Friday, 29 September 2017

Historical Graffiti

I've done a number of blogs about historical graffiti; old carvings of letters and dates in stone, some professionally carved giving the date of a building, others just etched as graffiti, but all valuable in a sense. Here are some recent photos of messages from the past set in stone.

A date stone on the perimeter wall of All Saints Church at Daresbury, Cheshire. Though there was a medieval chapel at the site, the church itself was largely rebuilt from 1870-1872.

Another date stone in the same wall. 

A reference number for the particular stone perhaps? It can be found in the perimeter wall of St. Mary's at Walton, Liverpool.

'John' found in the old Grammar School at St. Mary's at Walton.

'A' found on a sandstone entrence gatepost of the old Winwick Hospital, Winwick, Cheshire.

'1794' date of the Capel Y Drindod at Beaumaris, Anglesey, North-Wales.

The school house, 1902. Beaumaris.

1614, old Court House, Beaumaris.

All photos by Dr David Harrison

© Dr David Harrison 2017

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

St Seiriols Well, Penmon, Anglesey

Tucked away on the south-east corner on the island of Anglesey, North-Wales, is the ruined monastery of Penmon. The church, dating back to the twelth century, is still open and houses a number of ancient Celtic crosses. Nearby is the holy well of St. Seiriol, a place of pilgrimage that is filled with ancient atmosphere and is named after the sixth century saint who resided there in a small cell. The well was thought to have healing properties and people still leave offerings today; the inside of the small single stone eighteenth century building that houses the holy well is filled with names and prayers, holy graffiti dating back years, some of the writing etched over older writing. Crevices in the walls act as places to leave offering; flowers, herbs, berries with candles flickering in the draughty stone building. Other offering are placed in nooks and crannies; string necklaces and written prayers on note paper. And of course there are pennies thrown into the well itself, resting at the bottom of the crystal clear water.

Names and prayers etched into the walls of the chamber.

An offering of an owl has been placed in a corner of the chamber.

Two candles flicker surrounded by an offering of berries.

Roses have been left in one of the crevices.

One of the Celtic Crosses dating from 900-1000 AD.

All photos by Dr David Harrison

© Dr David Harrison 2017

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