BURTON ON THE WIRRAL

Grid Ref: SJ 317 744
19 October 2001, 8 April 2002 & 11 July 2005

Burton on Wirral, Cheshire spacer Nave
Church of St. Nicholas   View west from Massey Chapel
Chapel   Nave
Massey Chapel looking east   The Nave

 

The church of St. Nicholas at Burton rewards the visitor with many interesting features. Its early history is not known but the oldest remains are from the early 12th century, comprising elements of the current porchs. Most of the current building dates from 1721 except the east end of the Massey Chapel where the window is early 14th century. The chancel was rebuilt in 1870.

The Massey Chapel has a modern plaque which reads in part: "This tablet was erected by George Massey Esq. of New York USA to replace monuments formerly in the Massey Chapel to the memory of William Massey of Puddington and his wife Anne and to honour the memory of the Barons of Dunham Massey and their descendants the Masseys of Puddington."  There is no stone for William, the last of the Masseys at Puddington. He was buried in on 15th February 1715 (Julian Calendar). The Masseys were a Catholic family and William, although sixty years old, joined the Old Pretender in the Jacobite Revolution of 1715. After the rebels were defeated at Preston, William Massey fled south without stopping, and on his favourite horse swam the Mersey. On reaching Puddington the horse dropped dead. William was captured and taken to Chester Castle, where he died a few days later.

There is also a monument to Sir John Stanley Massey Stanley of Hooton who died in 1794.

The Congreve family used this church and there are a number of monuments. They were related to William Congreve the Restoration playwright. Captain Walter Norris Congreve (1862-1927) of the Rifle Brigade won the Victoria Cross for action at Colenso, South Africa 1899 and went on to become General Sir Walter Congreve, a corp commander in the Great War. His son was William La Touche Congreve VC, DSO, MC, who was awarded the VC posthumously in July 1916. They are one of only three father and son pairs to win the VC.

In the churchyard is buried Father Plessington, Catholic chaplain to the Masseys who was arrested and executed at Chester in July 1679. This arose from a scare about a Catholic plot initiated by Titus Oates.

Bishop Thomas Wilson of Sodor and Man (1663-1755) was born in Burton. A stone commemorating the Wilson family is on the wall at the north end of the church. On the south side of the sanctuary is a sedilla and piscina.

The parish registers commence in 1538 and the list of vicars goes back to Simon de Sachell in 1302 and include Ralph Congreve from 1840 to 1858.

Massey Memorial spacer Hatchment
Massey Memorial Plaque   Congreve hatchment
Wilson monument   Window
Wilson family monument   Nautical theme in window
Cottage   Cottages
Thatched Cottage   Village Scene

 

Sources

The Buildings of England, Cheshire, by Nikolaus Pevsner and Edward Hubbard, Yale University Press, 2003, ISBN 0 300 09588 0
Old Cheshire Churches, with a supplementary survey of the lesser old chapels of Cheshire, completely revised and enlarged by Raymond Richards, first published in 1947 and reprinted by E. J. Morten, Didsbury, 1973.

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Cheshire Antiquities
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