Mike Royden's Local History Pages

The Monastic and Religious Orders in the Hundred of Wirral from the Saxons to the Dissolution of the Monasteries
- a study of the Monastic history and heritage of Wirral

Norman Blake

In today’s increasingly secularised world, where religion no longer plays a large part in modern life, it is hard to imagine England as it once was during the great age of the monasteries and religious orders in England. For nearly 500 years after the Norman Conquest of England of 1066, monasteries, priories, hospitals and other houses of the various religious orders, where a common sight in England. On Wirral there were five religious houses, comprising the Benedictine priory of Birkenhead; the Cistercian abbey at Stanlaw (Stanlow); the monastic cell on Hilbre island of the Benedictine abbey at Chester and the two hospitals at Denwall and at Poulton Lancelyn. In this brief survey, we will examine all of the above establishments, and also the evidence for pre-Norman monastic activity on Wirral.

The evidence for any Saxon or earlier monastic activity on Wirral is scant and the college of secular canons[1] at St Werburgh’s in Chester, founded about c907AD,[2] is the only recorded establishment in the area. However the Saxon period did witness a flourishing of monasticism in England and a local tradition quoted by many historians is that a Saxon monastery may have existed at Bromborough. Hilbre too is believed by some local historians to possibly have been a monastic site before the cell established there by the later Benedictine monks of Chester.

The site of the present parish church of St Barnabas at Bromborough, is believed to have been the site of a Saxon monastery established by Aethelfred, the “Lady of the Mercians”, the daughter of King Alfred in 912AD, but which was destroyed before the coming of the Normans.[3] Both Tanner’s 1744 edition of Notitia Monastica and Knowles & Hancock’s Medieval Religious Houses England &Wales[4] record a tradition that a Saxon monastery was established at a place named Brunnesburgh, which was identified as Bromborough, by W M Gallichan in his book on Cheshire in 1905.[5] The present church at Bromborough dates only from 1863-4, however the description left by the Cheshire antiquarian Ormerod in the early 19th Century of the earlier Norman church hints at the possibility of a previous Saxon building on the site.

Ormerod visited the old church of Bromborough in 1816, and believed it to be of either a pre or early post Conquest date. He described the church’s interior as having a semi-circular arch dividing the nave and chancel, with chevron mouldings on the chancel doorway, and possibly containing fragments of an earlier Saxon building.[6] During Victorian rebuilding work at St Barnabas, further evidence supporting the claim that Bromborough was the site of a possible Saxon monastery also emerged, when fragments of a Saxon base and cross were found.[7]

On the island of Hilbre, named after an unknown saint, St Hildeburgh, it has been suggested by some local historians that a Saxon monastic cell already existed prior to the Conquest[8]. The evidence for this essentially dates from the nineteenth century when a cross and grave cover were discovered, as well as a grave containing four skeletons, giving rise to a rumoured “Monks Graveyard”.[9].

The carvings on the cross head however, have been dated to only around c1030, [10]while the age of the skeletons has never been identified.[11] While this suggests that an early monastic link with Hilbre is doubtful, there is enough evidence to suggest that it was perhaps a place of religious retreat and pilgrimage to a shrine of St Hildeburgh many years before being colonised by monks after the Norman conquest.

At the time of the Norman conquest, there were thirty seven religious houses in England all belonging to the Benedictine order and dating from a monastic revival that had occurred in the tenth century. None of these houses were situated north of the River Trent. However after the conquest, the period from 1075 until 1225, saw English monastic houses founded at a rate faster than at any other comparable time in history[12], and it was during this period that the monastic houses at Birkenhead, and then at Stanlaw (Stanlow) were established.

