Norman Church

Search Site

Upton is in the parish of Overchurch but because the parish unusually contains only one township, it is usually referred to as the parish of Upton.

Norman Church

The original Norman parish church stood about three quarters of a mile from the village, almost opposite Upton Manor, and is described as having pointed arches of peculiar elegance, richly decorated with chevrons and Saxon mouldings. Internally it had benches for about one hundred and fifty, a clay floor, an oak pulpit, a stained glass window and a bell.

 

It is not known when the church was built, the earliest references to it are in 1347. In 1709, the steeple was badly damaged in a storm, only fourteen families in the parish were able to make any contribution towards the repairs, so a petition was raised for permission to sell two out of the three bells to cover the cost. By 1813 the church was in such a ruinous condition that a petition was raised to take it down. Following a survey by Bishop Law, the petition was granted and the church was demolished the same year. It is believed that the church was built on the site of earlier churches, dating back to about 700 - 900 AD.

Overchurch Burial Ground

The old church was surrounded by a burial ground and in 1889 Philip Sulley described it as a most deserted, desolate spot, with the stones mostly fallen and grown over with grass and weeds, the earliest date now traceable being 1745. Such neglect of an ancient God's acre, in which all the forefathers of the hamlet sleep, is painful and discreditable.

 

The burial ground is long abandoned, hidden by trees and undergrowth. The old tombstones are lying amidst the nettles and brambles at all angles, however despite their age and neglect, the inscriptions on some of the stones are still legible beneath the moss and, despite the proximity of the Overchurch Estate and the Upton Byepass, on a sunny Sunday afternoon in February 2008, it is remarkably quiet and peacefull.

Overchurch Burial Ground Overchurch Burial Ground

In 1994 English Heritage Scheduled the site of the church, the graveyard and the bank surrounding it as an Ancient Monument. The description in the national register is as follows:

 

The monument includes the curvilinear embanked enclosure which formed the churchyard of a church at Overchurch. The church, of which little remains, was demolished in 1813. Among the stones taken from the site to build a new church at Upton was a fragment of Anglo-Saxon cross slab inscribed with runic lettering. The fragment points to a church on this site before the Conquest. In addition, a stone voussoir was found on the site and confirms that much of the original fabric of the demolished building was from the Romanesque period. The former presence on the site of important Anglo-Saxon sculpture points to a 9th century church foundation on the site. The former presence of Romanesque carved masonry shows that the structure was from a date in the immediate post-Conquest period. The curvilinear form of the churchyard is taken to mean that the foundation may be early and possibly in the pre-Conquest period. The remains below ground will contain evidence of a buried population from the 9th century onward.

 

List of known Vicars

 

  • 1542 - 1565 .. .. .. Thomas Bennett
  • 1565 - 1598 .. .. .. John Baylie
  • 1598 - 1599 .. .. .. Peter Wilkinson
  • 1599 - 1609 .. .. .. Gilbert Dobbs
  • 1609 - 1610 .. .. .. John Cooper
  • 1610 - 1630 .. .. .. Peter Barker [1]
  • 1631 - 1647 .. .. .. Richard Runcorn
  • 1647 - 1670 .. .. .. Henry Hatton [2]
  • 1670 - 1703 .. .. .. Hugh Burches [3]
  • 1704 - 1722 .. .. .. Robert Janny [4]
  • 1722 - 1730 .. .. .. Robert Danson
  • 1730 - 1737 .. .. .. Richard Smith [5]
  • 1737 - 1757 .. .. .. George Hodson [6]
  • 1759 - 1774 .. .. .. George Smith [7]
  • 1775 - 1777 .. .. .. Thomas Dawson
  • 1778 -            .. .. .. Roger Jacson [8]

[1] Also, 1624-30, rector of Bromborough

[2] A Presbyterian during Commonwealth Period and evidently after the Restoration.

[3] Rector of Woodchurch, 1673-1703, also held curacy of Bidston ante 1668.

[4] Also vicar of Birkenhead

[5] Also curate and schoolmaster at Woodchurch

[6] Also curate at West Kirby, 1726-1758

[7] Also curate at Woodchurch

[8] Also rector of Bebington.