Plemstall Church

From Hoole History and Heritage Society

Windows in Chester Cathederal St Plegmund (right) and King Alfred the Great (left)

[1]From medieval times parts of both Hoole and Newton were in the ecclesiastical parish of Plemstall. In the 9th century AD it is alleged that a hermit called Plegmund lived on the “Isle of Chester” located on marshland near the River Gowy, which was prone to flooding. He was a learned man, a scholar and a man of god. Local people visited him to receive a blessing. King Alfred sent for him to become one of his spiritual advisors and he was eventually appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, travelling to Rome at least twice.

St Plegmund's Well, Plemstall

King Alfred the Great 849-899, King of Wessex, 871-899

St. Plegmund, died AD 914 (or 923), Archbishop of Canterbury 890-914

Plegmund spent much of his time writing and he crowned Alfred’s son, Edward the Elder. A coin with his image was minted. Plegmund gave his name to the area, abbreviated from various spellings including Plegmundstall, Pleymondstowe and Plymston. It became a revered piece of land containing a holy well.

St Plegmund's Coin, Plemstall
St. Peter's Church, Plemstall

St. Peter’s Church was erected there and was rebuilt as the present church in the 15th century in the late perpendicular style, containing a chancel screen made soon after 1422 in the memory of William de Trafford. Why St. Peter’s? Even earlier than Plegmund is the story that in the 7th century a sailor adrift on a raft came ashore on the Isle of Chester, and built a church there dedicated to St. Peter, the fisherman who walked on water.

Map of Cheshire 1777 showing Plemstall at the centre of other townships, Burdett

The church contains memorials to many notable local families e.g. the Hurlestons and the Brittains, and the Victorian grave of Martha Hamilton is prominent in the churchyard. The records from there of Births, Marriages and Deaths illustrate its use by the residents of Hoole and Newton, and its location is a reflection of the days when both of these areas were linked with Wimbolds and Mickle Trafford, and Dunham on the Hill.

Martha Hamilton's Grave in the form of a recumbent cross
Hurleston Family Tomb

Picton and Newton were acquired by the Hurleston family from Lancashire in circa 1580. After a number of generations childless William Hurleston left his lands to the four daughters of his brother, one of whom married John Needham in 1738 who unexpectedly became the Earl of Kilmorey. The Hurleston family tomb is in the churchyard.

Inside the church itself there are tablets and memorials.

Framed boards:-

"Annie Calkin of Hoole left the sum of £6, the interest to the poor AD 1727"
"Charles Hurleston of Newton Esq. left the sum of £50, the interest to the Schoole 1828"

A white marble tablet:

"Sacred to the memory of Robert Brittain Esq. of Hoole Bank and Elizabeth his wife"

Incumbents of Plemstall Church

Names of Ministers are known back to 1291 when Robert de Thorpe was the incumbent. The CCEd Clergy of the Church of England[2] records most names from 1545 to 1833.

'Aeropaidia' Front Cover
'Aeropaidia' View from the Balloon

In the latter part of the 18th century, the Minister at Plemstall was the Rev John Baldwin. His son Thomas, who was also ordained, took part in a famous balloon flight in 1786. He took off from Chester Castle and eventually landed near Kingsley. This was no pleasure flight; it was a scientific experiment resulting in a book of over 350 pages entitle “Airopaidia - the Narrative of a Balloon Excursion”.[3] On board were magnets and iron filings, a live pigeon, pepper, salt and ginger (to test the taste buds which had been said to be insipid on the peak of Tenerife); also, barometers and thermometers. Lessons were learnt to provide advice for future launches, the effects of reels and pulleys and for take-off and landings. A map of the journey can be matched on the ground; an attempt to circle Plemstall seems evident.

The Rev John Baldwin was the nephew of Thomas Rigbye of Horrock Hall, Lancashire who being childless left his estates to him in 1787 on condition that he changed his name to Rigbye. The licence to do this is illustrated.

Licence to change name Baldwin to Rigbye

As a result, the Baldwins moved away and the lands they had acquired in Hoole, including the site of Hoole Old Hall (razed to the ground in the civil War when it was owned by Thomas Bunbury of Stoak and Stanney) were sold. The sale included the current Hoole Hall which was built in 1760 on land enclosed from Hoole Heath. The Hamilton family bought most of the lands, but not the current Hoole Hall in which contrary to local belief, the Hamiltons never lived.

Census 1841

The Rector of Plemstall from 1833 was Isaac Temple and he ran a boarding school for boys at his home called ‘Mayfield’. The 1841 and 1851 Censuses show 12 to 18 boys aged from 7 to 13 years old boarding there. Mayfield was eventually lived in by S. J. R. Dickson, a solicitor and member of Dicksons’ Nurseries family and still stands today opposite the Toby Carvery on Hoole Road. There was a rectory in Plemstall occupied in 1850 by John Chamberlain, Parish Clerk and labourer. Isaac Temple remained Rector until his death in 1880 when he was succeeded by Rev T. Lowe. In 1899 Rev. W.S. Johns was appointed.

The Rector from 1907 to 1946 was Rev Joseph Hooker Toogood. He was responsible for the refurbishment and surprisingly, the installation of much of the woodwork in the church, including the First World War Memorial.[4][5]

Plemstall church is now linked to St. John’s at Guilden Sutton, and monthly services take place there.

In recent years, annual well-dressing ceremonies have been organised.