Norman lords and nobles were already great supporters of monasteries in their native Normandy at the time of their arrival in England, having re-founded at least twenty-five monasteries in Normandy before the conquest.[13]  The Normans were enthusiastic supporters of the Benedictine movement, and the building of a new church or the endowing of a monastery played an important part in their lives. One of the main reasons for this was because of their belief in the power of the intercessory prayers of monks offered in religious houses on behalf of their founders or benefactors. These prayers were believed to benefit the souls of the founder or benefactors and their families, to reward them with a place in Heaven and to avoid the internal torments of Hell.

It was the Benedictine order who established the first religious house on Wirral when the priory of St James the Great was established at Birkenhead in around c. 1150-70, under the patronage of Hamon, second Norman baron of Dunham in Cheshire.[14] The Benedictines, or the “Black Monks” whose communities followed the rule of St Benedict, a rule dating back to sixth-century Italy, where by far the most numerous of the religious orders in England, and their houses included such large, and wealthy abbeys such as Glastonbury and Ely[15]. The Benedictines mainly sited their houses in towns or settlements, and while the monks were not strictly of this world in view of their adherence to the religious life, they did live in the world and maintained contacts with it.

The Benedictine priory at Birkenhead was a fairly small establishment, perhaps initially established for some sixteen monks[16], on a pleasant wooded headland overlooking the Mersey on a plot of land that was part of the barony of Dunham estates[17]. Unlike many other Benedictine priories it seems to have been from the beginning independent of any other Benedictine House, although it may well have been colonised by monks from Chester. The priory’s independence seems to have been assured by its founder’s grant of the privilege of electing its own prior,[18]which was confirmed in a papal bull issued by Pope Alexander III.

The priory was never an important Benedictine house, although Edward I visited the priory on two occasions, in September 1275 and August 1277.[19] Its main importance was its proximity to an important ferry crossing to Liverpool, which linked Cheshire and Lancashire. The ferry across the river Mersey seems to have been quite a burden to the monks as the town of Liverpool grew in importance, as they had to constantly house and entertain guests and travellers, particularly when bad weather made the river crossing impossible.  The increased use of the ferry led the prior in 1284, to get permission from the King to divert the road to the ferry away from the priory precinct, and to enclose the precinct, with a wall, hedge or ditch.[20]

This did not end the monk’s problems with the ferry however. In 1310, the prior complained to the King that the priory did not have sufficient buildings or the finances to accommodate the numbers of travellers wishing to stay at the priory, due to the lack of any inns nearer to the ferry than Chester. Seven years later, the monks were granted the right to build lodgings for travellers, and sell food at the new guesthouse.[21]  Finally in 1330, Edward III granted the right to the priory to operate the ferry, and charge a toll, after complaints from the inhabitants of Wirral over the charges levied by the Liverpool ferrymen.[22] 

The priory at Birkenhead seems to have otherwise had an uneventful existence. No chartulary or register for the priory exists, and it appears to have throughout its lifetime to have had been a small Benedictine house in terms of numbers, and financially impoverished.[23] In 1379 and 1381 there were only five monks including the prior at Birkenhead; and the same number were recorded again in 1496, when the priory was exempted from clerical taxation on the grounds of its poverty.[24]

The priory’s financial problems appear to have started fairly early in its history, and by the early 1280’s it appears to have been in finacial trouble. Partly this was as noted earlier, down to the cost of hospitality for travellers using the ferry across the Mersey. The problems were made worse however, by the costs of the King’s visits in 1275 and 1277, and a legal dispute with the Massey family over the advowson of the parish of Bowden, which furthered drained the priory’s financial resources.[25]At the time of its dissolution in May or June 1536, the priory was valued as worth less than two hundred pounds a year, despite holding land on the Wirral including parts of Claughton, Higher Bebington and Bidston amongst others.  The priory also received payments from the rectories of Backford, Bidston and half the rectory at Wallasey.[26] At the dissolution the priory site itself contained the priory buildings, a mill, a flax field, fishyards and the ferry and ferry house.[27] 

