FRODSHAM

Grid Ref: SJ 517 779
9 March 2010

 

St. Laurence's church spacer nave and chancel
St. Laurence, Frodsham   The Norman Nave and the Chancel
Tower   Lady Chapel
St. Laurence, Frodsham   South Aisle and Lady Chapel, formerly Kingsley Chapel
East window   West Window
Altar & East Window   West Window

 

Frodsham lies close the River Weaver as it nears its junction with the Manchester Ship Canal. The church of St. Laurence lies about three quarters of a mile to the north of A56, (Grid Ref: SJ 521 773). The Domesday book records a Saxon Chapel on the site in 1086. A fragment of a Saxon sculpture and grave slab has been found set into the inside of the tower. The nave was built in the late 12th century about 1180 and has the typical massive columns semi-circular Norman arches. Three of the pairs of pillars are cylindrical and one octagonal. The tower is late 14th century. The choir was lengthened in the 14th century with further enlargement in the 15th century when the east window was constructed. The chancel arch is from the 14th century. The north and south chapels date from the 16th century. Major restoration in the early 1880s removed plaster ceilings and galleries added in the mid-18th century. Formerly the church served the surrounding villages of Kingsley, Norley, Helsby, Alvanley and Manley.

Francis Gastrell was the vicar of Frodsham for 32 years from 1740-1772. He bought Shakespeare's house New Place in Stratford on Avon in 1756. However, he hated having people look over his garden wall to see a mulberry tree that Shakespeare had planted so he chopped it down and sold the wood. Some of the wood has been preserved at it was made into boxes and tables. Later he was in a dispute with the Stratford Corporation over tax and in a fit of pique pulled New Place down. The anger of the citizens forced him to out. There is a memorial tablet to Gastrell near the north door. He donated much of the plate owned by the church.

The A56 is the main road through Frodsham named as Main Street to the west of The Bear's Paw and High Street to the east. It has a number of historic buildings, many of which have blue plaques indicating their history. Below I show a few on the north side of Main Street, illuminated in the mid-afternoon sun on a March day.

Bear's Paw spacer Thatched cottages
The Bear's Paw   Thatched Cottages
Old post office   Old Hall Hotel
Former Post Office   The Old Hall Hotel
Ashley House   17th century cottages
Ashley House   17th Century Cottages

 

The Bear's Paw was built as a coaching inn in 1632. From 1850 to 1906 it was called The Bear's Paw and Railway Inn but then reverted to its original name. It lies on Main Street facing up Church Street towards the railway station. Further to the east is a row of four 17th century thatched cottages followed by the Old Hall Hotel and a little farther on a plain white Georgian building that was once the first Post Office. Ashley House was built about 1830 by a local lawyer, Robert Wainwright Ashley. Then there are two sets of old cottages as shown in the picture above, both bearing blue plaques. The first three, of which two have gables, are seen at the right of the picture. They are Brookstone Cottages and were originally oak framed 17th century dwellings built at different times. They were restored in the 1980. To the left are another three cottages of which two of the front doors are visible in the picture. They were restored in 1985. Near these cottages at the junction of Marsh Lane and Main Street is an erratic boulder, left by the last ice age and displayed on the pavement.

Sources:

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.
The church has its own website and there is a Wikipedia article describing it.
In the church there is a pamphlet entitled Short Guide to the Parish Church of S. Laurence, Frodsham

 

 

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Cheshire Antiquities
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