'Watling Street', laid its lines on
nearly the same ground as the old highway, and is thus the easiest as
well as the most direct of all routes from London to the north-west.

  [Illustration: CHESHIRE CONTOUR MAP]

With the exception of the Dee, which rises near Lake Bala in Wales, the
rivers of Cheshire have their sources in the eastern or southern
uplands. For eight months of the year moisture-laden winds blow from the
sea across the Cheshire Plain and deposit their rains upon the hills. In
the hilly country of the north-east, where the rainfall is greatest, the
water is gathered and stored in a number of reservoirs in Longdendale;
and the moist climate is the chief reason why this district is the seat
of the cotton industry, for cotton threads become brittle in a dry
atmosphere. In the valleys of the Tame and Goyt the abundance of fresh
running water from the hills formerly caused many mills for the
bleaching, dyeing and printing of calicoes to be erected on or near the
streams. Nowadays, however, owing to the greater supply of water brought
by pipes from a distance, mills are erected principally on the outskirts
of the great towns and nearer the centres of population. Hence in the
villages of the Goyt it is no uncommon sight to see the tottering walls
of mills that have been abandoned and allowed to fall into ruin and

The combined waters of the Etherow, Tame, and Goyt form the Mersey at
Stockport. Only the left bank of this river is in Cheshire. Moreover,
for a large part of its course it has been 'canalized', so that it no
longer flows between its natural banks, but down the artificial channel
of the Manchester Ship Canal. The estuary of the Mersey, which is three
to four miles across at its widest point, narrows at Birkenhead to a
width of barely three-quarters of a mile. At this point the river is
kept open to the largest vessels afloat by constant dredging. Here in
the docks you may see ships of all nations, and generally one or more of
our huge ocean greyhounds riding at anchor in mid-river or awaiting
but the turn of the tide to take out their cargoes of human lives to
distant lands.


The Weaver, on the other hand, is wholly a Cheshire river, rising in the
Peckforton Hills in the south-west of the county. The Mersey and the
Weaver receive a number of tributaries, of which the Bollin and the Dane
are the most important, from the eastern highlands,

                      the high-crowned Shutlingslawe
  ... with those proud hills whence rove
  The lovely sister brooks the silvery Dane and Dove,
  Clear Dove that makes to Trent, the other to the West.

At Northwich the Weaver becomes navigable as far as the Mersey.

The rivers flow mainly in a westerly or north-westerly direction.
Spreading evenly over the plain in almost parallel lines, they serve to
drain and fertilize the land, which thus affords the finest pasturage
for cattle. Dairy-farming and stock-raising have therefore become the
principal occupation of the inhabitants of the Cheshire midlands; and on
market days the piles of the famous Cheshire cheese are generally the
first thing we notice in the open market-places of our country towns.

The most noticeable feature of the county are the two estuaries of the
Dee and the Mersey. The tract enclosed between them is for the most part
flat, Heswall Hill, the highest point, being little more than 300 feet
in height, and the lowest parts have to be protected from the inroads of
the sea by long embankments. Several portions were in fact, at one time
separated from the mainland, like Hilbre Isle at the present day, as is
shown by the names Wallasey, 'isle of the Welsh or strangers,' and Ince
'an island'. In the Middle Ages, owing to the importance of Chester, the
Dee was the principal outlet for the trade of the north-west, as Bristol
was for the south-west of England. In those days Liverpool was but an
insignificant town, and the Mersey was known as the 'Creek of Chester'.
But in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the shipping trade of the
Dee declined owing to the great accumulation of sand and silt in the
channel. When vessels could no longer unload or ship their merchandise
under the walls of Chester a quay was formed at Shotwick, some six miles
along the northern shore of the estuary. In this neighbourhood over two
thousand acres of land have been recovered from the sea that once flowed
over them. Navigation was partially restored as far as Chester for small
vessels by a new artificial channel, but since the rise of the cotton
and other great industries in South Lancashire Liverpool and Birkenhead
have replaced Chester and become the second port in the kingdom.

Cheshire also possesses a miniature 'Lake District'. Between the Bollin
and the Weaver are scattered many lakelets or 'meres'. They are
particularly numerous in the salt districts, where they are due to the
pumping of brine which has been going on for ages, and caused the
sinking down of the overlying rocks. In the neighbourhood of Northwich
the sheets of water thus formed are called 'flashes'.

The county still contains much 'forest', that is, uncultivated land. The
hilly country of the east consists mostly of bleak and barren moorland,
affording but poor pasturage for sheep and used mainly for the
preservation of game. Such names as Wildboarclough, Wolf's Edge, Cat's
Tor, Eagle's Crag, and many others, show clearly the wild and desolate
character of this district. Extensive woods are found in the valleys and
'cloughs' of the Etherow and Goyt. Delamere was once a deer forest
extending as far as Nantwich, but in the last hundred years the greater
part of it has been cultivated. Many towns and villages still retain
their 'common' land, often bright with patches of broom and gorse, while
the numerous and extensive parks of the great landowners are justly
noted for their fine forest trees.

To many of you the natural features described in this chapter must be a
familiar sight. Some of you have perhaps stood by the beacon on Alderley
Edge or by the sham ruins on the summit of Mow Cop, and viewed wide
stretches of the Cheshire Plain. Others have looked down from the
Frodsham Hills upon the estuary of the Mersey mapped out at their feet,
or from the walls of Chester have gazed upon the purple hills of Wales.
But the surface of the county suffered many changes before it assumed
its present aspect, and we must now see what story the stones have to
tell us of bygone ages when Cheshire was yet in the making.




  There rolls the deep where grew the tree:
    O earth, what changes hast thou seen!
    There, where the long street roars, hath been
  The stillness of the central sea.

Nearly every Cheshire boy has visited at some time or another a quarry
in the neighbourhood of the town or village where he dwells. He will
probably have noticed that beneath the two or three feet of soil at the
top of the quarry the rocks are arranged in beds or 'strata' piled one
upon another in horizontal rows, or sometimes sloping in parallel lines
towards the bottom of the quarry. When and how were these beds of rock
formed and laid down?

If our quarry is in the central or western parts of Cheshire we shall
find that the rocks are of a reddish colour, generally hard and gritty,
but sometimes so soft that pieces may be crushed into fragments with the
fingers. These rocks are known as the New Red sandstones, and are
largely used for building purposes. Chester Cathedral and a great number
of Cheshire churches have been built of this material; and the hillsides
where the rocks crop out above the soil often glow with a rich warm red
in the evening sunlight. You may see them best perhaps in the railway
cuttings in the neighbourhood of Frodsham and Chester, or in the great
quarries at Storeton-in-Wirral and Runcorn.

  [Illustration: GEOLOGICAL MAP]

These beds of sandstone are really wide stretches of the sandy shores of
an ancient sea, which have been pressed into a solid substance by the
weight of other layers of rock deposited over them in later ages. Thus
they belong to a group of what are called 'water-laid' rocks. We know
that seas once flowed over them because some of the beds show the
ripple-marks that we see so often in the sands when walking by the
sea-shore. A fearful looking monster, with the equally terrible name of
labyrinthodont, in appearance rather like a gigantic frog, has left his
'footprints in the sands' in the rocks near Lymm and Weston. You will
probably not be able to find these footprints, but in the museums at
Manchester and Warrington you may see them on large slabs of sandstone
rock. How would you like to meet one of these reptiles to-day, wallowing
in the mud on the shores of some Cheshire mere? On the same slabs you
will see suncracks which tell us of the baking of sand and mud in the
sun's rays when the tide has gone down.

The lower layers of the New Red Sandstone are of a paler colour, light
brown or almost white. To these the name of 'Bunter' has been given to
distinguish them from the upper and therefore later deposits known as
'Keuper' sandstone. The Bunter beds are found chiefly in the west of the
county, and in Wirral, where you may see the Keuper rocks of Storeton
Hill sticking up above the layers of Bunter stone that surround and
underlie them.

The greater part of the surface of Cheshire consists of these rocks.
Alderley Edge and Helsby Hill, the hills of Delamere and Peckforton are
composed of it, and it crops out often in our village streets. The steps
of the village cross at Lymm are cut out of a piece of rock which sticks
out in the middle of the road.

In the sandstone beds at Northwich, Winsford, and Middlewich are layers
of rock salt from which we obtain our salt for food and other domestic
uses. The salt was formed at a time when the sea was gradually
disappearing from the surface of Cheshire leaving inland salt lakes,
which, becoming dried up, deposited beds of salt crystals. These, like
the sandstone, became pressed into a solid condition by the weight of
other layers. Where the salt has been taken out of the earth the upper
layers have sunk from time to time. At Northwich the land is continually
sinking, and you may see houses and chimneys cracked and twisted out of
their proper shape as if they had been visited by an earthquake. Often
the hollows where the land has sunk have become filled with water and
produced the numerous meres or small lakes dotted about the county. In
the valley of the Weaver they are locally known as 'flashes'.


When, in the course of time, the red sandstone formed the dry land of
Cheshire, it became covered by a great ice-sheet which extended over
Britain even as far south as the Thames valley. Beneath this covering of
ice the rocks were crushed and ground to atoms by the movement of the
ice-sheet over them. This formed beds of a substance called
boulder-clay, containing lumps of rock which must have been brought by
the ice great distances, for they are of a kind found only in the north
of England or in Scotland. Some of these 'boulders' are of great size.
Several have been placed in Vernon Park, Stockport, and in the West
Park, Macclesfield, you may see one that was dug up in the neighbourhood
of the town. It weighs about thirty tons. On Eddisbury Hill is a mass of
rock, ten feet long, of a kind found only on Skiddaw in the Lake
District, and in the narrow lane behind the 'Wizard' Inn on Alderley
Edge is a lump of granite from Eskdale, so that these rocks have been
brought by the ice a distance of a hundred miles. Such blocks and
boulders are called 'erratics', because they have wandered so far from
their original home. Another proof of the existence of the ice-sheet may
be seen in the scratchings and marks (called 'striae') on pebbles and
rocks found in these beds. In the lane outside the church at High Legh
are a number of large boulders which still show the lines of furrows and
scratchings made on their surface by the movement of the ice over them.

The boulder-clay has been worn away by the action of water and weather
from a great part of Cheshire, but in the west of the county large
patches may be seen in the low-lying districts. You may observe the beds
most clearly in the cliffs of boulder-clay on the estuary of the Dee
between Heswall and West Kirby. In the neighbourhood of Chester, many of
the villages--Tarvin, Christleton, Aldford, Saighton, and Barrow, for
instance--are built on sandstone knolls and ridges which stick up
through the boulder-clay, for the sandstone is drier and healthier than
the clay to live upon, and the wells, especially those in the Bunter
beds, provide the purest water.

As the ice-sheet melted and the glaciers or ice-rivers retreated
northwards when the climate became warmer, beds of sand, gravel, and
stones were spread over the Cheshire plain. These are called drift beds.
The stones and pebbles are rounded by the streams of melted ice and
snow which flowed from the mouths of the ice-rivers. Upon the beds of
drift lies the surface soil in which grow the crops and grass, the
herbage and the woods of to-day; and it is in the drift, as you will see
in a later chapter, that traces of the earliest inhabitants of Cheshire
are to be found.




Let us now visit some quarries in East Cheshire. We shall find
considerable difficulty in reaching some of them. It will be necessary
to get permission from the owners of the quarries, put on a special suit
of clothes, enter an iron cage, and descend many hundred feet perhaps
into the depths of the earth's surface until we find ourselves--in a


Unlike the New Red Sandstones, which are found for the most part in flat
horizontal beds, the coal beds slope downwards from east to west. This
is due to the uplifting of the East Cheshire hills, which we shall
presently explain. When this uplift took place, the coal beds, which
were originally flat, became raised in the east and equally lowered in
the west. When the sea flowed over them they became covered by sandy
deposits of such a thickness that in the greater part of Cheshire the
coal cannot be reached. The earliest sands laid down formed what are
called the Permian rocks, and the later layers the New Red Sandstone
series mentioned in the last chapter. The Permian rocks may be well seen
at Stockport, in the river beds of the Tame and the Goyt which have cut
their way through them. In the strip of country between Stockport and
Macclesfield, and again on the south-eastern borders of Cheshire, the
upturned edges of the coal beds have been left exposed so that the coal
is near the surface and can be easily extracted.

Coal consists of the vegetable remains of forest trees and their
undergrowth. If you look at a lump of coal you will see that it has been
pressed down into thin layers like the leaves of a book. When these
layers are split apart there are often found the fossil remains of
leaves and roots of trees, fronds of ferns, seed-cones and stems of
plants which grew in the forests. Some of these, particularly the ferns,
are often of great beauty. You may see a number of these 'coal pictures'
in the Vernon Park Museum at Stockport. Here too you will find portions
of the actual trunks of trees that have been dug up just where they
stood when the seas flowed over them.

You may learn even to distinguish different varieties of these forest
trees, just as you are able to distinguish the oak and the beech and the
elm of to-day. Latin names such as Sigillaria, Lepidodendron, and
Salisburia have been given to them. The most beautiful of all is a
Maidenhair Tree-fern. The Calamites was a huge 'Horse-tail' plant of
which you may find small varieties to-day on banks and in hedgerows.

On the coast of Wirral, between Meols and New Brighton, are the remains
of a forest which has only in very recent years been covered by the sea.
Boys who live in this neighbourhood may have heard their parents tell of
the stumps of tree-trunks sticking out through the sands when the tide
was low. This shows that the land is continually undergoing changes, at
one time being raised above the seas, at another time sinking beneath
the waves.

The beds or 'seams' of coal vary in thickness from a thin film to
several yards, and are separated from one another by layers of hard
clays and flagstones. From the flagstone beds are obtained the square
slabs with which the pavements of our towns and cities are laid. In many
of the quarries near the Cheshire coal-field you may watch the workmen
cutting and shaping these stones.

The beds of clays and seams of coal make up what are called the 'Coal
Measures'. These in their turn rest upon a foundation of hard rock,
harder than any we have yet examined, called Millstone Grit or
Gritstone. Boys who live in the hilly parts of East Cheshire are very
familiar with it, for very probably the houses in which they live and
the churches and chapels where they worship have been built of this
stone. It is composed of coarse sand and grit, and, like the red
sandstone, is a waterlaid deposit several thousand feet in thickness.
The Pennine Hills, on the borderland of Cheshire and Derbyshire, are
covered with Millstone Grit, which has been thrust upwards by the
crumpling and arching of the rocks beneath it.

Below the Gritstone are still older rocks of a different character
called the Limestone series. The uppermost beds contain layers of a
sandy substance called Yoredale sandstones. Mixed with them are layers
of shale, a dark bluish grey clay that crumbles into thin fragments when
crushed with the hand, and thin seams of limestone and, occasionally, of
coal. These are the oldest rocks that are found anywhere in Cheshire.
You may see them in the hills east of Macclesfield and Congleton and the
higher parts of Longdendale. Below these beds is a mass of Mountain
Limestone which has been forced upwards into an arch by tremendous
pressure of rocks from either side, and has lifted up the Gritstone
above to a height of nearly two thousand feet. In this way the
highlands of East Cheshire, and indeed the whole of the Pennine Chain,
have been formed. The Mountain Limestone, which consists almost entirely
of animal remains, especially shells and corals, extends right under the
highest hills of Cheshire, and comes to light in the cliffs of the
beautiful dales of Derbyshire. Only at one spot, a quarry near Astbury,
does it appear at the surface in Cheshire.

The Coal Measures, Millstone Grit, Yoredale sandstones, and Mountain
Limestone make up what geologists call the Carboniferous or Coal-bearing
series, so called because in England our chief supplies of coal are
obtained from this group of rocks.

But we should have to dig deeper even than the Mountain Limestone before
we could reach the original surface of the earth in Cheshire. Long ages
ago, ages so distant that not even the most learned men of science can
reckon them, our earth was a globe of fiery molten rock. As the surface
gradually cooled it became wrinkled, as a baked apple will when taken
from an oven. Water collected in the hollows into which fragments of
rock were washed down from the ridges, and thus the waters were raised
and formed into seas and lakes. But we shall not find any of these rocks
in Cheshire, though you may see them in great masses in the mountains of
Cumberland and Wales, where they have been forced upwards by the violent
movements always at work in the interior of the earth. It is of these
molten rocks that the mass of stone which was brought by the ice from
Cumberland and left on Eddisbury Hill is composed.



A few years ago some workmen digging on the high ground of Alderley Edge
came across a number of flint stones, which from their shape and the
marks of chipping upon them had clearly been fashioned by the hand of
man. Some of the flints were shaped like a knife blade with a sharp edge
on their entire length, and others of a more or less oval shape had a
keen edge on one of their curves. The former were the knives with which
the earliest men of Cheshire cut the flesh of animals for food; the
latter were the scrapers with which they removed the flesh from the
bones or from the hides that provided them with clothing.

Flints, however, are not naturally found in any of the Cheshire rocks;
they must be sought for in the districts where chalk hills abound.
Clearly therefore these men must have brought their tools and weapons
with them when they first came into Cheshire from the east or from the
south. Afterwards, no doubt, they bargained for them, giving skins and
furs in exchange.

Men first made their homes in Cheshire when the glaciers of the Great
Ice Age retreated northwards and the climate became more suitable for
human habitation. A flint arrow-head found during some excavations at
Clulow Cross near Wincle, tells us that men lived then by hunting,
depending for their food on the flesh of wild beasts. They lived in
caves or in holes dug in the ground. The roughly-chipped stone axe in
the Grosvenor Museum was made by these men.

The Flint men, or men of the Old Stone Age, probably came originally
from the mainland of Europe to which Britain at that time was joined,
the North Sea and English Channel being then dry land. The reindeer,
the mammoth, the wild ox, and packs of hungry wolves and hyenas roamed
over Cheshire in those days.

These Flint men were succeeded by other races of New Stone men who found
that they could manufacture their necessary tools out of the boulders
embedded in the drift and boulder-clay. The men who dug up the knives
and scrapers of Alderley found near Mottram Common a heap of small
boulders carefully placed in a pit dug in the ground and clearly
selected for some useful purpose. For out of these stones were to be cut
and shaped stone hammer-heads with which they learned to crush copper
ore and axe-heads to cut down trees. Some of the hammer-heads themselves
have been found in this locality, and they are made of a stone similar
to that of the unbroken boulders. The stone 'celt' or axe-head in Vernon
Park Museum shows that they were improving in their skill and
workmanship, for their tools were no longer chipped into their required
shape but ground with hard mill-stones and afterwards smoothed and
polished. Afterwards, as you may see from the specimen in the Grosvenor
Museum, which has a hole cut through it, the New Stone men learned how
to fit handles to their axe-heads.

In the course of time these primitive dwellers learned to tame and train
animals for their service and use. They were protected from attack by
wild beasts by circles of piled stones or raised earth covered with
turf. Traces of these circles have in recent years been found at
Alderley Edge, but they have been mostly levelled for agricultural

They also taught themselves the art of pottery, making rough jars and
urns of sun-dried clay and sand, jars wherein to store their water, and
urns in which to place the remains of their dead. One of these urns, dug
up at Stretton, may be seen in the Warrington Museum.

The Stone men were succeeded by tribes of an entirely different race
called Celts. The Celts drove out the earlier inhabitants from their
Cheshire homes, compelling them to seek refuge in Wales and Ireland.
They came not all at once but in successive waves, the earliest arrivals
being the Goidelic or Gaelic Celts, who in their turn were ousted by
the Brythonic Celts, from whom the name of Briton is derived. These are
the ancestors of the Welsh nation.

The Brythons, or Britons as we may now call them, were a more
intelligent and civilized race than any that had hitherto dwelt in the
land. They were a pastoral people, and brought with them great herds of
cattle, as well as horses and dogs. They could spin and sew, making
their spindles and needles of bone or horn, and grew corn, which they
ground with hand-mills.

But the Britons must have been continually fighting against fresh
incoming tribes, for on some of the hill-tops of Cheshire you may see
the camps and earthworks which they made for their defence and refuge in
time of war. Suitable positions were chosen, with one side guarded by
precipitous cliffs if possible, the whole being enclosed except on the
steep side by a raised rampart of earth and a ditch. These earthworks
are circular or oval with gaps on either side for entrances. At Bucton
Castle, high above Mossley and the Tame Valley, at Kelsborrow Castle in
Delamere Forest, and Maiden Castle in the Broxton Hills, British
encampments may still be seen.

The Britons were very particular about the burial of their dead. Over
the graves of their chiefs they erected great round 'barrows'. Many of
these barrows, or, to give them their Latin name, 'tumuli,' may be seen
to-day, and several of them have been opened and examined. In a field
near Oakmere, not far from the high-road that passes through Delamere
Forest, is a cluster of barrows called the 'Seven Lows' which clearly
mark an early settlement of considerable importance. They vary in size
from fifteen to thirty yards in diameter. One of them, when opened, was
found to contain an urn with charred human remains within it. The urn
was inverted, the better to support the weight of soil above it, and was
set in the middle of a floored space over which was a thin layer of
charcoal. This seems to show that a funeral pyre was erected on which
the body was first burnt, the remains being then gathered and placed in
the urn. The barrow was erected over the urn by piling stones and
covering them with soil and turf. Burial urns have been found at Castle
Hill Cob and Glead Hill Cob in Delamere Forest, and at Twemlow where
there is a group of five tumuli.

In the hilly district of East Cheshire, where rocks are plentiful, the
burial grounds were marked by circles of upright stones. There are some
remains of such circles on the moorland near Clulow Cross. Among the
burnt bones in a barrow at this spot were found a flint[1] knife and
arrow-head, for it was believed that the dead man would require his
tools and weapons after death just as in his lifetime. For the same
reason often the wives and slaves of a chief were sacrificed or cremated
at his death to serve and wait upon him in another world. The barrows
were also used by the tribes as a place of assembly for their religious
rites, when prayers and human victims were offered to their gods and to
the spirits of their dead leaders, who, as they believed, would continue
to watch over them and help them in battle.

  [1] Flint weapons no doubt continued to be used, especially in
  remote and hilly districts, even after the arrival of the Celts.

The Brythonic Celts came to Britain between 1,000 B.C. and 500 B.C., and
were acquainted with the use and manufacture of bronze implements. Hence
the period during which they arrived and lived in Britain is called the
Bronze Age. The bronze 'celt' in the Grosvenor Museum was found in the
camp at Kelsborrow, and when the railway was cut at Wilmslow an urn
containing bones and a bronze dagger was dug up. The urn and dagger are
now in the museum at Peel Park, Salford.

The river valleys and the lowlands of Cheshire were in those days swampy
and unhealthy, so the Britons lived as much as possible in the higher
parts, which were also more suitable for agricultural pursuits. On the
crests or slopes of hills were tracks or ridgeways for pack-horses,
leading from one settlement to another. On Werneth Low, Eddisbury Hill,
and Alderley Edge, these ancient ridgeways may still be traced. When men
went down to the rivers to fish they carried on their backs light
coracles of plaited reeds covered with skin, such as the fishermen
still use on the Dee between Farndon and Bangor where the water is too
rapid or shallow for boats.

Roman writers have left us descriptions of the Britons who lived in the
centuries immediately preceding the birth of Christ; from them we learn
that, although the British tribes were mainly occupied in fighting
against one another, a certain amount of trade was carried on with
travellers and merchants from other lands, and that they dwelt in
'towns' or collections of wattled huts surrounded by a stockade and
ditch. From the numerous fragments of British pottery that have been
unearthed in the neighbourhood of Chester, we gather that there was a
British town of considerable importance on the site of the later city,
and traders from the Mediterranean, who visited this country, may well
have moored their vessels in the tidal waters of the Dee.



In the previous chapters all that we know of Cheshire and its people has
been learned from unwritten records, 'stories in stones', and from such
scanty remains as have been brought to light by excavation and careful
examination of the soil. From this time onwards our knowledge will be
much more extensive and sure, for we shall have _written_ records left
by men who lived in the times of which they wrote.

Fifty-four years before the birth of Christ the British inhabitants of
Cheshire must have heard of the landing on the southern shores of
Britain of the drilled and disciplined soldiers of one of the greatest
generals that ever lived. Julius Caesar, who first led the Roman eagles
into Britain, has given us in his 'Commentaries' a description of the
Britain of his day and of its inhabitants. Some of the fierce hill-men
of East Cheshire may possibly have fought against him, for he tells us
that the British tribes ceased making war on one another, and united
themselves under a single leader called Cassivellaunus to resist the
invaders. After a decisive victory--at least, according to his own
account--Caesar returned with his legions to the Continent, and ninety
years passed by before the Romans came again, this time to make a long
stay of nearly four hundred years.

About the year A.D. 50 the Roman axe might be heard hewing a road
through the dense forests which in those days almost surrounded the city
of Chester. A Roman governor, Ostorius Scapula, was busy in the
neighbouring county of Shropshire making war on the sturdy Welsh-Britons
of the borderland of Wales, and fortifying the city which he built under
the shadow of the Wrekin. From this point, slowly but surely, the Roman
soldiers made their way through forest and foe to Chester, or Deva as it
was then called. This was the chief town of a tribe called the Cornavii,
a pastoral people occupying the present county of Cheshire, except the
hilly districts of the north-east, where the Brigantes, a more warlike
tribe than the Cornavii, had their homes.

The Romans did not, however, capture Chester without a struggle. The
city was well protected on its western and southern sides by the river
Dee, whose waters spread over the Roodee right up to where the walls of
the city now stand. Only from the east could the place be attacked, and
the highest points of Delamere Forest and the Peckforton Hills are still
marked by the British encampments and earthworks where the Britons made
their last stand, and by green earth-mounds or 'tumuli' where the dead
bodies of their leaders were buried.

If you take up an Ordnance Map you will often find a length of road
running quite straight for some miles. Such roads will nearly always
prove to have been the work of the Romans, for the Romans made their
roads direct from point to point, like modern railways, their chief
object being to enable troops to march rapidly from one military station
to another. Two straight pieces of Roman road enter the city of Chester,
one on the south and the other on the east.


The Romans were skilful engineers and did their work very thoroughly,
clearing the forest land as they advanced, and draining marshes or
laying stone causeways across them. Bridges were built, though not every
bridge now called Roman was the work of the Romans. The 'Roman bridge'
near Marple was not built until many centuries after the last Romans had
left Cheshire, but it may well mark the spot where, according to
tradition, a Roman bridge had once stood.

More often, where the roads crossed rivers, fords were marked by stakes,
and the bed of the river carefully laid with stones. In the Museum at
Vernon Park is a paving-stone taken from the Mersey at Stockport where
probably the Roman road crossed the river. The Roman roads were paved
throughout, except where they were hewn out of the solid rock.

The road through Delamere Forest was part of the 'Watling Street' which
went in an almost straight line from Deva to Manchester, called by the
Romans Mancunium. Stretford is the place where the Roman 'street'
crossed the Mersey. The modern high-road from Chester to Manchester for
nearly its entire length keeps very close to the line of the ancient
Watling Street, only departing from the older road to avoid hills. At
such points the straight track of the Roman road can still be traced in
the fields and woodland. Often in the neighbourhood of Tarvin and
Kelsall has the pickaxe or the spade of the labourer struck against the
Roman paving-stones.

When an excavation was made at Organsdale, midway between the villages
of Kelsall and Delamere, a portion of the Roman Watling Street, cut in
the solid sandstone, was discovered, still showing the wheel-ruts worn
on the surface by Roman and British carts. In other parts of the forest,
when the crops are in, you may see lines of raised earth and gravel
where the ancient road was laid along an embankment.

At Northwich, which the Romans called Salinae or the 'saltworks', a
second road, which entered Cheshire at Wilderspool near Warrington,
crossed Watling Street at right angles and ran in a perfectly straight
line to Middlewich or 'Condate'. This road was called by the Saxons Kind
or King Street, and was continued southwards to Nantwich.


The Grosvenor Museum at Chester contains a large collection of stones
with figures and inscriptions carved upon them, and other objects from
which we may learn a great deal about the Roman conquerors. The
inscriptions, which are of course in Latin, the language of the Romans,
show that Chester was an important garrison town, and the head-quarters
of the Twentieth Legion. A legion, or division, of the Roman army
contained about five thousand men.

A number of these relics are tombstones of the legionary soldiers who
were stationed here. You may distinguish them by the opening words DIS
MANIBUS, or shortly D.M., which practically means in English, 'To the
memory of.' The inscriptions then give the name of the soldier and his
native place, his age, and the name of the 'century' or company to which
he belonged. Women accompanied the legion, as you may see from a
tombstone of a centurion and his wife. Another stone of which a picture
is given, shows the ordinary dress, the tunic and belt of a Roman
soldier. In most of the inscriptions on these stones are the letters VV,
which are the initials of the words 'Valeria Victrix', the victorious
Valerian, by which name the Twentieth Legion was known. The badge of the
legion was a boar, and this also appears on many of the stones and tiles
of the buildings put up by the soldiers of this legion.

These tombstones were discovered in the year 1883 inside the base of the
north wall of the city of Chester while the wall was being repaired. It
is probable therefore that there had been a cemetery outside the city
wall at this point, from which the stones were taken during its

The bodies of the Romans were burnt after death, and the ashes placed in
urns of earthenware not unlike those of the Britons. Roman burial urns
have been discovered on Winnington Hill near Northwich and at Boughton.
You may see them in the Chester Museum.

Here also are a number of Roman altars dedicated, as their inscriptions
show, to the Roman gods Jupiter, Mars, Minerva, &c. On one of them you
can easily make out the words DEO MARTI CONSERV, which mean 'To the god
Mars the Preserver'. The lower portion, which has been broken off,
contained the name of the soldier who dedicated it. Another altar is
dedicated to the 'Genius', or guardian spirit, of the century. On the
sides of the altars are rough carvings of the axe and the knife, the jug
and the dish, used in sacrificial ceremonies.


A third group of stones are called centurial stones. These, like our
modern foundation or memorial stones, were built into a portion of wall
or building and gave the name of the 'century' of soldiers by whom the
work was constructed.

At first the Romans were hard taskmasters. Heavy tribute was demanded
from the conquered Britons, who complained loudly of the miseries of
bondage, and of the insults and injuries put upon them. Gangs of British
slaves were forced to work in cornfield and quarry under the whips of
their Roman rulers, or compelled to fight with one another or with wild
beasts 'to make a Roman holiday'. Rebellions were frequent, and were put
down by the Roman officers with great cruelty; and for many years it
was only the superior arms and military science of the Roman legions
that made it possible to keep in subjection a discontented people.



A piece of leaden water-piping discovered in Eastgate Street, Chester,
bears the name of Julius Agricola. Agricola was made Governor of Britain
in A.D. 78. Tacitus, a Roman historian, who married Agricola's daughter,
wrote a life of his father-in-law and a narrative of his work in
Britain. From his writings we learn that Agricola first turned his
attention to the fierce tribe of the Brigantes who inhabited the hilly
districts of Yorkshire, Lancashire, and North-East Cheshire.

Agricola made the preparations for his expedition at Chester, which
became his head-quarters, and built the fortified outposts of Mancunium
on the Irwell and Melandra on the Derbyshire bank of the River Etherow,
connecting them with one another with new roads. Both Mancunium and
Melandra have been excavated in recent years, and at the latter you may
see the foundations of portions of the wall laid bare, and the base of
one of the principal gateways leading into the fort.

A Roman camp was usually square, with the corners slightly rounded, as
has been proved by the excavations at Melandra and by the piece of Roman
wall lately discovered at Chester, which shows a distinct curve towards
the Pepper Gate. Roads crossed the camp at right angles. The wall or
'vallum' was protected when necessary by a fosse or ditch, but Agricola
chose his positions with such care that one side at least was usually
already guarded by the waters of some stream. Watch-towers were placed
at the corners and on either side of the gateways.

Chester still preserves the shape and plan of the Roman fortress. Its
four main streets, which are hewn out of the sandstone on which the
city is built, cross each other at right angles. The Welsh called it
Caer Lleon or Lleon Vawr--the 'Camp of the Legion'. The present walls
are not, however, the work of the Romans, though here and there they
have been proved to have been built on the foundations of the Roman
walls. The lowest courses of the North Wall near the Deanery Field, when
excavated, were found to be faced with massive stones of Roman masonry,
with a Roman 'plinth' running along the base. The stones fit very
closely together and no mortar was used. The inside of the wall was
filled with rubble.

From time to time portions of Roman wall have been found in other parts
of the city. One big piece is in the cellars of Dickson's seed
warehouse. When the foundations of the offices of the National Telephone
Company in John Street were being excavated a year or two ago, a fine
piece of Roman wall was unearthed. The builders have left it standing
where they found it, and you may now see it in the basement of the
building, protected from future harm by an iron grid.

On the Roodee is a portion of Roman masonry of finely jointed stones
which is thought to have been the quay of the Roman city.

In the middle of a Roman fortress was the Praetorium or general's
quarters. Traces of such a building are to be seen in the camp at
Melandra, and at Chester the foundations of a large edifice discovered
in Northgate Street may possibly be a portion of a similar building.

Inscriptions show us that another legion, called the Legio Secunda, was
stationed at Chester for several years. When Britain was more or less
pacified and required fewer troops this legion was recalled and sent to
the Roman provinces on the Danube.

Tacitus tells us that Agricola spread civilization among the Britons,
sent the sons of chieftains to Rome to be educated, and even in time
taught the Britons to adopt Roman habits and dress and to speak the
Latin tongue. But he would not at first let them join the Roman legions
in Britain; those who wished to fight for the Roman emperors were sent
abroad to the Roman provinces on the Rhine or the Danube.

The soldiers of subject races were not for many years after their
conquest allowed by the Romans to fight in their own country. The
tombstones mentioned in the previous chapter prove this, for not one of
them bears the name of any British soldier. A bronze tablet dug up at
Malpas, on which is engraved a decree of the Emperor Trajan, shows that
the soldiers who fought in the Roman army in Britain were not all
Romans, or even Italians, for it speaks of Thracians, Dalmatians,
Spaniards, and men of other nations conquered by Rome.

For seven years Agricola was a wise and a humane ruler. He removed many
of the burdens put upon the Britons by previous governors, and it was
chiefly due to him that the Romans were able to make their rule
acceptable to the Britons. In time Britons became proud of the name of
Roman citizens.

We have seen from the character of the remains that Chester was
peculiarly a military city. Thus it differed greatly from many of the
Roman cities of southern Britain, which lost their military character as
the tide of war rolled northwards and westwards. These cities soon
became busy centres of trade and civic life, with all the conveniences
and luxuries of Italian towns. They had their temples and their basilica
or town hall, theatres and public baths, palaces and colonnades of
shops, and handsome villas of Roman officials. But life at Chester, with
the continual arrival and departure of troops and stores, must have been
hard and monotonous, with the din of warfare probably never far distant.
The Welsh were never really subdued by the Romans.

Yet even at Chester there were buildings of importance, as we can see
from the broken fragments of pillars in the little garden by the Water
Tower, and in the basements of Vernon's Toy Bazaar and other shops in

These pillars were made to support the porches and colonnades with which
the fronts and sometimes the sides also of Roman buildings were adorned.
No doubt you have noticed them in pictures you have seen of ancient
Rome. In a later chapter you will learn that the Englishmen of the
eighteenth century copied the Roman or Italian style of architecture in
their churches, town halls, and other public buildings, and from the
buildings then made you can get some idea of those of a Roman town.