While only slight remains of the nave of monk’s church now stand at Birkenhead, a large part of their domestic accommodation, sited around the cloister garth is still standing. These remains of the priory’s domestic buildings include the monk’s twelfth century Norman chapter house, with its ribbed vault and upper storey, which may have been the monk’s scriptorium. Other remains included the now restored refectory, with its vaulted undercroft, and the two storey west range which once contained the guest hall and parlour on the lower level, and the prior’s lodgings above. [28]

In complete contrast to the pleasant location of the priory at Birkenhead, was the wild, desolate location of the Cistercian abbey of Stanlaw, or Stanlow, established further upstream on the banks of the Mersey in 1172 by John, sixth baron of Halton and constable of Cheshire.[29] Situated near his castle at Halton, John named the site Locus Benedictus, [30] and the abbey seems to have been completed by 1178.[31] Like all Normans of the period, John was probably very pious, and he left to go on the Crusades in the Holy Land soon after the establishment of the abbey, where he died in 1190.[32] 

The Cistercians or the “White Monks” were a reformed monastic order, which had developed in France in the late eleventh century, which sought to move away from the perceived worldliness of the Benedictines.[33] To achieve this the Cistercians, operated a more austere version of the rule of St Benedict, which insisted on poverty, a simple lifestyle and the need to be separated from the outside world. Cistercian monasteries were therefore established in remote areas “far from the concourse of men”,[34] and were built to be self sufficient, with their own estates farmed by lay Cistercian brothers.

Stanlaw’s inhospitable site was therefore not unusual for a Cistercian monastery, standing on low lying ground close to the point the river Gowy meets the Mersey. The abbey could only reached by a causeway, which crossed the surrounding marshy ground, which was subject to frequent flooding, often cutting the monastery off.[35]. In common with many other early Cistercian sites though, while Stanlaw met the monks desire to be separated from the outside world, it was also situated on poor quality land. The land was probably of little loss to founders like John, because of its poor quality; [36] however in common with many other Cistercian early monastic sites the Stanlaw monks were to have problems with their location in later years.

The abbey at Stanlaw, like all Cistercian monasteries was dedicated to the Virgin Mary[37], and was established and colonised in the Cistercian manner from a mother house, Combermere in south Cheshire.[38]  Every Cistercian house had a motherhouse, whose abbot was responsible for the daughter house, and conducted visitations of it. This novel organisational structure established a uniform integrated chain of command that stretched back to the order’s motherhouse at Citeaux, where an annual Chapter-General was held which all Cistercian abbots were meant to attend.[39]

The buildings of Cistercian abbeys mirrored the Cistercian life and were built in a very austere style, and with little archaeological evidence available concerning Stanlaw, we can only assume the buildings at the abbey were those typical of other Cistercian abbeys of the period. The monks church was probably cruciform in shape, with a square east end,[40] with restrained interior decoration, with the monks choir occupying the crossing and eastern part of the nave. Daughter Cistercian houses were never intended to become as large as the mother houses of the order[41], and probably Stanlaw was intended for no more than 30 monks.

The history of Stanlaw appears to have been an unfortunate one, as it endured many misfortunes, many due to its poor location. In 1279 the river overflowed its banks, and flooded all the low-lying marshland around the abbey, cutting the abbey off from its grange at Grange Cow Worth at Stanney.[42] Eight years later, the tower of the church collapsed in a storm and then a final disaster occurred in 1289 when most of the buildings were destroyed by fire.[43] The damage was so great that according to Sulley[44], an indulgence of forty days was granted to every person who contributed funds to the abbey. Some French bishops also apparently granted a further indulgence[45] for those who made the pilgrimage to Stanlaw.

These misfortunes combined with an opportunity to remove the abbey to a new site in Lancashire, saw the Stanlaw monk’s petition the Pope for a licence to remove the abbey to Whalley in the Blackburn area[46]. The new site was on land given to the monks by Henry de Lacey, a descendant of the founder of Stanlaw, and after licences were obtained from the King and the Pope in 1289, the monks were granted leave to remove their abbey. The papal bull however authorising the removal of the abbey to Whalley, included a proviso that a cell of four monks should remain at Stanlaw[47].           

