Monday, 4 September 2017

St. Mary's Church, Walton, Liverpool

There has been a place of worship on the site of St. Mary's Church probably for over a 1000 years; the circular perimeter wall around the church suggests a pre-conquest religious site, akin to some early medieval Welsh churches, and indeed the name Walton suggests a Romano-British settlement. There is also a Saxon cross shaft that can still be seen in the church that has been dated to the tenth century and a church on the site was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. This church was rebuilt in 1326, and was subsequently added to during the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the church we see today was, apart from the tower, rebuilt between 1947 and 1953, after being destroyed by bombing in 1941.

The church site has many other historical features; the Grammar School is situated nearby and, according to the information supplied by the school, has a foundation date of the late 1400s, though the building itself was only erected in 1615. The school closed in 1871 and a famous Welsh name associated with both the church and the school during the eighteenth century was the poet Goronwy Owen, who was Curate in the 1750s. There is also a Norman font, old gravestones that reveal old local names such as James Musker, and Nicholas Gregson - a bricklayer from Liverpool. A Pierre Melly drinking fountain can be found in the church yard wall, now sadly vandalised and out of use. The church and Grammar School combine to create a true hidden historical gem of Liverpool, and you can still feel the village-like atmosphere set within a historical oasis, a feeling that can be extended when sat in the beer garden of the Black Horse next door.

The weathered sandstone base of a cross outside the church. 

The Norman Font. Modern repairs can be seen after it sustained damage from the bombing in 1941.

The Saxon cross shaft.

The Grammar School building.

The tower of St. Mary's Church.

The pitted sandstone of the church yard wall.

The Melly drinking fountain showing date.

Bedford Road opposite the church stretched down to the docks.

All photos by Dr David Harrison

© Dr David Harrison 2017

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Some remains of the old Winwick Hospital

The imposing Victorian asylum hospital at Winwick disappeared around twenty years ago, though there are still mental health services situated on the old Winwick Hall site. A walk around the surrounding park land still reveals haunting evidence of life in the hospital, here are a few photos that supply a glimpse of the past.

A date stone of 1901 that is incorporated into a central green space within the housing development on what was the site of the old hospital.

A carved 'A' in a sandstone gatepost of one of the old entrances of the hospital. I was told some inmates of the hospital used to carve their names into the surrounding sandstone walls of the vast hospital.

The gateway to the hospital graveyard.

Over 2000 burials took place in the graveyard, only a few memorials are visible.

Two of the old pavilions that were situated in the grounds of the old hospital.


All photos by Dr David Harrison

© Dr David Harrison 2017

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

The Canning 'Georgian' Quarter, Liverpool

I call this post the Canning 'Georgian' Quarter, however, the elegant houses that dominate this culturally rich part of Liverpool were constructed in the later Regency and early Victorian periods. The area was called Mosslake Fields (there is still an apartment block named Mosslake) and John Forster Senior prepared a gridiron plan of elegant housing for the wealthy elite of Liverpool. By the 1960s, the area had become known for student housing, a famous example being No. 3 Gambier Terrace where John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe resided as art students. The area attracted poets such Adrian Henri and musicians and artists, giving the Quarter a dreamlike hub of creativity during the 1960s and 1970s.

Canning Street, which is named after the short lived  Prime Minister George Canning, leads to Falkner Square, which was designed with the aesthetic of a late Regency/Victorian vision of a central park surrounded by elegant town housing. The Square was named after Edward Falkner who was a Sheriff of Lancashire. One of the houses - number 40 - was built by Liverpool architect Peter Ellis, who is more famous for designing Oriel Chambers, a building that inspired American architects. Other historical and architectural delights include St. Bride's Church in Percy Street - a Neo-classical gem constructed in 1829, and various houses in Huskisson Street which is named after a Liverpool MP William Huskisson who died tragically during the opening of the Liverpool-Manchester railway.

Gambier Terrace

Canning Street

The Neo-Classical St. Bride's, Percy Street

Interior of St. Bride's showing the Regency decor

Interior of St. Bride's

Memorial to merchant Henry Moore

Memorial to William Martin Forster, son of John Forster, who, along with his wife Jane, perished in the Rothsay Castle Steamer disaster off Beaumaris Bay in North Wales

Elegant Ionic pillars of a porch way found in the Quarter
A view of timeless quality in the Quarter

A pineapple design on cast iron railings. Perhaps indicating the exotic fruits that were imported in Liverpool?

No. 40 Falkner Square, home of architect Peter Ellis. He died there in 1884.

All photos by Dr David Harrison

© Dr David Harrison 2017

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Princes Park, Liverpool

Princes Park was Liverpool's first park, but it was a private development by philanthropist Richard Vaughan Yates. The cost of the park was met through the development of manor houses around the perimeter of the new park, the park itself being designed by Joseph Paxton and James Pennethorne, Paxton going on to design Birkenhead Park. The serpentine lake was designed in-keeping with the aesthetic of the Victorian park, and the houses attracted around the park attracted many notable locals such as James Martineau and John Brodie.

Princes Park Mansions built by Wyatt Papworth in 1843

Princes Park was opened in 1842, and was named after Edward Prince of Wales, Yates giving the park to the city in 1849. The park has some fine historical features; after entering through the original sunburst gates, you will come across the obelisk dedicated to philanthropist Richard Vaughan Yates and its now out-of-use drinking fountain, reminding us of the functioning monuments of Victorian Britain and the importance of drinking fountains to the people as a supply of clean water.

The obelisk dedicated to Yates.
Another worthy monument is of Judy the Donkey dated to 1926, which tells us of how she gave 21 years of unwavering service providing rides for children. The remains of the boathouse, which was burnt down by vandals in the 1990s reminds us of what can easily be lost. Most of the manor houses built around the park had their own private access to the park and their doorways in the wall can still be seen. The park became a template for other municipal Victorian parks, and the design can be seen reflected in the nearby Sefton Park, Newsham Park and Stanley Park, not to mention Birkenhead Park and other municipal parks throughout the country.

The grave stone of Judy the Donkey

The house of John Brodie (1858-1934), civil engineer, 28 Ullet Road, across the road from the park

A view of Princes Park Mansions with a modern tower block dominating the skyline

The remains of the boathouse

Ivy Cottage near the park, on Kelvin Grove

Full view of Ivy Cottage with adverts painted on the side

All photos by Dr David Harrison

© Dr David Harrison 2017

Friday, 28 July 2017

Hidden Lark Lane, Liverpool

A journey down Lark Lane in south Liverpool reveals some beautiful historical hidden gems. Lark Lane itself was akin to a Victorian village in its own right, with a police station, fire station, school, post office and some of the most elegant Regency/early Victorian houses hidden away from view down one of its side streets. It now has a somewhat Bohemian air about it with its history of 60s and 70s bands hanging around its coffee shops and as a present centre for restaurants, quirky shops and bars.

The old wall at the Aigburth Road end of Lark Lane showing local sandstone and a bricked up section.

The old fire station in Lark Lane.

Christ Church School on Lark Lane.

Just off Lark Lane is a hidden partly cobbled narrow road of historical delights called Hadassah Grove which leads to some of the most elegant early nineteenth century houses in this part of Liverpool.

The entrance to Hadassah Grove reveals two posts (one shown here).

The Police Station. It was here that Florence Maybrick was held while the Inquest took place into the death of her husband James Maybrick at Garston Reading Rooms in June 1889.

The window to the cell that Florence was held in. The old Police Station is open for visits and tours.

A document referring to the interment of the late Charles Maybrick in 1924.

All photos by Dr David Harrison

© Dr David Harrison 2017