The pillars were of three different patterns or 'orders', and by
observing carefully their differences you will be able to tell at a
glance to which particular order a modern building belongs. The capitals
of the Doric and Ionic pillars are much simpler in design than those of
the Corinthian, which were often of a very ornamental nature.


The Romans felt the cold and damp of the British climate, so different
from that of their own warm and sunny land. Many of their houses and
public buildings were warmed by 'hypocausts' or heating chambers, and
every city had its public baths with rooms heated by hot air. In Bridge
Street is a hypocaust remaining just where the Romans left it. The
pillars which you see in the illustration are those of another hypocaust
found many years ago in Bridge Street.

The pillars were set up in rows on a solid foundation, being fixed in
their places by cement. On the top of these a second floor of cement and
bricks, several inches thick, was laid. The space between the two floors
was heated by hot air, introduced through an opening in the side wall
communicating with a furnace or oven. In their own country the bath was
an important event in the everyday life of the Romans.


The floors of Roman buildings were paved with tiny blocks of brick
called 'tesserae', three to four inches long and one inch wide. A piece
of flooring in the Grosvenor Museum shows that the bricks were laid on a
bed of cement or concrete in 'herring-bone' pattern, that is, with the
bricks at right angles to one another. A large number of tiles used in
roofing have been found all over the city; on many of these you will
see the stamp LEG XX VV of the Twentieth Legion. There was a tile
factory at Holt on the Dee where also many of these tiles bearing the
same stamp have recently been found.

The Romans taught the Britons many useful trades. 'Veratinum' or
Wilderspool became under the Romans quite a busy manufacturing town, the
forerunner of a modern Warrington or Wigan. The site of the ancient
Roman town has been carefully dug over. Traces have been found of many
pits, hearths, furnaces, and ovens for the manufacture of glass and
pottery, a bronze foundry, and an iron smelting furnace, and an
enameller's workshop. In the museums at Warrington and at Stockport are
many fragments of pottery found here. Most of it is of a rough brown-red
ware, called 'rough-cast', of which the commoner utensils, water-jugs
and bowls and funeral urns, were made. A more ornamental kind is called
'Samian', and is of a darker colour, highly glazed and decorated with
embossed figures of men and animals. Many articles of iron, knives,
padlocks, keys, nails, found on the same spot show that Veratinum was
the Birmingham of the Roman occupation.

Roman coins have been dug up in large numbers at Chester and other sites
along the Roman roads. Many of them are to be seen in Chester Town Hall
and in our museums. Nearly all the emperors of the first four centuries
are represented upon them. Several emperors came to Britain, and we may
be sure that in their tours of inspection they paid visits to the
important garrison city of the 'great legion'.

Some of these coins bear the name of Constantine, the first Christian
emperor, who was born at York, and whose mother was perhaps a lady of
British birth. There is unfortunately nothing to show that there was any
Christian church in Roman Cheshire, though many of the Roman soldiers
must have been familiar with the Christian faith. Romans who became
Christians were allowed to worship in the basilica, which in after days,
as we shall see, became the model upon which Christian churches were

On a house near the East Gate of Chester are carved these words: 'The
fear of the Lord is a fountain of life.' This is the translation of an
inscription on a Roman coin found when the workmen were digging the
foundations of the building. The coins of the Emperor Magnentius show
the monogram of the first two letters of Christ.

The Roman rule lasted for 370 years. During this period they had
transformed a desolate and barren land, inhabited by a people that were
almost savages, into a fertile and prosperous province; Britannia Felix
the Romans themselves called it. Large tracts of forest land were
cleared and brought under cultivation. Britain became one of the chief
granaries of Rome. In the museums you may see the Roman querns or
handmills with which they ground their corn.

The Romans worked the copper mines on Alderley Edge; stone hammer-heads
with which the Britons crushed the ore for their Roman masters have been
found there. A 'pig' of lead weighing over a hundredweight, dug up in
the Roodee, shows that lead mines were extensively worked. The lead was
brought to Chester from the mines of Denbighshire and was part of the
tribute paid by the Britons to the Roman emperors. Salt, a scarce
commodity in many countries, was obtained, as at the present day, from
the salt beds of Northwich.

At the end of the fourth century the Roman empire was overrun by hordes
of barbarians from Northern Europe. The Romans, weakened by luxury and
wealth, were unable to beat back the ruthless invaders. Legion after
legion was summoned from the distant parts of the empire for the defence
of the imperial city itself. About the year A.D. 380 the 'Conquering
Legion' marched out for the last time through the city gates of Chester,
and by 410 no Roman soldiers were left in Britain.

With sorrow and despair the Britons watched the last soldiers depart.
Their own fighting-men were far away in distant lands, and they knew
that without the protection of the Roman legions on whom they had so
long relied, they were left a defenceless prey of the foes that were
threatening them on all sides.



As the Romans retreated southwards, tribes of Picts, a fierce race
inhabiting the northern parts of Britain followed in their wake
plundering and destroying the cities built by the Romans, and everywhere
falling upon the defenceless Britons. We know little of the doings of
this terrible time, for with the departure of the Romans there descended
upon Britain a veil of darkness that was not to be lifted for 150 years.

In the latter part of the fifth century the tide of Pictish invasion was
rolled back by other races who landed on our southern and eastern
coasts. These were the Saxons, Jutes, and Angles, the rude forefathers
of the English people, who left their homes in Northern Germany to make
new settlements and found kingdoms in our country. You will read
elsewhere of the long and gradual conquest of England by these barbarian
invaders. 'Field by field, town by town, forest by forest, the land was
won' from the British inhabitants.

According to the story usually told, though I am obliged to admit that
we have very strong evidence for it, it was not until the year 584 A.D.
that any of them reached the part of the country that is now Cheshire.
By that time the West Saxons, one of the most powerful of these tribes,
had fought their way from the English Channel to the River Severn and
Shropshire, where they destroyed the great Roman city of Uriconium.
Under their leader Ceawlin they appear to have made an attempt to reach
Chester, but were met near Nantwich at a spot called Fethanleagh, now
probably the modern village of Faddiley, by Brocmael, Prince of Powys or
mid-Wales. The Saxons were routed and retired quickly to the South.
Chester was saved for a time and became the capital of the Welsh kingdom
of Gwynedd.

Thirty years later, however, a greater than Ceawlin appeared before the
walls of the Roman city. The Angles, who had founded on our
north-eastern shores the powerful kingdom of Northumbria, crossed the
Pennine Hills under their leader and king Aethelfrith, and descended
upon Cheshire. Once more Brocmael put himself at the head of the Britons
and Welsh. We are told by Bede, the earliest of our English historians,
who wrote in the succeeding century, that 1,200 monks from a great
monastery at Bangor-Iscoed on the Dee accompanied Brocmael after a fast
of three days to the battlefield to offer up prayers for victory.
Aethelfrith watched the wild gestures of the monks and bade his
followers slay them first of all. 'Bear they arms or no,' he said, 'they
fight against us when they cry against us to their God.' Brocmael left
them to their fate and fled from the battle, which ended in the utter
defeat of the Britons.

The victory of Aethelfrith was followed by the capture of Chester, and
Cheshire became a portion of a kingdom that stretched from the Tweed to
the Dee. But the most important result of the 'Battle of Chester' was
that the northern Welsh Britons or 'Cumbrian' Welsh were now completely
cut off from their kinsmen in Wales. Everywhere the conquered Britons
were driven northwards and westwards to the mountains of Cumberland or
Wales, and the Britons as a united nation ceased to exist.

For forty years Cheshire was ruled by Northumbrian kings, but during the
latter part of this period another kingdom was gathering strength in the
Midlands of England. This was the kingdom of Mercia or the Marchland.
The Mercian Penda defeated the Northumbrian king and added Cheshire to
the lands over which he ruled. Mercia and Cheshire were frequently
raided by the Welsh, and it was to keep them out that Offa, greatest of
the Mercian kings, built his famous 'Dyke' from Chester to South Wales,
many portions of which you may trace to this day.

Mercia in turn was conquered by the kings of Wessex, one of whom,
Ecberght, is usually styled the first king of all England. Ecberght and
his West Saxons overran Cheshire and captured the city of Chester in
the year 828. Thus did three kingdoms strive for the possession of
Cheshire, which from its central position must have been the scene of
many an unrecorded fight.

Numbers of Cheshire villages show by their names their Anglo-Saxon
origin. Davenham, Frodsham, and Warmingham speak to us of the 'hams' or
homesteads that the Saxons made for themselves in their newly won lands.
Bebington, Bollington, and Congleton take their names from the 'tun',
the enclosure or hedge of a farm or village; Prestbury, Marbury, and
Astbury from the 'burh' or fortified house of the headman of a tribe.

  [Illustration: RUNIC STONE, UPTON]

Goostree is perhaps the 'God's tree' where the land was parcelled out
among the villagers and punishment meted to wrong-doers; Thurstaston, or
the tun of Thor's stone, the place of sacrifice to their heathen god

The ash tree gives its name to several Cheshire villages, Ashton,
Ashley, Astbury, for instance. This fact tells us that the tree was held
in great veneration by the Angles and Saxons. Even to this day the tree
is thought to possess the power of bringing good or evil. A
superstitious Cheshire labourer will not, if he can help it, cut down an
ash tree for fear it should bring him misfortune, and churn staves made
of ash are used by farmers' wives to prevent the butter from being

It is in fact from the Angles and Saxons that we have inherited the
priceless possession of our English tongue. The oldest traces of our
language in a written form in Cheshire may be seen in the Grosvenor
Museum at Chester. Here on a plaster cast is an inscription written in
strange letters, 'Runes' or 'mysteries' as they are called. This cast is
a copy of an inscribed stone discovered at Upton-in-Wirral when the old
church was pulled down. The stones of this building had previously been
taken from the ancient ruined church at Overchurch. Learned scholars
examined the stone carefully and made out these words: FOLCAE AREARDON
BEC[UN]. [GI]BIDDATH FOR ATHELMUND. The meaning is 'Folk reared tomb,
bid (i.e. pray) for Athelmund'. You can see that the words are English,
though their form has changed considerably during the 1,200 years or
more that have gone by since the runes were carved.

Fierce and bloodthirsty were these early ancestors of ours, 'hateful
alike to God and men,' as Gildas, a Welsh monk, described them. Yet even
they were taught in time to abandon their strange gods and turn to the
worship of Christ, and through the land in town and village uprose a
cross of wood or stone, the outward symbol of a new and better faith.



During the latter years of the Roman occupation there must have been
many among the Roman soldiers stationed in Cheshire who had heard the
message of the Gospel, and, following the example of their emperors,
professed the faith of Christ. But, as we have before stated, there is
no proof that a Christian church existed in Cheshire in those days,
though tradition says that where the cathedral church of Chester now
stands there was a church dedicated to S. Peter and S. Paul, which had
previously been a temple of Apollo.

In Wales and Ireland the Church flourished greatly through the troublous
period of the Anglo-Saxon invasions. We are told that Kentigern, the
first bishop of Glasgow, on his return to Wales landed in Wirral and
founded a church there. In the previous chapter we have seen that at
Bangor-Iscoed on the Dee there was a monastery of great importance,
which after the victory of Aethelfrith of Northumbria was razed to the

Yet it was from Northumbria that Christianity was destined to be brought
and preached to the Angles and Saxons of Cheshire. Oswald, the son of
the heathen Aethelfrith, had during his exile in Scotland been converted
by Celtic missionaries. During the reign of this 'most Christian king, a
man dearly beloved of God, and fenced with the faith of Christ',
missionaries from Scotland 'began with great and fervent devotion to
preach the word of faith to those provinces which King Oswald governed,
baptising all such as believed. Therefore churches were builded in
places convenient: the people rejoicing assembled together to hear the
word of God,' The ancient churches dedicated to S. Oswald at Chester,
Malpas, Brereton, Peover, Bidston, and Worleston, are proof of the great
part played by King Oswald in the conversion of Cheshire and of the
high repute in which he was held as a champion of Christianity.

The tiny hamlet of Chadkirk near Marple suggests to us a famous
missionary who lived at a time when Cheshire had become part of the
kingdom of Mercia. This was Ceadda or Chad, who was sent by the Irish
saint Colomba to preach the gospel to the people of Mercia, and became
in later times the patron saint of the bishopric of Mercia, founded by
King Offa. Chad, who like Oswald had received Christianity from the
Celtic missionaries of North Britain, continued the good work of the
Northumbrian missionaries. At the village of Over were formerly two
stone crosses which may well mark the spots where Chad preached to the
Saxons of Cheshire, baptizing the converts in the river Weaver that
flows hard by. The old church of Over is dedicated to him, as are also
the churches of Farndon and Wybunbury. It is worthy of note that all the
Cheshire churches named after him were built on the banks of streams,
which leads us to suppose that S. Chad, like S. John the Baptist by the
banks of Jordan, chose places where his preaching might be immediately
followed by the ceremony of baptism.

At Sandbach are two stone crosses which are thought to be closely
connected with the conversion of Cheshire. The story goes that Peada,
son of Penda the heathen king of Mercia, wished to marry the Christian
daughter of Oswiu of Northumbria. To win the maiden the young man
consented to forsake his old religion and become a Christian; whereupon
the crosses were set up to commemorate his conversion and marriage.

If you look carefully at the Sandbach crosses you will see that the
Angles of Mercia had reached a very high level of art in sculptured
stones. Carved upon them are several scenes in the life of our Lord, the
Nativity in the stable at Bethlehem with the ox and the ass kneeling
before the infant Christ, the Crucifixion with S. Mary and Apostles
below, Christ carrying the Cross, and Christ in glory with S. Peter on
His right hand bearing the keys of heaven.

Few crosses were, however, carved so elaborately as these Sandbach
crosses. The majority were doubtless of wood, set up in the middle of
the open space round which clustered the huts and wattled dwellings of
the inhabitants. Others consisted of a plain stone shaft set upright in
the ground or on a base of stone steps, sometimes rudely adorned with
scroll-work such as you may see on the fragments of a cross preserved in
the churchyard of Prestbury. Most of them have perished, broken into
fragments where they fell, or have been used for repairs to damaged
buildings. Many were wantonly destroyed in the seventeenth century
during the Civil War.


Crosses were set up by the wayside at the junction of important highways
or in towns at the crossing of the principal streets, as at Chester.
Here in the open air the monks would gather round them bands of
listeners, and preach the Word of God. Afterwards close to the cross was
erected an edifice of wood or wattles in which the services of the
Church were held, and in still later times these wooden churches would
be replaced by stone buildings. Nowhere, however, in Cheshire are there
any churches or even portions of churches remaining which can be said to
have been built by our early Saxon forefathers.

The church of S. John's, Chester, is said to have been founded by King
Aethelred of Mercia in the year 689. An ancient legend states that
Aethelred 'was admonished to erect a church on the spot where he should
find a white hind'. In the church you may see fragments of an ancient
wall-painting or 'fresco' on one of the pillars of the nave which
illustrates this story. A church certainly did exist here in very early
times, for we read that in later days Leofric, Earl of Mercia,
_repaired_ and enriched the church of S. John's, which may mean that the
earlier wooden church had fallen into decay, and a more substantial
building of stone was erected in its place.

The house of the Mercian Penda produced yet another name closely
connected with the story of the Cross in Cheshire. Werburga, a
great-granddaughter of Penda, succeeded her mother as head of several
great abbeys. She died at Trentham in Staffordshire towards the end of
the seventh century, and two hundred years later, when the Danes (of
whom you will read more in the next chapter) were harrying the land, her
body was removed to Chester for safe keeping, and placed in the church
of S. Peter and S. Paul which had been re-dedicated to S. Werburga and
S. Oswald. For many centuries crowds of devout pilgrims made their way
to Chester to offer prayers and gifts at S. Werburga's shrine.



With the capture of Chester (Chap. VII) Ecberght's conquest of Mercia
was complete. Northumbria, Kent, and East Anglia also submitted to him.
But neither Ecberght nor the kings that came after him were to be
allowed to enjoy the blessings of peace, for a new and terrible enemy
now appeared on our shores.

In the ninth century, the coasts of Britain were ravaged by the Northmen
or Vikings, those

                        Wild sea-wandering lords
  Who sailed in a snake-prowed galley with a terror of twenty swords.

The word Vikings or 'wickings' means creek-men, from a Scandinavian word
'wick', 'a creek'. These Scandinavian and Danish sea-pirates left their
homes in the bays and fiords of North-West Europe, and made raids upon
Britain and the neighbouring lands more at first from greed of plunder
than with any idea of conquest. Large numbers of Danes landed on our
eastern coasts and ravaged the midlands. Under their leader Hasting or
Hastein, they seized and occupied the city of Chester. We can imagine
the hasty flight of the monks, for the abbeys and churches were always
the first objects of attack by these heathen invaders. You will read
elsewhere how King Alfred finally saved the greater part of England
from the Danes and converted their leaders to Christianity.

The little village of Plemstall (or Plegmundstall), near Chester,
reminds us of Plegmund, a Saxon hermit, who took refuge here to escape
the Danes. Plegmund had been a friend and tutor of King Alfred. When
Alfred's work was done, and peace made with the Danes, he called
Plegmund from his lonely retreat in the marshes of the Gowy to be
Archbishop of Canterbury.

Meanwhile, the Scandinavians had sailed round the north and west coasts
of Scotland, plundering the rich monasteries that had been built by S.
Patrick and his followers, and making new homes for themselves in the
Isle of Man and in Ireland. Towards the end of the ninth century they
crossed into Wales and sailed up the Dee to the walls of Chester, drawn
thither perhaps by the report of the wealth of the great church that had
been built on the banks of the river. But they found only a deserted
city in ruins, and retired to the shores of Wirral, where they settled
and tilled the land, and devoted themselves to the more peaceful
pursuits of agriculture.

In the Wirral peninsula many of the names of the villages still show
their Scandinavian origin. Thus Shotwick means the south wick or creek.
This village stands at the edge of a strip of land that has been
recovered from the sea. In early times, boats could run along the creek
right up to the rising ground where now stands the village church.

An interesting name survives in the little hamlet of Thingwall, situated
almost in the centre of the Wirral. Thingwall is the field where the
'thing', that is the tribe, assembled to divide the land and to dispense
justice. You will recognize the same word in the town of Dingwall in the
North of Scotland, and at the present day 'thing' is the Norwegian and
Danish name for Parliament.

The ending '-by' in the villages Kirby, Irby, Raby, Frankby, and Helsby,
is the Danish name for a township, and we see the word in our modern
word 'by-laws', that is town laws. You will not find this ending in the
names of villages in any other parts of Cheshire.

  [Illustration: NORSE HOG-BACK, WEST KIRBY]

In the museum in the old school-house by the churchyard at West Kirby
you may see a stone, which, from its shape, antiquaries call a
'hog-back'. The hog-back was a tombstone or grave-slab that marked the
burial-place of some Scandinavian chief. The carved ornamentation as
well as its shape is like that of other similar stones that have been
found in the parts of Britain where the Northmen settled. The stone
gives you some idea of the homes from which these pirates came, for the
carved oval shapes represent little wooden tiles; and the interlaced
lines are the wattles or osiers of which their huts were made. The
heathen Scandinavian liked his place of burial to be as much like home
as possible, which may be taken as a proof that he did not think that
his soul would perish along with his body. In the same museum is another
stone with a head shaped like a wheel, which is also the work of the

We are, fortunately, able to tell almost the exact time at which the
settlements in the Wirral were made. We read in an old chronicle that in
the year 900 A.D. Alfred's daughter Ethelfleda, Lady of the Mercians,
granted lands in Wirral to one Ingimund who had been driven out of
Ireland. This lady, Ethelfleda, fortified Chester and rebuilt the walls
which had lain in ruins since the departure of the Romans. Perhaps
Ingimund and his followers had already become Christians during their
stay in Ireland. If they had not, we may be sure that Ethelfleda did as
her father had done in his treaty with the Danes, and insisted on their
becoming Christians in return for being allowed to settle in Cheshire.

It was in the reign of Alfred that many English counties or shires first
received their modern names. Cheshire or Chester-shire, like
Staffordshire and Warwickshire, took its name from the chief city or
fortress which dominated the district and protected it from the ravages
of the Danes.

Alfred also ordered an English history to be written, in which the chief
events of each year were recorded. This Old English Chronicle, as it is
called, was kept up in the reigns of the successors of Alfred, and is
the principal source of our knowledge of England under the Anglo-Saxon

The Chronicle tells us that, in order to prevent any fresh landing of
Danes, Ethelfleda built a castle or 'burh' at Runcorn at the head of the
estuary of the Mersey. The very site of her castle has now disappeared,
for 'Castle Rock', upon which it was built, was destroyed when the Ship
Canal was made.

Another fortress was erected by Ethelfleda on Eddisbury Hill, the
highest point of Delamere Forest, where, probably, there was a large
camp in British times. Her brother Edward, who succeeded Alfred as King
of England, also fortified Thelwall on the Mersey, as an inscription on
the gable of an inn at Thelwall tells us. For the next twenty years he
carried on a vigorous war against the Danes of the 'Five Boroughs',
Nottingham, Leicester, Derby, Stamford, and Lincoln. But in many parts
Saxon and Dane had already settled down side by side, the Danes
abandoned the worship of their heathen gods Odin and Thor, and received
the Gospel of Christ, and in the next century a Danish king was
destined to rule over all the land and to advance greatly the cause of

Edward's work was done when he received the homage of the chief kings of
Britain, and made the royal house of Wessex supreme. In the year 924, as
you may read in the English Chronicle, 'then chose him for father and
lord the King of Scots ... and all those who dwell in Northumbria
whether English or Danes, and also the King of the Strathclyde Welsh.'

Chester appears to have rapidly risen in importance, largely no doubt
owing to its central position, and to have become a great and populous
city. The walls were extended beyond the limits of the ancient Roman
city, and a new fortress built where the present 'Castle' of Chester now
stands, to guard the road over the river.

Henceforth, the city was kept in a state of defence by a custom which
bound every 'hide' in the shire to provide a man at the town-reeve's
call to keep its walls and bridge in repair. A considerable trade with
the seaports of Ireland followed, largely it is to be feared in
connexion with the slave traffic, and the city became a favourite resort
of the English kings. Coins were minted here in the reign of Athelstan.

Athelstan must often have been in Cheshire, for this favourite grandson
of King Alfred was brought up by the Lady of Mercia, and no doubt
learned from her the ways of a strong and wise ruler. When Athelstan
became king he was attacked by the King of the Scots and the Danes of
Ireland. A great battle was fought, perhaps on Cheshire soil, and the
English Chronicle breaks out into a wonderful song of victory.

          Athelstan King
          Lord among Earls,
          He with his brother,
          Gained a lifelong
          Glory in battle,
          Slew with the sword-edge,
          There by Brunanburh ...

          *   *   *   *   *

          Bow'd the spoiler,
          Bent the Scotsman,
          Fell the ship-crews
          Doom'd to the death.
  All the field with blood of the fighters
          Flow'd, from when first the great
          Sun-star of morningtide,
          Lamp of the Lord God
          Lord Everlasting
  Glode over earth till the glorious creature
          Sank to his setting.

Brunanburh has been thought by some writers of history to be the village
of Bromborough in Wirral. We cannot be sure of this, but some day
perhaps the land will give up its secret, when some labourer's spade
shall dig up the javelins and the war-knives of the defeated Northmen.

'Edgar's field' is supposed to mark the site of the palace of one of the
greatest of the Anglo-Saxon Kings of England. It is related that in the
year 973, Edgar the 'Peacewinner' visited Chester, and received there
the submission of many tributary kings. He assembled an imposing fleet
of ships on the Dee, and was rowed from his palace to the minster of S.
John's by six under-kings, the King of Scots, the King of Cumberland,
the King of Man, and three Welsh princes, he himself taking the helm as
being their head-king. 'Those who come after me', he said, 'may indeed
call themselves kings, since I have had such honour.'

Guided by his chief adviser, the good Archbishop Dunstan, Edgar also did
much to increase the power and influence of the Church. He gave a
charter in 958 to the church of S. Werburga, and endowed it richly with
lands. The English Chronicle thus speaks of him:

  He upreared God's glory
  and loved God's law
  and bettered the public peace
  more than the kings
  who were before him
  within man's memory.

  God also him helped
  that kings and earls
  gladly to him bowed
  and were submissive
  to all that he willed.

In Edgar's reign we first hear of the division of the shire into
'hundreds' for the trial and punishment of evildoers. Why this name was
chosen is not quite clear, but the Hundred probably denoted a collection
of a hundred homesteads or hamlets. The Hundred had its 'moot' or
assembly of freemen, held near some sacred spot or conspicuous landmark.
In Cheshire some of them, Bucklow for instance, took their names from
the ancient 'lows' or burial-places.

Early in the eleventh century fresh invasions of Danes took place, and
in 1016 Cnut Dane became King of England. Cheshire formed a portion of a
great earldom, embracing the whole of Mercia and governed by Earl
Leofric. Cnut, who during his reign visited Rome and had there learnt
much about church building, was a generous friend to the churches,
rebuilding those that had suffered in the wars and erecting many new
ones. The church of S. Olave or Olaf, in the south-eastern part of the
city of Chester, probably owes its foundation to him, for the name shows
that there was a Danish settlement in the city. The city itself was
governed at this time, like other Danish cities, by twelve 'lagmen' or
lawmen who presided over its law-courts.

Leofric, not to be outdone by his master Cnut, almost entirely rebuilt
the church of S. Werburga in 1057, and if we may judge from the
memorials of his work which he has left in other cities of his earldom,
much of the new church was probably built of stone. It is doubtful
whether he lived to see the completion of his work. In any case, before
many years had passed, the church was again enlarged on a still grander
scale and by a greater race of church builders than any that had gone
before them.



In the early months of the year A.D. 1070 the Saxons of Cheshire fled
before the approach of an army of discontented and almost mutinous
troops who had cut their way through the deep snowdrifts of the Pennine
Hills. But neither the severity of the weather nor the hardships of the
march seemed to have any effect upon the stern and indomitable Norman
warrior at their head, who, like the Vikings whose blood flowed in his
veins, set an example of energy and endurance to his half-starved
fainting followers.

William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, had landed in England three and
a half years previously, and defeated the English King Harold at the
battle of Senlac. But the real 'conquest' was yet to come; and after
swift visits to the west and north of England William crossed the hills
that lay between York and Cheshire and made a dash upon Chester, the one
great city of free England that had not yet bowed to the might of the
Norman invader.

There were at this time in Chester many English, the wife of Harold
among them, who had fled thither after the defeat of Senlac, prepared on
William's approach to cross the seas to Ireland. In the next century
Gerald 'the Welshman' related the legend that Harold himself was not
killed at the battle of Senlac, but escaped, and, after many wanderings,
took refuge in a hermit's cell near the minster of S. John's, where he
remained until his death. The story was no doubt invented by those who
were unwilling to believe that an English king had been defeated by a

William captured the city and received the submission of Edric the
Forester and other Saxon leaders. Chester was put in charge of a Flemish
noble called Gherbod, who, however, in the following year returned to
his native land. Then, leaving a trail of fire and sword through
mid-Cheshire, William marched southwards to Salisbury Plain, where he
held a grand review of all his followers and distributed to them their
rewards. You will not see him again in Cheshire. No part of the country
ever needed a second visit from the 'Conqueror'.

The English who had borne arms against William were treated as rebels
and deprived of their lands and possessions, which were parcelled out
among the Normans. A parcel of land thus granted was called a manor. All
the landowners, including those English who were allowed to keep their
estates, were compelled to take the oath of fealty to King William in
person. In this way William broke up the great earldoms which had been
created by the Danish king Cnut.

Cheshire, however, in which the Saxon Earl Edwin, Harold's
brother-in-law, owned vast estates, was from the first treated in a very
special manner. Owing to its position on the border of Wales, William
saw that it was very necessary to place a strong military power in this
part of England to protect his newly-won kingdom from invasion from the
west. So he bestowed the county upon his own favourite nephew Hugh
d'Avranches, surnamed Lupus or 'the Wolf', and his heirs, giving him the
title of Earl of Chester. The earl's duty was to repel any attacks that
might be made by the Welsh, and permission was given him even to extend
his earldom, if possible, beyond the Welsh border. Royal rights were
granted to him over all land within the earldom, which was held by him
'as freely by the sword as the king held England by the Crown'. For this
reason Cheshire was called a County Palatine, that is, a county whose
ruler exercises all the powers of an independent prince, save only that
he owns allegiance to his overlord the king. And the sword, the 'sword
of dignity', as it was called, was no light one. You may see it if ever
you visit the British Museum, a mighty two-edged weapon four feet long,
with its inscription in Latin engraved beneath the hilt, 'Hugo comes
Cestriae,' Hugh Count of Chester.

In the quadrangle of Eaton Hall is an equestrian statue of Hugh Lupus,
an ancestor of the Dukes of Westminster, whose family derives its name
of Grosvenor from Robert the 'gros veneur' or great huntsman of the
Conqueror and nephew of 'the Wolf'.

An old engraving gives us a picture of the royal state with which Earl
Hugh was surrounded. He is represented sitting on a raised throne and
presiding over his council or parliament, which consisted of the four
chief abbots and the four greatest barons of Cheshire. Behind a barrier
at the lower end of the council-chamber a crowd of humble people are
gathered, bearing petitions or grievances for the earl's hearing and
consideration. For the earl possessed power of life or death over all
offenders, could pardon treason and murder within his own domain, and
give protection or 'sanctuary' to criminals, who, however, paid heavy
fines for this privilege. He also raised taxes, appointed all the judges
and justices of the peace in the earldom, and created his own barons,
who were themselves permitted to hold baronial courts for the trial and
punishment of evildoers. Gilbert de Venables, the Baron of Kinderton,
and his successors held courts at their castle near Middlewich until
late in the sixteenth century, when all these courts were swept away.

Ordericus Vitalis, a Norman monk who wrote in the early part of the
twelfth century, says that Earl Hugh 'was very prodigal, and carried not
so much a family as an army along with him. He daily wasted his estate,
and delighted more in falcons and huntsmen than in tillers of the soil.
He was much given to his appetite, whereby in time he grew so fat that
he could scarcely crawl.' He was also a lover of minstrelsy and romance,
and invited the best narrators of great deeds to live with him and spur
on to rivalry the young nobles whom he delighted to gather round him at
his court.

The mass of the English people became dependent on their Norman masters.
The latter had learned the use of the lance and the longbow, and the
fame of their mailclad mounted knights had spread through all Europe.
They kept the English down by building strong castles in their midst. At
Aldford, Shocklach, Doddleston, and Malpas on the Welsh borderland,
where castles were naturally more numerous, little remains to be seen
at the present day but the green mounds on which were erected the keeps
or donjons of the Norman lords. Round the tree-clad hummock at
Aldford--'Blob's Hill' the village folk call it--the moat that
surrounded the Norman castle yet remains, now dry and carpeted in
springtime with primroses, whose waters must often have been dyed with
the blood of Norman, Saxon, and Welshman.

The Norman castles were of great strength, though not always built of
stone. Many were built on the sites of British encampments or Saxon
'burhs', in which case the old wooden stockade was doubtless allowed to
remain. The central fortress or keep, a square, or sometimes circular,
building with walls of immense thickness, was surrounded by an inner
ward or courtyard in which cattle and provisions could be gathered in
case of attack, and where, on a raised mound in the centre, the baron
held his court. Round this ward were grouped the domestic apartments,
the stables, and the quarters of servants and retainers. Beyond these
buildings was a second or outer ward, the whole being enclosed by walls
with projecting towers at intervals. The castles of the plain were
further protected, as at Aldford, by a deep ditch or moat crossed by a
drawbridge leading to the principal entrance. The keep was the last
place of refuge when the defenders were driven from the walls, and
frequently contained a well of water. In the keep at Beeston Castle is a
well over three hundred feet deep, to which water was perhaps at one
time drawn from Beeston Brook or some other neighbouring stream.

On the summit of Halton Hill you may still see a portion of the outer
wall of the castle built by Nigel, Baron of Halton and cousin of Earl
Hugh. He was the chief of all the Cheshire barons, was constable of the
city of Chester, and led the Cheshire army, when required, against the
Welsh. Thirty-seven manors, among them those of Congleton, Great Barrow,
Raby and Sale in the county of Cheshire, were included in his
possessions. Other barons created by the Earl of Chester were William of
Nantwich, Vernon of Shipbroke, Fitzhugh of Malpas, Venables of
Kinderton, Hamon Massi of Dunham, Nicholas of Stockport, and Robert of
Montalt or Mold. The last-named shows that the county of Flint was at
that time part of the earldom. The name of the Norman baron was often
added to that of the Saxon village where he dwelt, as in the case of
Dunham Massey, Minshull Vernon.

The earl himself resided at Chester, where large additions were made to
the stronghold of Ethelfleda, but probably his castle was built largely
of timber, for no stone of it remains, and a hundred and fifty years
later Henry the Third ordered the stockade with which the castle ward
was enclosed to be removed and replaced by a wall of stone. On the
eastern side of the castle was erected a great shire hall where the earl
held his parliament, and an exchequer court where the dues and taxes
were paid to him.

What these dues and taxes were we may learn from the Great Survey called
Domesday Book, which was made by King William's orders, and completed
about the year 1087. The chief object of the Survey was to find out what
the country was worth, and how much the people could afford to pay in
taxes. The book, which is carefully preserved at the British Museum, is
the most valuable record we possess of the state of England under its
first Norman king. Domesday Book was written in Latin, but translations
have been made by scholars, and may be seen in many of our free
libraries. In the 'Customs of Chester' we are told that the city paid in
rent forty-five pounds and three bundles of marten skins, a third of
which went to the earl and two-thirds to the king. The skins were
imported from Ireland, and show that the Irish pirates of former days
had given place to peaceful traders. The king also claimed two-thirds of
the produce of the brine pits at Nantwich, Northwich, and Middlewich,
the last-named being farmed 'for twenty-five shillings and two cartloads
of salt'. The value of every manor, with the number of 'hides' of arable
land, the extent of meadow land and of woodland, was faithfully
recorded. 'There was not one single yard of land, nor even one ox, one
cow, one swine that was left out.'

Some Saxon villages had little left to record after the Conqueror's
visit, so that you may learn from Domesday something of the severity
with which William's conquest had been accomplished. Prestbury and many
other Saxon villages are not even mentioned. When Earl Hugh received the
city of Chester it was worth only thirty pounds, 'for it had been
greatly wasted; there were two hundred and five houses less there than
there had been in the time of King Edward' (the Confessor).

From Domesday we can learn the names of the Saxon freemen who were
allowed to keep their lands. Marton was held by the Saxon Godfric,
probably in return for some service rendered to the invaders, or because
he had at least not taken arms against them; Butley was divided between
the Saxon Ulric and Robert, son of Hugh Lupus. The manor of Brereton was
retained by the Breretons, whose descendants play a great part in the
later history of Cheshire. But such cases are few and far between, and
by far the greater part of the county passed into new hands.