In 1296 the majority of the Cistercian brethren of Stanlaw left with Abbot Gregory de Northbury for their new abbey site at Whalley. The former Abbot of Stanlaw, Robert de Haworth who had resigned his position, remained behind with five brothers as per the pope’s instructions to maintain Stanlaw as a cell of the new Whalley Abbey.[48] In later years Stanlaw appears to have been maintained as a grange for Whalley, and in 1442 twelve monks were reported as being in residence at the old abbey site.[49]

There are no substatial remains now at Stanlaw of the old Cistercian abbey, as the once wild, lonely site of the abbey is now on an inaccessible site situated between the Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal. Sulley noted in the late nineteenth century that a doorway and part of a wall, together with four circular columns, could be seen built into some farm buildings.[50] He also reported an underground vault, now lost which apparently contained some uncovered lead coffins containing human bones, which was probably a burial vault for the monks.[51] It would be interesting to note if in the future any archaeological work at Stanlow, is able to uncover any more remains of this fascinating but long forgotten monastery.      

In an interesting footnote to the history of Stanlaw, twenty years after their move to Whalley, in 1316, the former monks, citing a shortage of timber in the Whalley area needed to rebuilt their church,[52] attempted to return to the shores of the Mersey. The site chosen was in Toxteth Park, on the Liverpool bank of the river, [53] were the monks had obtained a deed from Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, to build a new abbey. The move however, never occurred, and the abbey at Whalley and its cell cum grange at Stanlaw remained until the dissolution of the monasteries. The abbey at Whalley was dissolved in 1537, when it’s last abbot, John Paslew, was convicted of high treason and executed for his part in the Pilgrimage of Grace.[54]         

Returning again now to Hilbre, the Benedictine abbey of St Werburgh’s at Chester is believed to have acquired the island around c1138, and maintained a monastic cell there until the dissolution of the abbey in 1538/9.[55] William fitzNeal however, the constable of Chester,  (died c1134) is recorded as having encountered a monk living in solitary there prior to this. [56]This suggests that the previous Benedictine owners of Hilbre, the Abbey of St. Evroult in Normandy had probably already established a cell there prior to the Chester monks. [57]Further confirmation for this, appears to be contained in the documents transferring ownership of Hilbre and West Kirby to Chester abbey from St. Evroult, which make reference to Hilbre as the Capella de Hildburgheye, the chapel of Hilbre[58].

Of the Hilbre cell of the Chester monks, there are now no remains to be seen. However it seems from the remaining records that Hilbre functioned as more of a monastic grange than cell. During the course of its history, Hilbre appears to usually have had two monks, who maintained a small chapel dedicated to St Mary, with a small obit to maintain a lamp there above the altar, originally endowed by John le Scot, Earl of Chester sometime between 1232-7.[59]

The island was a minor place of pilgrimage, to a shrine dedicated to “Our Lady of Hilbre”, although the extent of its popularity is unknown.[60]The Hilbre monks were also responsible for the collection of tithes in West Kirby, and maintained a depot in Meols,[61] established by Abbot Simon de Whitchurch between 1270-1283[62]. The description of the depot in the Abbey’s chartulary, which records it as being built to hold sheep, cattle and for “the reception of the turf and hay” from Hilbre,[63] supports the view that Hilbre was more a monastic grange than a place of retreat for the Chester monks.

