|All Saints, Harthill||The Porch|
|Harthill Primary School||Mausoleum of the Barbour family of Bolesworth Castle|
|Trough by school gate||Facing the church|
One of the finest sections of the Sandstone Trail, running from Frodsham in Cheshire to Whitchurch in Shropshire, is the part in the Bickerton and Peckforton hills. A short distance to the north west lies the tiny village of Harthill, praised in Ormerod's History of Cheshire as eminently picturesque and beautiful.
All Saints dates from 1609. The nave and chancel are not separate and have a hammer beam roof. The screen has an inscription with the year 1609. In my picture of the church, the porch is hidden behind the bush to the left of the lych gate. On the stone in the middle of the portico are the names John Webster (illegible year) and George Brown 1775. Directly above the arch is "Rondull Pricket, Churchwarden: ever since 1606 until 1611".
Raymond Richards states that although not mentioned in Domesday, Harthill was part of the original barony of Malpas. A chapel was mentioned in 1280; it is likely that this earlier building was of timber construction. Richards also states that over the south porch door is a stone carved with the arms of Sir William Brereton, bart with the motto Opitulante Deo and the date 1506. He goes on to say that over the arms is another stone bearing the name Rondull Pricket. As my picture shows, there is no evidence of the Brereton arms on the porch in 2005. Moreover the date of 1506 for Sir William Brereton, bart must be in error. Baronetcies were not created until the reign of James I (1603-25). James sold baronetcies and used the proceeds to fund the Protestant settlement of Ulster, with far reaching consequences. Some details of the earlier Breretons of Malpas are given on my Malpas page. The church was restored in 1862 when much of the old woodwork and furniture in the church was lost. The bellcot was built in 1863 to replace an earlier smaller one and looks incongruous.
There is an incomplete list of rectors going back to 1308. The advowson of the church was originally owned by the Barons of Malpas and went to Sir William Drake when he bought estates in Cheshire. Drake died in 1690. The advowson was sold by his successor to Robert Barbour of Bolesworth Castle in 1873.
Harthill was the administrative centre of the Peckforton dairying estate of the Tollemache family. The estate farms have a distinctive dark red livery for their paintwork.
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.
I am grateful to Marilyn Ainslie of Congleton for the information that there is a website for Barbour family history