The story of Mobberley may be taken as a good example of what happened
in most cases to the old English landowners. The very name of the
village brings to our eyes scenes of old English life as the Normans
found it, for Motburlege, as the name is written in Domesday, is the
open space (lege) by the fortified house (burh) where the assembly of
the people was held (mote). 'The same Bigot' (thus Domesday runs)'
_holds_ Motburlege. Dot _held_ it and was a freeman.... The value in
King Edward's time was twelve shillings, now only five shillings.' Such
is the simple story, repeated again and again in the great survey. Dot
was a Saxon lord of sixteen villages, including Cholmondeley, Bickerton,
Shocklach, Grappenhall, Peover, and Dodcot, to the last of which he gave
his own name. Thus, even as Dot's own forefathers had driven out the
Celtic tribesmen who pastured their flocks on the neighbouring commons,
so now it was Dot's turn to be thrust from his ancestral home at
Mobberley and seek a refuge perhaps among the very people whom he had

Bigot received more than one manor. Domesday tells us that he held
Sandbach also. Over the entrance of Sandbach Town Hall you may see his
statuette, placed there to remind you of the days when Cheshire lands
passed from the hands of the English to their Norman conquerors.



Among the friends of Earl Hugh who visited him at his castle at Chester
was Anselm the great churchman, who afterwards became Archbishop of
Canterbury. Anselm was at the time prior of the Abbey of Bec, which was
close to Avranches, the earl's own Norman home. Now if there was one
thing on which the Normans justly prided themselves, it was the founding
and building of churches, and the heart of Earl Hugh was set on building
in his own city of Chester a monastery that should rival in splendour
those of his native country. Perhaps, too, the Norman lords thought that
by devoting a portion of their wealth to the service of God they could
win salvation for their souls and atone for the shortcomings and
misdeeds of their stormy lives. So the Cheshire earl sent for his former
friend Anselm to come and aid him in his scheme, and the result of his
visit was that in 1093 the clergy of S. Werburgh's were turned out of
their homes, and the church itself pulled down, and in its place was
erected a monastery of Benedictine monks who were brought over from Bee,
Anselm's chaplain, Richard, being made the first abbot.

The monks were men who lived a life of prayer, fasting, and study apart
from the world. None might ever leave the precincts of the monastery
without permission. The Benedictines received their name from Saint
Benedict, who lived in the sixth century, and drew up rules for the
daily life and conduct of the monks of the Order. They all slept in the
same dormitory, and all took their meals together in a common room
called a refectory. In the refectory at Chester you may see a lector's
pulpit from which portions of the Scriptures were read aloud to the
monks as they sat at their meals. They gave all their private
possessions to the monastery, and had to obey their superior in all
matters. Every hour of the day and night had its allotted duties of
work, study, or religious services. High up in the wall in one of the
oldest parts of Chester Cathedral is a row of tiny arches, and behind
them a narrow passage, along which the monks went from their
sleeping-chamber to the early morning services in the abbey church.

To some of the monks was given the work of gardening, agriculture, and
even building. The name of Caleyards at Chester still speaks to us of
the kitchen-garden which the monks tended. Others made copies of
illuminated 'missals' or books of Church services, or wrote histories
and the annals of the abbey to which they were attached. The Chronicles
of S. Werburgh were kept and added to yearly by the monks of Chester;
though the original has been lost, a copy of it, made by a later scribe,
has happily been preserved.

The most important part of the monastery was of course the church. The
Norman churches were built of stone, and, as they took many years to
build, very few of the founders lived to see the completion of their
work. Probably only the foundations and portions of the walls of the
church of Earl Hugh Lupus were finished during his lifetime. The work of
the Norman builders may be recognized by the round-headed arches,
doorways and windows which they copied from the Roman buildings. The
Roman basilica or hall of justice, in which the earliest Christians were
permitted to worship, was taken as a model for Christian churches. The
capital of a Norman pillar in Frodsham Church proves that they had
studied the architecture of the Romans, for it has the Ionic 'volute' or
spiral scroll on each of its four faces. If you look for the round
arches in the Cathedral of Chester you will be able to make out the
portions which remain of the church built by Earl Hugh and by the
abbots who completed his plans after his death.

You will see from the Norman church of S. John's at Chester that the
churches were built in the form of a cross with four great semicircular
arches to support a central tower. Similar arches on massive circular
columns separate the nave from the two aisles. An examination of these
columns reveals the fact that the building of the nave was commenced
from both ends at once in order to make more rapid progress with the
work, for the mouldings of the capitals of the outer columns is the
same, but differ from those of the inner ones. Moreover, the masonry of
the latter is more finely jointed than that of the earlier end columns.
This shows that the Normans improved in the quality of their work as
they went on. In the north transept of Chester Cathedral, which is part
of the first Norman church, the stones in the lower parts have wider
joints and are less carefully fitted than those above them.

The choir and aisles generally ended in a semicircular 'apse'. A
semicircle of dark blue stones set in the floor of the north aisle in
the Cathedral of Chester marks the apse of an aisle of Earl Hugh's

The village churches were of course not built on the same scale of
grandeur as the churches of S. John and S. Werburgh. Nearly everywhere
the Norman 'lords of the manor' rebuilt the rude and humble churches of
wood and stone that had served the needs of the Saxons before them. But
little remains in Cheshire of these Norman churches, save here and there
a doorway or a window or a capital, that has escaped destruction or the
ravages of time. The Norman architects and builders were few in number,
and must have employed many Saxon workmen in the task of rebuilding. The
latter, as you have already learned, were no mean masons and sculptors,
and the carving of the mouldings and capitals of the doorways of the
village churches was doubtless in many cases done by them. The 'chevron'
or zigzag moulding, and the spirals carved on the face of capitals could
easily be cut with an axe, for the Saxons were not yet acquainted with
the use of the Norman chisel. At Shotwick and Shocklach you may see
doorways, which, from the simplicity of their mouldings, are probably
the work of Saxons, performed under the eye of their Norman masters.


Towards the end of the eleventh century the clever Norman masons, who
loved to invent new patterns and vary their work, introduced other forms
of ornamentation such as the 'billet' and 'lozenge' and 'scollop' in
their mouldings, and adorned the capitals and even the pillars with rich
carving. Carved pillars may be seen in the Norman arcade in the
cloisters at Chester.


The head of a Norman doorway is sometimes filled with a semicircular
stone called a tympanum, usually covered with a carved picture of some
scriptural subject. The tympanum over the door of the Norman chapel at
Prestbury represents Christ seated in glory.


The Norman windows, like the doorways, were round-headed. The tiny
window in the chancel at Woodchurch shows us that they were often mere
slits on the outer face of the wall, widening considerably towards the
inner face in order that the light entering through the narrow opening
might be diffused as much as possible. Very few Norman windows have been
allowed to remain in Cheshire, for nearly all have been replaced by
larger ones of a different style at a later date when more light was


The font is sometimes the sole remaining portion of the older Norman
church in which it once stood. In the modern church of Wallasey is an
ancient font, which by the arcade of semicircular arches carved upon it
is evidently the work of the Norman builders, and belonged to the Norman
church that formerly stood on the site of the present building. The font
of similar pattern at Grappenhall was dug up during a restoration three
feet below the floor of the present church, where it had lain for
centuries, and there are Norman fonts at Eastham, Bebington, and Burton.
In addition to those already spoken of, the churches of Bebington,
Bruera, Frodsham, Church Lawton, and Barthomley contain portions of
Norman work in some shape or form.


The Norman style of architecture is rarely copied nowadays in the
building of churches, being considered too massive and sombre as well as
costly. Boys who live in Wirral should, however, walk to the village of
Thornton Heath, where they may see a new church built entirely in this
style, with every detail copied faithfully from famous old Norman

Other Norman barons were not slow to follow the example of their
overlord the Earl of Chester. In 1150 Hamon de Massey, Baron of Dunham
Massey, built a priory at Birkenhead for sixteen Benedictine monks. The
tolls from a ferry across the Mersey were granted to them for their
support, the charges being 'for a horseman two-pence, for a man on foot
one farthing, a halfpenny for a footman on market days, and a penny when
he had goods or produce with him'. The name of 'Monks Brow' still marks
the landing-place of the ferry on the Cheshire side of the estuary. The
monks were also freed from attendance at the 'Hundred' Court of the
Wirral. The manors of Tranmere, Bebington, Saughall Massey, and
Claughton were also given to the priory, and the priors sat in the
council or parliament of the Earls of Chester. The ruined refectory is
the only portion of the priory now remaining.

The Abbey of S. Werburgh received grants of land from Earl Hugh's barons
as well as a large number of churches and manors from the earl himself.
In the course of time one-fourth of the entire city of Chester became
the property of the abbey. The abbot also had the right of taking the
tolls at the annual fair held at Chester at the Feast of S. Werburgh.
The fair lasted for three days, during which time even criminals might
visit the city to make their purchases without danger of arrest.

  [Illustration: ARMS OF THE SEE OF CHESTER]

Chester had in fact rapidly become the chief seat of trade in the
north-west of England, and when the Conqueror ordered the sees of the
bishoprics to be removed from thinly populated centres to the large
towns, Peter, the first Norman bishop of Lichfield, left Lichfield 'a
sordid and desert place' and came to Chester, 'a city of renown,' making
the church of S. John his cathedral. Chester did not, however, keep this
honour long, for Peter's successor removed to the rich monastery of
Coventry. Hence it is that you find three mitres on the arms of the
bishopric of Chester.

Earl Hugh Lupus died in the second year of the reign of Henry the First.
Three days before his death he had put on the cowl and robe of a
Benedictine monk and entered his own monastery at Chester. He was buried
in the abbey cemetery, and his only son Richard, a boy of seven years of
age, inherited the earldom.

The Abbey of Combermere was founded for another brotherhood of monks
called Cistercians. Their 'rule' was even more strict than that of the
Benedictines. They wore neither boots nor cowl, and for a portion of the
year were allowed but one meal a day; nor were they permitted even to
speak to one another. In 1178, John, Baron of Halton, to secure the
safety of body and soul previous to making a pilgrimage to Palestine,
built a Cistercian abbey at Stanlaw, a dreary spot on the shore of the
Mersey estuary, and a third house of the same Order was founded at
Pulton on the Dee by Robert Pincerna, butler to Earl Randle II. Stanlaw
was almost wholly destroyed by a huge tidal wave which swept up the
Mersey, and the monks were removed to Whalley on the banks of the
Lancashire Calder. The monks, doubtless, were not sorry for the change,
for by the end of the twelfth century the majority of them had grown
tired of the simple life, and, becoming more luxurious in their way of
living, preferred to build their homes in delectable river valleys,
where they could fish the streams to their hearts' content.

Pulton Abbey was not more fortunate, and was much too near to the Welsh
to be a comfortable place to live in. The Welsh visits were so frequent
and unpleasant that the monastery was abandoned and the monks placed in
a fine new abbey at Dieulacresse in Staffordshire.

The monks who kept the abbey records were not always very particular
about the truth of the events they relate. They were very superstitious,
and ready to believe any story that would increase the fame of their
founders, or of their patron saints, to whom they ascribed the power of
performing miracles. The story is told that when Earl Richard was making
a pilgrimage to the holy well of S. Winifred in Flintshire he was
attacked by a band of Welsh insurgents and compelled to take refuge in
a neighbouring monastery. He prayed for aid to S. Werburgh, who is said
to have instantly parted the waters of the Dee by making new sandbanks,
over which the Constable of Chester marched troops to the relief of his
lord. These banks were long after known as the Constable's sands.



In the western porch beneath the tower of Prestbury Church are a number
of fragments of broken grave-slabs of the twelfth and thirteenth
centuries. On nearly all is carved a cross, the head of which is usually
enclosed within a circle, the ends of the limbs of the cross consisting
of a triple lily, the favourite emblem of the Norman sculptors. One only
of these fragments tells us over whose remains the slab was placed. An
inscription, in which the letters VIVYN D are clearly seen, tells us
that this fragment formed part of the tombstone of Vivian Davenport,
Chief Forester of the Forest of Macclesfield. Hunting was the favourite
sport of the Normans, and in Cheshire, as elsewhere, large tracts of
forest land were enclosed for the protection of deer and game, and the
amusement of the Norman knights. The Conqueror himself set the example
by making the New Forest in the south of England, and shortly afterwards
the Earl of Cheshire enclosed the Forests of Mara or Delamere in the
west and Macclesfield in the eastern part of the county.

The forest laws were very strict. William the Conqueror did not indeed
punish offenders with death, but he ordained that 'whoso slew hart or
hind man should blind him, that none should touch the harts or the
wild-boars, and he made the hare go free. So mightily did he love the
high deer as though he were their father. His rich men bewailed it and
the poor murmured at it, but he was so stark he recked not of them all.'
The forest laws of Rufus were far more severe, and caused fierce hatred
among his poorer subjects. The forests became the haunt of robbers and
outlaws, who clothed themselves in suits of 'Lincoln green', the better
to escape being seen in the greenwood. Foresters were appointed, whose
duty it was to hunt out these lawless and rebellious men, as well as to
preserve the game of the forest.

  [Illustration: Latin Cross, prob. c. 1180
  Norman Floriated Cross, c. 1200
  Double Floriated Cross on Grave-slab of Vivian Davenport, c. 1240


Hugh Lupus made John Done of Utkinton and his heirs Chief Bowbearer and
Forester of his Forest of Delamere. The Dones had the right to kill deer
and game, take swarms of wild bees, the fallen trees, and such small
game as 'foxes, hares, weasels, and other like vermin'; their badge of
office was a black bugle horn tipped with gold. Their hunting-seat or
'Chamber in the Forest' was served by ten keepers and two woodsmen. Some
of their descendants were buried at Tarporley, and on one of the tombs
you may see the badge of the bugle carved.

Earl Richard, the successor of 'the Wolf', married Matilda, niece of
King Henry I and a daughter of Stephen of Blois. He was drowned with his
wife on his return from France when the ill-fated White Ship went down
in 1119.

The next earl was Randle of Meschines. He was one of King Henry the
First's chief fighting-men, and led the van at the Battle of Tinchebrai
against the king's elder brother Robert.

His son, Randle the Second, played a great part in the civil war of King
Stephen's reign. Stephen was quite unable to curb his barons as his
predecessors had done, and the Earl of Chester was unruly and ambitious.
In addition to his Earldom of Cheshire, he had succeeded to vast estates
in Lincoln and the Midlands. His power and influence was so great that
he ruled over an extent of country hardly smaller than the ancient
Earldom of Mercia. Stephen refused to add the city of Carlisle to the
already numerous possessions of the earl, who in anger declared himself
on the side of Stephen's rival Matilda when she took up arms, and became
one of Stephen's most bitter and active enemies.

The king took Randle prisoner by a stratagem, and the monks of Pulton
Abbey were commanded to pray for the earl's safety. When at length he
was set free, the earl in a moment of gratitude gave the monks
permission to fish the waters of the Dee, and freed them from the toll
which they were accustomed to pay for grinding their corn in the Dee
Mills at Chester. Under the Norman rule the use of handmills, such as
the Saxons had used, was strictly forbidden, and everybody had to send
his corn to be ground in the mill belonging to his lord.

When the Welsh heard of the earl's captivity they took advantage of his
absence and ravaged the county of Cheshire, but were defeated in a
battle at Nantwich in 1146 by Robert of Montalt.

Randle died in the same year as King Stephen, and was succeeded by Hugh
Kyvelioc. This second Earl Hugh enclosed large stretches of forest-land
in East Cheshire, and gave the chief forestership to Richard Davenport.
It is Richard's grandson Vivian whose grave-slab we have seen in the
church at Prestbury.

To Vivian Davenport's office was also joined the office of Hereditary
Grand Serjeant of the Hundred of Macclesfield. The Grand Serjeant
received twelve pounds six shillings and eightpence a year, and a fee of
two shillings and a salmon for the capture of a master-robber, and one
shilling for a common thief. Human life was held cheap in those days.
The robbers when caught were beheaded, and their heads sent to Chester,
where they were publicly shown as a warning to others. Descendants of
the Davenports live now at Capesthorne, and their peculiar crest, a
robber's head with a rope round the neck, recalls the gruesome duties of
their ancestors.

A portion of the Forest was held by the Venables in return for providing
thirty-three huntsmen on hunting days. The Downes of Taxal held their
land more cheaply on the northern limits of the Forest, which is now
Lyme Park, 'by the blast of a horn on Midsummer Day and one pepper-corn
yearly.' Near Overton is a spot still called Gallows Yard, where the
Downes had power to execute robbers and criminals. In Lyme Park you may
see to this day the red deer that are descended from their wild
ancestors of Macclesfield Forest.

When Hugh Kyvelioc was Earl of Chester, Henry the Second ruled England
and the greater part of France. He also received at Chester the homage
of the King of Scotland. But in the later years of his reign he found
it hard to keep together the widely scattered parts of his empire.
Rebellions were frequent, and his wife, his sons, and his barons all
took up arms against him. Among his discontented barons none was more
unruly than Hugh Kyvelioc, who stirred up Brittany against Henry, but he
was captured in battle and brought to England. In the great rising of
1173 Geoffrey of Costantin, one of Henry's sons, held the castle of
Stockport against the king. Not a stone of this castle is to be seen
now, but it stood in the highest part of the town near the Parish

After Hugh Lupus, the greatest of the Earls of Chester was Randle the
Third, or Randle Blundeville. Like his predecessors, he was constantly
engaged in fighting against the Welsh, on one occasion being besieged in
Rhuddlan Castle until he was relieved by a rabble of vagabonds hastily
gathered from Chester Fair. This Randle was earl for over fifty years,
and was high in favour with three successive kings of England whom he
steadfastly supported. Henry the Second gave him in marriage his own
daughter-in-law, Constance, the widow of his son Geoffrey. The English
historian, Matthew Paris, says that the earl carried the crown at the
coronation of Richard the First, and he was present at the signing of
the Great Charter by King John, whose side he took in the quarrel with
the barons.

The earl ruled Cheshire wisely, favouring especially the towns in his
earldom. To Chester, Macclesfield, and Stockport he gave charters by
which these towns were freed from certain payments and duties, and were
permitted to govern themselves under a mayor of their own choosing. In
the new Town Hall of Stockport is a stained glass window commemorating
the earl's grant to his baron Sir Robert de Stokeport of the town's
first charter of freedom.

His gifts to the Church and the founding of abbeys won for him the title
of the 'Good' earl. He did not neglect the poor, for he built and
endowed the hospital of S. John, near the North Gate of Chester, for the
support of thirteen poor people, with three chaplains to minister to
their religious needs. At Boughton, outside the city walls, he founded a
hospital for lepers, whose terrible disease was brought to this country
by travellers returning from Eastern lands.

In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries men's minds were deeply stirred
by the hardships and cruelties put upon pilgrims to the Holy Land. Men
of every Christian land and race joined in the Crusades or Holy Wars to
win back Jerusalem, which had fallen into the hands of the Saracens,
enemies of the Christian faith. Baldwin, Archbishop of Canterbury, came
to Chester and preached from the High Cross the duty of all Christian
men to rescue the Holy City and the Holy Sepulchre from the power of the
unbelievers. Crowds flocked to hear him, and he did not preach in vain.
Men of all classes dedicated their lives or their wealth to the service
of the Cross. King and baron, soldier and priest, rich and poor alike
put on the sign of the Cross, and sailed to the Holy Land, where they
vied with one another in deeds of chivalry and valour.

Randle Blundeville joined the Crusades in 1219, and set out with a
number of other English knights for Jerusalem. He distinguished himself
greatly in Egypt, and when he returned the fame of his brave deeds made
him a popular hero, and his adventures were recited or sung in many a
stirring ballad.

The stone effigy of Sir William Boydell in Grappenhall Church will give
you some idea of a crusading warrior. He is clad in chain armour with a
plain surcoat. His legs are crossed, a sign perhaps that he had taken
the vows of the Cross, and his head rests on his helmet. A shield is on
his left shoulder, by his left side a sword.

Many Crusaders bound themselves by sacred vows and joined different
'Orders' or companies to which the names Knights Templars, Knights
Hospitallers, or Knights of Saint John, and so on, were given. The
last-named founded a house where the brethren of the Order might live in
their old age at Fulshaw, near Wilmslow.

When Randle returned to Cheshire he built in the heart of his earldom
the strong castle of Beeston, on the summit of Beeston Rock, from whose
walls he could survey nearly every portion of the county over which he
ruled. He entertained Henry the Second at Chester Castle when Henry made
an expedition against the Welsh, the troops encamping on Saltney
marshes. Henry the Second had high views of the duties of kingship, and
was always busily occupied at home or in his continental dominions. But
Cheshire saw little or nothing of his son Richard, greatest of all
Crusaders, for he spent the greater part of his reign seeking adventures
abroad, and left his people to take care of themselves.


Earl Randle lived long enough to see the boy king Henry the Third
dismiss his guardians and rule on his own account. Almost his last act
was to refuse to allow the clergy of Cheshire to pay the tenth part of
their incomes to the pope to aid him in his private wars. In 1232 he
died, and was buried with his forefathers in the Abbey Church of



The greatest churches which the Normans planned were on such a scale
that they could not be finished in the lives of their designers. The
work was carried on more or less continuously by the builders and
architects who came after them. But, as time went on, various
improvements were made in the art of building, and new fashions came
into being, and the original plans had often to be altered to meet the
growing needs of the day, or to allow the newest features of style to be

The interior of S. John's Church, Chester, will show you some of the
changes of style which were taking place in the early part of the
thirteenth century. The two rows of _pointed_ arches over the circular
headed arches of the nave tell us that by the time the massive Norman
piers and arches were finished, an entirely different form of arch was
coming into fashion.

The pointed arch was first used when Norman and Saxon had settled down
peaceably side by side. From the fusing of the two nations, the English
people grew in strength and power. Norman baron and Saxon peasant had
combined to wrest from a wicked king the Great Charter of freedom for
the English people. Hence the new style is appropriately called Early

The work of church building had often been interrupted. During the civil
war of Stephen's reign, the building of churches was almost at a
standstill; the Crusades, by drawing large numbers of people from the
country, also checked the progress of the work. The raids of the Welsh
often destroyed a half-built Cheshire church. But from the time of Magna
Charta the erection of sacred buildings went forward apace, and was
continued with even greater zeal and activity through the long reign of
Henry the Third.

  [Illustration: RUINS OF S. JOHN'S, CHESTER
  Change from Norman round arch to pointed arch]

The pointed arch was the principal feature of the new style, which is,
therefore, sometimes called the Pointed style. But we must look
carefully at the shape and details before we can be quite sure that an
arch belongs to this period of building.

The arch must be tall and narrow, the columns on which they rest, round
and slender, often grouped together in clusters of three or more. Often
the columns consist of slender shafts united on one base and under one
capital. The mouldings of the arch, base and capital must be deeply cut
and grooved. The pointed arches of S. John's have all these
characteristic features. The lower of the two rows of pointed arches is
called the triforium or blind story, that is, without windows, for it is
built within the slope of the roof over the side aisles of the church.
The upper row is the clerestory, containing many window lights. A
triforium is only to be seen in the very largest churches. In the ruined
portion of S. John's you may see round and pointed arches side by side.

The arches of the nave at Prestbury belong to this period. The columns
are very much more slender than the massive columns of S. John's. You
will notice that the capital of one of the columns is covered with
carved foliage which could only have been done with a chisel. Deep
under-cutting is a feature of the Early English style, and shows that
the English masons had improved greatly in their skill.

Early English windows, like the arches, are long, narrow, and pointed.
From their shape they are called lancets. Sometimes two or more lancets
are grouped together side by side under a single 'dripstone' or hood. At
the east end of the Chapter-house at Chester is a window consisting of
five lancets.

Several portions of Chester Cathedral, or rather the Abbey of S.
Werburgh as it was still called, were built during this period. In the
north aisle of the choir you may see the point where we pass from the
massive Norman masonry to the lighter and more graceful Early English.
The piscina or basin built in the wall is the place where you must look
for the change.

At the end of the twelfth century the church of Hugh Lupus was already
in ruins. Earl Randle was in the Holy Land, and, during his absence, the
Welsh were more than usually troublesome. In the early years of the
thirteenth century large sums of money were given to the abbey, and the
abbots began building in the new style. When Hugh Grylle was abbot, the
Chapter-house, in which the business of the abbey was transacted, was
built. The number of monks also increased to such an extent that a new
and larger refectory was needed.

  Left of the boss is a strip of dog-tooth moulding]

This refectory and the vestibule or entrance hall leading to it contain
the most beautiful examples of Early English work to be found in
Cheshire, and boys and girls who live in or near Chester should study
them carefully. In the refectory is the stone pulpit referred to in a
previous chapter, with a staircase and arcade of Early English arches
leading to it. The wall above the arches is pierced with a row of
'quatrefoil' openings, with deeply cut mouldings.


In the hollows of the Early English mouldings we sometimes see an
ornament pointed like a dog's tooth. You will see it in the moulding
round a circular opening over the doorway of the vestibule in
the cloisters of the Cathedral. Another ornament which the
thirteenth-century masons invented and put into their work was the
'cusp', a projection made by the meeting of two curves placed end to
end. If you put two cusps into the head of a pointed arch you will find
that you have made a trefoil-headed arch. The triforium arches in the
choir of the cathedral are all of this description. Quatrefoils are made
by arranging four cusps within a circle.

Towards the end of the thirteenth century, Abbot Simon of Whitchurch
built the Lady Chapel east of the choir. The windows of this chapel are
all lancets, those at the side being arranged in groups of three, while
the east window contains five lights. The Lady Chapel looks very new
now. It has, in fact, been almost entirely rebuilt since Abbot Simon's
day. The mediaeval builders of Cheshire did not select their
building-stone very carefully. You will see from the cloisters how the
red sandstone has weathered and crumbled to ruin.

The walls of Early English buildings were not so thick as those built by
the Normans, and required to be supported on the exterior by buttresses
which projected further from the walls than the flat Norman buttresses.
You will find Early English buttresses at Audlem and Prestbury.

Many houses in Chester are built over crypts or underground cellars,
which were made during the reign of Henry the Third, and consequently
show some of the features we have been describing. The oldest of these
crypts is under a shop in Bridge Street. It is lighted by a triple
lancet window having deep splays. The door of the staircase leading to
it has a trefoiled head, and the vaulted stone roof is groined and
ribbed like the roof of the cloisters of the cathedral. The roofs of
Early English churches were groined in the same way, but with wood
instead of stone.

Many Cheshire churches were, no doubt, rebuilt or repaired in the new
style. At Bruera there is a pointed doorway under a semicircular arch.
Bruera was one of the many churches bestowed on the Abbey of S. Werburgh
by Norman lords. A grant of a manor or a church was often made when a
baron or some member of his family entered the abbey as a monk of the

Their descendants did not always approve of these gifts. In the
Chronicle of S. Werburgh, we read that in 1258 Roger de Montalt, Chief
Justice of Chester, tried to recover the churches of Bruera, Coddington,
and Neston, which the lord of Montalt had given to the abbey in the days
of Earl Hugh. Roger entered Neston Church with a body of armed men, and
turned out the monks who had been sent from the abbey to perform the
services, and gave the living to his nephew Ralph. The Chronicle speaks
of the misfortunes that befell Roger as a warning to other would-be
robbers of the Church. His eldest son died within fifteen days, and
Roger himself 'died in poverty within two years, the common people being
ignorant of the place of his burial'.



Earl Randle 'the Good' had no son to succeed him, and when he died the
earldom passed to his nephew John the Scot, the son of Randle's eldest
sister. John married the daughter of Llewellyn the Prince of Wales, so
that peace was secured for a time between the Welsh and the earl's
subjects. He did not live to enjoy his earldom long, however, and he too
died without an heir. His wife was suspected of causing his death by

Henry the Third was at this time King of England. He had looked with
anxious eyes upon the growing power of the Earls of Chester. Now that a
suitable opportunity presented itself, the king decided to take the
earldom into his own hands, his excuse being that he was unwilling that
so fair an inheritance should be divided 'among distaffs', meaning the
sisters of John the Scot. So he gave them each a portion of land and a
husband, and appointed John de Lacy, the Earl of Lincoln, as custodian
of Cheshire.

A few years later Henry bestowed the earldom on his son Edward, and from
that time down to the present day the title of Earl of Chester has
belonged to the son and heir of the reigning monarch. The present
Prince of Wales is also Earl of Chester. One of Edward's first acts was
to confirm to the barons and the people of Cheshire all the liberties
and privileges which Randle had formerly granted them.

Some of these 'liberties' are set forth in the Charter which John the
Scot gave to the people of Chester: 'Know that I have conceded and by
this my present charter confirmed to all my citizens of Chester that no
merchant should buy or sell any kind of merchandise which has come to
the city of Chester by sea or by land, except these my citizens of
Chester themselves and their heirs, or in accordance with their will,
and except in the established fairs, that is on S. John the Baptist's
day and at the feast of S. Michael. Likewise I have conceded and by this
my present charter confirmed to my citizens of Chester, to have and to
hold their guild merchant, as freely as they held it in the time of my
uncle, Lord Randle, Earl of Chester.'

Similar charters were given to other Cheshire towns. Earl Randle, who
was one of those who saw King John sign the Great Charter, gave to his
baron, Sir Robert de Stokeport, a charter for his town of Stockport,
with permission to hold markets and fairs, receiving in return the
market dues and tolls. Hamon de Massey gave a charter for a weekly
market to the inhabitants of Altrincham. Congleton received its charter
in the reign of Edward the First from Henry de Lacy, whose statue you
may see on the front of Congleton Town Hall. Macclesfield boasts of
charters received from Randle Blundeville and from Edward the First,
though by the latter the citizens were compelled to grind their corn at
the king's mill and bake their bread in the king's oven, paying a toll
of one shilling each for this privilege.

In the thirteenth century the merchants and traders of a town formed
themselves into guilds, which drew up sets of rules for the regulation
and protection of their trade and industries. The merchants met at fixed
times in their guild-hall, where they elected the officers of the guild,
an alderman, a steward, a chaplain, and an usher, and where they
transacted the business of the guild. By these laws no merchant could
buy or sell goods in the town unless he was a member of the guild. All
the members subscribed to the guild, and if one of their number fell
into poverty, or was unable to work and provide for himself, he received
a sum of money every year from the common chest.

The little schoolroom in the churchyard of Nantwich was the old Guild
Hall. The guilds became very rich in time, and bought property and built
homes for poor people who had belonged to the guild, and schools where
their children might be taught.

The workmen also who worked for the merchants wanted their own guilds,
and craft guilds were formed by the different trades of a city, each of
the guilds receiving a charter of its own. Several charters of this kind
may be seen in the muniment room of the Chester Town Hall.

In mediaeval towns those who were engaged in a particular trade lived
near to one another in the same street, to which they often gave the
name of their industry. The name of Shoemakers' Row still survives at
Chester to tell us where the shoemakers' shops were to be found. Newgate
Street was formerly Fleshmonger Lane, and was the chief place of
business of the butchers. The Skinners lived in 'Castle Drive', and a
portion of Bridge Street known as Mercers' Row was given over to the
mercers, drapers, and haberdashers. The trade guilds were formed in the
same way as the merchant guilds. Each had its own officers and
meeting-place. The Phoenix Tower takes its name from the crest of one of
the city guilds, which used the tower as its council-chamber.

While the merchant guild looked after the interests of the trades, the
town itself was governed by a mayor and aldermen, who were responsible
for the good behaviour of the inhabitants. They also fixed the prices at
which food and other necessaries of life were to be sold, and had the
control of all markets and fairs. Commonhall Street takes its name from
the old Common Hall in which the mayor and aldermen of the city met for
their deliberations. The old hall has long since disappeared. The mayor
and the magistrates administered justice in the Penthouse or Pentice,
which used to stand close to S. Peter's Church in the centre of the

During the two great fairs of the city of Chester a large white glove
was suspended from the tower of S. Peter's as the symbol of welcome to
all strangers to bring their wares into the city for sale. In the church
of S. John's is an ancient grave-slab with glove and scissors carved
upon it. The slab once covered the remains of a glover; glove-making has
always been one of the chief industries of Chester. Another slab shows
by the hammer and horseshoe engraved upon it that it belonged to the
tomb of a smith.


One of the privileges of the Shoemakers' Guild was that of providing the
ball for the annual game of football played on the Roodee on Easter
Monday. The mayor and all the city guilds came to watch the game, which
unfortunately did not always end happily, for we read that 'great strife
did arise', and many of the players were haled away to be dealt with by
the Mayor at the Pentice court. The saddlers provided a silver bell as a
prize for the winner of a horse-race on the Roodee.

But the greatest event of the year in mediaeval Chester was the
performance of scenes from the Scriptures--mystery plays, as they were
called--at the Festival of Whitsuntide. The city guilds bore the whole
of the expense and chose the players to perform them, each guild being
responsible for one scene. Thus the painters and glaziers performed the
Shepherds' Watch and the Angels' Hymn; the vintners acted the part of
the Wise Men of the East; the butchers the Story of the Temptation; the
glovers the Raising of Lazarus. Scenes from the Old Testament were
included, the linen drapers performing the story of Balaam and the Ass,
and the watermen of the Dee, appropriately enough, the story of the

The plays were put into English verse by Randal Hignet, a monk of S.
Werburgh's, and no doubt were originally performed by the monks as a
means of instructing the people in the outlines of the Christian faith.
As the abbey church was found to be unsuitable they were performed
publicly in the streets, in order 'to exhort', as a clerk of the Pentice
said, 'the minds of the common people to good devotion as well as for
the common weal and prosperity of the city.'

Twenty-five scenes in all were played, and the performance lasted for
three days. On the first day the people saw scenes representing the
Creation of the World, the Banishment from the Garden of Eden, the Birth
of Christ and the Vision of the Shepherds and the Adoration of the Wise
Men; on the second day the Passion and Resurrection of Christ; and on
the third day stories illustrating the founding of the Christian Church,
the Lives of the Saints, and the final Advent of Christ and the Day of

The plays were performed on movable stages fitted with wheels. The
stages consisted of two stories, the upper one being left open for the
plays, the lower one covered with curtains that it might serve as a
dressing-room. The first performance took place at the Abbey Gate. The
stages then passed one by one to the Water Gate, where a second
performance was given. The plays were acted for the third and last time
in Bridge Street.

People crowded into Chester from all the country round on these
occasions, for the pope granted one thousand days of pardon to all who
witnessed the plays. The abbey also grew in wealth, for every one was
expected to visit the Abbey Church and lay some offering at S.
Werburgh's shrine. To provide a passage for the crowds of pilgrims, side
aisles were built round the choirs of famous churches, and behind the
high altar a vacant space left where the shrines of saints were placed.

The Cheshire towns which grew in importance during the thirteenth
century as a result of the great increase in trade were situated on or
near the great roads of Cheshire, which were still, in the main, the old
roads laid by the Romans. Their position was generally one of great
strength, having been chosen in early times in order that men might be
able to beat off the attacks of enemies. Chester was, as you have
already seen, guarded on two sides by a bend of the river Dee, and was
the meeting-place of Roman roads. Northwich on the Watling Street,
Middlewich on Kind Street, and Stockport were all built at a point where
two rivers meet. Runcorn, Lymm, and Altrincham are on sandstone heights
protected on the north by the Mersey; Macclesfield is astride the main
road in East Cheshire, and Nantwich on the highway into Wales. It was
only by means of the roads that commerce between the towns could be kept
open. The 'Welsh Row' of Nantwich recalls the days when the principal
trade of the town was with the wool-weavers of Wales, a trade that was
too often interrupted by the fierce outbreaks on the border.



