Manx Note Book July 1885


BURTON, IN WIRRAL, IS A SECLUDED PICTURESQUE VILLAGE OF THE OLDEN TIME, SITUATED ON THE ESTUARY OF THE DEE, eight miles N.W. from Chester, with the Welsh Mountains and Flint Castle visible in the distance. It is indeed founded in the rock — the new sandstone of the Triassic series — which here and there crops up so prominently that some of the cottage doors are approached by six or eight steps cut in the living stone, presenting a peculiarly antiquated appearance. Burton Point, a rock jutting into the estuary (here three miles wide), presents to the geologist a splendidly typical section of the junction of the Lower Mottled Sandstone with the Pebble Beds.

The parish contains 2,522 acres, and 430 inhabitants. The manor and land were purchased in 1806 from the Bishop of Lichfield, by the late Richard Congreve, Esq., of Burton Hall, a fine modern building, commanding a magnificent view of the estuary.

The accompanying sketch of the cottage of Nathaniel Wilson, the Bishop's father, is reproduced by special permission for this journal from a photograph, by Silvester Parry, Chester, of a drawing executed on the spot, for private use only, by the late Miss Mary Ann Congreve, a native of Burton. It represents the cottage as it appeared about 1854, and as it was known, by persons then living, to have been for 60 or 70 years before that. Its exterior and the garden wall are now considerably modernized by necessary repairs, but it still continues to be an object of affectionate reverence to the villagers, and to strangers the oft-visited memorial of Bishop Wilson, who was born here on the 10th of December, 1663, as the village tradition assures us, in the small ground-floor apartment (about eight feet square) on the left of the entrance door.

The cottage is small, but it was not the abode of poverty, as we should now understand the term : for we find Nathaniel Wilson leaving in his will his "land in Willison, the Three Nooks," his house and croft in West Kirby," and his " two fields there, called Broad Hey and Croft Miller," and, at the discretion of his executors, "something to the poor, for God has blessed me in whatever I have put my hand to."

The School and Schoolmaster's House, a group of red stone buildings, stand very prominently on the brow of the hill, commanding an extensive view over the estuary. They were built by Bishop Wilson in 1724-5 for the free education of the Burton boys and girls, and of four from Puddington. He endowed them with 26 acres of land lying to the N. of the hill, to which Dr. Wilson, his son, added £200. The first Master was Mr. Dunne, to whom the Bishop delivered personally, and in his own handwriting, twelve rules for its management, which used to hang by his order on the School-room wall from its first opening down to 1881, when a new scheme of management was imposed by the Charity Commissioners, greatly subversive of Bishop Wilson's pious intentions and regulations. The 26 acres have lately passed into other hands. The first trustees appointed by Bishop Wilson himself were the Vicars of Burton and Neston, ex officio, and in perpetuity; the Bishop's son, Dr. Thomas Wilson ; Joseph Wilson, his nephew; and John Pickance, also a relative ; with a preference in future appointments in favour of the descendants of the two Wilsons.

The present Church, dedicated to St. Nicholas, is a pretty Gothic structure, of red sandstone, nestling under the shelter of the hill and wood on a gently rising slope, on the site of a former very ancient one, of which little is known, except that it was connected with a monastery at Denwall, belonging to the See of Lichfield. A small portion only of the old Church, called the Massey Chancel, forms part of the present edifice, which was in a great measure built by Bishop Wilson at the same time as the School, and under the super-vision of the same John Pickance who superintended the building of the School, and was a liberal contributor to the work. In the vestry is preserved a copy of the Old Testament, with Bishop Wilson's marginal notes in his own handwriting. The New Testament is supposed to have been lost.

Against the western wall there stands a memorial slab inscribed:-

AGED 75.


Her maiden name was Sherlock. She was sister to Dr. Sherlock, Rector of Winwick, Author of " The Practical Christian," and a relative of Dr. Thomas Sherlock, Bishop of London see later paper].

[The writer of the above — Dr. William Wilson — is the sixth in descent from Jonathan Wilson, Nathaniel Wilson's brother, and the Bishop's uncle. There are. no direct descendants of Bishop Wilson's bearing his name. — Ed,]



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