The two most unknown houses of the religious orders on Wirral are the hospitals, which formally existed, dedicated to St Thomas the Martyr at Poulton Lancelyn and to St Andrew at Denhall near Burton. No trace of either of these medieval hospitals now survives, or of a possible third hospital for lepers mentioned in the fourteenth century as being at Thurstaton[64]. The hospital of St Thomas at Poulton Lancelyn has traditionally been recorded as having been a leper house,[65] while that of St Andrew at Denhall was for the poor and shipwrecked.[66]

Who founded or operated the hospital at Poulton Lancelyn is unknown. However, the evidence contained in the chartulary or register of the Benedictine abbey at Chester, regarding the chapel of St Thomas the Martyr at Bebington, (Capella Thome Martyris in Wirrall ) seems to suggest the Chester monks as likely candidates. In the first entry concerning the chapel in the Chester chartulary, a grant by the Archbishop of Canterbury concerning the chapel’s possessions, the chapel’s mother church is noted as Bebington. [67]This certainly links the Chester monks to the chapel, as they held the advowson for Bebington, [68] and also suggests the leper hospital was added at a later date, to an already existing chapel of the martyred Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket.

A second reference to the leper hospital is also contained in the chartulary,[69] in a land grant to the abbey of Chester by William Lancelyn, in which it is referred to as the domus Leprosorum[70]. A further reference to the hospital is also contained in the forest proceedings of the Palatinate of Cheshire c1283-86.[71] The hospital is here referred to as the domus leprosorum de Bebynton[72], in a licence issued by the foresters allowing the brethren of the house to enclose and cultivate part of the forest of Wirral[73].

Leprosy was a common disease in England from the eleventh century, but declined after the Black Death of 1349, which probably took many inmates of leper hospitals as victims in its wake.[74]After 1349, leprosy declined rapidly with improved medical knowledge, and had almost disappeared completely by the sixteenth century[75]. Many of the smaller leper hospitals thus became extinct after the Black Death, while some carried on as hospitals for the poor and sick.[76]  Most historians believe the hospital at Poulton survived until around the beginning of the Sixteenth century, when it is recorded as being a lesser hospital or hospice valued at less than £50.[77] A reference to the hospital in some charters dated around c1300-20, [78] as the domibus quondam leprosorum de Bebinton[79], appears to confirm the hospital may have continued but not as a leper house.

As there is no known archaeological evidence of the site of the hospital having ever been found, we can only surmise that the leper house at Poulton probably had a similar history and buildings to the other two hundred or so institutions known to have existed.[80] If the hospital was under religious control as the earlier evidence suggests it probably had a master or prior, who may himself have been a leper.[81] The brethren of the house, and probably the lepers too, probably wore a religious habit, and followed the rule of St Benedict, although the hospitals did not always follow the rule of the monasteries they were linked too.[82] The hospital buildings at Poulton probably consisted of an entrance court with a possible lodge for travellers, a great hall, which was the infirmary or dormitory were the lepers slept, and the chapel. Beyond assuming that these basic features of an early medieval hospital existed at Poulton, only archaeological surveys of the alleged site of the hospital will perhaps one-day reveal how extensive the hospital was. 

Alexander Stavensby, bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, founded the hospital of St Andrew at Denhall, near Burton, in the early 1230’s.[83] The hospital was founded to help the poor and the shipwrecked, and was annexed to the parish church of Burton, which Stavensby appropriated to the hospital in 1238. Stavensby in exchange for Burton gave the dean and chapter of Lichfield cathedral, the church of Tarvin, as Burton had been a long time prebend of Lichfield cathedral.[84] The community may have been in its early days, a mixed one of men and women, as a land grant in around 1251 is given “by the wish and consent of the brethren and sisters there serving God”[85] 

In the thirteenth century the hospital was known as a secular priory, and along with the previous mention of the mixed brethren at the hospital, these are the only indications that even in its earliest days the inmates lived under a religious rule.[86] In 1320 Bishop Walter Langton on the appointment of a new warden or prior, stated that the new warden should associate himself with the two resident priests, and celebrate mass and other services regularly at the hospital.[87]The priors however, do not appear to have resided at Denhall; and by the fourteenth century the position of warden or prior seems to have usually been held in plurality by secular clerks, several of whom were prebendaries of Lichfield cathedral or clerks of the collegiate church of St Johns in Chester.[88] This all seems to suggest the hospital was only quasi-monastic, and indeed may have been a secular establishment throughout its history.