Simon of Whitchurch received the Abbey of S. Werburgh from the hands of
another and a greater Simon, the powerful Earl of Leicester, who was
engaged in a grim struggle with the king on account of the king's
extravagance and misgovernment, and the rule of foreign favourites. Both
Henry and his son Edward were, in fact, at this very time prisoners of
the earl, for the battle of Lewes, which ended so disastrously for the
king, had just been fought. In the same year Earl Simon summoned the
famous Parliament in which knights from the shires, and citizens from
the boroughs, sat side by side with the nobles and bishops.

Edward had not long received the Earldom of Chester from his father when
the Barons' War broke out. Simon de Montfort made an alliance with
Llewellyn the Welsh prince, and Chester, expecting an attack, was put
into a state of defence. Abbot Simon could hardly have commenced
building his beautiful Lady Chapel when he saw his church desecrated and
turned into barracks by Sir William de la Zouche, the Chief Justice of

After the defeat of Henry and Edward at Lewes they were compelled to
hand over to Earl Simon the Earldom of Chester, and Henry de Montfort,
Simon's eldest son, came to Chester and received in his father's name
the homage and oath of fealty of the citizens. Lucas de Taney was left
in charge of the city.

Edward afterwards escaped from the custody of Earl Simon, and James de
Audley seized the castle of Beeston on his behalf. He also besieged
Lucas de Taney in the castle of Chester for ten weeks, but did not
succeed in taking it on account of the excellent defence made by the
garrison. De Taney surrendered when he heard of the death of Simon de
Montfort at Evesham, where Edward won a great victory. The chief of the
surviving barons were brought as prisoners to Beeston Castle.

But the great prize for which de Montfort fought and laid down his life
was won. When Edward came to the throne he learned from the mistakes
made by his father, chose his ministers wisely, and gave his people good
laws. His reign saw the growth of a full and free parliament, in which
all classes of free men were represented. Cheshire did not, however,
send any members, but being under the personal eye of the king had still
a separate government of its own as well as its own judges and

Vale Royal reminds us of the great Plantagenet king, whose motto was
'Keep Troth' and who for thirty-five years did all he could to win the
love of his people. Before Edward became king he went on Crusade to the
Holy Land, where he distinguished himself by recovering the holy city of
Nazareth from the Saracens. On his return he narrowly escaped shipwreck.
In his peril he invoked the aid of the Virgin Mary, and vowed that if he
were saved he would build a monastery in her honour on his return to his
own country. The Chronicle tells us that 'the vessel straightway
righted itself and was miraculously brought safe into port; the sailors
disembarked, the Prince landing last of all, and immediately the vessel
broke in pieces, and every fragment of the wreck vanished under the

Edward 'kept his troth' and built a home for one hundred monks of the
Cistercian Order at Darnhall. Four years later he laid the foundation
stone of a stately Abbey at Vale Royal, in the very heart of Cheshire.
Queen Eleanor and a great company of nobles accompanied him. We may not
now hear the Angelus tolling its summons to evening prayer, nor see
jolly monks fishing the streams of the Weaver, but in the last few
months the foundations of the Abbey church where they chanted the mass
have been discovered.

The abbey took more than fifty years to build, and it was not until the
reign of the third Edward that the monks were able to move from their
temporary lodgings to the new and spacious building. The abbey received
valuable lands in the neighbourhood of Over, Darnhall, and Weaverham, of
which villages the abbot became lord. By the ancient 'customs' of the
manor of Darnhall the villagers were required to attend at the manorial,
now the abbot's court; the abbot had power of life and death over all
his tenants, who had also to grind all their corn at the abbot's mill;
at the death of any native the abbot took all his horses, cattle, and
pigs, and half of his standing and gathered corn.

Cheshire saw a good deal of Edward the First in the earlier half of his
reign. In the year after the ceremonies at Vale Royal we find him at
Macclesfield, when he began to build the parish church of S. Michael.

He was the first English king to take in hand the conquest of Wales
seriously. In the reign of Henry the Third the Welsh had taken advantage
of the king's troubles with his barons, and waged a murderous warfare on
the Cheshire border. They advanced as far as Nantwich, and James de
Audley, who owned a large part of the barony of Nantwich, saw his
castles burnt, woods felled, and cattle destroyed. Preparations were
made for a big expedition into Wales, and Prince Edward summoned the
knights and barons of Cheshire to Shotwick Castle on the banks of the
Dee. A grassy knoll, where once stood the castle keep, is all that is
left of the scene of the gathering.

  [Illustration: CHESTER WALL. Roman below; Edwardian above]

Chester, from its position at the very gates of North Wales, was the
natural meeting-place for the troops, and the starting-point of Edward's
expedition against Llewellyn. Soon after his accession he summoned the
Welsh princes to do homage to him. This they refused to do, and the king
prepared for war. Llewellyn's brother David for a long time fought on
the side of the English, and received the manor of Frodsham as his

Edward's first task, however, was to strengthen the defences of Chester
so that it might resist all attacks. The enemy frequently came close up
to the walls of the city, and raided especially the suburb of Handbridge
on the opposite shore of the Dee, naming it Treboeth or 'Burnt Town', a
name that tells its own tale.

Edward was a great castle-builder, as many of you have learnt from
pictures you have seen of his Welsh castles. The Norman castle of
Chester had been constructed largely of wood. Edward now rebuilt it of
stone, and greatly enlarged it by adding an outer ward or 'bailey'. He
surrounded the whole fortress with 'curtain' walls flanked with towers
and protected with a deep ditch. He also set to work to rebuild the
walls of the city.

The ancient Roman walls had long since crumbled to their foundations,
though here and there a mass of masonry remained standing, and the Roman
east gate was still in its place. The stones of which the walls had been
built had provided building-material for many centuries. On the east
side from the Pepper Gate to the Phoenix Tower Edward built his wall on
or near the foundations of the Roman wall, portions of which you may
still see on this side of the city. For the most part, however, the new
walls were built outside the older ones, and the area enclosed was much
greater than that of the Roman town.

The walls were strengthened by a number of watch towers, some of which
were not completed until the time of his grandson Edward the Third, when
Bonewaldeston's Tower and the Water Tower were built. A wall-tax called
'murage' was levied on the inhabitants of Cheshire for keeping the walls
in repair. The citizens of Chester were also made to build a bridge over
the Dee. Edward's chief engineer was named Richard, and in return for
his services he received for a number of years the Dee Mills, so that
for the time being he was the 'Miller of the Dee'.


After some years of hard fighting the conquest of the Welsh was
complete. At Rhuddlan Castle, on the borders of the ancient palatine
earldom, Edward gave to the conquered Welsh a settled government and a
system of law-courts similar to that which he had already set up for the
English. He returned to Chester to celebrate the peace that he had made,
and accompanied by his queen, with great pomp and ceremony attended mass
and a service of thanksgiving in the Abbey of S. Werburgh.

The river Dee washed the walls of the Water Tower, and great iron rings,
to which the barges were moored, were fixed in the Tower walls. The
ships brought wines from Gascony and cloth from Flanders, whither the
monks of Vale Royal and Combermere sent the wool of the flocks that
pastured on their meadows. Some of the Flemish weavers left their own
country and settled on the shores of the Mersey near Birkenhead.

In nearly every field in the pastoral parts of Cheshire are to be found
one or more small round pools, often fringed with willows and reeds. You
know them well, for you have been to them often to watch the tadpoles
and the minnows. But you have not wondered why they are there, and why
there are so many of them. Yet they have something to tell of the
wool-raising in the days of the three Edwards. For they are marl-pits,
and many of them were dug first when the first Edward was king; the
marl, which is a great fertilizer, being taken out of the earth and
spread over the grass-lands on which the flocks were pastured. The
farmers do not use it now, for new and easier ways of enriching the soil
have been found.

The marl-diggers, or 'marlers' as they were called, had their own
particular feast-day once a year, when they claimed toll of every
passer-by, and in the evening sang their marling songs in the village

  When shut the pit, the labour o'er,
  He whom we work for opes his door
  And gies to us of drink galore,
  For this was always Marler's law.
        Who-whoop who-whoop wo-o-o-o-o.



Three streets in Chester in the neighbourhood of the Church of S. Martin
bear the names of Grey Friars, Black Friars, and White Friars
respectively. During the thirteenth century numbers of begging friars,
clad in simple grey or black or white tunics, came to Chester and
settled in the poorest quarters of the city. Like the early disciples of
Christ, whose lives of poverty they sought to imitate, they carried with
them neither gold nor silver, and walked unshod, begging their food and
shelter as they journeyed from town to town.

Their simple teaching appealed to the poor, who soon began to look upon
them as their best friends. For they brought the Gospel of Christ to
them in their streets, and tended the sick and the aged amid their
squalid homes. They were forbidden by the rules of their Orders to
receive either money or lands.

The first to arrive in Chester were the Dominicans or Black Friars, who
settled near the Watergate when Randle Blundeville was earl. The old
palace of the Stanleys formed part of the home of the Black Friars. They
were followed a few years later by the Franciscans or Grey Friars who
also lived by the Watergate, near the spot on which the Linen Hall was
afterwards erected, and in the reign of Edward the First the White
Friars or Carmelites took up their abode in the neighbourhood of White
Friars Street.

Unlike the monks, the friars had at first no fixed homes of their own,
and preached at wooden crosses set up at the street corners. Afterwards,
with the alms they received from the people and the legacies from rich
men who admired their devout lives, each of the different Orders of
friars built for themselves a permanent dwelling-place or friary, to
which a church in time was added.

The Church of the Carmelites must have been one of great beauty. Some of
the glazed coloured tiles which formed the pavement of the building may
be seen in the Grosvenor Museum. Excavations have been made at the spot
where the tiles were found, and three feet lower down the workmen came
across broken columns and bases of a large Roman building. Mediaeval
Chester was built on the ruins of the ancient Roman city. A doorway in
an old house called 'The Friars' was part of the Carmelite Friary.

The friars studied medicine and devoted themselves particularly to the
care of lepers. They also built schools for the children of the poor.
The Dominicans were also skilful engineers, and Edward the First
employed them in making wells and laying water-pipes in the city.

Unfortunately some of the friars did not live up to their early vows of
poverty, and the rules which S. Francis and S. Dominic had drawn up for
them. When wealth poured in upon them they became jealous of one
another, and quarrels and disturbances frequently arose between them.
The Records of Chester tell of many violent acts on the part of the
Dominicans and Carmelites, the latter of whom, armed with cudgels, were
wont to roam in the night time through the city to the terror of the

The monks of the thirteenth century had also become idle and luxurious.
They had, as you have already read, become great landowners, and
received the manorial dues from the manors which belonged to them. The
Abbots of Vale Royal ruled with a rod of iron. The poor people rebelled,
and fights between them and the monks were frequent. They laid their
complaints before the king, and good Queen Philippa interceded for them
as she did for the burghers of Calais, but the abbot was generally able
to prove his 'rights', and the people obtained little satisfaction. The
wealth of the monasteries was also greatly increased by the cultivation
of crops and the sale of their wool. But the richer they became, the
more they neglected their spiritual duties. The poor could no longer
look to them for their spiritual teaching or for charity and good
works, and so gladly turned to the friars who for a time ministered to
their needs so well.

Monks and friars alike were bitterly attacked in Edward the Third's
reign in a poem written by William Langland. In this poem, which is
called 'The Vision of Piers Plowman', the poet speaks of the ignorance
and sloth of the monks, one of whom is made to confess that he cannot
even chant the Lord's Prayer.

  I cannot the Pater Noster as the priest it syngethe,
  But I can Rimes of Robin Hood and of Randall of Chestre.

A few exceptions there were to the general rule. In his quiet retreat in
the Abbey of S. Werburgh, Ranulf Higden wrote a work called
'Polychronicon', which contained a history of the world from the
Creation to his own day, with geographical descriptions of the different
countries of the world, and the favourite mediaeval legends of Babylon
and Rome. The book is valuable because it is one of the earliest pieces
of literature written in the language of mixed Norman and Saxon which is
our mother tongue to-day. When printing was invented in the fifteenth
century, the Polychronicon was one of the books printed by Caxton the
first English printer.

Many of the churches in Cheshire show us that the masons and builders of
Edward the Third's long reign made great progress in their art.

We have seen how the thirteenth-century workmen learned to group a
number of lancets together under one hood, and to shape the lancet heads
like a clover leaf by the addition of cusps. In the fourteenth century
the space above a row of lancet or trefoil-headed lights was filled in
with a number of geometrical figures such as circles and foils. Hence
the name of Geometrical or Decorated has been given to the work of this
period. The large east windows of many of our Cheshire churches are made
up in this way. The patterns of flowing lines thus produced are called
'bar tracery'. There are Decorated windows in the aisles of the choir
and south transept of Chester Cathedral.


Windows and arches were now made wider than in the previous century. The
builders of the Pointed period sought after height; those of the
Decorated period aimed rather at breadth and openness.


The fourteenth-century masons studied nature carefully, and put masses
of carved fruit or flowers or leaves in the capitals of their columns.
The arches of the nave of Chester Cathedral prove this fact.

A favourite ornament of the Decorated period is the crocket, a
projecting bunch of foliage added to pinnacles, the hoods of arches, and
the canopies of niches and tombs. Another device is the ball-flower
carved in the mouldings. The ball-flower is as sure a sign of Decorated
mouldings as the dog-tooth was in those of the Early English period.


The choir of Stockport Parish Church is a beautiful example of the
Decorated style, and the greater portions of Macclesfield, Nantwich, and
Prestbury Parish Churches belong to the same period. In many other
churches you will find some detail, generally a window or a doorway or
an altar tomb, which will show you some of the features of this style.

In the Early English and Decorated periods a spire was sometimes added
to the tower, as at Astbury and Bebington. The spire grew out of the
pyramid-shaped roof with which the towers of Norman churches were

In the low-lying portions of the Cheshire plain, where stone was scarce
but timber plentiful, the framework of a church was often built of wood.
In the village of Warburton, on the banks of the Mersey, is a
fourteenth-century wooden church, which served as the chapel of a priory
that was established here by the Normans. The name itself
('Werburgh-ton') speaks to us of S. Werburgh, the patron saint of the
Abbey of Chester, and a field by the river is still called the Abbey
Croft; the stone coffins within the church once contained the bones of
monks who lived here.


The arches within are made of rough-hewn timber, rudely shaped with the
axe. Lantern pegs of buck-horn from the deer that once roamed the
woodlands of Dunham Massey are fixed on the oak pillars; the roof is
supported by stout cross-beams. The brick tower has been added at a
later day, and the south wall built when the timbers on that side of the
church collapsed. The timber churches of Lower Peover and Marton belong
to the end of the thirteenth or beginning of the fourteenth century.
Marton Church was the burial-place of the Davenports, who lived at
Marton Hall.


The Davenports had a more splendid home at Bramhall, the oldest portions
of which were built when Edward the Third was king. The great hall at
Baguley was built about the same time. The massive upright posts are
cut from timber more than two feet square, and the spaces between them
filled with wickerwork and plaster. The open roof is supported by a
mighty 'tie-beam' and two uprights called 'queen-posts'[2]. The windows
are tall and the lights narrow, and separated from one another by oak

  [2] Sometimes the roof was held up by a single 'king-post' in
  place of two queen-posts. The 'king-post' reached from the centre
  of the tie-beam to the point of the roof.

Surely the men who built it had hearts of oak. The building reflects the
rugged character of the men of the days when 'knights were bold' and
'might was right'. In this hall we can picture old Sir William Baggiley
feasting with his family and his retainers, when the summons came from
his king to follow him to the French wars.

His effigy still rests in the hall that he himself perhaps built. It is
broken and battered, but enough remains to show us that the knights who
fought for Edward and the Black Prince had changed the fashion of their
war dress since the Crusades. A hood of mail still protects the head and
neck, but the suit of mail has given way to plates of steel riveted or
hooked together, so that the whole body is cased in armour.



When Edward the First completed his conquest of North Wales, and the
Welsh chiefs swore fealty at Chester to the first English Prince of
Wales, the fighting squires of Cheshire found themselves without any
occupation. Edward the Third, ambitious of recovering the French
dominions of the Norman and Angevin Kings of England, provided the
Cheshire men with a fresh field of adventures, with far greater
opportunities of performing deeds of valour and satisfying their thirst
for warfare.

A number of Cheshire knights followed the king and the Black Prince to
France. The French Chronicler, Froissart, tells us that Sir James Audley
and his four Cheshire squires 'fought always in the chief of the battle'
at Poitiers. One of the four squires was Sir John Delves, who built the
old tower of Doddington Castle, near Audlem. In Barthomley Church is a
monument to Sir Robert Fulleshurst, who also was one of the dauntless

In the chancel of Bunbury Church is the tomb of Sir Hugh Calveley, who,
by his bold deeds, won for himself the title of the 'Cheshire Hero'.
Over the doorway of the inn at Handley you may see the sign of the three
calves, the ancient coat of arms of the Calveleys. Sir Hugh was the
leader of a famous band of soldiers called the 'Companions', who gave
their services for pay to any leader who required them, and were the
terror of the country people of France for many years. Edward made him
the Governor of Calais, from whence he sacked the seaport of Boulogne,
and treated the inhabitants with great cruelty. Indeed, many of his
exploits are anything but deeds of glory.

When Sir Hugh Calveley returned in his old age to his home in Cheshire,
wishing to atone, perhaps, for his ruthless acts, he founded a college
at Bunbury for a master, two chaplains, and two choristers. Their chief
duty, no doubt, was to pray for the repose of the soul of their

Cheshire knights and Welshmen fought side by side at Poitiers. When the
Black Prince returned to England he gave the Dee Mills for life to Sir
Howell y Fwyall.

An inscription on the wall of the Parish Church of Macclesfield tells us
that Perkin a Legh 'serv'd King Edward the Third and the Black Prince
his sonne in all their warres in France, and was at the Battell of
Cressie, and hadd Lyme given him for that service'. The descendants of
the Leghs still live at Lyme Hall, near Disley, where a life-size
portrait of the Black Prince hangs in the entrance hall. Sir Perkin
married the daughter of Sir Thomas d'Anyers, who received a handsome
reward for rescuing the Royal Standard at Crecy from the French. His
body lies beneath the d'Anyers monument in Grappenhall Church.

The same inscription at Macclesfield tells us that Perkin a Legh 'serv'd
King Richard the Second, and left him not in his troubles, but was taken
with him and beheaded at Chester'.

Cheshire was very loyal to the unfortunate Richard, who styled himself
Prince of Cheshire, and showed great favour to the ancient earldom. The
victory of Crecy was due to the English archers, and among them none
were more famous than those of Cheshire. On their return from the wars,
Richard's faithful bowmen became his body-guard, and could always be
relied upon whenever he wished to strike a blow at his enemies. 'Sleep
in peace, Dickon,' they would say to him, 'we will take care of thee,
and if thou hadst married the daughter of Sir Perkin of Legh, thou
mightest have defied all the lords in England.'

Cheshire men got a very bad name, for they were cruel and bloodthirsty,
given to lawless deeds and inspiring terror wherever they appeared. They
were safe in Cheshire, for the county was governed directly by the king,
and did not yet send representatives to Parliament. The House of Commons
itself was overawed by a force of 2,000 Cheshire archers, commanded by
seven Cheshire esquires. When the Commons rose against the misgovernment
of the king, the unpunished robberies and evil deeds of the Cheshire men
were one of the causes of complaint. The bowmen all wore the badge of
the White Hart, Richard's own device. There are at the present day many
inns in the villages of Cheshire that bear the sign of the White Hart, a
reminiscence of the days of Richard and his Cheshire guards.

The enemies of Richard were determined to depose him, and put in his
place Henry of Lancaster, son of John of Gaunt. Richard banished Henry,
and deprived him of his estates and possessions. When Henry landed with
a small force at Ravenspur in Yorkshire, in the year 1399, he was joined
by many of the northern lords, chief among whom was the powerful Earl of
Northumberland and his son, Harry 'Hotspur'. Richard surrendered to his
cousin at Flint, and was brought to Chester 'on a sorry hack not worth a
couple of pounds'. He was confined in the tower over the gateway of the
Castle at Chester before being removed to Pontefract, where he probably
met a violent death, though it was given out that he died of starvation.
Perkin a Legh was executed for his loyalty to Richard, and his head
fixed on a pole on the highest tower of Chester Castle.

The Cheshire archers struck one more blow in Richard's defence. Hotspur
had been made Justice of Cheshire and North Wales by Henry the Fourth,
to keep down the turbulent Cheshire men and the Welsh insurgents. He
suddenly changed sides, and joined Earl Mortimer and Owen Glendower of
Wales in their revolt against the new king.

Hotspur gave out that Richard was yet alive at Sandiway, and the chief
barons of Cheshire, the Venables and the Vernons, and the archers of
Macclesfield and Delamere flocked to his standard. The Mayor of Chester
went too, and the parsons of Pulford, Davenham, Rostherne and other
villages, each with his own following. Though they were afterwards told
that Richard was really dead, they were quite content to avenge him, and
the army decked with the badge of the White Hart marched from Cheshire
to join the Welsh leader.

King Henry met them near Shrewsbury, where a fierce battle took place.
The Cheshire archers fought with great bravery, and even routed a
portion of the king's army. But they were gradually overcome by the more
numerous royal forces, and Henry's victory was complete. Hotspur himself
was killed, and among the slain were 'the most part of the knights and
squires of the county of Chester'. After the battle, the baron of
Kinderton, Sir Richard Venables, was executed, and his estates given to
his brother, a supporter of the king.

The ancient yew-trees in many of the churchyards of Cheshire will remind
you of the sturdy bowmen who overthrew the mail-clad mounted men of
France at the battles of Crecy and Poitiers. The big yew in the
churchyard of Farndon must have been of great age, even in the days
when Richard's archers cut their bows from its tough and pliant boughs.

  The bow was made in England, in England,
  Of true wood, of yew wood, the wood of English bows:
  So men who are free
  Love the old yew tree
  And the land where the yew tree grows.

In order to encourage archery among workmen and labourers, Richard
forbade the playing of football, tennis, and the like, under penalty of
fine or imprisonment. Among the town-laws of Chester was one which
compelled all children of six years old and upwards to be taught the use
of the bow and arrow, both 'for the avoiding of idleness' and for
service 'in the ancient defence of the kingdom'. Every Easter Monday the
two sheriffs chose teams of archers, and shot a match on the Roodee, the
prize being a breakfast or dinner of calves' heads and bacon, in which
the Mayor and Aldermen also took part. When a man of any well-to-do
family married in Chester, he was expected to give a silver arrow in the
following year as a prize for archery.

Some of the knights who returned from the French wars found their old
homes burnt or destroyed by marauding Welshmen during their absence. The
castles which they built for their protection were built of stone, and
portions strongly fortified. The massive tower or keep of Doddington is
crowned with a battlement and four square corner turrets; the windows
are mere slits in the walls. Brimstage Tower in Wirral was built in 1398
by Sir Hugh de Hulse. The parapet or gallery is 'machicolated', that is
to say it projects beyond the walls of the tower, so that molten metal
might be poured through holes in the parapet upon an attacking force

The more famous Storeton Hall was built about the same time, though
little remains now to show its former splendour. From Storeton came the
powerful Cheshire House of Stanley. In the reign of Edward the Third,
Sir Philip de Bamville was master-forester of Wirral, which at the time
was covered with an extensive forest, so that an old rime said

  From Blacon Point to Hilbre
  Squirrels in search of food
  Might jump straight from tree to tree,
  So thick the forest stood.

Sir Philip was being entertained by John Stanley. In the evening, when
the festivities were at their height, young William Stanley ran away
with Joan de Bamville, Sir Philip's only child. Through forest and over
moorland they spurred their horses, and stayed not till the wide
Cheshire plain lay between them and their homes. At Astbury Church they
were wedded, and after the old knight's death, the Stanleys succeeded to
the forestership and the estates that went with it.

Scarcely any churches were built in Cheshire in the latter part of the
fourteenth century, though the chancel of West Kirby was put up in the
reign of Richard the Second. The carved heads on one of the window-hoods
are those of Richard and his queen. Labourers were very scarce, owing to
the ravages of the terrible calamity known as the Black Death, and the
men who returned from the wars had no fancy for doing the work of the
mason and the builder. Men refused to work; wages and the price of bread
rose so high that a limit had to be set to them by law. Even so great a
person as the Abbot of S. Werburgh was fined because his steward charged
too big a price for the abbey corn.

When the next century dawned and the land had rest for a while under the
Lancastrian king, churches were no longer built in the Decorated style
of the fourteenth century. Another style of church-building prevailed.

The curious Chester 'Rows' were originally built during the fourteenth
and fifteenth centuries, though they have been altered and rebuilt many
times since then. There is nothing quite like them in any other English
city. The 'Rows', or galleries, run continuously for most of the length
of the four principal streets over the shops on the street level, as if
the front rooms on the first floor of all the houses had been taken
out and a thoroughfare made through them. At the ends of the Rows, and
at street corners, you may descend by a staircase to the pavement below.


No one can be quite sure how the Rows came to be built on this plan.
Some people have thought that they were copied from the porticoes or
colonnades of shops in Roman towns. Others, again, say that they were
intended to serve as barricades in the street fighting which often took
place when the Welsh attacked the city. Probably, however, neither of
these explanations is correct.

Many old houses in Chester show that they were at first built with
outside flights of stone steps leading from the street to the first
floor. Under the steps was an entrance to a cellar or storeroom. At some
time or other the steps were removed, except at the ends of the streets,
and a footway laid along the tops of the cellars. The upper stories were
then brought forward, and, resting on columns of wood, made level with
the street fronts of the basement.



Henry the Fourth belongs partly to Cheshire, for a Duke of Lancaster had
married the heiress of the Lacys, who were descended from Nigel, Baron
of Halton and Constable of Chester. John of Gaunt, the king's father,
was a frequent visitor at Halton Castle, which he used as a

The French wars broke out again in the reign of Henry the Fifth. Once
more the loyal Leghs and other Cheshire knights followed their king. In
fact the king's body-guard was composed of Cheshire men, among them
being Richard de Mobberley, Ranulf de Chelford, and William de Mere.
Piers Legh, the grandson of Perkin Legh, fell at Agincourt, as you may
read on the brass plate in Macclesfield Church. In the same church is
the altar-tomb of another hero of Agincourt, Sir John Savage, who was
knighted after the battle.

Henry was stricken down at the very moment of his triumph, and a baby
king succeeded to the throne of England. The royal uncles, who acted as
guardians, quarrelled with one another, and in a few years the English
were compelled to leave France. Foreign wars were followed by strife in
our own country. The Wars of the Roses lasted for the greater part of
the second half of the fifteenth century.

Queen Margaret, the 'outlandish woman' as her Yorkist enemies called
her, was in Chester in the year 1459. The king was ill, and the queen
conducted the wars herself, and summoned the fighting-men of Cheshire to
rally to her side. The people of Cheshire were not greatly excited over
the wars, which were mainly blood-feuds of powerful nobles. The trading
classes and the artisans of the towns took little part in the fighting,
but the sturdy Cheshire yeomen followed the squires, who ranged
themselves on the one side or the other. Members of the same family
often found themselves opposed to one another.

A sixteenth-century poet, describing the battle of Blore Heath, which
took place just over the southern border of Cheshire, says:

  There Dutton Dutton kills, a Done doth kill a Done,
  A Booth a Booth, and Legh by Legh is overthrown;
  A Venables against a Venables doth stand,
  A Troutbeck fighteth with a Troutbeck hand to hand.

The Red Rose was badly beaten in this battle, in which Lord Audley and
two thousand Cheshire men were killed.

One of the Booths who fought in the Wars of the Roses is buried beneath
the chancel floor of Wilmslow Church. Set in a marble slab which covers
the grave is a brass plate with figures of Sir Robert de Bothe and Douce
Venables his wife. Similar 'brasses' were common enough in the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries on the monuments of those families
who could afford them. They represent, for the most part, knights and
priests. Few are left now, for numbers were stripped from their places
during the Great Rebellion. Portions of the brass at Wilmslow have been
destroyed or lost, for the figures were at one time set in a handsome
canopy of brass, and the whole surrounded by an inscription, only a
fragment of which remains.


The brass shows us the costume of a knight and lady of the fifteenth
century. The knight is in plate armour, which, since its first
appearance in the Edwardian wars, had become more and more elaborate and
highly ornamental. If you study this brass and the effigies on the
Savage monuments at Macclesfield you will be able to recognize in other
churches the warriors who fought in the battles of the fifteenth

Douce Venables was only nine years of age when she was married by her
parents to the twelve-year-old husband whom they chose for her.
Throughout the Middle Ages child-marriages were frequently arranged in
order to make secure the estates which the children were to inherit, and
save them from the greediness of the kings. The sovereign claimed the
right of wardship over all heirs and heiresses who were left orphans in
early life, and took a large sum of money out of their estates when he
gave them away in marriage. If they did not then marry according to his
wishes they had to pay a further sum. We may be sure the kings made all
they could from this source, for wars were expensive and the kings were
always short of ready money.

The people of Cheshire were glad when the Wars of the Roses were over.
The Roses were united when Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, married
Elizabeth the heiress of Edward the Fourth and of the House of York. On
the porch of Gawsworth Church is a carved corbel consisting of a rose,
within whose petals appear two faces. This is the Tudor Rose, a symbol
of the union of the Houses of Lancaster and York. The porch was
therefore built shortly after the wars were ended.

The Cheshire Stanleys helped Henry Tudor to win the crown of Richard the
Third on the field of Bosworth, the last battle of the rival Roses. When
Richard saw the redcoats and the harts' heads of the Stanley followers
ranged on the side of his enemies, he knew that he was doomed.

  The Stanley strokes they are so strong, there may no man their blows

It was Sir William Stanley who picked up the crown which had fallen from
King Richard's head when he was struck down, and taking Henry aside, set
it on his head.

Macclesfield suffered severely in this battle. Among the corporation
records of Macclesfield is preserved a letter to King Henry the Seventh,
praying that the town might not lose its charter because it could not
make up the necessary number of aldermen, owing to the heavy slaughter
of the townsmen at Bosworth.

Lord Derby, the head of the House of Stanley, arranged the new king's
marriage with the Lady Elizabeth, and Sir William Stanley was for a time
high in favour with the king. But one day he asked for too great a
reward--nothing less than the Earldom of Chester, and the suspicious
king chopped off his head. Thus were men often requited for their

Notwithstanding the squabbles and jealousies of rival kings and princes,
the people as a whole were progressing along more peaceful ways. Trade
was flourishing, and the class of well-to-do merchants becoming yearly
more numerous and important. Wealthy aldermen imitated the good example
of King Henry the Sixth, founder of many schools and colleges. Edmund
Shaw, of Stockport, founded in 1487 a Free School at Stockport for the
children of the burgesses. The master of the school was to be a priest,
'a discrete man, and conning in grammer and able of connyng to teche
gramer.' The art of printing had just been discovered, and now that
books were likely to be within the reach of all, it was necessary first
of all to teach Cheshire boys how to read and understand their own

The century, that opened with war and bloodshed, closed in peace such as
Cheshire had hardly ever before experienced.



Many of the largest and finest churches in Cheshire were built during
the Wars of the Roses, and in the reigns of the early Tudors. This fact
shows us more than anything else perhaps that the wars did not greatly
interfere with the progress and prosperity of the inhabitants of
Cheshire. During this period the churches of Mottram, Malpas, Great
Budworth, Nantwich, Astbury, Grappenhall, Tarvin, Bunbury, Wilmslow,
Witton, Gawsworth, and many others were built or completed.


If you study any of these churches carefully you will see that the style
was once again changing. Probably the first thing you will note will be
the change in the patterns of the windows. The mullions which divide
the lights are carried right up to the crown of the windows instead of
branching off to right or left in flowing curves. This is the chief
feature from which the new style has received the name of Perpendicular.

The Perpendicular builders of the latter half of the fifteenth and the
first half of the sixteenth centuries found their windows growing to
such a size that they had to strengthen them with cross-bars called
transoms. Thus the windows, as in the west front of Astbury and the
south transept of Chester Cathedral, for instance, present the
appearance of a number of rectangles placed side by side and piled one
above another. The crown of the windows are also now flattened until
they hardly appear to be pointed at all.

The clerestories of the Perpendicular churches were filled with rows of
windows until the whole length of the wall was almost continuous glass,
as at Malpas and Astbury. When Bibles and Church services began to be
printed more light was needed, for people went to church to read as well
as to listen.

The doorways, like the windows, have changed with the times. The heads
are flattened and covered with a square moulded hood. The corner spaces
between the arch and the hood are called spandrels, and are generally
filled in with carved foliage or shields. At the sides are often niches
for the images of saints, or moulded panels. The door of the Rivers
Chapel at Macclesfield is a beautiful specimen of Perpendicular

The walls of Perpendicular churches are generally surmounted by a
parapet which runs round the whole length of a church, as at Malpas.
Sometimes the stone work of the parapet is pierced with panel-shaped
slits or ornamented with rows of quatrefoils. Panels appear on the
buttresses of Gawsworth Church.

But the great glory of the fifteenth- and sixteenth-century churches are
the tall and massive square towers. These are built in stages separated
from one another by a narrow projecting course of stones or by bands of
quatrefoils. The name of the builder often appears on the tower. Round
the tower of Mobberley Church runs a Latin inscription bearing the
names of John Talbot and Margaret his wife, the patrons of the church,
and Richard Plat the master-mason. On the towers of Macclesfield and
Gawsworth Churches are carved rows of shields bearing the arms of
different lords of the manor. Like the body of the church, the tower is
generally crowned with an embattled parapet with pinnacles at the four


In the carved foliage of one of the capitals in the nave of Chester
Cathedral are the letters S. R. They are the initials of Abbot Simon
Ripley, one of the greatest of fifteenth-century builders in Cheshire.
He rebuilt the upper parts of the nave and south transept of the Abbey
Church, and planned the central tower, which was finished by the next
abbot. Simon Ripley also built the old tower and gateway at Saighton
Grange, which had been the residence of the Abbots of S. Werburgh ever
since the time of Hugh Lupus.

Many of the village churches of Cheshire were built on the sites of
former churches, and often a portion of the older building remains to
prove this. The Norman font at Grappenhall and the little Norman window
at Woodchurch are all that is left to prove that churches existed here
before the present buildings were erected. In such churches you can
often trace the successive buildings and rebuildings, alterations and
additions that have been made from time to time. A single church may
indeed show the chief features of all the styles from the time of the
Conqueror to the Civil War. At Prestbury you may see a Norman doorway in
the little chapel in the churchyard; in the chancel of the church is a
window of pure Early English, and in the nave a pillar of the same
period. There are Decorated windows in the aisles, and a Perpendicular
window at the east end.

The Cheshire churches are beautiful still; they must have been even more
beautiful in the sixteenth century, before the Puritans of the
Reformation and the Civil War in their mistaken zeal destroyed almost
everything of beauty within and without that could be destroyed. On the
walls of the interior were often painted pictures of Bible stories such
as the Creation, the Crucifixion, or the Resurrection of our Lord. When
the plaster was stripped from the walls of Gawsworth Church some of
these wall-paintings were discovered. Drawings were made from them,
which you may see in the Free Library of Macclesfield. On the wall of
the nave of Mobberley Church some of these paintings still remain, but
their meaning is not very clear.

