BACKFORD

Grid Ref. SJ 398 718
11 July 2005

 

St. Oswald's spacer St. Oswald's
St. Oswald's   From the South East
Former font   East end
Former font now in the churchyard   The East Window of about 1375

There is evidence for a church at Backford from the 13th century. It was given by the Barons of Dunham Massey to Birkenhead Priory. The vicars are known from William de Aston in 1305. At the Dissolution, the advowson went to the new See of Chester. The church as seen today dates largely from the rebuilding between 1877 and 1879 by Ewan Christian. However, the chancel is from the early 14th century and includes the window shown in the photograph, which dates from about 1375. The tower is 16th century. It has a number of gargoyles and grostesques and there are numerous animals, including a fox, carved in one of the string courses. The pictures shown here were taken on a fine day in July near noon. Between 1728 and 1731 the nave was rebuilt in stone and brick in the Italian classical style only to be rebuilt again in the 1870s.

The church is not normally open but I have been inside briefly in October 2001 at the end of a memorial service. Among the features in the chancel are memorials to the Baskerville Gleggs of Backford Hall. There are wooden memorial plaques including one made by Randal Holme of Chester (1627-1704). He was the third Randal Holme, succeeding his grandfather and father as an heraldic artist and antiquarian. According to Raymond Richards, Backford has one of Cheshire's few aumbreys. Just south of the tower is a sun dial of 1772 and the stone base is dated 1832 with the names of the churchwardens as John Hancock and Joseph Waring.

Adjacent to the church, is Backford Hall, now a nursing home. It was the home of the poet, George Birkenhead, who founded a chair of poetry at Oxford in 1707.

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 Buildings of England, Cheshire, by Nikolaus Pevsner and Edward Hubbard, Yale University Press, 2003, First edition by Penguin in 1971.
The King's England, Cheshire, by Arthur Mee, published by Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1938, fourth impression, 1950.

 

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Cheshire Antiquities
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