In January 1496 the hospital at Denhall was united by the bishop of Lichfield with the newly rebuilt and refounded hospital of St John the Baptist in Lichfield, as it was regarded as too impoverished to continue independently.[89]Morant believes that Denhall site may have continued in use as a hospital until its remaining inmates died, probably closing finally some time before 1547.[90]The former hospital buildings were then used as a parsonage for Burton church.[91] However, the building of a new parsonage house in 1738 saw most of the old hospital buildings demolished, and by 1751 only one outlying building of the hospital survived, which had been converted into a barn.[92] Some remains were still visible in 1897, and stone from the hospital buildings was apparently used to construct a wall, which skirted the field in which the hospital once stood[93]. 

Finally in conclusion to our survey, we must mention the abbey of St Werburgh at Chester. Although not actually situated on Wirral, the abbey exercised a large amount of influence on the Wirral, and is very much part of it’s monastic history. Established in 1093, by the second Norman Earl of Chester, Hugh Lupus, the abbey was a re-foundation of the earlier Saxon college of secular canons already at Chester, as a Benedictine monastery. Monks from Bec in Normandy were brought over initially to form the new Benedictine community, and the abbey was dedicated to St Werburgh, a Saxon saint whose remains had previously been held by the secular canons at Chester.

By the time of its dissolution in 1540, the abbey at Chester held extensive lands on the Wirral, and had either appropriated or received tithes or pensions from most of the parish churches of Wirral. Many of these endowments and gifts to the abbey dated back to its earliest years, as the Statute of Mortmain of 1279 had limited further grants to the church without the King’s consent.[94] The abbey’s possessions in Wirral contributed to its gross income from all it’s possessions, of over one thousand pound in 1535 recorded in the Valor Ecclesiasticus, the great survey of the church’s wealth conducted by Henry VIII’s commissioners prior to the dissolution of the monasteries[95].  

The abbey’s extensive land holdings on Wirral included the abbot’s three manors of Sutton, inherited from the secular canons previously at Chester; [96]Bromborough, a gift to the abbey from Earl Ranulf II; [97] and Irby, granted to the abbey by Earl Hugh.[98]  In each of these manors, the abbot maintained his own manor house, at which view of Frankpledge[99] took place each year between Michaelmas and Christmas. The manor of Bromborough included lands and rents in Bromborough itself, as well as in Bebington, Eastham and Plymyard,[100] while the manor of Sutton also included lands in Bromborough.

The abbey also held the bailiwick of Sutton included land and rents from Little and Great Sutton, Overpool, Whitby and Childer Thornton.[101] The manor of Irby included lands stretching from West Kirby to Wallasey. [102] These manors along with the manor of Eastham, granted along with Bromborough by Earl Ranulf II, were also exempt from the harsh laws of the Royal Forest of Wirral, which existed from around the mid twelfth century until Wirral was disafforested by Edward III in 1376.[103] 

The abbot’s manor houses must have been fairly substantial, as the abbots courts were occasionally held there. In 1264, Abbot Thomas of Capenhurst was given leave by the Bishop of Lichfield to construct oratories at all his Cheshire manors[104], while Edward I stayed at the abbot’s manor house in Bromborough in 1277.[105] In 1399, Richard II gave Abbot Henry de Sutton leave to crenellate his manors in Cheshire at Saighton, Sutton and Ince, although Irby and Bromborough were not mentioned in the licence.[106] However, as both the manor houses at Bromborough and at Irby were surrounded by moats, the sites of which were still visible in the nineteenth century, they too probably had some defensive features such as battlements incorporated into them as well.