The chancel was divided from the nave by a screen of carved oak, with a
long narrow gallery above it called a rood-loft, from the rood or cross
which was placed in the centre of the gallery. The crosses have gone,
but at Mobberley you may see the ancient screen, with an inscription,
and the date 1500 carved upon it.


Throughout the Middle Ages it was the custom for the lord of the manor
to reserve some portion of the church for his own use, or to add to the
building a chantry or chapel where his own chantry priest might pray
daily for the salvation of his soul. These chapels are generally at the
eastern ends of the aisles. You will know them by the handsome monuments
which were raised over the graves of the founders, for these chapels
were used as the burial-place of the founders and their families. The
Calveleys had a private chapel at Bunbury, the Mainwarings at Over
Peover, the Dones at Tarporley, the Troutbecks in S. Mary's, Chester,
and the Cholmondeleys at Malpas.

The church porches are on the south side of the church. They are
generally large, for portions of the baptismal service were read there,
and the font is therefore close to the door within the church. In the
corner of the porch at Woodchurch you will see a little stone basin or
'stoup' in which holy water was placed for the use of those entering the
church. At Malpas there is a little room above the porch called a
'parvise'; this was used as a priest's room. Over the door of the porch
are niches for the images of the saints to whom the church is dedicated.

In the churchyard near the south porch, which was nearly always the
principal entrance to the church, you will generally see a cross or
stump of a cross and steps representing a Calvary. From these steps the
friars used to preach to the people when they travelled through the
Cheshire towns and villages.

In many of the old churches of Cheshire you will see a stout oak chest,
often black with age, and strongly bound with bands and clasps of iron.
These chests were made to hold the deeds of gift of land and money made
by rich patrons. Beneath the tower of Wilmslow Church is an ancient
chest that was carved out of a solid block of wood. Some of you have
perhaps tried to raise the heavy lid of the chest at Little Peover, but
it is as much as a strong man may do. An old legend says that the maid
who can lift it is indeed worthy to become a Cheshire farmer's wife. In
the museum at Warrington is preserved the old parish chest of
Grappenhall. It is the oldest chest in the county. It is of the rudest
description, consisting merely of a tree trunk, seven feet long, chopped
smooth with an axe, sawn into two portions and hollowed.


In these chests were also placed the churchwardens' accounts of
expenses, as well as the registers of births, deaths, and marriages
which Henry the Eighth in 1538 commanded to be kept in every parish.
These ancient records are valuable now, and preserved with great care
for from them we can glean much information about the lives of our
forefathers. Many of them have been copied and published by scholars,
and may be read by you in your libraries. Many Cheshire parish registers
date from the times of the Tudors, but a large number were lost or
destroyed during the Civil Wars.

Churchwardens' accounts help us to picture in our minds the interior of
a mediaeval church. We read of payments made 'for timber bought to make
the pulpit', 'for mending of the Bible book and for the covering of the
same', for strewing rushes on the floor of the church to keep it warm,
and 'for a chain to the Bible'. There are chained Bibles still at
Bunbury, Backford, and Burton. A printed Bible cost a lot of money, and
chains were necessary to prevent it being stolen.

There were no comfortable cushioned seats for those who worshipped in
mediaeval churches. Wooden or stone benches were ranged along the walls,
and 'kneeling places' were made for those who could afford to pay for
them. In Acton Church the old stone bench running all round the walls of
the nave and chancel still remains.

In the choir there were stone seats, called 'sedilia', for the priests.
They are set in the wall on the south side of the chancel, and are
generally covered, as at Stockport and Mobberley, with a canopy of Early
English or Decorated tracery.

In the churches which were closely connected with an abbey or monastery,
wooden stalls were made for the monks. These are often beautifully
carved, and covered with handsome canopies of wooden tracery and
pinnacles. The choir stalls of Nantwich are said to have been brought
from the Abbey of Vale Royal.

The carved oak stalls in Chester Cathedral are thought by many people to
be the handsomest in England. Many of them still remain as they were in
King Henry the Eighth's days, freed now from the coat of white paint
with which stupid workmen covered them at a later time. The heavy seats
are fitted with hinges, so that they may be raised. On the under side
are quaint carvings of birds and dragons and unicorns, kings, knights
and seraphs, illustrating ancient legends such as Richard Cœur de
Lion pulling the heart out of a lion, or Scriptural subjects and stories
from the lives of the saints.

  [Illustration: Sedilia at Mobberley]

All Cheshire boys and girls should learn to read and understand the
stories of the Cheshire churches, for in them is bound up the story of
Cheshire men and women of many ages.



On one of the walls of the Parish Church of Macclesfield is a small
brass plate, a few inches square. It is called a 'Pardon brass', and
represents the Pope bowing before Christ, while Roger Legh and his six
sons are in the act of prayer. Beneath the figures is the inscription:
'The pardon for saying of five paternosters, five aves and a creed, is
twenty-six thousand years and twenty-six days of pardon.' We are not
told how much money Roger Legh paid the Pope for obtaining pardon for
his misdeeds, but it was a good round sum, I imagine.

During the Middle Ages the doctrine grew up that sins committed by one
man might be atoned for by the prayers or penance performed by others,
together with a sum of money, which varied according to the crime. The
price of pardon for robbery was twelve shillings, for murder only seven
shillings and sixpence, and for perjury nine shillings. By the sixteenth
century people began to have an uneasy feeling that the sale of
'indulgences', as these pardons were called, was wrong, and preachers
rose up everywhere to denounce the system.

This was only one of many evils which was bringing the Church into ill
repute. Reformers, like Martin Luther, showed that the Church believed
many things which did not agree with the teaching of the Bible.
Moreover, churchmen filled all the principal offices of state, and used
their position as a means of amassing great wealth, a portion of which
passed into the hands of the Pope, who was the recognized head of the
Church and whom the clergy were bound to obey. As the clergy would not
reform the Church themselves, the king and his lay ministers decided to
do it for them by Act of Parliament. King Henry the Eighth declared
himself head of the English Church, which, from this time, became
separated from the Church of Rome.

The king then turned his attention to the monasteries, which had grown
wealthy at the expense of the people. The monks themselves had grown
lazy and careless of their duties, and many of them were living evil
lives. The king decided to turn out the monks and do away with the
monasteries altogether.

In the year 1536 the king's officers appeared in Cheshire. The first to
suffer was the Abbot of Norton Priory, who resisted stoutly and summoned
all his tenants to his assistance. The king's men were compelled to take
refuge in a tower, but managed to send a message to Sir Piers Dutton,
Sheriff of Chester, by whose aid the abbot was captured and conveyed to
Halton Castle. The priory was sold, and the revenues, plate, and jewels
confiscated to the king.

Vale Royal fared no better. In this case, at any rate, the monks
deserved their fate. They had long been the terror of the neighbourhood,
and were the friends of the robbers and cut-throats of Delamere Forest.
Abbot and monks were expelled from the abbey, which was handed over to
Sir Thomas Holcroft. The Holcroft crest was a raven, and superstitious
people saw in the fall of Vale Royal the fulfilment of a prophecy of a
Cheshire 'wise man' named Nixon, who said that the abbey would one day
be destroyed and become a raven's nest.

The Cistercian Abbeys of Combermere and Darnhall, and the Priories at
Mobberley and Birkenhead, were treated in similar fashion, and their
wealth and estates divided between the neighbouring gentry and the king.

The Abbot of S. Werburgh was the most powerful man in Cheshire, but he
could not save his abbey from the greedy hands of the king's officials.
The wealth of this abbey was reckoned at more than a thousand pounds, a
large sum in those days, equal to a sum at least ten times as great at
the present time. The abbots lived in their fortified manor-houses at
Saighton and Ince, where they kept great state, and supported large
numbers of retainers and dependants. They held a court at Chester, and
frequent quarrels arose between them and the Mayor of Chester as to the
extent of their powers and jurisdiction.

The people of Chester were probably not sorry to see the abbot stripped
of his power. He did not, like the Abbot of Norton, show violence to the
royal officers, but fell in quietly with their wishes. For this he
received his reward, and returned to Chester within two years, no longer
as abbot, but as dean of a new cathedral.

Many of the bishoprics of England covered such a vast extent of country
that Henry decided to spend a portion of the wealth which he had taken
from the monasteries, in creating six new bishoprics. Chester was one of
them, and the Abbey of S. Werburgh became the cathedral church of the
new bishopric, a portion of the new buildings being set apart as a
palace for the newly made Bishops of Chester. The first bishop was John
Bird, a Carmelite friar.

Henry did not go as far in his reformation of the English Church as many
people wished. There were many who 'protested' against practices in the
Roman Church which they thought wrong, such as the worship of images or
of the relics of saints, to which the people were encouraged by the
clergy to pray for help. The Protestants, as the extreme reformers were
called, increased in number daily, and in the reign of Edward the Sixth
got the upper hand. They did away with the old Latin services of the
Church, which the greater part of the poorer classes did not understand,
and wrote a Book of Common Prayer in the English tongue. By an Act of
Uniformity, all the clergy were called upon to use this Prayer Book in
their churches.

During Edward's reign, the rich jewelled vestments of the priests, the
church plate and crucifixes, and even the church bells, were swept away
and sold for the benefit of the king. Many of our village crosses were
wantonly destroyed during this period. The beautiful Sandbach crosses
were thrown down and broken in fragments. Most of the pieces were
recovered at a later day, and the crosses set up again, but they will
for ever remain a proof of the careless destruction of works of art by
which the period of the Reformation was marked.

  [Illustration: CHESTER CATHEDRAL (before Restoration)]

When Queen Mary came to the throne she restored the old religion of
Rome. A memorial obelisk on Gallows Hill, Boughton, reminds us of the
dark days when Protestants were persecuted with blind and bitter hatred
by their Catholic enemies, and even suffered death for their beliefs. On
Gallows Hill, George Marsh was burnt at the stake for teaching the
doctrines of the reformed faith. He was tried in the Lady Chapel of the
cathedral, and condemned to death. The citizens of Chester, who had
shown themselves sympathetic to the reformers, were filled with horror,
and, led by one of the sheriffs, tried to rescue him, but failed in the
attempt. The bones of the martyr were collected and laid in the
burial-ground of S. Giles. The sheriff was forced to flee to the
continent until better times. He returned in the more tolerant days of
Queen Elizabeth, and became mayor of the city.

A settlement was brought about in Queen Elizabeth's reign, which
satisfied all but the extreme men on either side. She was the more
inclined to the Protestant cause inasmuch as she hated the Catholic King
Philip of Spain, who called her 'the heretic queen', and whose spies
were to be found all over England. When the struggle with Spain was near
at hand, Protestants and Catholics forgot their quarrels in face of a
common danger, and the queen had no more loyal subjects than the great
Catholic families of Cheshire. Rowland Stanley, of Hooton-in-Wirral,
gave a large sum of money for improving the defence of the sea-coast,
for it was thought that Philip might land troops in Wirral.

The Reformation was only part of a great awakening of peoples all over
Western and Central Europe. Scholars studied and brought from Italy
copies of the books of the ancient Greek and Roman writers. The
invention of printing helped the spread of learning, and the Tudor
monarchs encouraged the building of schools and colleges in order that
all classes might have the benefit of a better education. Over the porch
of the King's School, Chester, is a statue of King Henry the Eighth. He
was the founder of the school, which for a long time was carried on in
the ancient refectory of the abbey.

Some of the wealth taken from the abbeys and monasteries was devoted to
the foundation of schools. The Grammar School at Macclesfield was
endowed in the reign of Edward the Sixth. At Bunbury, Thomas Aldersey, a
haberdasher of London, founded a school, the chantry and college of Sir
Hugh Calveley having been dissolved at the same time as the abbeys.

Sir John Deane, son of Laurence Deane, of Davenham, gave some property
which had been in the possession of monks for the building of a free
Grammar School at Northwich, 'forasmuch as God's glory, His honour and
the public weal is advanced and maintained by no means more than by
virtuous education and bringing up of youth under such as be learned and
virtuous school-masters.'

'God's glory' was indeed not the least of the things that Cheshire boys
of the sixteenth century were taught to observe. In the statutes of the
founder of Witton Grammar School it is laid down 'that the scholars
shall thrice a day serve God within the school, rendering Him thanks for
His goodness done to them, craving His special grace that they may
profit in learning to His honour and glory'.

In the reign of Henry the Eighth the voice of the people of Cheshire was
heard for the first time in the Parliament of the English people at
Westminster. Hitherto, the miniature Parliament of the Norman and royal
Earls of Chester had been considered sufficient for them. Henry now
summoned two knights of the county and two burgesses from the city of
Chester to take their place side by side with the chosen representatives
of the other English shires and boroughs in the national assembly.



The chief event with which all boys, I imagine, connect the name of
Queen Elizabeth is the defeat of the Great Armada sent against these
shores by the King of Spain. Doubtless on that summer night in the year
1588 there were watchers by the beacon on Alderley Edge who saw the
'Wrekin's crest of fire' flashing its message northwards. There was no
telegraph in those days, and yet in an hour or two at most the news of
the approach of an enemy was carried by beacon fires from the Channel to
the Cheviots. Cheshire indeed produced no Drake or Hawkins; but Sir
George Beeston, whose tomb you may see in Bunbury Church, commanded the
ship Dreadnought, one of the four ships that broke through the Spanish
line and took an active part in the pursuit and destruction of the
Spanish vessels.

A few years later Sir Uryan Legh of Adlington Hall accompanied Lord
Howard and Raleigh and the Earl of Essex on an expedition to Cadiz, when
they destroyed the ships in the harbour and for a second time 'singed
the King of Spain's beard'. The town itself was taken by storm, and for
his bravery on this occasion Sir Uryan Legh was knighted. The Leghs were
always to the fore when there was any fighting to be done. A canopied
arch in Prestbury Church marks his last resting-place, but the tomb
itself has long since disappeared.

One result of the expeditions of Drake and Raleigh was that Englishmen
were inspired with a passion for travel, whether abroad or at home,
partly for the sake of adventure and the pursuit of wealth, partly out
of curiosity and a thirst for knowledge. The voyages of the great
navigators, 'itineraries' or diaries of travel, and histories of our own
country and its people were written at this period. These books show
clearly in their pages how intensely proud the Englishmen of Elizabeth's
day were of their country and their queen and her brave seamen, who by
their victories over Spain raised England to the first position among
the nations of the world.

Michael Drayton wrote a long poem called 'Polyolbion', in which four
hundred lines are taken up with a description of Cheshire, which he
calls the

  thrice happy Shire, confined so to be
  twixt two so famous Floods, as Mersey is, and Dee.

He speaks of Chester as

  th' imaginary work of some huge Giant's hand:
  which if such ever were, Tradition tells not who.

The book was illustrated by a number of curious maps, adorned with
quaint figures of men and women representing the rivers, hills, forests,
and castled towns.

John Speed was born at Farndon on the Dee, and wrote a book called the
_Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain_, which contained the earliest
set of maps published in England.

Cophurst, an old house near Sutton Downes in the Forest of Macclesfield,
is thought to have been the birthplace of the chronicler Raphael
Holinshed, who wrote a History of England and dedicated it to William
Cecil, Lord Burghley, the great minister of Queen Elizabeth. Shakespeare
used this book for the plots of some of his plays.

The triumphs of Francis Drake were celebrated in a long Latin poem by
Thomas Newton of Butley, who placed the small brass tablet on the wall
near the pulpit in Prestbury Church to the memory of his parents. Newton
was for some time the head master of Macclesfield Grammar School.
Another Elizabethan poet was Geoffrey Whitney, who was born at Nantwich.

An inscription on an old house at Nantwich, bearing the date 1584, shows
that Elizabeth returned the affections of her people and did all she
could for them. The verse reads thus:--

  God grant our royal Queen
    In England long to reign;
  For she hath put her helping hand
    To build this town again.

  [Illustration: MAP OF CHESHIRE. From Drayton's 'Polyolbion']

Nantwich had been almost totally destroyed by fire in the previous year.
The risk of fire was always very great, owing to the fact that nearly
all the houses of the Middle Ages were built of timber and thatched with

The black and white timbered halls are the glory of Cheshire. Let us pay
a visit to-day to Little Moreton Hall, near Congleton, perhaps the most
beautiful of them all. The people who live here are proud of their home,
and on certain days of the week allow you to examine at your leisure
many of the rooms in the old house, which remains in almost the same
condition as when the Moretons removed to a new and more spacious house
of brick hard by.

The framework of the house is all of wood, good solid English oak, and
black with age. The spaces between the beams and props are filled with
plaster and painted white. The principal beams which support the
building are of course upright, firmly laid on a foundation of stone.
Within the squares of this framework other beams are set in sloping
parallel lines, forming patterns of chevron or diamond, or arranged in
rows of quatrefoils and arcades of trefoil-headed arches. The upper
stories and the gables of the roof project beyond the ground floor of
the building, which is thus kept dry.

We cross the moat by a substantial stone bridge, and enter through a
gateway whose massive oaken lintel and side-posts are covered with rich
carving, and find ourselves in a square paved courtyard. Within the
gateway is a stone horse-block.

Facing us are two deep bay-windows formed of five sides of an octagon.
Over them you may read the carved inscription: 'God is al in al things.
This window whire made by William Moreton in the yeare of oure Lorde
MDLIX.' The building of the home was regarded by our Elizabethan
forefathers as an almost sacred work, to be carried out with hardly less
reverence than the building of a church.

A second gateway forms the entrance to the dining-hall on the one hand
and the kitchen on the other. The walls of the dining-room are lined
with wainscoting of panelled oak; the open timbered roof is held up by a
strong central beam; the windows are filled with countless tiny panes of
glass, with bright patches of red and orange and blue where the
coat-of-arms and crest of the Moretons are painted upon them.

  [Illustration: LITTLE MORETON HALL]

In the kitchen are marks of the growing comfort and luxuries of
Elizabethan days--the rows of pewter plates bearing the Moreton arms,
and a great spice-chest where the fragrant spices of the East, brought
home by travellers, were stored, as well as the sweet herbs, the sage
and rosemary, lavender and thyme, from the herb-garden of the Hall. In
the open fireplace, ten feet wide, an ox might well be roasted; the
smoke from the log-fire was carried upwards from the roof by a
chimney-stack of brick.

Over the 'screen' or passage that divides the dining-hall and the
kitchen is a musicians' gallery, where the players of the viol and the
harp made music while the squire and his lady supped in the early

To the left of the gatehouse through which we first entered is the
chapel, where the chaplain read the daily prayers to the assembled
family. A narrow spiral staircase fixed upon a central newel post leads
to a long gallery at the very top of the house, running the whole length
of one side of the courtyard. This was the ballroom, where Elizabeth
herself may perhaps have danced, as tradition says she did, for we know
that she was fond of visiting her people in their own homes.

Few sixteenth-century houses were without a secret chamber. Little
Moreton Hall contains two such rooms, cunningly concealed in a corner of
the house. They are entered by sliding panels from an apartment over the
kitchen, and the fugitive could escape his pursuers by an underground
passage leading underneath the moat to the open field beyond.

At opposite corners of the moat are two green circular mounds, on which
probably once stood two watch-towers to guard the house against attack.
A large number of the old halls of Cheshire were at one time moated for
their protection, though in many cases the moats have been filled up,
now that they are no longer necessary. Peel Hall in Etchells, Irby,
Swinyard Hall, Twemlow, Marthall, and Allostock Hall still retain
portions of their original moats.


Handforth Hall was built, as the inscription over the entrance door
tells us, 'in the year of our Lord God MCCCCCLXII by Uryan Brereton
Knight.' The Tudor builders were not ashamed to put their names to their
work. Within the Hall is a wide oak staircase with a wonderfully carved
balustrade, one of the most beautiful pieces of Tudor woodwork in
Cheshire. Sir Uryan's daughter married Thomas Legh of Adlington, who
built the timber portions of Adlington Hall in 1581.

As you have already seen in a previous chapter, some of the timber
houses of Cheshire belong to a period much earlier than the reign of
Queen Elizabeth. Just as they reached their highest pitch of beauty and
richness under the Tudors a new style of domestic architecture was
coming in. Bricks, which had been very seldom used since the days of the
Romans, were again employed. The bricks were much larger than those used
by the Romans; in fact they were precisely similar to those of the
present day. They were not, however, laid as they are now, but in the
style called 'English bond', in which one 'course' or row shows all the
long faces and the next one all the short ends.

These brick mansions were larger and more spacious than the old wooden
ones, and built for comfort rather than defence. They were set in the
midst of broad parks, and surrounded by terraced lawns and gardens
enclosed by walls of clipped yew-trees. Sometimes ornamental fish-ponds,
such as you may see at Gawsworth, were laid out in front of the house;
avenues of limes and Spanish chestnuts imported from abroad were planted
along the roadway leading to the principal entrance. Their general
shape, out of compliment to Queen Elizabeth, was that of the letter E.
Brereton Hall is a good example of this 'Tudor' style. It was built in
1586, the first stone being laid, so it is said, by the queen herself.

In the eastern parts of Cheshire, where stone is abundant, houses
similar in design were built of this material instead of brick. Arden
Hall, near Stockport, is now in ruins, but enough remains to show the
chief characteristics of an Elizabethan mansion; the turret with
circular stone staircase, the wings with gabled ends, and the bay
windows carried up to the roof. Other Elizabethan houses are Marple
Hall, Poole Hall, Carden Hall in the Broxton Hills, Dorfold Hall, and
Burton Hall in Wirral.

  The central figure is that of Mary Fitton]

In Gawsworth Church are a number of monuments of members of the Fitton
family, who lived at the Old Hall at Gawsworth. Mary Fitton was one of
Elizabeth's maids-of-honour, and used to take part in plays for the
amusement of the queen; and it is not at all unlikely that she was a
friend of Shakespeare. It is indeed supposed that she is the 'dark lady'
of whom the poet speaks in his sonnets. From an examination of these
Fitton monuments you can learn what the costume at the end of the
sixteenth century was like. Lady Alice Fitton is surrounded by the
kneeling figures of her two sons and two daughters, the former in plate
armour, the latter wearing the familiar head-dress and ruff which are
such distinctive features in the dress of Tudor ladies. The figures are
carved in alabaster, and have clearly at one time been painted in bright
colours. The picture of Mary Fitton will help you to recognize the Tudor
monuments which are to be seen in many Cheshire churches.



Many attempts were made by the Tudor sovereigns to conquer the Irish.
From time to time expeditions were sent across the sea, and the troops
embarked at various points on the Cheshire coast. The fighting Leghs of
Adlington raised a troop of Cheshire soldiers, and Thomas and Ralph Legh
fell in battle against the Irish chieftain Shane O'Neill. A Cheshire
knight, Sir Edward Fitton, of Gawsworth, was made Governor of Connaught.

In the later years of Elizabeth's reign a constant stream of ill-clad
and ill-paid soldiers marched through Cheshire on their way to the wars.
The soldiers had to be supplied with food and quarters by the towns and
villages through which they passed, and the cost of billeting the men
in the houses on their arrival at Chester fell very hard on the city
merchants, who were soon brought to great distress. The soldiers were
generally put on board ship at Parkgate, for the channel of the Dee had
become so choked up with sand that only the smallest vessels could reach

The leader of one of the expeditions was the Earl of Essex, who was a
frequent visitor at Lyme Park, where he hunted the stag with his host,
Sir Piers Legh.

The wars with Spain ruined the oversea trade of Chester, consisting at
this time largely in the export of tanned leather to the French ports of
Rochelle and Bordeaux. In the year 1598, Thomas Fletcher, the Mayor of
Chester, wrote to Lord Burghley that he 'had found the poor city to be
generally very weak and much decayed, especially in the chiefest parts
thereof (the merchants) who have been heretofore the most able to do her
Majesty service'. For eight months there had not been 'one ship nor
small bark laden into any foreign place'. The queen had, some years
previously, given the merchants license to export 10,000 'dickers' (that
is, bundles of ten) of tanned calf-skins within a certain time, but
owing to the wars they were unable to get them away within the given
period, and the merchants asked for the time to be extended.

An old gabled house in Watergate Street, with its pious superscription
'God's Providence is mine inheritance', reminds us of a more dreadful
scourge than war which visited Chester, and indeed the whole of
Cheshire, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This was the
terrible plague, which attacked rich and poor alike, and stopped the
trade of the city so much that, as one writer says, 'grass did grow a
foot high at the Cross'. Houses that were infected with the disease were
marked with a cross, that none might go near; no merchandise was allowed
to enter the city until it had been unpacked and aired outside the
walls. Death came suddenly, or within a few hours at most; and often 'to
those that merrily dined it gave a sorrowful supper'. God's Providence
House received its name from the fact that its inmates alone of all
the neighbourhood escaped the disease.

  [Illustration: STANLEY PALACE, CHESTER (showing influence of

The Courts could not be held in the plague-stricken city; the Exchequer
Court was removed to Tarvin, and the Assizes were held at Nantwich. The
annual fairs were abandoned to prevent the spread of the disease.
Numbers of victims were carried out from the city and hastily buried in
the 'Barrow Field'. Other Cheshire towns suffered severely. On the
hills, near Macclesfield, are many gravestones of the victims of the
plague; two gravestones near the Bowstones on Disley Moor tell the same

Some of the English nobles had residences in Chester. The city gates
were confided to noble families for safe keeping. The East Gate was
guarded by the ancestors of Lord Crewe. The 'Bear and Billet' Inn in
Bridge Street belonged to the Earls of Shrewsbury, who were Sergeants of
the Bridge Gate. The Earls of Derby had charge of the Watergate. The
North Gate, however, the most important entrance to the city, was
entrusted to the mayor and the citizens.

A narrow court in Watergate Street leads to the Stanley Palace of the
Earls of Derby; the gardens extended down to the river-side. The
architecture is very similar to that of the old timber halls described
in the last chapter, but the row of round-headed panels tells us that
people were beginning to imitate in their timber decorations the
round-headed arches of the Italian style.

As early as the reign of Henry the Seventh, English architects were
beginning to study the remains of ancient buildings in Rome, and Italian
architects were brought over to England. Henry the Eighth invited a
builder named John of Padua, who designed the north side of Lyme Hall.
The Italians despised the Pointed styles of English architecture,
calling it contemptuously 'Gothic', from the name of the barbarian
Goths, who overran the Roman Empire in the third and fourth centuries.

Many of the Cheshire gentry left their homes in the towns to live in new
houses in the country. The old hall of the Sandbach family is now the
principal inn of the town of Sandbach; the ancient home of the Ardernes
in Great Underbank, Stockport, is now a bank; and the house built at
Nantwich by 'Richarde and Marjery Churche' has been turned into a
ladies' school. The Mainwarings lived in a fine house in Watergate
Street, Chester, until a number of little shops were allowed to block up
the front of their home. The Wilbrahams moved from Nantwich to the
spacious Elizabethan hall at Dorfold.

When the monasteries were destroyed, a large number of people were
thrown out of work, especially in the country districts. The distress
was so great in Queen Elizabeth's reign that Parliament passed a 'poor
law', by which the inhabitants of every parish were compelled to pay
taxes for the support of their own poor.

This did not, however, prevent rich and charitable men from devoting a
portion of their wealth to the building of hospitals and almshouses,
where the aged poor could live in comfort. In Commonhall Street,
Chester, are the old almshouses founded by Sir Thomas Smith in 1532, and
there are almshouses at Acton, Little Budworth, Macclesfield, Nantwich,
Tarporley, Sandbach, and Stockport, though some of these were built in
later reigns. Nantwich was particularly favoured by benefactors, and
possesses four separate sets of almshouses.

Sometimes sums of money were left to be spent on providing bread for
those who were unable to work. In the churches at Little Peover,
Mottram, and Woodchurch, you will see some wooden shelves fixed on the
wall near the porch. On these were placed the loaves which were
distributed after the Sunday services. At Bebington and Woodchurch sums
of money were given by a family of the name of Goodacre for the purchase
of bullocks to draw the ploughs of the poor peasants of Wirral.

Certain days of the year were set apart as public holidays. Every parish
had its 'wakes' or festival of the dedication of the parish church.
These were held on the feast-day of the saint after whom the church was
named. Another festival was that of the 'rush-bearing'. In a former
chapter you have read of the rushes that were spread on the floors of
churches. They were gathered from the fringe of a stream or mere, and
tied into bundles and placed on the rush-cart, which was gaily decked
with ribbons and flowers. A procession was then formed of the villagers,
who accompanied the cart to the church, where a special service was
held. There are still rush-bearing services at Farndon, Aldford, and
Forest Chapel, but in many villages the merry-making too often ended in
disorder and drunkenness, and the custom has been allowed to die out.

An Elizabethan writer tells us that the people of Nantwich visited the
brine pits on Ascension Day and decked them with flowers and garlands.
Then they offered hymns and prayers of thanksgiving for the blessing of
the brine, on which the prosperity of their town depended.

May-day was the favourite holiday of the people. The maypole was set up
on the village green, where the Queen of the May was crowned, and
morris-dancers danced to the fiddle and horn-pipe, as they do to this
day at Lymm, Knutsford, Holmes Chapel, and many other Cheshire villages.
Sometimes there were wrestling matches, and combat with sword and
quarterstaff. At Gawsworth are the remains of a tilting-ground where
such encounters took place. The long terraced banks of earth on which
the spectators sat may still be seen.

The good people of Chester were particularly fond of shows and pageants,
and processions. On Midsummer Day the mayor and aldermen of the city
marched with banners through the streets to S. Oswald's Church. With
them went 'four giants, one unicorn, one dromedary, an ass and a dragon,
and six hobby horses'. The giants were made of pasteboard and repainted
every year, and 'dosed with arsenic to keep the rats from eating them'.

Some of their amusements were, however, of a more degrading kind. The
High Cross of Chester, from which the friars and Wyclif's 'poor priests'
had preached in former days, now became the scene of brutal pastimes.
For at this spot bulls were baited in the bull-ring when a mayor
finished his year of office, the mayor himself paying the expenses.

The Bear's Head and White Bear Inn at Congleton remind us that the
natives of Congleton were so fond of bear-baiting, that a local proverb
says that they 'sold their Church Bible to buy a new bear'. Few towns or
villages were without a cock-pit, for cock-fighting was a favourite
amusement of all classes. Happily, these degrading sports are now
forbidden by law, and we do not regret their disappearance.

  [Illustration: Cross and Stocks, Warburton]

Little mercy was shown to those who were guilty of brawling or breaches
of the peace. Often by the lichgate of a Cheshire churchyard, or near
the village cross, you will see the remains of the wooden stocks in
which drunkards were placed and exposed to the jeers and gibes of the
passers-by. In the museums at Chester, Stockport, and Macclesfield, you
will see a still more barbarous form of punishment. The scolding or
brawling woman was compelled to have her head encased in a 'brank' or
skeleton helmet of iron, with a spiked iron piece pressing on the
tongue. A chain was attached to the woman's waist, and she was led
through the town.

Another instrument of punishment is to be seen in the Museum at West
Park, Macclesfield. It is a girdle or cage, consisting of a number of
iron hoops fastened together by chains which were placed round the body
of a woman, who was then tied to a plank called a 'ducking-stool', and
dipped in a pond. There was also an iron strait-jacket at Macclesfield
for drunkards and lunatics.



In the 'Stag Parlour' of Lyme Hall is a framed piece of needlework done
by Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, when she stayed at Lyme. When she was
deposed by her Scottish subjects she threw herself on the mercy of Queen
Elizabeth, who permitted her to live in England. But plots were made
against the life of Elizabeth, and Mary was suspected of having a hand
in them, and in the end Mary had to pay the penalty of death.

Mary was a Catholic, but her son James, who succeeded to the English
throne on the death of Elizabeth, had been brought up among the Scottish
reformers. The extreme English reformers, or Puritans as they were now
called, hoped therefore that the king would be friendly to their wishes.
The Puritans were disappointed, but James agreed to one of their
demands, and said that he would have a new translation of the Bible
made. The Authorized Version of the Bible which is read in all Cheshire
churches and chapels to-day is the one noble work due to the first
Stuart king.

The Puritans were so named because they wished to 'purify' the Church of
certain forms and ceremonies, such as the use of the surplice, and the
sign of the cross at baptism, and even the ring in the marriage service.
They also objected to the rule of bishops, and wished the Church to be
governed by councils of elders or 'presbyters' after the manner of the
Presbyterian Church of Scotland.

During the reign of Elizabeth many Puritan clergymen had refused to
perform the services of the Church in the way ordered by the Prayer
Book. They were driven out of the Church, and formed separate
congregations of their own. Hence they received the name of
Independents, and they were the earliest of the Nonconformist

Many Independents suffered so severely at the hands of King James and
his archbishop, that they determined to leave the country and settle in
new homes across the sea. They gave the name of New England to their
colony in America, and thus became the founders of our American
possessions. Among the exiles was Samuel Eaton, a Wirral clergyman. He
returned in the reign of Charles the First, and became a minister in the
chapel attached to Dukinfield Hall, which thus became one of the
earliest places of worship for the Independents in Cheshire. The ancient
chapel now forms a portion of the modern Nonconformist church of

The Catholics were not more pleased with James than the Puritans were.
They were compelled to attend the new services of the Protestant Church.
Those who refused to do so were called 'recusants'. The Bishop of Chester
was ordered by James to hunt out all the Popish recusants in Cheshire
and bring them to trial. The secret hiding-places built in the walls of
many Cheshire halls must often have sheltered these fugitive priests,
for many great families in Cheshire, such as the Stanleys of Hooton and
the Masseys of Puddington, were strongly Catholic.

Chester was Protestant, and a Puritan Mayor of Chester stopped the
Midsummer show, and broke up the pasteboard giants, and abolished the
bull-ring; for the Puritans disliked shows and processions and sports of
all kinds, and even such harmless pastimes as the May-day dances.

The Midsummer revels were, however, revived, and held with great pomp
when King James paid a visit to Chester in 1617. His arms are carved in
a panel under one of the front windows of Bishop Lloyd's house. One of
the Fitton family was mayor on this occasion, and the king's sword was
borne by a Stanley. James rode to the minster, where he heard one of the
scholars of the King's School read a Latin address of welcome. 'After
the said oration he went into the choir, and there, in a seat made for
the king at the higher end of the choir, he heard an anthem sung. And
after certain prayers the king went from thence to the Pentice, where a
sumptuous banquet was prepared at the city's cost: which being ended,
the king departed to the Vale Royal: and at his departure the order of
knighthood was offered to the mayor, but he refused the same.' The sale
of knighthoods and baronetcies was one of King James's ways of raising
money, and the Mayor of Chester was not the only one who declined the

A zealous Puritan named William Prynne wrote against the performance of
stage plays, dancing, and other amusements. Some things that he said
were thought to refer to the Queen of Charles the First, and he was
tried by the Star Chamber and ordered to pay a fine of £5,000 and to
have his ears slit. There was a branch of the Court of Star Chamber at
Chester, but it was abolished in Charles the First's reign. In one of
the rooms of Leasowe Castle are some oak panels brought from the Star
Chamber at Westminster.

William Prynne passed through Chester on his way to his prison in
Carnarvon Castle. The Puritans turned out to welcome and cheer him in
the streets, but their leaders were punished by fines and imprisonment
for so doing.

