Winwick: History and Antiquities: Part 1

By WILLIAM BEAMONT. Second Edition, 1878


Part 1. Etymology of Winwick.
Part 2. Oswald, King of Northumbria.
Part 3. The Domesday Survey.
Part 4. The Church.
Part 5a. The Rectors of Winwick. 1192 – 1520
Part 5b. The Rectors of Winwick. 1520 – 1610
Part 5c. The Rectors of Winwick. 1610 – 1659
Part 5d. The Rectors of Winwick. 1659 – 1764
Part 5e. The Rectors of Winwick. 1764 – 1866
Part 6. The Winwick Chantries.
Part 7. The Grammar School.
Part 8. Some Winwick Antiquities.
Part 9. Some Winwick Names and Notabilities.
Part 10. Some Funeral Inscriptions in the Church and Churchyard.

Part 11. Bibliography


Time, that great clock which requires no winding up, and possesses what so many dreamers have sought for and sought in vain—the secret of perpetual motion—has also, like other clocks, from time to time, but at longer intervals, its striking times which summon attention and invite us to pause and look back, promising in return something which from the past shall teach the present how to improve the future, and instruct while it amuses us.


According to the learned Usher, Winwick was Caer Gwentquic, one of the twenty cities collected by Gildas out of Nennius, and its modern name he thought was but a corruption of the British original. De Caumont, a French author, makes mention of a castle in France called Wineck, a name which is almost idem sonans with Winwick as pronounced by a French tongue. And Camden, the father of British antiquities, somewhat sceptical as to the etymology of local names, would certainly have doubted about the British origin of the name of Winwick. But if the British source of the name fails to satisfy us, still less will the enquirer be satisfied to take it from the vow which some former owner is said to have made in this ancient rhyme to give it if he could but escape some threatened danger:—

If I can but get back to Harthill wick, I’ll build a church and call it Winwick.

Harthill and Harthill Meadow are both places still well known in the neighbourhood. But we need not go either to the Britons or to this mediaeval rhymer for the origin of the name of Winwick, which is not unique or solitary in the English villare, for there is another place of the same name in Northamptonshire, which was given in 1043 by Edward the Confessor to the abbey of the Virgin and St. Peter, in Coventry,(1) the name of which, like our own, is probably compounded of the two Saxon words win wick, meaning the place of fight or victory. (2) The name of either Winwick may commemorate some such victory or fight as that for which a native bard saw in vision the hosts preparing to engage :—

On champing steeds,
Preceded by a stately pursuivant,
Come heroes deck’d in princely pageantry,
All sons redoubted of a valiant race.
Chafing and restless for the deadly fray.
Next, glowing to acquire victorious wreaths,
Snatch’d from the conflict in the storm of war,
Speed generous hearts select, where Winwick’s brow
Uplifts the stately spire and draws the feet
To sainted Oswald’s pilgrim-haunted well;
Within the precincts of whose hallow’d fane,
Haply may yet sires of some future bard,
Proud to sing Alfred’s glorious acts, repose.
Press too glad bands from Arbury’s pleasant slopes
And Southworth’s mount and champain Croft below,
Where Enfield’s turret peeps, by whose hush’d brook,
Perchance in after day that bard obscure,
May fix, enamour’d, his sequester’d rest,
And joy to spend life’s evening hours in peace.
(” Alfred; ” a poem, by J. Fitchett, Esquire.)

The story of Oswald, king and martyr, near whose palace at Woodhead, in Winwick, where tradition asserts that he fell fighting to save his country, it would be unjust to pass over without some notice. A French historian, quoted by Sir Gilbert Scott, speaks thus eloquently of St. Oswald :—

Gentle and strong, serious and sincere, pious and intelligent, humble and bold, active and gracious, a soldier and a missionary, a king and a marytr, slain in the flower of his age, on the field of battle fighting for his country, and praying for his subjects. Where shall we find in all history a hero more nearly approaching the ideal, more richly gifted, more worthy of eternal remembrance ?” “Who,” asks another writer quoted by Camden, (3) “is Alcides, who is Julius Caesar, who Alexander the Great ? Alcides, it is said, conquered himself, Alexander the world and Caesar the enemy; but Oswald conquered at once himself, the world, and the enemy.”(4)


(1). Thorpe’s ” Diplomatarium Anglicanum,” 352.
(2). There seems to be no authority for the suggestion made in Hardwicke’s Folk Lore, p. 163 n., that there was once a brook at Winwick called Wynwede.
(3) ” Quisfuit Alcides ? Quis Caesar Julius ? aut quis Magnus Alexander ? Alcides se superasse fertur; A exander mundum, sed Julius hostem. Se simul Oswaldus et mundum vicit et hostem/’—Britannia, III., 493.
(4) Chester Historic Society’s Proc edings, Nos. 8 and 9, p. 161. also See an interesting account of swald in ” Green’s History of the English People,” p. 22, et seq.




Transcribed by Steven Dowd from the original book which he owns, Originally publication is from 1878, this text version and layout, edits and errors is © 2008 Steven Dowd, for use at the Newton-le-willows website