If the land holdings of the abbey were impressive, the spiritual possessions of the abbey were equally so. The parishes of Bromborough, Neston and West Kirby [107]had all been appropriated by the abbey, which gave the abbey the rights to the parish tithes and to appoint the parish priest. In addition to this, the abbey held the advowson for the parish of Bebington, as well as receiving a pension from it, and also received pensions from the parishes of Eastham, Thurstaston and Wallasey[108]. According to the Valor Ecclesiasticus, these pensions amounted to fourteen pounds a year in 1535, while the income from the appropriated parishes of Neston and Bromborough amounted to thirty-six pounds and sixty-one pounds respectively.[109]

The dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII in the late 1530’s ended nearly five hundred years of monastic presence and activity on Wirral, and I hope this short survey has revealed some of their history. The ruins of the priory at Birkenhead and many of Wirral’s old parish churches, along with the Mersey ferries, which still cross the river under the royal licence granted by Edward III to the monks of Birkenhead, remain as living reminders of Wirral’s monastic heritage.

Norman Blake (April 2003)


M Aston, Monasteries in the Landscape (Stroud, 2000)

R Bartlett, England under the Norman and Angevin Kings 1075-1225 (Oxford, 2000)

R Stewart Brown, Birkenhead Priory and The Mersey Ferry (Liverpool, 1925)

R V H Burne, The Monks of Chester, The History of St Werburgh’s Abbey (London, 1962)

R M Clay, The Medieval Hospitals of England (London, 1909)

G Coppack, The White Monks The Cistercians in Britain 1128-1540 (Stroud, 1998)

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J T Driver, Cheshire in the Later Middle Ages (Chester, 1971)

E A Gooder, Latin for Local History (2nd edition, Harlow, 1978)

J McN. Dodgson, The Place Names of Cheshire (Cambridge, 1972)

R Grifiths, The History of the Royal and Ancient Park of Toxteth (Liverpool, 1923)

B E Harris editor, A History of the County of Chester Volume II (Oxford, 1979)

B E Harris editor, A History of the County of Chester Volume III (Oxford, 1980)

H J Hewitt, Cheshire under the Three Edwards ((Chester, 1967)

B M C Husain, Cheshire under the Norman Earls 1066-1237 (Chester, 1973)

D Knowles & R N Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses England and Wales (London, 1971)

W Lowndes, The Story of Bebington (Birkenhead, 1953)

R W Morant, Monastic and Collegiate Cheshire (Braunton, 1996)

W W Mortimer,The History of the Hundred of Wirral (London, 1847)

The Ordnance Survey Map of Monastic Britain (South Sheet) (Chessington, 1950)

P Sulley, The Hundred of Wirral (Birkenhead, 1889)

J Tait, (ed) The Chartulary or Register of St Werburgh’s Abbey, Chester (Manchester, 1920)

T D Whitaker, A History of the Original Parish of Whalley (1872)


[1] Secular clergy, living as a community but who were neither members of a religious order or under a religious rule.

[2] R W Morant, Monastic and Collegiate Cheshire (Braunton, 1996) p24

[3] W Lowndes, The Story of Bebington (Birkenhead, 1953) p55

[4] D Knowles & R N Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses England and Wales (London, 1971)  p468

[5] ibid., p468

[6] Lowndes p60

[7] P Sulley, The Hundred of Wirral (Birkenhead, 1889) p208

[8] ibid., p247

[9] R Anderson, “History” in J D Craggs editor, Hilbre, The Cheshire Island (Liverpool, 1982) p11

[10]Morant p42

[11] Anderson p11

[12] R Bartlett, England under the Norman and Angevin Kings 1075-1225 (Oxford, 2000)  p412, 417

[13] M Aston, Monasteries in the Landscape (Stroud, 2000) p74

[14] Morant,  p46

[15] Bartlett  p412, 421

[16] Morant p50

[17] W W Mortimer, The History of the Hundred of Wirral (London, 1847) p307

[18] Morant p46 & Mortimer p311-12

[19] Morant p49 & R Stewart-Brown, Birkenhead Priory and the Mersey Ferry (Livepool, 1925) p18-19