Neither James nor Charles got on well with their Parliaments. The Tudor
monarchs had for the most part understood the people, and the people in
their turn allowed them to have their own way. But the Stuarts began to
claim powers which the people would not permit. When Parliament refused
to grant money they asked for, the Stuart kings tried to raise money by
means which the people thought illegal. Charles borrowed large sums of
money without the consent of Parliament. Sir Randolph Crewe, of Crewe
Hall, was one of the judges who thought that this was wrong, and he was
dismissed from his office by the king.

Charles also tried to impose a tax called Ship Money, a tax which had in
former times been levied on the counties on the seaboard for the support
of the navy. Now the king proposed that inland counties also should
contribute for this purpose. Sir William Brereton, a Cheshire knight,
objected strongly to the hateful tax, and was very angry with the people
of Chester for rating some land of his near Chester, called the Nunnery
Fields, for the payment of the money.

It is not surprising that trouble should arise between Parliament and a
king who refused to obey the wishes of the people over whom he ruled.
The Stuarts believed in the theory known as the Divine right of kings,
that is, that kings are made by God alone, and that from Him alone they
receive their power. But from the time of the great awakening the people
had begun to think for themselves, and the result of this was that they
were now determined that the king should carry out the will of the
nation through the mouth of its Parliament.

Moreover, Charles was suspected of being a Catholic; at any rate he had
married a Catholic wife, and Parliament was not in a mood to permit a
return to the unhappy state of affairs of Queen Mary's reign.




Charles proclaimed war on Parliament in the year 1642, and both sides
prepared at once for the struggle. Roughly speaking, London and the
south-eastern counties were on the side of Parliament, for they were the
chief centres of trade in the seventeenth century, and felt most keenly
the evils of bad government. The great modern industrial towns of the
northern counties of England were in most cases as yet mere villages.


The king's supporters were drawn chiefly from the north and west. They
were called Royalists or Cavaliers, while the Parliamentarians were
nicknamed Roundheads because they wore their hair cut short, after the
manner of the Puritans, and disdained the flowing curls which were
fashionable at the time. But although the country was thus roughly
divided into two opposing factions, supporters both of king and of
parliament were to be found in nearly every town and village. Indeed it
sometimes happened that members of a single family found themselves on
different sides in the war. The Breretons of Brereton Hall were stout
royalists, but their cousins of Handforth were, as you will see, the
most determined opponents of the king.

The towns of Cheshire, with the exception of Chester, were largely on
the side of Parliament, while most, but not all, of the great landowners
and their numerous retainers fought for the king. The county was
represented in the Long Parliament by Sir William Brereton, the son of
William Brereton of Handforth Hall.

Brereton was an ardent Puritan, and at the first signs of approaching
war he put himself at the head of the Parliamentary party in Cheshire,
calling upon all able-bodied men between the ages of sixteen and sixty
to join him at Tarporley, and soon after was appointed by Parliament
itself as commander of the Cheshire forces. His career was very nearly
cut short at the very beginning of the struggle, for he brought about a
riot in Chester by causing the drum to be beaten publicly in the streets
for Parliament. He was brought to the Pentice but released, and with
difficulty saved from the fury of the citizens, who in later days
complained bitterly that the mayor had preserved the life of one who was
to be the author of so much disaster to themselves.

In Tarporley Church you may see a helmet and breastplate that were dug
up in the neighbourhood. They were probably worn by some soldier who
fought in one of the earliest battles of the civil war in Cheshire. The
first fighting took place in the southern parts of the county. In
February, 1642, Brereton was attacked at Tarporley by the king's troops
who had marched out from Chester. Entrenchments were thrown up near the
church, but the severest fighting was at the neighbouring hamlet of
Tiverton, where both sides lost heavily. The Royalist troops retired to
Chester and the Parliamentarians to Nantwich, which Brereton made his
head-quarters. From these two places the two parties 'contended which
should most prevail upon the affections of the county to declare for
them and join them'.

Brereton's task was the capture of the important city of Chester, in
order to prevent assistance reaching the king from Ireland. To this end
he placed troops on the principal roads leading to the city. The roads
from the south were watched by the Nantwich forces, who captured and
occupied Beeston Castle. On the north Warrington Bridge was seized to
prevent help coming from Lancashire or from Scotland, which remained
loyal to Charles. Norton Priory and the Norman castle of Halton, already
in ruins, were fortified and held by the Roundheads. A strong force was
posted at Northwich which commanded the main road through the forest of
Delamere, thus completing a chain of garrisons along the valley of the
Weaver from Nantwich to the Mersey. On the Welsh side the border castles
of Holt on the Dee and Hawarden in the county of Flint were attacked and
occupied by the Parliamentarians, who thus prevented the arrival of
reinforcements from the west.

In 1643 Brereton won his first great victory by defeating Sir Thomas
Aston, the Royalist leader, at Middlewich, capturing two cannon, four
barrels of powder, four hundred soldiers, and arms for five hundred men.
Sir Thomas Aston marched out from Chester with a strong force of
Royalists one Sunday morning in March. Brereton was at Northwich at the
time, and word was sent to him that the king's forces were at Middlewich
and taking up a strong position there. The Roundheads hurried
southwards, but had not sufficient ammunition to take the town. A fresh
supply was sent for, and on Monday afternoon Sir Thomas Aston found
himself between two fires, for troops from Nantwich also arrived on the

The Royalists were driven into the narrow streets of the town, where the
cavalry were penned like sheep and quite useless. The foot-soldiers fled
into the church, where they laid down their arms or were slain. The
church steeples, like the keeps of the Norman castles, were usually the
last places of refuge for the defenders of a town, and many of them
suffered great damage in consequence during the war. Aston escaped with
a remnant of his cavalry, leaving the infantry to their fate. He laid
the blame for his defeat upon his Welsh allies, who were sent to line
the hedges of the roads by which the Roundheads advanced, but who threw
away their arms and fled at the first approach of the enemy.

Brereton's victory at Middlewich was complete, but some months
afterwards Sir Thomas Aston had his revenge and turned the tables on his
enemy. He was reinforced by troops from Ireland, by whose aid he was
able to drive the Parliamentarian general out of Middlewich.

The Royalists now appeared to be getting the upper hand, and they
actually laid siege to Nantwich, which was defended by Sir George Booth
during the temporary absence of Brereton. The besiegers were commanded
by Sir Nicholas Byron, the governor of Chester, and an ancestor of the
poet Byron. Brereton returned with Sir Thomas Fairfax, one of the
greatest of Cromwell's lieutenants, and compelled the Royalists to raise
the siege. Thus the fortunes of war inclined now to one side, now to the
other, and the towns continually changed hands. The strong Parliamentary
garrison at Northwich was attacked by Aston, at first without success,
but later in the year Brereton was badly defeated here by his determined
enemy, and the town held by the Royalist troops.

The event which had most effect on the war in Cheshire was Brereton's
victory in August, 1644, at Tarvin on the road from Chester to
Northwich. Prince Rupert and Prince Maurice, nephews of the king, were
attempting to reach Chester with a relieving column. Brereton attacked
and routed them and posted himself astride the main road. Tarvin Church
still shows traces of the fighting here, for a bullet is buried deep in
a brass plate in the chancel. After this success Brereton advanced his
head-quarters to Christleton, only two miles from the gates of Chester.




In 1645 word was brought to Chester that the king himself was coming,
and the drooping spirits of the Royalists revived. Charles entered the
city with about three hundred followers who had escaped from the battle
of Naseby, where the main Royalist army had been cut to pieces by
Cromwell's Ironsides. During his short visit to Chester the king was the
guest of Sir Francis Gamull at his home, still called Gamull House, in
Bridge Street.

Many of you have read the inscription on the Phoenix Tower on the walls
of Chester--

         'King Charles
       stood on this tower
  September 27th, 1645, and saw
       His Army defeated
        on Rowton Moor.'

Rowton Moor is no longer moorland. A village now stands on the
battlefield where the last hopes of the loyal inhabitants of Chester
were destroyed. The defeated army consisted of the remnants of the
Royalist cavalry under Sir Marmaduke Langdale, who was trying to cut his
way through the enemy to reinforce the garrison of Chester. The
Royalists were almost successful, and a sortie was made by the troops
within the city to join hands with Langdale, but the Puritan General
Poyntz, following closely on the heels of the Royalist horse, threw
them into hopeless confusion and drove them helter-skelter in all
directions. During the battle Sir Geoffrey Shakerley, whose tomb is in
the Shakerley Chapel at Little Peover, carried dispatches to the king,
ferrying himself across the river Dee in a tub. Some matchlocks and
firelocks used in this battle have been found on the Heath, and are now
in the Chester Museum.

This defeat was almost the final blow received by the king in his
struggle with Parliament. On the following day Charles fled into Wales
by an undefended road, asking only that the city might hold out for
eight days longer to enable him to make good his escape. In a tiny
window in Farndon Church are some pieces of ancient painted glass, with
portraits of several of the Cheshire esquires who attended Charles
during his stay in Chester.

The cordon was now drawn tighter round the doomed city, and a regular
blockade followed to starve the citizens into surrender. When the
Cromwellian troops who had been battering Lathom House in Lancashire
arrived and took up a position on the north side of the walls, the city
was completely surrounded. Dodleston Hall, to the south-west of the
city, was occupied by Brereton to prevent any further escapes into
Wales. The Roundheads made a floating bridge across the river Dee, which
was, however, destroyed by fireships which were turned adrift and were
carried up the river by a strong spring tide. Scaling-ladders were fixed
on the walls, but the Royalists dragged them up into the city in the

The inhabitants were determined not to give in without a struggle. Even
women took a share in the work of defence, carrying baskets of earth to
fill up the breaches made by a night attack upon the city walls. The
city was well protected by the river Dee on its western and southern
sides; a semicircle of mud earthworks was made round the north and east
of the city. Many large houses in the neighbourhood were burnt by the
Royalists to prevent their being used by the enemy. The suburb of
Boughton, with its hall, was entirely destroyed, fighting taking place
almost daily in this quarter. The Royalists also made breaches in the
Dee Bridge.

When the outworks were carried by the Parliamentarian troops, all S.
John's parish lay at their mercy. The Roundheads turned the church into
a fortress, and planted a battery of guns on the tower, from which they
battered the city walls. In a glass case at the west end of the church
you may see a cannon ball that was fired from the walls and long
afterwards found embedded in the church tower.

The walls were also fiercely bombarded from Brewers Hall on the opposite
side of the Dee, though a battery of guns placed on the summit of
Morgan's Mount kept the besiegers at bay on the north. The Water Tower
at the north-west corner of the city bears the marks of some well-aimed
shots from the guns of Cromwell's men.

Within the city the hardships were very severe. Fires were frequent,
especially in the night-time. Cold and bleak December days increased the
suffering, and, worst of all, food was getting scarce, and the pinch of
hunger began to be felt. At length the inhabitants were reduced to
eating the flesh of horses and dogs, and still Sir Nicholas Byron held
out, waiting daily for the help that never came. Famine did its work at
last, and after a siege of eighteen weeks the city surrendered to
Brereton on February 3, 1646.

One of the conditions of surrender was that the victorious troops should
not do any damage to the city. The fragment of the High Cross, now in
the Grosvenor Museum, shows that in this respect the soldiers of
Cromwell did not keep their word. Sir Francis Gamull, the mayor,
bargained with the Roundheads that the tombs of his family should not be
harmed, and this explains the fact that the Gamull monuments in S.
Mary's-on-the-Hill are almost the only relics of the kind in Chester
that escaped destruction.

The events of the war were published every week in the Mercurius Aulicus
or 'Court Mercury,' a forerunner of the modern newspaper. In the Free
Library at Birkenhead are preserved some sheets of this paper, on one of
which is related the story of the capture and recapture of Beeston
Castle. After its occupation by the Parliamentary troops a daring
assault was made upon the castle by Captain Sandford and a party of
eight Royalists, who scaled the steep rock on which the castle is built
and called upon the defenders to surrender. Captain Steel, the Puritan
commander, was tried for cowardice in yielding to so small a force, and
condemned to be shot. After the battle of Rowton Moor the castle endured
a seven weeks' siege, and surrendered in November, 1645. Shortly
afterwards Parliament ordered the castle to be dismantled, and it has
been in ruins ever since. Several of the officers who were killed at
Beeston are buried at Tarporley.

Many of the Cheshire halls, which were held mainly by Royalists,
suffered severely for their loyalty to the king. Crewe Hall was taken by
the Roundheads, retaken by Byron, and finally garrisoned by the soldiers
of Brereton. Huxley Hall was occupied by Colonel Croxton during the
siege of Chester. Puddington Hall, in Wirral, the ancient home of the
Masseys, whose owner, Sir William Massey, remained in Chester till its
fall, was destroyed by fire.

Adlington Hall, the home of the loyal Leghs, endured a fortnight's
siege, at the end of which time its gallant garrison of one hundred and
fifty men was compelled to surrender and permitted to depart. The marks
of cannon shot used in the bombardment may still be seen upon the
massive oak doors of the courtyard. Wythenshaw Hall was held by
Royalists, but Colonel Dukinfield, a friend and neighbour of Sir William
Brereton, compelled a surrender after a short siege. Cannon balls have
been found in the grounds of the hall.

Vale Royal, the private residence of the Cholmondeleys since Henry the
Eighth turned out its abbot and monks, was plundered and partly burnt by
the soldiers of General Lambert's army. Sir Peter Leycester, of Tabley
Hall, fell into the hands of the Parliamentarians and was sent to
prison. During his captivity he first planned his famous book of the
History and Antiquities of Cheshire.

The lot of the unhappy Cheshire squire was indeed pitiable. Royalists
and Roundheads were equally unwelcome guests, treating their host with
scant ceremony, ransacking his house and helping themselves freely to
everything that might be of any service to them. Let Peter Davenport,
the squire of Bramhall, tell in his own words the story of his woes: 'On
New Year's Day, 1643, came Captain Sankey (a Parliamentary officer) with
two or three troopers to Bramhall, and went into my stable and took out
my horses, above twenty in all, and afterwards searched my house for
arms again and took my fowling-piece, stocking-piece, and drum, with
divers other things. Next day, after they were gone, came Prince
Rupert's army, by whom I lost better than a hundred pounds in linen and
other goods, besides the rifling and pulling to pieces of my house. By
whom I lost eight horses, and they ate me threescore bushels of oats.'
Poor Peter was not yet at the end of his troubles, for when the war was
over he had to pay five hundred pounds in order to buy back his own
property, for the estates of the Royalists were confiscated by
Parliament and sold back to their owners for large sums of money.

The empty niches over the porches of many Cheshire churches tell their
own tale of the damage done by the Cromwellian troops. Sculptured images
were everywhere broken in fragments, lead was stripped from the fonts
and roofs to be turned into bullets. The pipes were taken from the organ
of Budworth Church, and the stained glass windows of Tarvin destroyed by
the Puritan fanatic, John Bruen. The sacred buildings themselves were
used throughout the war as barracks, fortresses, stables, or prisons.

The destruction of property and of works of art that can never be
replaced was indeed largely the work of the Roundheads; but it was the
Royalists who perpetrated the blackest deed in this long tale of civil
strife. In the winter of 1643 Lord Byron's troopers were plundering the
villages of South Cheshire, burning farms and homesteads, and driving
the country people before them. One of his officers, Major Connought,
entered the village of Barthomley, and many of the panic-stricken
inhabitants took refuge in the tower of the church. Connought and his
brutal followers broke up the pews, gathered together the mats and
rushes strewn upon the floor, and made a bonfire at the entrance to the
tower. Forced from their place of refuge by fire and smoke, the
unfortunate villagers were stabbed and hacked to death as they came out
one by one. This was their Christmastide, the season of peace and good
fellowship and brotherly love, and men, blind with the lust of blood,
were cutting the throats of their brothers as if they were sheep in the
shambles. Happily, such scenes as this were rare, even in those dark




The story is told that a schoolboy, wandering among the tombstones in
the churchyard of Macclesfield, scratched these strange lines on one of
the grave-slabs:

  My brother Harry must heir the land;
  My brother Frank must be at his command;
  While I, poor Jack, shall do that
  Which all the world will wonder at.

'Poor Jack' was John Bradshaw, whose name is the first on the list of
those who signed the warrant for the execution of the king. On January
1, 1649, Parliament decided that Charles should be tried before a High
Court of Justice, and on the twenty-seventh of the same month, Bradshaw,
the president of the Court, pronounced the death sentence in Westminster

John Bradshaw, the 'regicide', was born at Wibbersley Hall, near Disley.
In the register of the Parish Church of Stockport is the record of his
baptism: 'December, 1602, John, the son of Henry Bradshaw, of Marple,
baptised the tenth. Traitor.' The word 'Traitor' has been added by
another hand, no doubt that of some ardent Royalist.

He was educated at Bunbury School by Edward Burghall, a notable
Cheshire Puritan, who was afterwards made vicar of Acton, and wrote a
Diary (or copied someone else's Diary) of the Civil War in Cheshire.
Bradshaw also probably spent a short time at the Grammar School at
Macclesfield. He became Mayor of Congleton and Chief Justice of

The name of Major-General Thomas Harrison, a native of Nantwich, also
appears on the list of those who signed the death-warrant of the king.

Memorials of the ill-fated monarch were eagerly sought for by the most
devoted of his followers. In the Stag Parlour at Lyme Hall are some
chairs, said to be covered with portions of the cloak that Charles wore
at the time of his death. Here also are a pair of embroidered gloves
that belonged to the king, and a dagger with his name 'Carolus' engraved
upon it.

The war was continued by his son, Charles the Second. James Stanley,
Earl of Derby, was made commander of the Royalist forces in Cheshire. In
the year 1651 Knutsford Heath was a scene of bustling activity. Here
were encamped the forces of General Lambert, one of Cromwell's most
trusted lieutenants, consisting of 9,000 horse and 4,000 foot. He was
waiting for the Royalist army, which was marching southwards from
Scotland under the command of Charles himself and General Leslie.
Lambert was ordered to cut down the bridge at Warrington to prevent the
passage of the king's army, but arrived too late. Skirmishes took place
at Budworth and High Legh, and Lambert was compelled to retreat to
Knutsford, while the Royalist army passed on its way to the fatal field
of Worcester.

A few days later, the people of Sandbach were setting up the stalls and
spreading their wares in the market-place for the September Fair. A cry
was suddenly raised that soldiers were entering the town. They were all
that was left of Leslie's Scottish Cavaliers. Weary of war, their horses
jaded and lame, they were anxious only to be allowed to reach their
homes again in safety. But the townspeople, remembering perhaps the
massacre of Barthomley, were not minded to let them off easily. The
foremost troopers, who alone were armed, were allowed to pass through
the town. Then with sticks and staves they fell upon the rearguard and
cudgelled them. Many were wounded and captured, and placed in the town
prison, where perhaps they were not sorry to rest. Others escaped into
the open fields. 'Scotch Commons', as the scene of the encounter is
still called, reminds us of this last event of the Civil War in
Cheshire. The struggle was ended. Charles was an exile, and Cromwell
ruled over the land.

One of Cromwell's Acts decreed that all who had any communication with
Charles the Second should be held guilty of conspiracy against the
State. The Earl of Derby, who escaped from the rout at Worcester, but
was captured at Nantwich, was tried under this Act and condemned to
death. He escaped from his prison in the castle at Chester, and lay
concealed for a time, it is said, in a secret chamber in the Stanley
Palace near the Water Gate. The 'Martyr Earl' was, however, recaptured
on the banks of the Dee, and beheaded at Bolton.

Brereton was rewarded for his devotion to the Parliamentary cause with
the chief forestership of Macclesfield forest. Soon afterwards, however,
he left the county of his birth and lived in London until his death in
1661. His body was brought to Cheadle for burial in the Handforth
Chapel. There is, however, no note of his burial in the parish
registers, and tradition says that during the journey the coffin in
which his body was placed was swept away by the swollen waters of a
river over which it was being carried.

The Puritans determined to put an end to the government of the Church by
bishops, and abolished the Book of Common Prayer from the Church
services, putting in its place a new form of public worship. About
thirty of the clergy in Cheshire who refused to perform the new services
of the Church were turned out of their livings. Children were no longer
to be baptized in fonts but from a basin. Hour-glasses were set up in
the pulpits, from which long political sermons were preached to the

The Puritan mayor of Chester would not permit Christmas and other
time-honoured festivals of the Church to be kept, and music, dancing,
and games were rigidly put down.

In 1659 an attempt was made by a number of Cheshire gentry to restore
Charles to the throne. Oliver Cromwell was now dead, and had been
succeeded by his son Richard. But the real power was in the hands of the
soldiers, and many people soon became disgusted with military rule. The
leader of the revolt in Cheshire was Sir George Booth, of Dunham Massey.
He had fought on the side of Parliament in the early years of the war,
and was one of the Presbyterian members of Parliament who were turned
out of the House by 'Pride's Purge,' just before the execution of the

Sir George Booth collected a Royalist force on Rowton Moor, and prepared
to attack Chester. He captured the city and the walls, but failed to
take the castle, whose governor was Colonel Croxton, of Ravenscroft Hall
near Middlewich. Colonel Lambert, however, was summoned with two
regiments from Ireland, and he compelled Booth to retire towards
Northwich. The Royalist force was overtaken at Hartford, and in the
battle which took place near Winnington Bridge on the river Weaver, was
completely routed.

But the return of the exiled king was not long delayed. Among the
Royalists captured at Nantwich in 1644 was George Monk. After his
release he entered the service of Parliament, and won the esteem of
Cromwell. General Monk now succeeded in persuading Parliament to recall
Charles. Nowhere was the event welcomed more gladly than in Cheshire.
Church bells rang merrily, maypoles were set up again upon the village
greens, and bonfires lighted on the hill-tops. The long quarrel that had
separated father from son and brother from brother was at an end, and
many a Cheshire home was gladdened by the return of wearied soldiers.
The king had come into his own again.



When Charles was restored to the throne the bishops also came back to
their bishoprics. The records of the churches of Chester tell of the
payments made to the ringers for the ringing of the bells when the
citizens joyously welcomed Bishop Walton to the city. A large number of
citizens and mounted soldiers went as far as Nantwich to meet him and
escorted him to the city gates of Chester, where the mayor and
corporation as well as the clergy and gentry of Cheshire received him.
Once more a Christmas was kept in the old time way, and the churches
were decked with holly and evergreens for one of the greatest festivals
of the Church. And truly the bare walls, stripped of everything that was
beautiful, needed some adornment after the ravages and desecrations of
the Civil War.

But Charles was a foolish king, and spent most of his days in idle and
frivolous pleasures. The people were disappointed with him, for he had
plenty of brains. One of his favourite hobbies was the study of science.
John Wilkins, another Bishop of Chester, was one of a little band of
clever men who helped the king to found the Royal Society for the spread
of knowledge and the study of science. To be a Fellow of the Royal
Society is to this day one of the highest honours that men of science
can obtain.

The favourite study of John Wilkins was astronomy, and he wrote a book
called the _Discovery of a New World, to prove that there may be another
habitable world in the moon_. Another book of his was called _Mercury;
or the secret and swift Messenger, shewing how a man may privately and
with speed tell his thoughts to friends at any distance_. Thus, had he
lived in a later age, he might perhaps have been the inventor of the
telegraph and telephone.

Charles secretly favoured the old Catholic religion, and on his
death-bed was received into the Catholic Church. During his reign
another Act of Uniformity was passed, much more severe than the former
one. Sixty ministers of Cheshire churches, who refused to obey the Act,
were turned out of their livings. Among them was Adam Martindale, a
noted Puritan, who was driven from his church at Rostherne. Adam
Martindale wrote the story of his life, with all his trials and
misfortunes, in a book which you may read in many of your public

The Nonconformists were prevented by another Act from holding prayer
meetings within five miles of the town or village where they had held a
living. The gaol at Chester was soon filled with those who were ready to
suffer for the crime of preaching the Gospel in their homes and to their
friends. Sir Geoffrey Shakerley, who had been made Governor of Chester
Castle for his services in the Civil War, sought them out and persecuted
them with great cruelty.

Still there were many who continued to worship in their own way. For a
long time they held their services secretly in private houses, but, in
1690, the Toleration Act allowed them to build chapels. These they
erected chiefly on the outskirts of towns or in remote villages. During
the later years of the seventeenth century these chapels increased
greatly in number. The Unitarian chapel at Knutsford and the tiny brick
chapel at Dean Row, between the Bollin and the Dean, are among the
earliest of such places of worship in Cheshire.

Matthew Henry, a learned commentator of the New Testament, whose father
had been turned out of his church at Worthenbury, preached in the chapel
in Trinity Street, Chester. You may still see the seventeenth-century
pulpit from which he addressed his congregation. During the Civil War
the pulpit had become the most important feature of the churches. The
Puritans were in the habit of preaching long political sermons which
they timed with an hour-glass fixed on the wall near the pulpit. At
Shotwick is a pulpit of the kind called a 'three-decker', with a square
box-pew beneath it for the parish clerk.

As soon as people were permitted to choose their own form of worship
several other religious bodies came into being, each with its own
peculiar teaching and belief, often differing but slightly from each
other, all bent on practising their religion precisely in their own
particular way. Many earnest soldiers in the Parliamentary army of Sir
George Booth, when encamped in the neighbourhood of Knutsford and
Alderley, had held their services in the barn of a farmhouse at Warford.
Their children in after days built the tiny Baptist chapel which still
remains in the village.

The Quakers were very numerous in the neighbourhood of Stockport and
Wilmslow, and George Fox the founder of their sect, or 'Society of
Friends' as it was called, used often to visit them. Some cottages on
Lindow Moss were once a Quaker chapel, and there is a Quaker
burial-ground in a clump of trees near Mobberley. Many of the
gravestones have seventeenth-century dates upon them. Often the Quakers
were refused burial in the churchyards, and most out-of-the-way places
were chosen for their last resting-place. There are some Quakers' graves
in the woods at Burton in Wirral.

James the Second, who succeeded his brother Charles, did not try to hide
the fact that he was a Papist. Many people would have preferred the Duke
of Monmouth, a bastard son of Charles the Second, as king. He was known
to be a Protestant, and the people of Cheshire, who were strongly
Protestant, would have welcomed him as they had already welcomed him
once in Charles the Second's reign.

Three years before James became king, the duke had visited Cheshire and
raised the cry of 'No Popery!' He stayed at Mainwaring House in Bridge
Street, Chester, and supped at the Plume of Feathers Inn. On the
following day the little daughter of the mayor was christened, and the
duke stood godfather, naming her Henrietta.

The duke then made a triumphal progress through the villages of Wirral.
He stayed at Peel Hall, Bromborough, in order to attend the races at
Wallasey, where he won a prize, which he sent to his little goddaughter
at Chester. Several of the Wirral gentry met in a summer-house at
Bidston, and talked of a rising in his favour. But the country people
did not show so much readiness as had been expected, and all the duke's
doings were secretly reported to the king by Sir Peter Shakerley, the
governor of Chester Castle. Monmouth also stayed at Rock Savage and
Dunham Massey, and witnessed the sports at Gawsworth. Shortly
afterwards, however, he was captured by the king's men at Stafford, and
the plot came to nothing. He was lucky not to lose his head. Charles was
kinder to him than James was when the duke raised the West of England in

James was thoroughly hated by the bulk of the people, who grew tired of
the mischievous rule of the Stuarts, and made up their minds to depose
him. They were also determined that never again should a Catholic king
reign over them. James fled to France, and Thomas Cartwright, the Bishop
of Chester, who had made the citizens angry by bringing in again the old
Catholic services of the Church, followed him into exile.

In the gardens of Gayton Hall are two ancient trees which have been
called William and Mary. William of Orange was the new king who was
invited by the English to succeed James. All who held office in Church
or State were required to take the oath of allegiance to him. Some
refused to do this. They were called non-jurors, and among them were
several of the clergy of Cheshire who had to give up their churches.
James made an effort to regain his lost kingdom, and sailed from France
to Ireland, where he hoped to win many adherents. William assembled his
forces in Wirral, staying at Gayton Hall, the home of William Clegg,
whom he knighted after his visit.

The 'King's Gap', near Hoylake, reminds us of King William's presence in
Cheshire. On the Lowlands, between Hoylake and Meols, his army lay
encamped, and in the river Dee Sir Cloudesley Shovel, the brave sailor
who rose from 'powder-monkey' to admiral, was waiting with the fleet to
take the troops across to Ireland. Cloudesley Shovel is said to have
received part of his education at the Grammar School of Stockport.

On the chancel wall of West Kirby Church is a tablet bearing the name of
Baron Johannes Van Zoelen, who died here in 1690. The foreign-looking
name is that of an officer of the Dutch troops of the Duke of Schomberg,
for William employed Dutch and German soldiers to put down James's
rising in Ireland. The soldiers embarked at Hoylake, and a few weeks
later the farmers of Wirral, who had had to feed the army, and who, no
doubt, were glad to see it depart, heard of William's great victory at
the battle of the Boyne. James took refuge again in France.

Many Cheshire men took part in William's Irish campaign. A regiment was
raised in Cheshire by Sir George Booth, the old Parliamentary leader who
had, after the Civil War, become one of Charles the Second's most
devoted followers and received the title of Lord Delamere for his
services. The regiment was also accompanied by a troop of horse from
Wilmslow and the neighbourhood.

William was never popular with his subjects. They disliked him because
he was not English. He was cold and silent, and his manners ungracious;
he spoke English with difficulty, and often he seemed anxious to get
back to his own country. But he was devoted to duty and a great soldier,
and he did much for England in checking the power of the French king who
favoured the exiled Stuart.

William died childless, and was succeeded by Anne, the last Stuart who
sat on the English throne. She had Cheshire blood in her veins, for she
was the daughter of James the Second's wife, Anne Hyde, whose
grandfather, the Earl of Clarendon, was a Hyde of Hyde Hall.

Queen Anne's children all died young. Before she came to the throne
Parliament had passed an Act of Settlement, by which the crown was
settled on a Protestant, Princess Sophia, granddaughter of James the
First, and her heirs. When Queen Anne died, George, the eldest son of
Sophia, became king.

The fallen Stuarts made more than one attempt to recover the British
crown. In 1715, when George the First was king, a number of Cheshire
gentlemen, among whom were the Leghs of Legh and Lymm, the Grosvenors of
Eaton, Warrens and Asshetons, and Cholmondeleys met in the hall of the
Asshetons at Ashley to decide whether they should give any help to James
Edward, the 'Old Pretender', James's eldest son, who was raising a
revolt in Scotland. They decided by a majority of one only to remain
loyal to the Protestant King George.

Thirty years later the inhabitants of East Cheshire saw an army of
rugged Highlanders in bonnets and kilts pass southwards from Stockport
Prince Charles Edward, the 'Young Pretender', had raised his flag in the
Highlands of Scotland and gathered together an army of 'Jacobites', as
the followers of the Stuarts were called. At Manchester the Scots had
been joined by about 200 Lancashire Catholics. But the villagers who
cheered the rebels on the Macclesfield high-road saw them returning
within a week, for they had hardly crossed the hills at Bosley and
descended into the valleys of Derbyshire when the Duke of Cumberland,
commanding an army in the Midlands, scattered them and drove them
pell-mell northwards again.

In Lyme Hall are some Jacobite wine-glasses, with the White Rose of the
Stuarts stamped on one side, and on the other the Latin word 'fiat',
which expressed the thought that was in the minds of those who used
them: 'May the king come to his own again!' When men were forbidden to
drink the health of the Pretender in public, these 'fiat' glasses were
made by the Jacobites and the toast drunk in silence.

'Bonnie Prince Charlie' stayed at the house of Sir Peter Davenport in
Macclesfield, and his officers at a house in Jordangate which is now the
George Hotel. Stuart 'Pretenders' were never seen in Cheshire again.



During the latter part of the seventeenth century the people of Cheshire
began to repair the damage done to the churches, mansions, and public
buildings during the Civil Wars. It was hardly to be expected that the
art of the builder could flourish during that stormy period. Gothic
architecture had reached its greatest glory under the Plantagenet and
Tudor kings, and when the builders of the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries took up their work again they cast aside the aims and ideals
of the Gothic craftsmen and turned to new models and new sources for
their inspiration.

The changes which were now made were one of the results of the
Renaissance or Great Awakening of the sixteenth century. The men who
visited Italy and brought back with them copies of the works of the old
Greek and Roman writers, which they printed and gave to the world,
brought also the ideas of Italian architects and plans of Italian
buildings, which had been copied from those of ancient Athens and Rome.
Englishmen of the eighteenth century took these as their models. Like
the Roman workmen, they found it easier to _copy_ than to _invent_.

If you turn back to Chapter VI you will find that the chief feature of
the Roman, which we will now call the Italian or Classic style, are the
rows of pillars ranged along the front and sides of a building. The Town
Hall of Macclesfield, and the group of buildings which now form the
Castle of Chester, are good examples of the style of architecture which
prevailed during the eighteenth century. The windows are sometimes
round-headed, but more often they are rectangular, with low triangles
above them.

Unfortunately many ancient buildings, which we would gladly have with us
now, disappeared at this time. Some of them, no doubt, were in such a
ruinous state that it was impossible to repair them, but, generally
speaking, little or no pains were taken to restore them to their former
appearance. The people preferred to pull down and destroy and rebuild in
the new Classic style, which rapidly became a craze.

The greatest loss was that of the mediaeval castle of Chester, which,
with the exception of 'Caesar's Tower', was pulled down in 1788. The
front entrance to the new castle is in the Doric style. Round the
courtyard are barracks and an armoury, the county gaol and the shire
hall with colonnades of Ionic pillars.

Many fine Elizabethan halls were destroyed to make way for mansions in
the Classic style. Hooton Hall was built on the site of an old 'black
and white' timber house. Poynton, Tabley, Tatton, Ince, and Doddington
Halls were built about the same time. Other houses were altered or
enlarged. The beauty of Adlington Hall was spoilt by the stone front
with its Corinthian columns, which Charles and Hester Legh built. The
appearance of Lyme Hall was completely changed by an Italian architect
named Giacomo Leoni. His work is adorned with figures of the gods of
heathen Rome, Neptune and Venus and Pan. The Leghs of Lyme brought many
treasures from Italy. The stained glass in the east window of Disley
Church was brought by them.

The roundheaded 'Italian' windows in the tower of Rostherne Church tell
us that they are the work of eighteenth-century builders and
'restorers'. The ugly tower cuts a sorry figure when compared with the
beautiful perpendicular towers of Mobberley, Cheadle, Budworth, Witton,
Alderley, Middlewich, and others in the neighbourhood. The tower of
Great Barrow Church, with urns in the place of pinnacles, and the porch
of Frodsham, are out of keeping with the Gothic character of the rest of
the buildings.

The eighteenth-century restorers had little taste or sense of beauty.
Within the churches ugly wooden galleries were placed over the aisles,
and the walls, pillars, and pews coated with layers of paint or
whitewash. Even the carved woodwork of the choir stalls of Chester
Cathedral was painted. The open timber roof of Alderley Old Church was
hidden by a flat ceiling of lath and plaster. A portion of the old
timber church at Warburton was repaired with common bricks, and
sometimes whole churches were rebuilt with the same material.


