from 'The History of the Parish of Newchurch' by Rev. Oscar Plant, first published 1928
Among the discoveries which were made was a pew out of the ancient Church, which the Rector has hadfixed in the Church porch. It had, presumably, been removed fromthe gallery of the old Church before it was destroyed by fire and beenused as a garden seat.
A number of old name plates from the pewswere also found in a cupboard at the Rectory. The old Churchcontained a number of square box-like sittings or pews, dating from1717 onwards, and the name plates indicate various old families whooccupied them. These have been mounted and placed on an oakpanel in the clergy vestry.
Other relies of past centuries found at theRectory were the old keys, used when the Rev. Thomas Wilson, whobecame Bishop of Sodor and Man, was in charge. These, too, have been mounted on brass discs and dated 1663.
Bishop Wilson (Colourised Image)
A set of six old prints, going back to 1721, were also discovered, and these have been suitably framed in oak by Mr. Plant and are interesting to look upon in the clergy vestry.
There is a colour in the prints which cannot be matched to-day. They represent: The Birth of Christ; the Wise Men; the Sermon on the Mount; Mary and Martha; Martyrdom of Stephen; Elijah carried up to Heaven. There is also a rare photo-print of the Archbishop of York, Dr. Cosmo Gordon Lang, D.D ., who has now been translated to the Archbishopric of Canterbury, and is now the Primate of all England.
PRE- REFORMATION CHALICE
Newchurch has one of the most interesting histories, which architecture has preserved, and possesses Communion plate of great value.
The silver Communion cup of peculiar design was given by Dr. Richard Sherlock, Rector of Winwick, to his nephew, Bishop Wilson. The vessel stands six and a half inches high and measures four and a half inches across the top, as well as across the base. It is of the wineglass shape, and bears traces of gilding on the outside. The cup has been hammered out by a local smith from a pre-Reformation chalice.
Examination by a magnifying glass reveals distinct signs of a cross, which frequently occurs on one side of the bowl of such chalices. The cup is somewhat roughly fashioned and bears no hallmark. It holds the most honoured place in the list of local church plate, and is one of the very few known examples of pre-Reformation chalices in the world.
It is a connecting link, both in material and in features of design, between the typical pre-Reformation chalice and the post-Reformation Communion cup.
Besides the ancient Communion cup, the paten in use is of a very quaint type, and is slightly bent and out of shape. The handsome silver flagon is a magnificent specimen of church plate, bearing the date of 1763, though probably much older. It was bequeathed to the Church by Edward Leech in his will dated 13th November, 1760, and proved at Chester on February 23rd, three years later.
The two ancient collecting boxes, dated 1663, were usedin the Parish Church by the wardens. In thosedays the boxes were only handed to the squire, thedoctor and one or two other leading members of the parish and congregation, and gold coins were nearly always contributed.
Three piecesof gold in those days were more than sufficient to meet the Churchexpenses for a month, money going much further in spending valuethan it does to-day. Collections in Church were monthly, or as required. The wardens knew how much they wanted, and before the offerings were presented at the Holy Table, they would tilt the boxes and look at the coins to ascertain if there was sufficient. If the amount was notenough for their purposes they would proceed to collect from otherworshippers in Church.
CONSTABLES' TRUNCHEONS AND HAND-GRIPS
Three constables' truncheons and hand-grips were discovered in the old parish chest, which in 1909 had not been opened for 20 years, owing to the loss of the keys. They belong to the reigns of King George IV. (1820), King William IV. (1830), and Queen Victoria (1837).
These truncheons were assigned by the ruling monarchs to the High Sheriff of the county, who was entrusted with the execution of the law. The High Sheriff then handed over the truncheons to the squires of the villages, who, in turn, sought out some worthy villager to act as constable and keep order, presenting him with a truncheon, hand-grip and a key as aids to carrying out his duties.
The earliest constable's account book in the village chest at Newchurch is dated 1813.* *there is a list of the village constables available at Culcheth Library, dated 1665 - 1776
REGULAR "BOBBIES" AND "PEELERS"
It was Sir Robert Peel who introduced the improved system of police-first into Ireland as Secretary, by the institution of the regular Irish Constabulary, nick-named after him "Peelers", for the protectionof life and property, and later, both during the reign of Queen Victoria,he introduced a Bill in Parliament establishing the Metropolitan Police,followed in due course by the extension of the principle to the provinces- by the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 to boroughs, and by Actsof 1839 and 1840 the formation of a paid county police force waspermitted by the Justices, and made compulsory after an interval of15 years by the Police Act of 1856.
Originally intended maybe as acompliment to Sir Robert Peel, police officers are still occasionallyspoken of as "Bobbies". It was not, however, until 1909 that thethree old truncheons and hand-grips which had been previously used inthe village, were presented to the Rector and Wardens by the ParishCouncil of Culcheth for safe keeping in the vestry of the Parish Church.
Cheyvonne Bower is a local historian with a passion for the past. A member of Manchester & Lancashire Family History Society.