Thursday, 1 December 2016

The Lost Village of Knotty Ash

Knotty Ash on the outskirts of Liverpool still retains aspects of the village it once was; St. John’s Church is situated on the Leafy Thomas Lane, along with an old school building, a collection of eighteenth and nineteenth century cottages, and a Village Hall where the Beatles once played on St. Patrick’s night in 1962. The Village Hall was also the meeting place for the local Knotty Ash Lodge of Freemasons, which met there in 1938. The remnants of the old bowling greens can also still be seen. Thingwall Hall is located in the area, which is also a hidden gem of Liverpool architecture and will be the subject of another blog post in the future.

The village was said to have been named after a gnarled Knotty Ash tree which was situated near the old Knotty Ash Pub, and, like Old Swan, being a stop-off along the pack horse route of Prescot Road, a number of pubs sprang up, such as the Turks Head and the Wheatsheaf. The Little Bongs is another hidden gem of Liverpool; through an entrance on Prescot Road you can find a row of terraced nineteenth century workers cottages set along a cobbled pathway, the ‘bongs’ are said to refer to the ‘bungs’ that the workers hammered into the barrels of beer at the nearby Joseph Jones’ brewery. A memorial to Joseph Jones can be seen in St. John’s Church and his name can be seen in the window of the Wheatsheaf.

St. John’s Church in Knotty Ash, Liverpool, is a beautiful Gothic church built between 1834-6, and has some interesting Masonic features; there is a stained glass window which displays three Masonic scenes, and the memorial stone of John Gladstone, the son of prominent local politician and Freemason Robertson Gladstone can be found in the church yard. The catacombs themselves are to be found beneath the church, and the brick work certainly reflects a similar style in places to the tunnels of Joseph Williamson. There are family vaults in the catacombs, and some lead coffins can be glimpsed at through rusting Victorian cast iron ‘shutters’. There is also an old soldier buried in his full uniform. Here are a few photos taken from a recent history walk.

The Village Hall
The Wheatsheaf.

The Entrance to the Little Bongs

The Little Bongs

Joseph Jones - in the window of the Wheatsheaf

The old School House on Thomas Lane opposite the Church, dated 1837

The other School building on Thomas Lane built in 1835, extended 1882

St. John's Church

The grave of John Gladstone, son of Robertson Gladstone

Memorial of Joseph Jones in St. John's Church

The Masonic window in St. John's Church

Memorial for a member of the local Thompson family in St. John's Church

The balcony in the Church. The décor is in-keeping with early 19th century styles

The Catacombs in the depths of St. John's Church

A burial 'compartment' in the catacombs

T.B. Cunston 1860

H. Bland

Road marker - 1776

Eighteenth century cottage owned by Ken Dodd

All photos taken with permission by Dr David Harrison.

© Dr David Harrison 2016.


  1. Wow, very impressive. Can you visit the catacombs? The whole is worth a visit. Have to plan it next time I'm over.

  2. Fascinating. I was very small when last in Knotty Ash. Must try and get there next time I'm up in Liverpool.