« PreviousContinue »
then found that the depression had formerly been a creek or small stream coming from the southwards and running into Wallasey Pool. The workmen came upon a bridge of solid oak beams, supported from the bed of the old stream by stone piers, and resting at the ends upon the solid rock at the sides of the creek. The length of this bridge was almost exactly one hundred feet and the beams were each thirty-three feet in length. There were four parallel courses of these timbers about five feet apart. The rafters, which crossed the beams to form the roadway, had nearly all perished, though some traces of them remained. Although the spot had always been known as Bridge End, no recollection of any bridge having existed remained in the minds of the oldest inhabitants of the neighbourhood. As to the suggestion that this bridge was Roman, Mr. Watkin remarks that most of the Roman bridges in Britain were built on the same principle.*
Balderton Bridge, near Chester, is, it is suggested by Canon Morris, the one referred to in the chronicle of St. Werburgh in A.D. 1170, which records how Earl Hugh "slew a multitude of Welshmen near the bridge of Baldert."
Wincham Bridge, near Northwich, is shown in Saxton's map.
Wheelock Bridge, and Wallwich Bridge, both at Middlewich, are named in the description of a fight between the Royal and Parliamentary troops in 1642.‡
Lastly, I may be excused for mentioning several bridges which, though not across rivers, have the merit of being ancient, quaint, and interesting. In each case
* Chester Archæological Society, i. 56, 68; Roman Cheshire, 80, 82. + Chester in Plantagenet and Tudor Reigns, p. 5.
Henshall's Cheshire, 563.
94 ANCIENT FORDS, FERRIES, & BRIDGES IN CHESHIRE.
it is a moat that is crossed, and they are, therefore, appendages to ancient halls. The first is that at Peel Hall, in Etchells, once the dower house of the Tattons of Wythenshawe. It is described by Mr. Earwaker* as a very picturesque narrow bridge of three arches, certainly of fourteenth or fifteenth century date, with angular buttresses and recesses for passengers; the most ancient bridge in this part of Cheshire. Another such bridge is at Holford Hall. It is of stone and has circular recesses and seats on each side. A third is at Hulme Hall in Allostock, a very secluded residence, a mile in each. direction from any public road. Here the moat is crossed by a stone bridge of two arches, the projecting piers of which have been filled up with stone seats.†
Of these bridges two are shown in the accompanying views by Mr. Rowbotham. The third (Holford) is illustrated in Phillips's Old Halls of Lancashire and Cheshire.
*East Cheshire, i. 326.
+ Ormerod, iii. 89.
The sketch of Chester Bridge at page 73 by Mr. Rowbotham is based upon drawings by Ed. Wright, 1690, J. M. W. Turner, 1810, Geo. Cuitt, 1815, and others, and is an attempt to realise the appearance of the bridge and its surroundings as seen from the Handbridge side of the river about the year 1780. Besides the bridge itself and the famous mill, the view shows the Old Bridge Gate and Tyrer's Water Tower over it, the Shire Hall, and one of the great round towers of the outer Castle Gate, with other ancient features of the citadel, most of which have either disappeared or have been altered out of all recognition. The church near the Castle Gate is St. Mary's.
REAT BUDWORTH is situated about two and a half miles north of Northwich. Next to Prestbury it is the largest parish in Cheshire, and, according to Ormerod, included eighteen villages within its boundaries.
In Henry III.'s reign, Geoffrey de Dutton was lord of the manor, and he gave a third of his land in Great Budworth, including the Church of St. Mary and All Saints, to the priory of Norton, in order to secure perpetual masses for his soul.
The priory held possession until Henry VIII.'s reign. We find over the west tower door, side by side with the arms of Dutton and Warburton, the arms of the priory of Norton.
At the dissolution of monasteries, the lands belonging to the priory were sold, and the rectory of Budworth, together with the chapelries of Wootton and Peover, were made over to Christ Church, Oxford, who continue the patrons to the present time.
The church has a commanding site on the top of a