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LATCHFORD HISTORY  GROUP

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THE PLAGUE HOUSE

THE HOLLIES

CHRIST CHURCH

ASHFIELD

RADDON COURT

ASHFIELD

Ashfield was a pleasant looking 10 roomed house in Thelwall Lane, between Kingsway South and Poachers Lane.  It had a verandah and double bay French windows at the front.  In 1857 it was the home of William Broadbent who also owned the tannery further up the lane.  He later moved to The Hollies on Knutsford Road.  The 1851 Census shows Ashfield as a farm with 14 ‘hands’, being occupied by William and Susan Gaskell.  It was here that their daughter-in-law, Elizabeth Gaskell, the authoress, stayed whilst grieving over the loss of her son, William, who had died in 1845, ten days before his first birthday.  (The child is buried in the grave yard of the Unitarian Church in Cairo Street).  Whilst staying at Ashfield Mrs Elizabeth Gaskell was encouraged to write her first book, ‘Mary Barton’, which was published in 1848.  In 1861 Ashfield was the home of Mr George T Moore who by 1871, had moved into Latchford House.  By 1910, the Bostock family were farming at Ashfield.  Before her marriage, Mrs Bostock was Eleanor Hewitt from Grappenhall.  The last residents at Ashfield were Eleanor’s son, George (Judd) Bostock, who was born there in 1912, together with his wife and her daughter and grand-daughter.  The farm by the time was reduced to a small-holding with few live-stock.  In the summer of 1973 Ashfield and the outbuildings were demolished and the land cleared to build private houses and a petrol station.  It is known that Charles Ludwige Dodgson, better known at Lewis Carroll and author of ‘Alice in Wonderland’, also visited ‘Ashfield’.

THE HOLLIES

The Hollies was a large house with grounds of over 30 acres, which was situated opposite Raddon Court on Knutsford Road.  Within the grounds there were staff cottage, stables, an orchard and meadows.  Census records in the late nineteenth century showed that there were four domestic servants who ‘lived in’ at The Hollies, where they were accommodated on the top floor.  The staff at The Hollies also included a coachman and gardeners.  The Hollies was owned by the Broadbent family.  The Rev. William Broadbent, who was a Unitarian Minister at the Cairo St. Chapel, was the first member of the family to live there in 1791.  William’s only son, Thomas Biggin, also a minister, died in 1817, and William himself in 1837.  The property was left to his nephew William and Holbrook Gaskell of Appleton.  This William Broadbent founded the Latchford Tannery in 1828 and lived at Ashfield before moving to The Hollies in 1857.  Charles, his son, who was the co-founder of the Whitecross Wire Co., succeeded him.  Charles became Mayor of Warrington in 1870 and died in 1887.  Charles, and his wife Constance, had a family of four sons and five daughters.  Two of the sons died from injuries sustained in battle, John Wilfred was killed in action in the Boar War in 1901, while Thomas Murray died in 1920 as a result of injuries from the First World War.  By 1920 the family consisted of the four remaining daughters, none of whom married.  Constance, Sylvia, Ellinor Lucy and Margaret were all prominent in local society for their charity work, painting and writing.  In 1954 Ellinor Lucy died, she was the last Broadbent to live at The Hollies and in 1965 the house was demolished to make way for the dual carriageway we have today.

PLAGUE HOUSE

The black and white timber and plaster house which was in Wash Lane and known as the Plague House was built in 1650 by Richard Warburton.  Wash Lane was then the old road to London and alongside the road ran a wide brook which rose at every high tide of the river, and had to be crossed by stepping stones.  In June of 1647, the House of Commons issued an order saying that Warrington (and Chester) was grievously visited by the plague, and that public collections to assist the poor in these areas were to be taken the next day in all churches and chapels in London and Westminster.  A further outbreak of the plague occurred in 1654.  It is believed that the family living in the house built by Richard Warburton were one of those who suffered from this later outbreak of the plague, as the top of a stone which formed part of the round coping of the court-yard, had been hollowed out.  Its cavity was four and half inches square and two inches deep. Stones of this nature were used during the plague to pay for provisions, as the money was left in the hollow in a mixture of vinegar and water to disinfect it.  Further evidence of the plague being present here, lies in the field at the back of the house, where human remains have been found, not buried in coffins, but under sandstone slabs, suggesting a very hurried interment.  All of these clues suggest where the origin of the name ‘Plague House’ lies.  The house was always a private dwelling house, being lived in by a succession of families, sometimes in later years by as many as four families at one time.  Sadly, due to its poor state of repair, it was demolished around 1962.