In place of the handsome Decorated altar tombs, with their effigies of
knights and dames, great tablets of marble brought from Italy were fixed
on the walls. On them were carved skulls and cross-bones, sometimes an
entire skeleton, with funeral urns like those in which the Romans placed
the ashes of their dead. Scrolls with long rambling inscriptions told of
the virtues of the dead. These were often written in Latin, as if the
homely English of the mother tongue was not good enough for the


The poets of the eighteenth century imitated the style of the poets of
ancient Rome. Their poems are full of the wit and satire found in Horace
and Juvenal. Man, not Nature, was nearly always the subject of their
poems. Two lines of Alexander Pope, the greatest of the
eighteenth-century poets, are carved on the tombstone of Sir John
Chesshyre in Runcorn Church:--

  A wit's a feather and a chief's a rod:
  An honest man's the noblest work of God.

  [Illustration: CHANCEL: FRODSHAM (Eighteenth Century)]

Sir John Chesshyre was a lawyer, and built the little library near
Halton Castle in 1733 for the books which he left for the use of
Cheshire scholars and students.

Clubs were formed by the poets and wits and 'men of fashion' of the
eighteenth century. They met in the taverns and coffee-houses of the
towns, and scratched their smart sayings on the window-panes with their
diamond rings. They rather prided themselves on their eccentric habits
and their superiority over other men, who had neither the time nor the
money to waste on frivolous amusements.

In a little wood near Gawsworth is a lonely grave with a plain flat
stone, beneath which,

  Undisturbed, and hid from Vulgar Eyes,
  A Wit, Musician, Poet, Player, lies.

The grave is that of Samuel Johnson, a dancing master, 'afterwards
ennobled with the grander title of Lord Flame,' as the inscription tells
us, who was buried here at his own desire.

Neston and Parkgate, twin towns on the southern shore of Wirral, were
visited by many fashionable people in the eighteenth century. They spent
the summer here for the bathing and the fresh breezes that blow from the
Irish Sea and the hills of Wales. It is to be feared that Parkgate was
also the resort of less respectable folk, for in some of the old houses
you may still see the huge holes in which smugglers stored their
unlawful cargoes. It was dangerous work, for the 'King's Yacht', as the
revenue cutter was called, patrolled the waters of the Dee, and the
officers had orders to shoot down all whom they caught in this illegal
traffic. It is from this boat that the 'Yacht Inn' at Chester takes its

Neston and Parkgate were the starting-points for the Irish mails. The
coaches from London and Liverpool put down their passengers here for
Dublin. One of the most beautiful poems in the English language, the
'Lycidas' of John Milton, was written in memory of Edward King, a friend
of the poet, who was shipwrecked on his way from Ireland to Parkgate.

The London coaches that brought travellers to Chester and Parkgate
frequently got into difficulties in the low-lying parts near the River
Dee. The roads were very bad, and the coach often had to be hauled out
of the mud by a team of horses borrowed from some neighbouring farm.

The passengers sometimes found themselves without their purses and their
jewels at the end of their journey. The roads were frequented by
highwaymen--'gentlemen of the road', they called themselves--who held up
the coach and demanded money. With pistols levelled at their heads, the
travellers were generally glad to escape with their lives.

One of the most famous of these highwaymen was Dick Turpin, whose
escapades, I imagine, are known to most Cheshire boys, though I hope
they have no wish to follow the career of this rascally thief.

  Once it happened in Cheshire, near Dunham I popped
  On a horseman alone, whom I speedily stopped;
  That I lightened his pockets you'll readily guess--
  Quick work makes Dick Turpin when mounted on Bess.

The robbery spoken of in these lines was committed on the high-road
between Altrincham and Knutsford, and Turpin rode so fast to the inn at
Hoo Green, where he showed his watch to some Cheshire squires, that he
was never suspected of the crime. This and many other stories of Turpin
are told by Harrison Ainsworth, the novelist, whose father lived at

Knutsford claimed a highwayman of its own, one Higgins, who lived on
Knutsford Heath as an ordinary gentleman of means, and was very friendly
with the sporting squires of the neighbourhood. His favourite amusement
was to waylay the ladies who went to the county balls and 'assemblies'
at the George Hotel, and rob them of their diamonds. But he, like most
others of his profession, was found out at last, and paid with his life
the penalty of his crimes.



The people of Cheshire were not all thieves and robbers in the
eighteenth century. If the rich and the idle were given to folly and
extravagance, and poorer men also too often lost the little they
possessed through gambling and cock-fighting, the heart of the people
was sound, and only waiting to be stirred to newer life and better

In the latter half of the century a great preacher came to Cheshire, and
stirred deeply the hearts of men by denouncing the follies of the age,
and the lack of religious feeling which had spread over all classes of
society. His name was John Wesley, the founder of the Wesleyan and
Methodist bodies. At first he met with much opposition, and his meetings
were broken up by the mob, but in time the people were struck by his
earnestness and flocked to hear him. The chapel at Chester where he
preached was so crowded that it could not hold all who wished to listen
to him. In his Diary he tells us of his visits to Knutsford, Stockport,
and other Cheshire towns. But Wesley and his followers often found
themselves unable to preach in the churches, so they built for
themselves chapels, little square brick buildings, all over the county.

Another fervent preacher of the time was Captain Scott, who left the
army to be a missionary among his own countrymen, whom he gathered round
him in the streets or the inn-yards of the villages where he stayed. The
Mill Street Chapel at Congleton is one of the many chapels founded by
him in Southern Cheshire.

Many Cheshire men were fighting in the wars into which England was drawn
in the eighteenth century. In the reigns of Anne and the three Georges
war succeeded war, and the intervals of peace were few and short. France
and Spain were our enemies, each of whom looked with jealous eyes upon
the growing power of England, and, still more, her vast colonial
empire. From Canada in the West to India in the East battles were fought
on land and on sea to maintain for England the supremacy of the sea and
her colonies.

Many churches in Cheshire tell the story of Cheshire soldiers and
sailors who distinguished themselves in these wars. In the church of
Pott Shrigley you may see a memorial tablet of Peter Downes, whose
ancestors were foresters of the forest of Macclesfield. Peter Downes
entered the navy and was killed in a fight between the _Leander_, an
English man-of-war, and the French ship _Généreux_.

Peter Dennis, who was born at Chester and was a scholar at the King's
School, became an Admiral of the Fleet. He was in command of the
battleship _Centurion_ in a battle fought off Cape Finisterre.
Afterwards he was knighted and made commander-in-chief of the
Mediterranean fleet.

The battleships in which these sailors fought were very different to the
monster ironclads of the present day with which you are familiar. The
eighteenth-century vessels were the old 'wooden walls' of England, big
sailing ships called 'three deckers', with three rows of guns pointing
outwards from their sides. There is a model of one of them, the _Royal
George_, over the inner door of Vernon Park Museum.

Robert Clive was the son of a Shropshire squire, and was educated at the
little school in the Cheshire village of Allostock. Clive went to India
and became a soldier. The English and French were fighting for the
mastery of India, and it is to Clive's victories that we owe in a great
measure our Indian Empire.

In the last few years of the eighteenth century the dangers which
threatened England from France were much nearer home. In 1794 King
George the Third was obliged to ask Parliament for a large increase in
our home army. Cheshire raised a regiment of six troops, with Colonel
Leicester, of Tabley Hall, as its commander.

Shortly afterwards a call for Volunteers was made in Cheshire, as in
other parts of the country, to defend the shores of our own land from
attack. The armies of Napoleon were conquering everywhere, and an
invasion of England was expected. Knutsford Heath presented the same
busy scene that it had done 150 years before, when Lambert's troops were
encamped upon it. For Knutsford was the appointed meeting-place of all
the Cheshire forces--Militia, Yeomanry, and Volunteers--and the beacon
that was kept in readiness on Alderley Edge was to give the signal.

The danger was not over for many years, for the war lasted well into the
nineteenth century, ending only when Napoleon and the French were
defeated by Wellington at the battle of Waterloo. Duke Street and
Wellington Street in Stockport keep alive the memory of the 'Iron Duke',
Napoleon's conqueror.

A friend of the Duke of Wellington was Stapleton Cotton, Viscount
Combermere, whose statue stands in front of the gates of Chester Castle.
He was a descendant of the Cotton to whom the Abbey of Combermere was
given when Henry the Eighth plundered the Cheshire monasteries. The Duke
of Wellington frequently stayed at Combermere; on one of his visits he
planted an oak tree which you may still see in the Park. On the tomb of
Stapleton Cotton in Wrenbury Church you may read the names of the many
battles in which this gallant soldier took part.

The wars of the eighteenth century and the final struggle with Napoleon
would have ruined this country but for a great increase in the wealth of
the people, which made them able to bear the cost.

To understand the sources of this wealth, and the way in which it was
made, we shall have to go back again to the middle of the eighteenth
century, and tell the story of a great Industrial Revolution, a
revolution without war and bloodshed indeed, but one that brought with
it the greatest changes perhaps that Cheshire had yet seen. What these
changes were, and how they affected the lives of Cheshire men and women,
you will read in the succeeding chapters.



The Industrial Revolution of the eighteenth century laid the foundation
of modern manufacturing England. With remarkable rapidity great
industries came into being, and new methods of making all kinds of
manufactured goods. And the first cause of this revolution was the
discovery of coal, or rather the discovery of what you could do with
coal. For coal was all at once in great demand to provide the power of
steam, and in 1769 James Watt, the discoverer of the power of steam,
showed that the steam engine could be used to drive machinery hitherto
worked by hand.

Coal was first found in Cheshire about the year 1750. A colliery was
opened at Denhall in Wirral, where coal is worked to this day. In East
Cheshire coal was found by an accident. A farmer near Poynton had to
fetch his water from a considerable distance, and asked his landlord,
Sir George Warren of Poynton Hall, to sink him a well on his land. While
the workmen were boring the well they came across a seam of fine coal
quite near to the surface. Many other collieries have since that time
been started in the same neighbourhood, and now coal is taken out of the
earth nearly all the way from Stockport to Macclesfield. There are pits
at Norbury, Middlewood, and Bakestonedale. The coal-field extends
northwards also, and all along the Tame valley there are pits, and
especially in the neighbourhood of Dukinfield, where some of the
workings reach a depth of over two thousand feet below the surface of
the land.

The earlier Cheshire canals were made as a result of the discovery of
coal. The Duke of Bridgwater, who owned rich coal-mines at Worsley near
Manchester, made very little profit out of them on account of the
expense of carrying the coal by carriage to the shipping ports. A clever
engineer named James Brindley was the first to suggest to him the
making of a canal by which barges might take the coal to the river
Irwell. This was the first canal made in England, and was finished in
the year 1761.

The Bridgwater Canal was afterwards extended and carried over the Irwell
by an aqueduct. It enters Cheshire at Stretford, and passing through
Altrincham and Lymm extends a distance of twenty-four miles to Runcorn,
where it descends by a series of locks to the tidal waters of the

  [Illustration: AN OLD CANAL: MARPLE]

The canal turned out so successful that the manufacturers in the
Potteries of Staffordshire asked Brindley to make a canal across the
Cheshire plain to unite the rivers Trent and Mersey. This was the
beginning of the Grand Trunk Canal, which now winds through the heart of
England and connects the great industrial towns of Lancashire and
Cheshire with the metropolis.

At Harecastle the canal is carried under the hills that separate
Cheshire from Staffordshire by a tunnel nearly three thousand yards
long. At first the boatmen pushed their barges through the tunnel by
'legging' along the roof. This was such a laborious and troublesome way
that another engineer named Telford, the great road-maker, afterwards
built a second tunnel large enough for horses to tow the barges through

The Ellesmere Canal connects the estuaries of the Dee and the Mersey,
and thus cuts off the Wirral peninsula from the rest of the county. When
this canal was being made, layers of fine sand and sea shells were
found, proving that at some not very remote period the estuaries of the
Mersey and the Dee were connected with one another.

In the east of Cheshire the Peak Forest and Macclesfield Canal enters
the county at Dukinfield. One portion goes southward to Macclesfield and
the other crosses the river Goyt at Marple by an aqueduct a hundred feet
above the river. The Shropshire Union Canal connects the Dee and the
Severn; and thus all the great rivers of the north midlands, the Mersey,
Dee, Severn, and Trent, are united with one another by this network of
Cheshire canals.

The canals proved a blessing not only to the coal owners and
manufacturers, but were also used by the people of the country villages
in order to travel from one part to another. Passenger barges called
'fly-boats' enabled the country women to take their butter and cheese to
the market towns.

James Brindley was a man of humble birth, and for several years worked
as a labourer on a farm, amusing himself in his spare moments with
making wooden models of machinery with a pocket-knife. He was so clever
that he was often called in by the mill-owners of Macclesfield and
Congleton to repair their machinery. When he was first employed by the
Duke of Bridgwater he was paid only half a crown a day. He was a very
practical man, and gained his knowledge not from books but from his own
experiments. When he was called to the House of Commons to explain his
scheme for carrying a canal over the Mersey, which many people laughed
at as absurd, he took with him a Cheshire cheese which he cut in halves
to represent the arches of the bridge, and made a complete model of his
proposed work which greatly amused his audience, and at the same time
proved that he was well able to overcome his difficulties.

The rivers also were dredged and made suitable for navigation wherever
possible. An artificial channel was made for the waters of the Dee which
had become choked with silt and sand, and small ships could once more be
towed as far as Chester. The Weaver was made navigable from Winsford to
the Mersey, so that salt, which was taken out of the earth in ever
increasing quantities, could be taken to Runcorn in barges at a much
smaller cost than on wagons.

Salt is necessary in every home for cooking and other household needs.
But still greater quantities are required for alkalis and other
chemicals, the making of which is the chief occupation of the workpeople
of Runcorn and Weston Point. Thousands of tons are also exported every
year to other countries where salt is scarce.

Salt has been worked in the towns on or near the Weaver from Roman days.
The earlier way was simply to mine it as we do coal now. Some of the
mines at Northwich cover many acres, and when lit up by electric
coloured lights are very beautiful. The roof of a mine is held up by
columns of salt which are left in position for that purpose, but they
frequently give way and the buildings above them are wrecked.

The coarser kinds of rock-salt are still taken out in lumps. You may
often see pieces in the Cheshire fields which farmers have put there for
cattle to lick. For salt contains health-giving properties, and
salt-mining is not injurious to health as coal-mining is. Brine baths
have been made at Nantwich for people suffering from certain diseases.

In the Middle Ages, wells or brine-pits were sunk and the water carried
in leather buckets to the salt-houses. Edward King, a Cheshire
historian, who in the seventeenth century wrote a book called _Vale
Royal_, says that 'at Northwich there was a salt spring on the bank of
the River Dane, from which the brine runneth on the ground in troughs of
wood until it comes to the "wich-houses", where they made salt. Some old
leaden salt-pans may still be seen at Northwich, pieces of charcoal
still sticking to them on the under side, showing that the brine had
been heated over wood fires.'


Modern science has found better and easier ways of making salt. The
white salt which you use daily is still obtained by evaporation. The
brine is first pumped into a reservoir and taken by pipes to large
shallow salt-pans heated by furnaces beneath them. As the water
evaporates the crystals are formed and scraped from the sides and the
bottoms of the pans. You may see specimens of the different kinds of
salt in the Salt Museum at Northwich.



In the year 1785 cotton was brought into the Mersey from the United
States of America. Long before that time so-called 'cotton' stuffs had
been made in Cheshire villages. But these fabrics were not really cotton
at all, but a mixture of wool and flax. The flax was brought from
Ireland, and woollen manufacturers tried for a long time to keep it out.
In the parish records of Prestbury you may read of an Act passed in
Charles the Second's reign forbidding any one to be buried in anything
but a woollen shroud.

At first there were no cotton-mills, such as you see now in the populous
towns of East Cheshire. The raw cotton was given out to poor people, who
spun it and wove it in their own cottage homes. Nearly every cottage
became a small factory, the fathers, mothers, and children all taking
part in the work. The machinery was simple and made of wood. The
spinning was done by the women and children in the house, the weaving
by the men in a weaving-shed of one story built in the yard.

As time went on, the machinery was improved by the inventions of clever
men, so that one loom would do as much work as several had done
previously. The workpeople did not like the new machines, for often a
number of people were thrown out of work by them, and frequently the new
spinning and weaving-frames of the inventors were wrecked by a furious

The earlier and simpler machines, such as the spinning-wheel and the
hand-loom, were worked by hand. But the new discoveries made it possible
for one wheel to turn eighty or a hundred spindles at once by means of
horse-power or a water-wheel, and the hand-loom similarly gave place to
a power-loom. But in remote villages the old-fashioned methods survived,
and even to this day you may still occasionally see a hand-loom at work
in cottages in the highlands of East Cheshire.

Then great factories began to be built, huge buildings of brick and of
many stories, chiefly on the banks of Cheshire streams, or on the
canals, by which the raw cotton could be brought in barges to the very
doors. You may look down from the churchyard of Mottram into the valley
beneath and count a score of them. Steam was applied, and the whole of
the machinery of the factories was driven by this new force. Great towns
sprang up like mushrooms. Hyde and Stalybridge and Dukinfield, from
being tiny villages, soon became great busy hives of the cotton

The cotton had also to be bleached and the calicoes printed, and mills
for the purpose were built along the streams, whose waters provided the
steam-power which worked the machinery of the mills. From Taxal to
Stockport, along the banks of the now polluted Goyt, is an almost
continuous line of great mills, the bleach-works of Whaley Bridge, the
print-works of Furness Vale and Strines, the cotton-mills of Disley,
Marple, and Mellor. The Mellor mills were built as early as 1790 by
Samuel Oldknow, and were at one time in the hands of Peter Arkwright,
who was one of a famous family of inventors, and who made many changes
in the machinery of his works.

Thus the positions of modern manufacturing towns have not been chosen,
as were those of the towns of the Middle Ages, by their ability to beat
off the attacks of enemies. For war is no longer the principal business
of the inhabitants of Cheshire. The 'cotton' towns have come into being
just in those parts where the conditions are favourable to the cotton
industry. In the first place the climate is damp, owing to the nearness
of the Pennine hills, on which the wet winds from the south-west drop
their moisture; and cotton can only be spun and woven in such a climate,
for a dry climate would make the threads break. Secondly, there is a
plentiful water-supply from the numerous streams that flow from the
hills, and lastly, the towns are close to big coal-fields from which
they may obtain the fuel for the engines that work the machinery of the

In the pretty model village of Styal, on the banks of the Bollin, is a
house which is still called by the name of 'Prentice House. Here once
lived a number of young girls and boys, orphans many of them, who worked
in the picturesque ivy-clad building, strangely unlike a mill, at Quarry
Bank. They were 'apprenticed', that is, bound to their master for seven
years. During that time they were well fed and clothed by their
employer, and certain times were set apart for learning to read and
write and sew. On Sunday mornings they walked together to the church at
Wilmslow. The girls were dressed in straw bonnets and plain grey
dresses, the boys in fustian coats and breeches of corduroy.

They were kindly treated, but the hours in the mill were long. They rose
at five, and their breakfast of porridge and milk was eaten in the mill.
Half an hour was allowed for dinner, and not until half-past eight did
their long day of toil come to an end. At Christmas prizes were given to
those who had been most obedient and industrious during the year.

The young people of Quarry Bank were on the whole happy in the service
of Samuel Greg their master, but the lot of the apprentices in other
mills was often very different. The harshness and cruelty of some
employers led to the passing of Acts of Parliament which shortened the
hours of labour and fixed severe penalties for ill-treatment. A later
Act forbade altogether the employment of children under a certain age.

  [Illustration: STYAL MILL]

In the middle of the eighteenth century the silk industry took root in
Cheshire. We first hear of it in Stockport, where a mill was started for
the winding and throwing[3] of silk. John Clayton, of Stockport, built a
mill at Congleton, and the industry spread rapidly to the neighbouring
villages of Sutton, Rainow, and Bollington.

  [3] i.e. twisting the fine threads into yarn. Those who were
  engaged in this particular process were called 'throwsters', just
  as spinster meant originally one engaged in spinning.

The first silk-mill in Macclesfield, which is now the chief seat of the
silk industry in Cheshire, was opened by Charles Roe in 1756. Roe Street
is named after him. He made a fortune and built Christ Church. Over the
altar you may see his bust in marble, and over it a figure of Genius
with a cogwheel in her hand. In the museum at West Park are some models
of silk-looms.

There was a silk-mill at Knutsford, as the name Silk Mill Street tells
us. In Mobberley also nearly every cottage had its spinning-wheel. The
cottagers fetched the raw silk from Macclesfield and took back the spun
yarn to be woven into pieces at the Macclesfield looms.



After the making of canals came the railways, and the mighty power of
steam, that had wrought such a vast change in the cotton industry, was
to be the moving force of the new invention.

Late in the summer of 1830 the people who lined the river banks from
Runcorn to Latchford saw a trail of smoke travelling slowly across the
nine arches of Sankey Viaduct and the peaty plains of the Mersey. The
smoke was that of Stephenson's 'Rocket', the steam locomotive that was
drawing one of the first passenger trains in England.

  [Illustration: CHESHIRE. RAILWAYS]

Cheshire had its 'Rocket' too in those days, the stage coach that left
the 'Black Boy' Inn at Stockport and passed through Cheadle, Lymm, and
Warrington to Liverpool. And the old 'Rocket' was very jealous of its
new namesake, for it was thought that with the coming of the railways
the coaches would be driven off the road. The canal companies also saw
themselves threatened, and did all they could to hinder the spread of
the new way of travelling.

Some years were to pass before the inhabitants of Cheshire saw railways
laid through their own towns and villages. The farmers of Wirral rubbed
their eyes when the first train seen in Cheshire carried its human
freight along the southern shore of the Mersey. Many of them had
doubtless never seen one before, and not a few of the more ignorant fled
in terror from the puffing, panting thing, which they looked upon as the
invention of the evil one.

It is hard indeed to think of Cheshire without its railways. Before
their coming, almost the only way of moving from one place to another
was by means of the stage coaches that rattled along the principal
highways, putting down at the nearest wayside inn the passengers who
lived in villages off the main roads. Goods and merchandise were carried
on pack-horses or slow lumbering wagons.

Some of the most important main lines of English railways now pass
through Cheshire, for the Cheshire plain is the broad gateway that leads
to the busy and populous towns of South Lancashire. Within the space of
half a century the county was covered with a network of lines, and
to-day it is impossible to find a spot that has not a railway passing
within a very few miles of it.

The earliest railways avoided the hilly districts, and for many years
there were no lines in East Cheshire. The main line of the London and
North Western Railway crosses the southern border of Cheshire where the
hills are low, and picks its way through the Cheshire plain, keeping
closely to the level valley of the Weaver, and leaving the hills of
Delamere and Frodsham on the west. It crosses the Mersey into Lancashire
at Warrington.

The cotton spinners of Stockport wanted a quick route to London, and so
a branch line was made through Alderley, which joined the main line at
Crewe. Some of the old country towns would not have the railway too
near, so we find Sandbach nearly two miles away from its station.
Another branch westwards left the main line at Crewe for Chester and
Holyhead, to carry the Irish mails; and a third branched off at Preston
Brook for Liverpool, being carried over the Mersey by a big iron bridge
at Runcorn.

There were only a few houses at Crewe when the railways were made. The
station was in the village of Church Coppenhall, but the shorter and
more convenient name of Crewe was chosen from Crewe Hall. The little
village rapidly became a big town, for it was chosen to be the
head-quarters of the London and North Western Company. Big engine and
carriage works were built, and iron foundries for the making of boilers
and steel rails. It is now one of the most important railway centres in
England, giving employment to many thousand workmen.

But one line was not enough to carry all the traffic from the great
manufacturing towns to the Midlands and the south of England. Other
railway companies accomplished the difficult task of crossing the
Pennine Hills, and Cheshire was thus brought into touch with Yorkshire
and the north-midland shires. The Midland Railway tunnelled under the
hills at a height of eight hundred feet above sea-level, and descended
rapidly to Stockport by the Goyt valley. The Great Northern enters
Cheshire by the tunnel near Penistone, and follows the Etherow down
Longdendale till it also reaches Stockport. The Staffordshire Railway
from the Potteries burrows through the hills at Harecastle on its way to
Congleton and Macclesfield. All these railways vied with one another in
quickening the speed of their trains, and their rivalry soon caused the
fares for passengers and rates for goods to become cheaper.

There is one railway which, more than any other, Cheshire boys and girls
may call their own. The Cheshire Line is not one of the great 'trunk'
lines to London, but is confined to South Lancashire and the county from
which it takes its name. This railway crosses the county from Altrincham
to Chester, never more than a few hundred yards from its great ancestor,
the Watling Street.


The populous towns of North-east Cheshire are also served by branches of
the Great Central and the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railways. The coast
towns of the Dee have their 'Wirral Railway', and through the heart of
Wirral Great Western expresses rush to their terminus at Birkenhead.

The railways teach us that time is money, and this fact is constantly
brought home to us by seeing new lines made to shorten the distance
between two points, so that men may get to their places of business more
rapidly. The Midland Railway have in the last few years straightened
their line by a short cut through Cheadle Heath, that their express
trains to Manchester may avoid delay at Stockport; and the new London
and North Western line from Wilmslow to Manchester, though it saved less
than three miles, was yet thought worth the cost.

The railways have brought town and country into closer touch with one
another, and both have gained. Farmers and market gardeners can send
their produce quickly and cheaply to the great markets of Stockport and
Birkenhead. Coals and salt, machinery and manufactured goods, can be
distributed easily from the great towns that produce them. Moreover,
many people whose daily life is spent in the crowded cities are able to
live away from their places of business and, for a portion of the day at
least, breathe the purer air of the country.

Two residential districts of Cheshire are supported mainly by the
merchants and manufacturers of Manchester and Liverpool. In East
Cheshire, Altrincham and Bowdon, Knutsford, Alderley, Cheadle, and Lymm
are practically suburbs of Manchester. In the Wirral, Hoylake, West
Kirby, and New Brighton owe their present prosperity to the business men
of Birkenhead and Liverpool who have built their homes on the Cheshire

In all these places you may see the mingling of the old and the new, the
older portions clustering round the parish church, the brand new villas
and mansions of the rich spreading on all sides into the surrounding
country. New towns spring up round the railway stations, as at Alderley
Edge, which is two miles from the older village of Nether Alderley.

With the railways came also the 'penny post', for letters could now be
carried cheaply and quickly to and from all parts of the country.



Twenty years before steam locomotives were used to draw passenger trains
over the earliest railways in Cheshire, a steam packet boat had been
built to ply between Liverpool and the Cheshire port of Runcorn. This
boat was called simply 'The Steam Boat', and was the first steamer ever
seen in the River Mersey. The sailing packets were frequently becalmed,
but the new ship could make her voyage in all weathers.

A number of steam-tugs were built soon afterwards to tow the big
sailing-ships that entered the Mersey to the ports to which they were
bound, and the first steam ferry-boat crossed the Mersey from Liverpool
to Tranmere. In a few years the Cheshire shore of the Mersey was lined
with docks and quays at Birkenhead, Seacombe, Woodside, Tranmere, and
Eastham. At the last-named port Liverpool passengers could get on the
coach for Chester and the midland towns.

In 1819, the year in which Queen Victoria was born, the Savannah, the
first steamship that crossed the Atlantic, was seen in the River Mersey.
The Savannah took twenty-eight days over the passage, lowering by many
days the record of the fastest sailing-vessels hitherto. This was
thought a great feat in those days, but the huge 'ocean greyhounds' that
the boys and girls of Wirral see riding at anchor off Birkenhead, now
make four or five crossings in the same period of time.

Just as Crewe owes its rapid rise to the coming of the railways, so
Birkenhead's prosperity dates from the beginnings of steam navigation.
Both of these towns are growths of the nineteenth century. At the
beginning of the century Birkenhead was a small village of less than a
hundred inhabitants. It is now Cheshire's greatest town, and contains a
population of more than 100,000, or, if we include the populous suburbs
which have sprung up on either side of it, nearly twice this number.

  [Illustration: BIRKENHEAD & THE MERSEY]

The old village clustered round its ruined priory, which is still in the
heart of the modern town. A triangular piece of land, now covered by the
streets of New Brighton, Liscard, Wallasey, and Seacombe, was cut off
from Birkenhead and the rest of Wirral by a broad and swampy river
called Wallasey Pool. Mr. Laird, the founder of the famous shipbuilding
company of that name, bought some land on the edge of the Pool. He saw
that here was a firstrate place for dockyards and wharves, which would
be protected from south-westerly gales by the natural rampart of Bidston
Hill and the high ground of Oxton.

In a few years Wallasey Pool was turned into a huge basin capable of
holding hundreds of big ocean-going ships. In the 'Great Float', as this
basin is now called, you may see ships of every nation. Twenty pairs of
lockgates connect it with the Mersey, and there are ten miles of quays
with a network of quay railways laid along them.

The big ship-building yards of Messrs. Cammell and Laird give employment
to many hundreds of the working-men of Birkenhead. Here are built some
of our largest merchant vessels, as well as ships for the British Navy,
chiefly gunboats and torpedo boat destroyers. One of the Lairds was
Birkenhead's first member of Parliament. You may see his statue in front
of the Birkenhead Town Hall.

Two other men whose names are closely linked with the shipping of the
Mersey will always be remembered by the people of Wirral. William Inman
and Thomas Ismay were the founders of fleets of ocean liners. With a
portion of the wealth that he derived from his business, Inman built
churches for the villages of Upton and Moreton. Ismay lived at Dawpool
Hall, and is buried in the churchyard of Thurstaston.

The first street-tramway in Europe was laid along the streets of
Birkenhead, from Woodside Ferry to the Park, by an American called
Train. The cars were built at Birkenhead, and drawn by horses; the
length of the line was less than two miles. Now tram routes are spread
all over Eastern Wirral, and are to be found in the streets of all
large towns. But the horses are gone, and the cars are now driven by the
cheaper and more serviceable method of electricity. Our tram-cars are
one of the greatest conveniences in the busy life of a town.

Prior to the year 1832 Chester was the only Cheshire town which had its
own members of Parliament. The county returned two members, one for the
north division and the other for the south. The big manufacturing towns
which had increased so rapidly in size and population had no
representatives, while numbers of small towns and villages in other
parts of England returned one and sometimes even two members to the
House of Commons. The workers of the busy industrial districts felt that
this was very unfair, and demanded to be allowed to be represented.
After a long struggle Reform Bills were passed, and now Stockport is
allowed to choose two members, and Stalybridge and Birkenhead one each.
The number of county members has also been increased from two to eight,
one from each of eight divisions, to which the names Hyde, Macclesfield,
Altrincham, Knutsford, Crewe, Eddisbury, Northwich, and Wirral have been

Until the passing of the 'Reform Bills' only those who possessed
property were allowed to vote, the great majority of the people of
Cheshire had no say in the government of the country at all. The Reform
Bill of 1832 gave the vote to many more people, to every man in fact who
paid a rent of ten pounds or more a year for his house. Thus much of the
power which had previously belonged to the rich passed into the hands of
the poorer classes.

One of the first results of the Reformed Parliament was the passing of a
number of Factory Acts. The cry of the children at work in the mills had
long been heard through the land, and the people were indignant at the
cruelties put upon them by some mill-owners. As early as the year 1802
Sir Robert Peel, a Lancashire manufacturer, had persuaded Parliament to
pass an Act to improve the condition of the factories. The Reformed
Parliament now made it illegal to employ children under nine years of
age, or to make boys and girls under thirteen work for more than twelve
hours a day. Later Acts have still further shortened the hours of work
for women and children, and in many other respects have made the lot of
all the working classes more tolerable. Manufacturers are now compelled
to keep their factories clean and wholesome, and fit to work in. Factory
inspectors are appointed to see that the laws are carried out, and those
whose lives are spent in dangerous occupations, such as coal-mining or
the making of chemicals, are protected by strict rules which lessen the
danger to life and limb.

The greatest evil from which the poorer classes suffered in the early
years of the nineteenth century was the high price of bread. This was
due to the heavy duty put on corn imported from foreign countries. In S.
Peter's Square, Stockport, is a statue of Richard Cobden, who for six
years was Stockport's member of Parliament. Cobden saw that the poverty
of the working classes could not be lessened until this corn-tax was
removed. He pleaded eloquently on their behalf, and in the end he was
successful. The growers of corn grumbled, but as Cheshire is not so much
a corn-growing as a pastoral county, the farmers of Cheshire were not
greatly hurt.

Cobden also persuaded Parliament to take away or to lessen the duties on
imported raw materials, such as cotton, wool, and silk, on which the
prosperity of the Cheshire workers so much depended. The result was that
the manufacturers were able to pay the people who worked in their mills
better wages. Thus, with cheaper bread and wages higher, the lot of the
industrial classes became brighter. Soon also the duties on manufactured
goods brought to Cheshire from abroad were removed, and the system of
Free Trade, under which Cheshire has become rich and prosperous, came
into being.

Among the leaders of the working classes were some who wanted far
greater changes. In the museum at Vernon Park are some iron pike-heads
taken from these men when they tried to arm the people and urge them to
fight for their 'rights'. The aims of the Chartists, as these reformers
were named, were set forth in a document which they called the People's
Charter. Among other things, they demanded votes for all men, yearly
Parliaments, vote by ballot, and payment of members of Parliament. But
the bulk of the people took alarm, for it was thought that if every man
had a vote, too much power would be put into the hands of the working
classes. The Chartists were tried for causing riots, and many were put
in prison. One of the Chartist leaders was James Stephens, who is buried
in Dukinfield churchyard.

In 1861 a great disaster befell the cotton trade. In that year civil war
broke out in America between the Northern and the Southern States of the
Union. The Southern States were the seat of the cotton-growing
plantations, which were worked by millions of negro slaves. The English
people had put an end to slavery in their own colonies, and the Northern
States of America wished to do the same. When the Southerners desired to
extend the cotton industry to other new States, the Northern States
refused to allow it, and war broke out.

The war brought much distress to the cotton workers of Cheshire, for the
ports of the Southerners were blockaded by the warships of their
enemies, and the ships which had brought their cargoes of raw cotton to
the Mersey could do so no longer. The result was a cotton famine. The
looms were idle, and thousands of workpeople were thrown out of
employment in Stockport, Stalybridge, and the other towns and villages
which depended for their daily bread on a constant supply of the raw

Attempts were made by ships sent from England to run the blockade of the
ports of the Southern States. At Birkenhead a ship called the _Alabama_
was built in the dockyard of Messrs. Laird for the use of the cotton
planters. The ship entered the harbours in the night-time or during
fogs, and succeeded several times in bringing small supplies of cotton.
She was caught at last, but not before she had destroyed sixty or
seventy vessels of the Northern fleet, and she very nearly brought about
a war between England and America.

The war lasted four years. Then peace was restored, and the cotton was
once more brought to the starving spinners and weavers of East Cheshire.
During the famine the poor had been supported by sums of money raised in
the large towns of England, and many years passed before the cotton
industry reached its former prosperity.

The memory of the hard days of the cotton famine has been handed down to
the grandchildren of those who suffered. Within the last few years the
cotton merchants and manufacturers have started an association for
growing cotton in our own English colonies, so that the workers may not
depend entirely on the cotton produced by foreign States.



Many of the changes described in the last three chapters were but
partially accomplished in Cheshire, when a young princess of eighteen
years became Queen of England. The power of steam was known, but the
Cheshire railways were not yet laid, and those who wished to attend the
coronation of Queen Victoria had to use the stage or the family coach
and take a day and a half over the journey.

