Restoration Project to Begin Soon
The image above shows just how neatly the burial ground was kept whilst the chapel was open. If you look at the gentleman walking down the path, you can see the two original yew trees next to him.
All of the trees, plants and grass are immaculate in the few images available from over the years.
The last 30 years are where you can really see the difference.
In 1993, you can still see the two trees, though they seem to be growing bigger.
By 2006, the two yew trees now look like one and have grown out in every direction.
By September 2021, the two trees have fully merged into one and have brambles and ivy growing between the branches. They are damaging the graves and the path.
Time for Change
The maintenance of the graveyard is the legal responsibility of Warrington Borough Council, but as you probably know, they do little more than cut the grass every six weeks or so. Despite bringing this to their attention, they have done nothing different.
Thankfully, Croft Parish Council were willing to listen and to help. They have agreed to pay for a specialist landscaping team to cut back the yew trees to two individual trees at a managable size and also to clear the remaining weeds and overgrowth around the grounds.
Work is due to begin soon. Thankyou, Croft Parish Council!
Ellen Yates was born on 24th April 1852 in Culcheth, Lancashire. In 1874 she was a dye worker at a factory in Birkenhead and she lived with her brother James and his wife Mary Ann at Hop Pole Farm, Croft.
In January 1870, her parents had died within weeks of one another, her mother from Bronchitis and her father from Insanity and atrophy of the liver.
In 1871, Ellen was a witness at the wedding of her brother James to her friend and cousin Mary Ann Whittle. This wedding was held at Cairo Street Unitarian Chapel and not Croft, possibly because they were cousins.
We know nothing more about Ellen's life after that apart from the fact that she must have been desperately unhappy. She felt so low that on this day, 8th August in 1874, she decided to take her own life.
Her body wasn't discovered until the next day, Sunday 9th August in a Marl Pit in Croft where she had drowned herself.
An Inquest was held on 13th August and a verdict of 'suicide due to temporary insanity' was given as the cause of death.
Ellen was buried at Croft Unitarian Chapel in grave C6 with her parents and her younger sister Hannah, who had passed away before Ellen was born.
The gravestone reads 'In the midst of life we are in death'.
WAR GRAVES WEEK 2022
War Graves at Croft Unitarian Chapel
Rifleman Harold Houghton
Harold Houghton was born in 1890 in Croft when his father, Thomas, was 31 and his mother, Mary, was 28. He had four brothers and four sisters.
In 1911 he lived at The Old Noggin Inn, Risley with his parents, his brother and two of his sisters
He worked at the Albion Ironworks in Leigh.
On 2nd September 1914 he joined the 5th Rifle Brigade, A Company, 2nd Battalion
On 24 March 1915 he died of his wounds from the battle of Neuve Chapelle, aged 25.
He was buried at Croft Unitarian Chapel, the grave stone stating
‘He Died for his Country’s Honour’.
Private George Daintith
When George Daintith was born on 24 February 1892 in Culcheth, his father, Thomas, was 25 and his mother, Mary, was 21. He was christened at Newchurch on 17th April the same year.
His mother Mary passed away in 1906 and his father remarried in 1907. He had seven brothers and two sisters.
In 1911 he lived with his father, stepmother and four of his brothers at The Old Noggin Inn, Risley.
In April 1915, he joined Kitchener’s Army, enlisting in the 1st King’s Liverpool Regiment. After about a year’s training he was sent to the Front and was attached to the 251st Company Royal Engineers. He was killed in action on June 25th, 1916, in the ‘great push’ near Albert.
Captain Hansen, R.E., in expressing his sympathy with his parents said:
‘Your son met his death on the night of June 25th while doing his duty, and I cannot speak too highly of his behaviour on this occasion, and ever since he joined this Company. I cannot say how deeply I felt his loss to my section, as he was one of my best men and could always be depended upon. He was a typical example of a true British Soldier, and died doing his duty to his King and Country and so great a cause. Your son was buried last night, and I have taken steps to have a cross placed upon his grave.’
A memorial service was held at Newchurch Parish Church on Sunday 23rd July 1916.
George is buried in Cambrin Military Cemetery.
Harold Houghton’s parents had a stone erected at Croft Unitarian Chapel in Harold’s grave space saying
'Private. George Daintith. In memory of Harold's comrade of the Liverpool Regiment, killed in France 25/06/1916'.
Lance Corporal William Whittle
When William Whittle was born in 1889 in Culcheth, his father, William, was 29 and his mother, Ellen, was 21. He had two brothers.
In 1911 he lived and worked at Oakwood Farm, Risley with his parents and brothers.
He died on 14 June 1918 in France at the age of 29 and is buried at Terlincthun British Cemetery, Wimille.
He is remembered on the family grave at Croft Unitarian Chapel, the stone stating
‘Duty Nobly Done’.
War Graves at Christ Church, Croft
Gunner Samuel Yates
Royal Garrison Artillery. Died on 9th July 1920, aged 42.
Son of Samuel and Mary Yates; husband of Lizzie Hankin Yates, of Longford Cottages, Longford, Warrington.
Private William Clarke
South Lancashire Regiment, transferred to as Private 584377, Labour Corps.
On 19th December 1918 he was admitted to the Military Hospital, Warrington with influenza and pneumonia. He passed away at 16:50 hours on the 26th November 1918. His history was of being unwell after he was gassed by mustard gas in France four months prior and he had chest trouble ever since.
He was the son of John and was the husband of Bertha, remarried to Andrews, of Little Town, Croft. He had two children, Thomas and Vera.