[20] Morant p49

[21] ibid., p49

[22] A J Kettle, “Religious House” in B E Harris(Ed.) A History of the County of Chester, Vol III  (Oxford, 1980) p129

[23] Stewart-Brown p13

[24] Kettle p130

[25] ibid., p129

[26] ibid.,p131

[27] ibid.,p131

[28] Morant p193-4

[29] ibid., p83

[30] T D Whitaker, A History of the Original Parish of Whalley (1872)  p82

[31] B M C Husain, Cheshire under the Norman Earls 1066-1237 (Chester, 1973) p131

[32] ibid., p131

[33]G Coppack, The White Monks The Cistercians in Britain 1128-1540 (Stroud, 1998) p16

[34] ibid.,p17

[35] Whitaker p82

[36] Aston p88

[37] Bartlett p431

[38] Knowles & Hadcock p114

[39] Bartlett p429

[40] ibid., p431

[41] Coppack p51

[42] Husain p131

[43] ibid., p131

[44] Sulley p163

[45] ibid.p163

[46] ibid.p163

[47] Morant p84

[48] ibid.,p84 & Whitaker p86, 89

[49] Morant p84

[50] Sulley p164

[51] ibid., p164

[52]R Grifiths, The History of the Royal and Ancient Park of Toxteth (Liverpool, 1923) p39

[53] ibid., p18

[54] Knowles & Hadcock p118 & Whitaker p106

[55] Anderson p12

[56] Morant p42

[57] Anderson p12

[58]Grifiths p18

[59]Anderson p 14 & R V H Burne,The Monks of Chester, The History of St Werburgh’s Abbey (London, 1962) p74

[60]Anderson  p14

[61] ibid., p15

[62]Burne p39

[63] J Tait, (ed) The Chartulary or Register of St Werburgh’s Abbey, Chester  (Manchester, 1920) p298 & Burne p39

[64] Kettle p125

[65] R M Clay, The Medieval Hospitals of England (London, 1909) p283 & Knowles & Hadcock p300

[66] Knowles & Hadcock p267

[67] Tait p126

[68] ibid., p379 The right to appoint a parish priest

[69] ibid., p379

[70] ibid., p380 Leper House

[71] J McN. Dodgson, The Place Names of Cheshire (Cambridge, 1972) p251

[72] The Leper House of Bebington

[73] Kettle p126

[74] Clay p36, 43

[75] ibid., p36, 43

[76] Knowles & Hadcock p311

[77] The Ordnance Survey Map of Monastic Britain (South Sheet) (Chessington, 1950)

[78] McN. Dodgson p251 Charters are held in the John Rylands Library at the University of Manchester.

[79] The former leper house of Bebington

[80] Clay p35

[81] ibid.,p144

[82] Knowles & Hadcock p311

[83] Kettle p184

[84]ibid., p184

[85]ibid., p185

[86]ibid., p184-5

[87] ibid., p185

[88] ibid., p185

[89] ibid., p185 & Morant p179

[90] Morant p179

[91] ibid., p179

[92] ibid., p179

[93] Kettle p185

[94] H J Hewitt, Cheshire under the Three Edwards (Chester, 1967) p91

[95] Kettle p144

[96] ibid., p132

[97] Tait p129

[98] Kettle p133

[99] A vow taken promising good behaviour and fidelity to the lord of the manor.

[100] Kettle p144

[101] ibid., p144

[102] ibid., p144

[103] J A Green, “The Forests”, in B E Harris (ed), A History of the County of Chester Vol II (Oxford, 1979) p187

[104] Burne p30

[105]Stewart-Brown p20

[106] ibid.,  p113-4

[107] Kettle p144

[108] ibid., p144

[109] Burne p188

Norman Blake (April 2003)

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