The Easter break: places in history: listed buildings in Heswall and Gayton

By Mary Wells

5th Apr 2023 | Local Features

Above: click or tap the gallery to see some of our places in history

Out walking, or even while shopping, there are opportunities to take in local buildings and structures we might take for granted. Here's a reminder...

In Heswall and Gayton there are seven listed buildings and a listed sundial - a device that, in theory, uses the sun and a shadow to tell the time.

Listing means that the eight structures have been identified as having architectural and historic interest and are protected against demolition and alteration. In other words, listing aims to safeguard aspects of our history and culture.

Lloyds Bank - Picture by Rodhullandemu

Lloyds Bank on Telegraph Road was built in 1907 to designs by architects Grayson and Ould. G.H. Grayson was a talented Cheshire architect who did important work on Trinity Hall, Cambridge.

The bank is notable for, amongst other things, a sandstone ashlar (an ashlar is masonry made of large, square-cut stones), some half timber work and a Cumbrian slated roof. G. H. Grayson also designed the branch of Lloyds in Bold Street, Liverpool, that opened for business in the 1920s.

Gayton Hall on Gayton Farm Road was the home of the Glegg family and built in the late 17th Century. It was given a substantial overhaul around 1750.

Made from brick with sandstone dressings, the Hall has three storeys standing on a stone base. The exterior and much of the interior are listed. Two oak trees in the garden were named William and Mary to commemorate the visit of William of Orange who stayed overnight at the Hall as a guest of the Gleggs in 1689 before crossing to Ireland. The next year William and his troops would emerge victorious from the Battle of the Boyne against the forces of James II.

The dovecote to the north of Gayton Hall is notable for an inscribed lintel that is another reminder of the Gleggs' influence. A dovecote is basically a house for domesticated pigeons, but we can assume that the birds that lived there three centuries ago enjoyed a privileged lifestyle in their octagonal, brick and sandstone home.

In the same area lies the Old Farm. The farmhouse's date stone reads RCM/1761. It has undergone some conversion over the years – including the addition of extra bays fashioned from former farm buildings – but remains a very pleasant and important building.

The Old Windmill on Telegraph Road was built in the mid-18th century. The conical tower made of stone is now an attractive dwelling house.

Oldfield Farmhouse on Oldfield Farm Lane bears the date stone RS 1604. The RS refers to Sir Rowland Stanley of Hooton. Sir Rowland retired to this house in his old age, but had 10 good years there before departing this earth in 1614.

Standing within a walled garden, and made from red sandstone, Heswall's war memorial was unveiled in 1924. It stands on a base forming three steps, and is topped by a plain Celtic cross. On the front of the column is a carved wreath. On the sides of the plinth you can read the names of those who fell in World War One, while two stones with plaques bear the names of those who died in World War Two.

St. Peter's church, Lower Heswall

Down in the Lower Village, of course, is the Church of St Peter. Part of the tower dates back to the 14th century, while the bell stage belongs to the 15th. The main body of the church was rebuilt in 1879 and the south chapel was added 14 years later. Once again the Gleggs loom large in the form of memorial wall tablets and heraldic panels. There is also fine stained glass work by notable Victorian designer and manufacturer, Charles Eamer Kempe.

To the west of St. Peter's Church is that listed sundial. It's tall and dates from 1726, and surrounded by steps on to which, presumably, you'd climb if you wanted to check the time. Unfortunately, the sundial's gnomon – the projecting piece that shows the hour of the day by the position of its shadow – is missing.

Perhaps one day the St Peter's sundial can be restored to its former glory.


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