CHRIST CHURCH

In 1844 Thomas Greenall donated a piece of land in Wash Lane to the Rector of Grappenhall to build an infants school.  This was achieved with the help of a grant from the National Society.  To attend church services at that time the people of Latchford had to travel to St. Wilfred’s Church in Grappenhall or the recently built St. James’s.  Because of this a group of people met at the cottage of Mr Joseph Birchall, these services were held on Tuesdays and Sundays and let by the curate of the parish.  From 1844 the group met on the same evenings in the new school.  Due to the increase in the population of Latchford, it became obvious that a new church was needed.  After the death of Thomas Greenall in 1848, his family decided to erect a church in his memory.  With the help of donations from James Fenton Green all, Joseph Litton, Edward Green all and the Rev. Richard Green all, a small sandstone church was built in an orchard next5 to the school.  This was consecrated as Christ Church in July 1861.  At first the church was a ‘chapel of ease’ to Grappenhall Church and the Rev.Richard Greenall was the Curate in Charge.  In 1866 Christ Church became a separate ecclesiastical parish and the first Vicar was the Rev. William Roscoe Burgess.  In 1867 the Vicarage was built on land provided by Smith Barry, and Thomas and Edward Greenall.  Over the years the church has been altered and extended, the disastrous fire in 1946 destroyed the organ and chancel.  The extensive restoration was achieved with the help of generous donations from other parishes and individuals.  Christ Church contains several beautiful stained glass windows which are dedicated to the memory of people and strong local connections.  Among these are Sylvanus and Jane Reynolds, Edgerton Fairclough, Henry and Mary White and the Broadbent family.  

RADDON COURT

Raddon Court was a large house on Knutsford Road opposite the Hollies.  It was built by a tannery owner named Sylvanus Reynolds, a native of Devon, who had moved to Warrington in 1846 to work with his uncle, William Reynolds at Latchford Tannery. In 1862 at the age of 32, Sylvanus married the 18 year old Jane Banks of Hill Top. They resided at Blackburne House.  By 1868 he had first become a partner in Latchford Tannery, and then the sole owner.  He was at this time becoming a prominent and highly respected member of the Warrington Community. Amongst other things, he was a local Magistrate, Chairman of Arthur Waring & Co., Chairman of the Castle Rubber Co., and Chairman of the Lion Hotel Co.  He was by now the father of a large family so he built a large house in the grounds of Blackburne House and called in Raddon Court.  This was the name of his family home near Crediton in Devon.  He gave the same name to his tannery.  To the row of cottages which he built for his workmen on the other side of the tannery, he gave the name Raddon Place.   Unfortunately, Sylvanus was to live for only four years in his new house as he died in 1887 at the age of 57.  His death was caused by a shooting accident at Peasfurlong Moss when, whilst crossing over a wire fence, the trigger of the gun caught in the wire causing one barrel of the gun to discharge, shooting him in the knee.  The injuries to his knee were so severe that his leg had to be amputated later that same day.  Despite the very best of medical assistance, Sylvanus died early the next morning.  His death was mourned by the whole town, but in particular by his wife Jane and their twelve surviving children.  Jane also lived to be 57, and died at Raddon Court in 1901.  In 1911 Raddon Court was bought by Greenall Whitley.  In 1914 it was cleaned and furnished and loaned to the Red Cross for use as the first military hospital in Cheshire.  The hospital was closed n 1919 and the home of the Reynolds family was demolished in 1940.  The site has since had several uses, firstly by the Territorial Army, as a brewery for Truman’s beer and by Roy Trevor Storage and Removals.

 

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