Newchurch War Graves
PRIVATE F FAULKNER
South Lancashire Regiment
Died 16th March 1918
SERGEANT CYRIL WHITTLE
Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died 23rd April 1944
PRIVATE JOHN CLARK PICK
Died 31st May 1940
PRIVATE JOSHUE RICHARD CLEWORTH
King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment)
Died 25th November 1918
DRUMMER G LOCKE
Died 8th May 1920
PRIVATE ARTHUR MONKS
Royal Army Service Corps
Died 18th January 1921
GUARDSMAN HUGH ARTHUR WOOD
Died 29 August 1921
St. Oswald's War Graves
PRIVATE W B MIDDLETON
Died 29th March 1921
SERJEANT JOHN BUCHANAN
Royal Army Medical Corps
Died 27th October 1918
LEST WE FORGET
In March I finally got to visit Chowbent Unitarian Chapel. It is a remarkable building and full of history.
The reason for my visit was that I think that documents relating to Croft Unitarian Chapel may be there. Documents by John Bulmer written in the early 1970’s say that the documents and registers were there at that time.
The current building dates back 300 years and the congregation even longer. The original chapel used by the congregation was built in 1645 and the current one in 1721.
The present chapel retains the only known surviving artefacts from the 1645 building, namely the Communion table and two fine Commonwealth silver communion cups gifted by Robert Mort in 1654. The cups are kept securely in a local vault and are brought to chapel only for special occasions. A nail studded door that separates the chapel from the vestry is also thought to be from the original 1645 chapel.
More about the chapel and it's history can be read on the
Chowbent Unitarian Chapel website.
Before I even started looking through the many boxes of historic documents, I was shown a bunch of papers kept in the office of the chapel. These were all related directly to Croft Chapel.
The papers contain handwritten correspondence between Mr. Hatton, Mr. R Goddan, Mr. F Glover and Mr. G Craine regarding the installation of electricity at Croft Unitarian Chapel.
There are quotes for the supply, the installation, and the fittings. There is also a receipt for a cheque for £38 from Croft Chapel Trustees towards the supply fees.
Unfortunately, there was no proof that the installation went ahead, nor any other documents with those ones.
I managed to get through two of the boxes they had at Chowbent, all very interesting and unique items, but no more on Croft.
I didn’t have any more time available to continue searching, but hopefully I will be able to visit again soon and continue the search.
I am very grateful to David Shallcross at the Chapel for allowing me to visit and for showing me around.
John Monks was born in 1815 to George and Ann Monks at Monk House, Newton-le-Willows. He was baptised at Risley Chapel on 12th February that year.
He married Lucy Dickinson on 12th June 1836 at All Saints Church in Wigan.
Tragically their son, James died not long after he was born and was buried at Risley on 1st March 1837. Lucy Monks was buried exactly one week later, aged 27.
John was one of the Unitarians ejected from Risley Chapel in 1838 and was involved in the building of Croft Unitarian Chapel.
John’s younger sister Alice Monks had married Francis Duffield, who was a home missionary at the Salford church. The couple were leaving for Australia with their son William and John took the opportunity for a new start and decided to join them. They sailed on the ship 'Delhi' from Liverpool, arriving in Australia on 20th December 1839.
John vowed that if God prospered him in his new country, he would build a church. He did prosper and built Shady Grove Unitarian School and Church in 1845.
John married Priscilla Appleton (also from Lancashire, sailing in 1839 on a different ship) in 1850 and they had ten children.
Unfortunately, John and Priscilla were still to suffer some personal hardships. On 24th December 1854, their son John passed away aged just 9 months. In 1863, their daughter Emmeline died, aged 3 years and 10 months. Their youngest daughter Emma passed away aged 20 in May 1889. John himself died in November that year.
They were all buried at the Shady Grove Unitarian Church Cemetery.
The church still stands today and is still active. The building is listed with the South Australia Heritage Register.
A short post to say a big thank you to our local Labour Councillor Gary Farnsworth and Croft Parish Council. Thanks to Gary, the Parish Council have agreed to provide a green bin for Croft Unitarian Chapel and to cover the annual cost for it to be emptied.
This may not seem like much to be thankful for, but after a year of struggling to clear the grounds without a bin, it is a huge step forward.
A big thank you also to those who have helped with clearing the site over the last year. The couple who live on Gosling Road and those who live next to the chapel on New Lane have all gone out of their way to help.
Many people choose Lady Lane in Croft as part of their local walk. Not many people will have noticed the symbols made up of straight lines that are carved into walls along the route. They are in fact bench marks.
What are bench marks?
Bench marks are the visible manifestation of Ordnance Datum Newlyn (ODN), which is the national height system for mainland Great Britain and forms the reference frame for heights above mean sea level.
Most commonly, the BMs are found on buildings or other semi-permanent features. Although the main network is no longer being updated, the record is still in existence and the markers will remain until they are eventually destroyed by redevelopment or erosion.
Where can I find the bench marks?
There are two bench marks on Lady Lane. One is at Croft Unitarian Chapel and one is at Christ Church.
The bench mark at Croft Unitarian Chapel is on the boundary wall, which means it is not in its original position, as Warrington Borough Council have rebuilt the wall. (It does seem to be at the correct height above the ground level).
Croft Unitarian Chapel Bench Mark
Description: WALL ENTRANCE BURIAL GROUND WEST SIDE LADY LANE SOUTH EAST ANGLE
Height above ground: 0.4m
Date verified: 1957
Christ Church Bench Mark
Description: CHURCH WEST FACE CHRIST CHURCH TOWER EAST SIDE LADY LANE
Height above ground: 1.2m
Date verified: 1957
Cheyvonne Bower is a local historian with a passion for the past.