Telegraph and telephone were also quite unknown, and the penny post had
not yet come into being. That was to follow in the wake of the railways.
During her reign all our main roads were lined with telegraph wires, and
cables laid at the bottom of the seas sent our messages to the uttermost
parts of the earth. The news of distant events, which formerly took
weeks or even months to reach us, may now be read in our newspapers
within a few hours at most.

Inventions without number followed the discovery of electricity. The
shops and warehouses of large towns, railway carriages and ocean liners,
and the homes of the well-to-do are lighted with it. Electric launches
flit along the shores of the Mersey. Tram-cars are worked by
electricity, which also sets in motion the dynamos that work the
machinery of mills and workshops. The pressing of an electric button
sets free the big ships when they take the water for the first time in
the dockyards of Birkenhead.

The wonderful progress made by the engineers of the nineteenth century
is seen in the making of the Manchester Ship Canal, the greater part of
which lies within the county of Cheshire. For many years Manchester's
great ambition was to become a port. The winding and shallow bed of the
inland waters of the Mersey could not be navigated by ocean-going
vessels, and a ship canal was wanted in order that the bales of cotton
might be brought direct from the United States and other cotton-growing
countries to the place where the raw material is distributed. Thus time
would be saved, as well as the expense of unloading at Liverpool and
putting the cargoes on the railways, whose rates were very high.

It was therefore decided to ask Parliament for powers to make a wide and
deep canal, capable of carrying ships of several thousand tons burden.
The railway and canal companies and the Liverpool merchants who
controlled the navigation of the Mersey were afraid that the trade of
Liverpool would be injured, and opposed the scheme vigorously. But
Parliament was wise enough to see what a boon the canal would be to the
cotton towns and the district through which it was to be laid, and
passed the bill for its making. In the Jubilee year of Queen Victoria
the work was begun.

Many millions of money were required for such a vast undertaking, and
more millions were asked for as the work went on. After seven years of
perseverance in the face of tremendous difficulties, the canal was
opened by the queen.

The canal is thirty-five and a half miles long, and, roughly speaking,
two-thirds of it are in Cheshire. The entrance to the canal is at
Eastham, where great locks were built. From Eastham to Runcorn, a
distance of thirteen miles, the canal is tidal and laid along the
foreshore of the Mersey estuary, and protected by an embankment. At
Runcorn 'Gap' the canal and the Mersey, which here becomes very narrow,
are separated by a concrete wall nearly one mile in length.

The rest of the waterway lies inland. Latchford serves as a port for
Warrington, and the locks here always present a busy scene. At Irlam
locks the canal enters Lancashire, and its waters are at this point
forty feet above sea-level. The canal is fed by the River Irwell, whose
waters flow down the canal from Salford to Irlam.

The railways are carried over the canal by lofty bridges, which had to
be made very high to allow the masts of ocean ships to pass under them.
Bays or sidings, where ships may pass each other, occur at intervals.
Wharves and docks have been built at many points along the canal, which
some day may be expected to appear one long seaport.

Ellesmere Port, where the Ellesmere Canal and Ship Canal unite, has
become a thriving place in recent years, and the trade of Runcorn has
also been greatly increased by the canal. Large alkali works have been
built at Weston Point, the most suitable place that could have been
found for them, because they are equally near to the Lancashire
coal-field on the one hand and to the salt beds of Cheshire on the
other. The salt is brought in the form of brine direct from Northwich to
the works by pipes laid underground, a great saving of money, for salt
is heavy and costly to carry.

Though the cotton industry was the one that was expected to gain most
from the canal, the traffic is by no means confined to this commodity.
Grain and cattle are brought from the United States and from South
America, timber from Canada, and hides from the Argentine, and big
cargoes of bananas, oranges, and apples, pass up the canal. In addition
to this oversea traffic, the canal also has a great share of the
coasting trade of the West of England, of which slates from Carnarvon,
and china clay from Cornwall may be taken as the best examples.

The triumphs of engineering and mechanical skill have improved our means
of travelling from one place to another. The great engines that are now
turned out from the locomotive sheds at Crewe are as vastly superior to
the Rocket (models of which are now but a curiosity in our museums) as
the twentieth-century motor-cycle is to the velocipede or wooden
'bone-shaker' that your fathers rode. Horse carriages are fast
disappearing and giving place to the motor-car, and hansoms to the
taxicab. The science of aviation is turning the inventive powers of men
into new channels, and 'flying men' are showing to the world that the
conquest of the air is but a matter of time.

Before the reign of Queen Victoria, few of the children of the poorest
classes were able either to read or write. Such education as these could
receive was given in the Sunday Schools, which Robert Raikes had started
in 1781. The children were hard at work in the mills all the week.
Teachers volunteered for the work, which was carried on in cottages or
disused factories. In 1805, Stockport built the big Sunday School which
still remains, and a hundred thousand children have been grateful for
the simple teaching given to them.

The Education Bills of Queen Victoria's reign brought knowledge within
the reach of all. Education is cheap for the middle classes, free for
the poor. Schools have been built where none existed before. Money has
been found to help any Cheshire boy or girl to receive the very highest
education, and to open up the way from village school to university. The
municipalities have built their own municipal schools in the chief towns
of Cheshire, and technical schools where you may learn a trade. At the
Agricultural School at Holmes Chapel you may be instructed in the newest
and most scientific ways of farming.

The people have learnt to study the laws of health, and to understand
the value of light and fresh air. Towns are cleaner and your homes
healthier. Open spaces, parks and playing-fields, brighten the lives of
the children in the towns, and by making them stronger, fit them the
better for the hard work that lies before them.

Port Sunlight shows how much can be done by those who study the needs of
the working classes. This 'garden city', with its avenues of dainty
cottage villas, is the home of those who work in the big soap-works on
the Mersey. Here everything is done that can make for the comfort and
well-being of the inhabitants. There are schools for the children, and
'institutes' for the young men and women, libraries and reading-rooms,
savings banks to encourage thrift, games, clubs, swimming-baths and
gymnasium for the strong, a hospital for the sick and infirm, ambulance
and fire brigade and a life-saving society, and societies for the study
of literature and science.

You are not all as fortunate as the dwellers of Port Sunlight. But some
day many of you will perhaps see the slums of great towns cleared away,
and you will take care that sunlight is let into dark places. You will
have learned how foolish it is to overcrowd the towns and herd together
in close and mean streets, and you will have the power to say that these
things ought not to be.

The Cheshire County Council was created by Queen Victoria. Its members
are elected, and the Council allows large parishes to elect a Parish or
District Council to manage their own local affairs. But Stockport,
Chester, and Birkenhead do not send members to this Council, for their
populations are so big that they are considered as counties in
themselves. The County Council also controls the education of the
county, keeps roads and bridges in repair, directs the cleansing of the
small towns and villages, and provides a pure water-supply.

New boroughs were made at Crewe, Hyde, and Stalybridge in Queen
Victoria's reign, with a mayor and corporation to direct their affairs.
Macclesfield, you will remember, was a borough in very early times.
Altrincham and Over too, once had their mayors, though they have them no
longer. Their mayors seem to have been men of very humble position, and
to have been looked down upon by their neighbours. You have perhaps
heard of the Cheshire saying:

  The Mayor of Altrincham,
  And the Mayor of Over--
  The one is a thatcher,
  The other a dauber.


The work of the borough councils has become very heavy during the last
fifty years. Gas, water, electricity, libraries, education, public
health, baths, markets, and police, have their own special committees to
look after them. The handsome Town Halls of Chester and Stockport, the
latter opened only a few years since by the present King George the
Fifth, had to be built to accommodate the small army of clerks who
assist in the government of a great city.

The reign of Queen Victoria was not all one of peace. The war with
Russia, and the terrible mutiny of her Indian subjects with its tale of
horrors and its glorious heroism, brought woe to many a home in
Cheshire. The obelisk by the roadside between Aldford and Farndon
reminds us that the soldiers of Cheshire were often called upon to fight
our battles and too often find a grave in distant lands. Colonel
Barnston, of Crewe Hill, to whose memory this monument was set up,
fought at the siege of Sebastopol. In the Indian Mutiny he was wounded
while gallantly leading an assault at the relief of Lucknow, and died of
his wounds at Cawnpore. Numbers of memorial tablets in the Cathedral of
Chester speak of the lives that were cheerfully laid down by Cheshire
men in the service of their queen and country.

Your fathers will tell you how bonfires were lighted on the beacons and
hill-tops of Cheshire to celebrate the Jubilee or fiftieth year of the
reign of Queen Victoria. Still greater was the rejoicing some ten years
later, when she surpassed in length of reign all previous sovereigns of
England. Nearly every town and village has some memorial of her: a cross
in the village street, a drinking-fountain by the wayside, new bells for
the parish church or a lich-gate for the churchyard, a village 'hall' or
a public recreation ground, these are but a few examples that prove the
love and reverence that Cheshire men and women felt for the great queen
whose only thought was ever for the welfare of her people.

Yet her last years were saddened by the long and costly war in South
Africa, still unfinished when she died. The call to arms was once more
heard from east to west of Cheshire; from town and country,
'reservists' who had thought to end their days in peace were sent
oversea to defend the South African dominions of the queen. The brave
'Cheshires'--the fathers of some of you were among them--served
throughout the war. A gallant Cheshire officer was one of the first to
win distinction. Lieutenant Congreve, of Burton Hall, was one of three
who volunteered to rescue the guns at the battle of Colenso. He was shot
down in the attempt, but was able to crawl to a sheltered place, and
lived to receive the reward that all soldiers strive to merit--the
Victoria Cross.



Throughout the Middle Ages, until the end of the Wars of the Roses, war
was the chief, almost the only occupation of the leading men of
Cheshire. A few entered the Church, Richard de Vernon, for instance, who
was Rector of 'Stokeport' early in the fourteenth century (his tomb is
in the chancel of Stockport), and William de Montalt, Rector of Neston.
One of the Bebingtons, William de Bebyngton, even became Abbot of S.
Werburgh's Abbey.

The descendants of the barons who settled in Cheshire in the days of the
Conqueror followed the Norman and Plantagenet kings to the Crusades or
the French wars. Few of them stayed at home for any length of time, and
when they returned, they generally found that some score had to be
settled with the Welshmen, who had been making havoc of their lands
during their absence. So that whether at home or abroad, fighting was
always their chief business.

Cheshire has been called the 'seed-plot of gentility'. The Cheshire
gentry prided themselves on marrying within their own county. A Cheshire
proverb says: ''Tis better to wed over the mixen than over the moor,'
meaning the moorland that separates Cheshire from her neighbours. The
result of this intermarriage was that the number of great Cheshire names
did not greatly increase, and soon there became

  As many Masseys as asses,
  Leghs as fleas,
  And Davenports as dogs' tails;

to quote another Cheshire saying.

One of the oldest Cheshire families is that of the Wooley-Dods of Edge
Hill, who trace their descent from the Saxon Dot, who was a great man in
Cheshire before the Normans came. The Grosvenors, whose ancestors came
over with the Conqueror, live at Eaton Hall, and own vast estates in
Western Cheshire. The present head of the family is the Duke of
Westminster. The Mainwarings, whose forefathers fought in the Crusades,
are at Peover, and the crest of the felon's head of the Davenports still
survives at Capesthorne, though the Davenports of Marton and Bramhall
are no more.

Many old families of Cheshire have long since died out. The last of the
Masseys of Puddington (they had lived there since the days of Rufus)
died in the Stuart rising of 1715. There are no Pooles at Poole Hall nor
Venables at Kinderton. The last of the Savages of Rock Savage, whose
tomb is in the Rivers Chapel at Macclesfield, died in the seventeenth

Dutton village and Dutton Hall bear the name of a famous family that was
allied by marriage with most of the great families of Cheshire. Duttons
live no longer at the Hall, for the last male heir died in the reign of
James the First. They were descended from a squire of Robert Lacy,
Constable of Chester. When Earl Randal was besieged in Rhuddlan Castle
by the Welsh, the Constable and Dutton, his henchman, hastily gathered
together a motley rabble of fiddlers and mountebanks from Chester Fair
and went to his assistance. The Earl was rescued, and from that time
forward to the Duttons was given the charge of all minstrels and
fiddlers in the county. There are Duttons in Chester now; one was a
mayor of the city quite recently.

Neighbours and kinsmen of the Duttons were the Dones or Donnes of
Utkinton, hereditary foresters of the Forest of Delamere. Many of them
are buried at Tarporley. The name of the last Lady Done is still called
to mind in the neighbourhood where they lived. The Cheshire proverb is
the highest praise that can be given to a young Cheshire housewife, and
'Lady Done' is a pet name for modest and thrifty girls, as 'Little Lord
Derby' is for brave and honourable boys.

Lancashire claims the Earls of Derby now, but they are descended from
the Stanleys, perhaps the most famous of all Cheshire families, by the
marriage of Sir John Stanley and Isabella, heiress of the Lancashire
Lathoms. The Stanleys settled at Storeton in Wirral in the fourteenth
century. Many men of mark, churchmen and scholars, statesmen and
soldiers, belonged to this family. A Stanley helped to win the battle of
Bosworth for Henry Tudor, and a Stanley led the Cheshire troops in the
famous charge at Flodden Field,

  When shivered was fair Scotland's spear
  And broken was her shield.

One branch of the family settled at Hooton, but the last of this line
lost his estates by gambling and extravagance. The Stanleys of Alderley
received knighthood from James the First; they are Barons of Alderley
now. This family has given a bishop to Norwich and a still more famous
dean to Westminster. The bishop was educated at the Grammar School of

The Egertons are descended from the standard-bearer of Henry the Eighth,
who made him a knight after the 'Battle of the Spurs'. One of them rose
to be Lord Chancellor in the reigns of Elizabeth and James the First,
and was made Baron Ellesmere. The first Earl Egerton of Tatton was made
a peer by Queen Victoria largely for the help he gave in the making of
the Ship Canal.

The Jodrells, buried in Taxal Church, were descended from an archer who
served under the Black Prince. Perhaps he cut his bow from the very yew
tree that still stands in the churchyard. One of them fought in the
Peninsular War, but the name has disappeared from this part of Cheshire

Several Cheshire noblemen sit in the House of Lords to-day, their family
name disguised under the more showy title of a peerage. A Booth became
Lord Delamere at the Restoration, and the Viscounts of Combermere are
the descendants of the Cottons, who helped Henry the Eighth to plunder
the Cheshire monasteries. The Ardernes are represented by the Earl of
Haddington; Lord Newton lives at Lyme Park, the ancient home of the
Leghs, and the Earl of Crewe at Crewe Hall. Lord Ashton of Hyde has only
recently taken a seat in the House of Lords. He was made a baron at the
coronation of King George the Fifth.

When great industries took root in Cheshire new names appeared, and some
of the most honoured families in Cheshire now are those that have been
closely associated with the workers of the county. We hear a great deal
nowadays of 'the dignity of labour', and we think it no disgrace to rise
to position and power by a life of toil. The Gregs of Styal and the
Brunners of Northwich, the Levers of Wirral, and many others, have
endeared themselves to the people of Cheshire by the example of their
own labours and the pains they have taken to make the lives of those who
live about them and work for them brighter and happier.

A simple cross in the graveyard of the Unitarian Chapel at Knutsford
bears the name of Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell. The people of Knutsford
have a warm corner in their hearts for her, for in a way she has made
their town famous for all time. One of the books she wrote--_Cranford_
she called it--speaks of the people of Knutsford as she knew them in the
earlier days of Queen Victoria. The book tells you much of the quiet
life of a country town before the coming of the railways and the busy
hubbub of the later nineteenth century, and all Cheshire children should
read it. Mrs. Gaskell wrote several other books, all of which show her
sweet sympathy and kindliness towards those whose lives are cast in
lowly surroundings.

If you have not heard of _Cranford_ you have probably read a book whose
title you know better than the name of the writer. _Alice in Wonderland_
was written by a man who spent much of his early life in Cheshire.
'Lewis Carroll', though that is not his real name, is the name under
which he wrote the humorous stories that have delighted young people and
old alike.

John Critchley Prince, the workman poet of Hyde, lived in the days when
the poorly-paid workers of Cheshire were struggling for a better
existence. While working in a factory at Hyde he found time to write
poems which speak of the charms of home, the brotherhood of all mankind,
and the hopes and ambitions of his fellow men. Prince was thriftless and
intemperate, and much of his life was spent in misery, but his talents
were great, and the people of Hyde have done him honour. He is buried in
Hyde churchyard.

In the chancel of Stockport Parish Church is a tablet to the memory of
John Wainwright, the organist who composed the tune for 'Christians,
awake', the beautiful Christmas hymn 'whose sound is gone out into all
lands where the praise of our Lord is sung', as the inscription runs.
The words of the hymn were written by Byrom, a Manchester man.

Cheshire produced a famous hymn-writer in Bishop Heber. Reginald Heber
was born in the rectory of Malpas in 1783. He gave himself up to
missionary work in foreign lands, and was made Bishop of Calcutta. 'From
Greenland's icy mountains' and 'Brightest and best of the sons of the
morning' are two of the hymns that came from his pen.

Charles Kingsley must have loved Cheshire. Though he was not a Cheshire
man by birth, he claimed descent from the Kingsleys of Vale Royal. He
was a great lover of nature, and, while he was Canon of Chester, founded
the Natural History Society in Chester, whose home is in the Grosvenor
Museum, and encouraged the people of Cheshire to take an interest in the
story of their county, and to study the ways of plants and of the wild
creatures of the fields and the forests. His pathetic ballad of the
Sands of Dee, 'O Mary, go and call the cattle home,' will always be a
favourite with the village people of Wirral.

Tabley Hall was the home of another celebrated naturalist. Here lived
Lord de Tabley, one of the greatest students of Cheshire flowers, and a
lover of all wild living things. His grave is in the churchyard of
Little Peover, and over it trails a bramble, which was his favourite
plant and one of which he made a special study. In the gardens of Tabley
Hall is a bramble-bed, still tended carefully, which he laid out from
the choicest briars he could find.

Lord de Tabley was a poet as well as a lover of flowers and birds.
Perhaps you will some day read his poems, and be charmed by his
descriptive pictures of the ways of his feathered friends, the
'starlings mustering on their evening tree', the 'swallows beating low
before a hint of rain', the 'plaintive plovers', and the 'wide-winged
screaming swift'.

Lord de Tabley's example is one which all Cheshire boys and girls should
learn to copy. Those who are proud of their county will not do anything
to make it less beautiful. Like him, they will cherish and protect the
plants and birds and all the wild creatures that have been put into
their keeping; for such things are the common heritage of the people of
Cheshire, and, once destroyed, can never be replaced.



We have traced the story of Cheshire from prehistoric times. For long
ages the story was one of war and bloodshed, of conquest and defeat, of
the coming and the passing of many nations, each in turn yielding to a
more powerful foe. Cheshire has seen more of the strife of nations than
most counties of England. Her position on the map of the British Isles
has willed that this should be.

When the latest struggle for the possession of our country was ended,
and the Normans lorded it over the conquered Saxons, we saw Cheshire
made into a bulwark to keep in check the nations that surrounded her
on north and west. For 200 years this was her mission. She was a kingdom
within a kingdom, with an earl or viceroy to rule over her, and a
Parliament and laws of her own. More centuries passed by before a Tudor
king permitted her to take her place in that greater English Parliament
and to help to frame laws under which she, along with the rest of
England, should be governed.


But Cheshire was not denied the greatest of all good gifts. We saw the
lamp of Christianity burn brightly from Hildeburgh's Isle to Chadkirk,
and some of the earliest Gospel teachers were sent by the very Welsh and
Irish nations over which Cheshire was afterwards set as sentinel and
watch-dog. Feebly the light sometimes glimmered in days of stress and
storm, but it never went out; and after the Tudor monarch had shaken off
the shackles of Rome, and the minds of men had been stirred by a great
awakening, its early brightness was restored in a purified religion that
gave freedom of conscience to all men.

Then came the horrors of civil war, when Cheshire men fought for the
liberty to believe what they thought to be right, and rose in their
wrath at the unlawful misdeeds of the Stuart kings, when patriots rose
in defence of the ancient liberties that are the inheritance of all
Englishmen. This was the last blood shed in Cheshire.

In the last hundred years the people of Cheshire have seen the face of
Cheshire greatly changed. They have helped to create great industries,
and they have witnessed the wonderful discoveries of the power of steam
and electricity, and all the conveniences and comforts of modern life
that have followed in their train. In ways too numerous to speak of,
their lives have been made brighter and happier.

The Princes of Wales are the Earls of Chester still. King Edward the
Seventh, when he was Prince of Wales, came to Chester and opened the new
Town Hall. The citizens of Chester knew him well, for he was often a
guest at Eaton Hall, the home of the Grosvenors, the descendants of the
Conqueror's 'mighty huntsman'. William the Norman harried Cheshire with
the sword, and the people of Cheshire fled before him. King Edward
brought not a sword but peace in his hand, and the people loved him, for
he was one of the world's great peace-makers.

In one of the earliest chapters of this book you have read of the
'making of Cheshire'. We have brought the story of Cheshire down to the
present day, but Cheshire is not yet 'made'. Many and wonderful changes
there have been since our ancestors shot wild beasts with their flinty
arrow-heads, and devoured raw flesh in the pits and caverns of Alderley
Edge. The people of Cheshire, who have struggled through long centuries
to win for themselves light and liberty, have never turned their faces
backwards. With steadfast purpose and unfaltering steps they march
forward on the way of progress.

The 'making' still goes on; and there is plenty of work to do for the
Cheshire boys and girls of to-day, that they may help to make their
county a better place to live in than they found it.

  Enough, if something from our hands have power
  To live, and act, and serve the future hour.

The great families of Cheshire whose names recur so often in these pages
were proud of the mottoes written beneath their crests and coats of
arms. The words inscribed on the village cross which the boys and girls
of Eastham pass on their way to school, are the best mottoes that all
Cheshire school-children can take for their own:

  'Fear God. Honour the King. Work while it is yet day.'

And the day is very short. As the lines on a tombstone in Little Peover
churchyard remind us:

  A little rule, a little sway,
  A sunbeam in a winter's day,
  Is all the greatest of us have
  Between the cradle and the grave.


    Acton, 126.
    Adlington, 141, 161.
    Aethelfrith, 44.
    Aethelred, 50.
    Agricola, 36-8.
    _Alabama_, the, 203.
    Alderley Edge, 15, 18, 25, 42.
    Aldford, 20, 61.
    Alfred the Great, 51.
    Almshouses, 147.
    Altrincham, 88, 208.
    Anne, Queen, 171.
    Anselm, 64.
    Archery, 110.
    Architecture, Saxon, 50;
      Norman, 65-71;
      Early English, 81-6;
      Decorated, 101-4;
      Perpendicular, 120-2;
      Elizabethan, 137-42;
      Eighteenth-Century, 173-6.
    Arden Hall, 142.
    Armada, Spanish, 134.
    Astbury, 45, 104.
    Aston, Sir Thomas, 156.
    Athelstan, 55.

    Baguley, 106.
    Baldwin, Archbishop, 79.
    Barnston, Colonel, 210.
    Barrows, 27.
    Barthomley, 162.
    Bebington, 71, 104, 147.
    Beeston Castle, 61, 160.
    Beeston, Sir George, 134.
    Benedictines, 64.
    Birkenhead, 12, 198-200.
    Birkenhead, Priory, 71;
      Shipping, 200.
    Black Death, 112.
    Booth, Sir George, 157, 166, 171.
    Boulder clay, 20.
    Bradshaw, John, 163.
    Bramhall, 106.
    Branks, 149.
    Brasses, 115.
    Brereton Hall, 141.
    Brereton, Sir William, 153, 155-60, 165.
    Bridgwater Canal, 184.
    Bridgwater, Duke of, 183.
    Brindley, James, 183, 185.
    British remains, 27.
    Brocmael, 43.
    Bromborough, 56.
    Bronze Age, 28.
    Broxton Hills, 27.
    Bruera, 86.
    Bucton Castle, 27.
    Budworth, Great, 119, 162, 164.
    Bunbury, 108, 134.
    Bunter Sandstone, 18.
    Burial urns, 27, 34.
    Byron, Sir Nicholas, 157.

    Caesar, Julius, 29.
    Calveley, Sir Hugh, 108.
    Canals of Cheshire, 183-5, 205.
    Carboniferous Rocks, 24.
    Carroll, Lewis, 215.
    Ceawlin, 43.
    Celts, 26-8.
    Chad, 48.
    Chadkirk, 48.
    Charles I, 153, 158.
    Charles II, 164-6.
    Charters, 78, 88.
    Chartists, 202.
    Cheshire, Canals, 183-5, 205;
      Meres, 15;
      Plain, 10;
      Rivers, 12-14;
      Railways, 192-7.
    Chesshyre, Sir John, 177.
    Chester, Battle of, 44;
      Castle, 55, 62, 96, 174;
      Caleyards, 65;
      Cathedral, 130;
      Customs of, 62;
      King's School, 133, 152;
      Plays, 90-1;
      Phoenix Tower, 89, 158;
      Roman city of, 36-8;
      Rows, 112;
      S. John's Church, 50, 66, 81, 160;
      S. Mary's on the Hill, 160;
      S. Olaf, 57;
      S. Oswald, 47;
      S. Werburgh's Abbey, 64, 72, 83;
      Siege of, 158-60;
      Situation of, 10;
      Trade, 55, 144;
      Walls, 37, 96;
      Water Tower, 98.
    Chests, Church, 124.
    Christianity, Introduction of, 47-51.
    Christleton, 20.
    Chronicle, Old English, 54.
    Circles, Stone, 28.
    Cistercians, 73.
    Civil War, 153-66.
    Clive, Robert, 181.
    Clulow Cross, 25, 28.
    Cnut, 57.
    Coaches, 178.
    Coal measures, 22.
    Coal-fields, 183.
    Cobden, Richard, 202.
    Combermere, Abbey of, 73.
    Combermere, Viscount, 182.
    Congleton, 88, 148.
    Congreve, Lieutenant, 211.
    Connought, Major, 162.
    Constable's Sands, 74.
    Conversion of the English, 47-8.
    Cotton famine, 203;
     manufacture, 188.
    Cotton, Stapleton, 182.
    County Council, 208.
    Crewe, 195, 208.
    Crewe, Sir Randolph, 152.
    Crosses, 48.
    Crusades, 79.

    Danes, Invasion of, 57.
    Davenport, Peter, 162.
    Davenport, Vivian, 74.
    Dean Row, 168.
    Decorated Architecture, 101-4.
    Dee Mills, 77, 98.
    Dee, River, 12.
    Delamere, Forest of, 15, 27, 74.
    Dennis, Peter, 181.
    Derby, Earls of, 213.
    de Tabley, Lord, 216.
    Deva, 30.
    Dissolution of the Monasteries, 129-33.
    Domesday Book, 62-4.
    Done, John, 76.
    Downes, Peter, 181.
    Drayton, Michael, 135.
    Dukinfield, 151, 183.
    Dunham Massey, 62.
    Duttons, 212.

    Earls of Chester, 59, 74-81.
    Early English Architecture, 81-7.
    Eastham, 205.
    Eaton Hall, 59.
    Eaton, Samuel, 151.
    Ecberght, 44.
    Eddisbury, 20, 54.
    Edgar, 56.
    Edward the Elder, 54.
    Edward I, 93-8.
    Edward III, 96.
    Edward VI, 130.
    Edward VII, 218.
    Edwin, Earl, 59.
    Eleanor, Queen, 94.
    Elizabeth, Queen, 134-50.
    Elizabethan Houses, 137.
    Ellesmere Canal, 206.
    Erratics, 20.
    Estuaries, 14.
    Ethelfleda, 53-5.
    Etherow, River, 12.

    Factory Acts, 201.
    Faddiley, 43.
    Farndon, 48, 159.
    Fitton, Mary, 143.
    Flagstones, 23.
    Flashes, 15.
    Flint implements, 25.
    Forest, submerged, 23.
    Forests of Cheshire, 74.
    Friars, Coming of the, 99.
    Frodsham, 65, 96, 174.

    Gaskell, Mrs., 213.
    Gawsworth, 120, 143, 178.
    George I, 172.
    George V, 210.
    Gherbod, 58.
    Gilds, 88-91.
    Glacial Drift, 20.
    Goyt, River, 12, 22, 189.
    Grappenhall, 79.
    Greg, Samuel, 190.
    Grosvenors, the, 60, 218.

    Halton Castle, 61.
    Handforth Hall, 141.
    Handley, 121.
    Harecastle, 185.
    Harold, King, 58.
    Harrison, Thomas, 164.
    Hastein, 51.
    Heber, Bishop, 215.
    Henry I, 76.
    Henry II, 80.
    Henry III, 87.
    Henry IV, 109, 114.
    Henry V, 114.
    Henry VII, 117.
    Henry VIII, 125-30, 146.
    Henry, Matthew, 168.
    High Legh, 20.
    Hotspur, 110.
    Hoylake, 170.
    Hugh, Earl, 59-73.
    Hugh Kyvelioc, 77.
    Hyde, 208.
    Hyde, Anne, 171.

    Industrial Revolution, 183-92.
    Ingemund, 53.
    Inman, William, 200.
    Irish Wars, 143.
    Ismay, Thomas, 200.
    Italian architecture, 146, 173-6.

    Jacobites, 172.
    James I, 150, 152.
    James II, 169-70.
    John the Scot, 87.
    Johnson, Samuel, 178.

    Kelsborrow, 27.
    Kentigern, 47.
    Keuper Sandstone, 18.
    King, Edward, 186.
    Kingsley, Charles, 215.
    Kirby, West, 53.
    Knights Hospitallers, 79.
    Knights Templars, 79.
    Knutsford, 164, 182, 192.

    Labyrinthodont, 18.
    Laird, Thomas, 200.
    Lambert, General, 164.
    Latchford, 206.
    Leghs, the, 108, 143, 161, 174.
    Leicester, Sir Peter, 161.
    Leofric, 57.
    Limestone rocks, 23.
    Llewellyn, 95.
    Longdendale, 12.
    Lyme, 77, 146, 172.
    Lymm, 18.

    Macclesfield, Church, 94, 108, 120;
      Forest, 74;
      School, 133.
    Maiden Castle, 27.
    Malpas, 124.
    Mancunium, 36.
    Margaret, Queen, 115.
    Marian persecution, 132.
    Marling, 98.
    Marsh, William, 132.
    Martindale, Adam, 168.
    Mary, Queen, 132.
    Mary, Queen of Scots, 150.
    Massey, Hamon de, 71.
    Melandra Castle, 36.
    Merchant Guilds, 88.
    Meres, 15.
    Mersey, River, 12.
    Middlewich, Roman station of, 34;
      Battle of, 156.
    Midsummer Games, 151.
    Millstone Grit, 23.
    Mobberley, 63, 127.
    Monk, George, 166.
    Monmouth, Duke of, 169.
    Moreton Hall, Little, 137.
    Mountain Limestone, 23, 24.
    Murage, 96.
    Mural paintings, 122.

    Nantwich, 89, 92.
    Nantwich, Battle of, 157.
    Neolithic Age, 26.
    Neston, 87, 178.
    Nigel of Halton, 61.
    Norman abbeys, 64, 71-3;
      architecture, 65-71;
      castles, 61;
      churches, 65;
      conquest, 58.
    Normans, Coming of the, 58.
    Norse settlements, 52.
    Northwich, 19, 32, 157, 188.
    Norton Priory, 129.

    Ordericus Vitalis, 60.
    Oswald, 47.
    Over, 48.

    Palaeolithic Age, 25.
    Palatine, County, 59.
    Parish registers, 125.
    Parkgate, 178.
    Peada, 48.
    Penda, 48.
    Peover, Little, 106.
    Permian rocks, 22.
    Perpendicular Architecture, 120-2.
    Picts, 43.
    Placenames, 45, 52.
    Plegmund, Archbishop, 52.
    Plemstall, 52.
    Port Sunlight, 207.
    Prestbury, 69, 75.
    Pretenders, Stuart, 172.
    Prince, John Critchley, 215.
    Prynne, William, 152.
    Pulton Abbey, 73.
    Puritans, 150, 165.

    Quakers, 169.
    Quarry Bank, 190.

    Railways, 192-7.
    Randal Hignet, 91.
    Randle Blundeville, Earl, 78-81.
    Randle II, Earl, 76.
    Randle Meschines, Earl, 76.
    Ranulf Higden, 101.
    Reformation, 128-33.
    Renaissance, 173.
    Restoration, 166.
    Richard, Earl, 76.
    Richard I, 80.
    Richard II, 109.
    Richard III, 117.
    Rivers of Cheshire, 12-14.
    Roe, Charles, 192.
    Roger de Montalt, 87.
    Roman altars, 35;
      bricks, 40;
      buildings, 38;
      capitals, 39;
      coins, 41;
      forts, 36;
      hypocausts, 39;
      pottery, 41;
      roads, 30;
      tombstones, 34.
    Romans, Coming of the, 29.
    Roses, Wars of the, 115.
    Rostherne, 174.
    Rowton Moor, 158, 166.
    Runcorn, 18, 54, 186.
    Runes, 45.
    Rupert, Prince, 157.
    Rushbearing, 147.

    Salt, 18, 186.
    Samian ware, 41.
    Sandbach, 64;
      battle of, 164;
      crosses, 48.
    Sandstone, New Red, 16-18.
    Saxons, Coming of the, 43.
    Scandinavians, 51-3.
    Scott, Captain, 180.
    Seven Lows, 27.
    Shakerley, Sir Geoffrey, 159.
    Ship Canal, 12, 205-6.
    Ship money, 153.
    Shocklach, 68, 123.
    Shotwick, 15, 68, 95.
    Silk manufacture, 192.
    Simon de Montfort, 92.
    Simon of Whitchurch, 92.
    Simon Ripley, 122.
    Speed, John, 135.
    Stalybridge, 208.
    Stanlaw, 73.
    Stanley Palace, 146.
    Stanleys of Cheshire, 99, 112,117, 164, 213.
    Steam, Introduction of, 189.
    Stephen, King, 76.
    Stockport, 12, 32, 88, 104, 202, 210.
    Stocks, 149.
    Stone Age, 25.
    Storeton, 18.
    Stretford, 32.
    Styal, 190.
    Sunday Schools, 207.

    Tame, River, 12.
    Tarporley, 155.
    Tarvin, 20, 157.
    Thelwall, 54.
    Thingwall, 52.
    Thornton Heath, 71.
    Timber Houses, 137-41.
    Tramways, 200.
    Turpin, Dick, 179.

    Vale Royal, 93, 129.
    van Zoelen, Baron, 171.
    Veratinum, 41.
    Victoria, Queen, 204-11.

    Wainwright, John, 215.
    Wakes, 147.
    Wales, Conquest of, 94.
    Wallasey, 14, 70, 169.
    Walton, Bishop, 167.
    Warburton, 105.
    Warford, 169.
    Warren, Sir George, 183.
    Watling Street, 12, 32.
    Weaver, River, 14, 19, 186.
    Wellington, Duke of, 182.
    Werburga, Saint, 50.
    Wesley, John, 180.
    West Kirby, 53, 171.
    Wilderspool, 32.
    Wilkins, John, 167.
    William the Conqueror, 58.
    William Rufus, 75.
    William III, 170.
    Wilmslow, 115.
    Wirral, 9, 22, 52, 197.
    Witton, 133.
    Woodchurch, 69, 147.

    Yoredale rocks, 23.

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