The history of St Laurence's church in Frodsham
- Credit: James Balme
Our history man visits the Church of St Laurence, where the parish notes have many an interesting tale to tell
Frodsham, with a wonderful history, is a fascinating Cheshire market town of Saxon origin. However, the area around nearby Helsby Hill is the location of an early Iron Age promontory fort and the outline of the hill fort can still be seen in the landscape today.
Frodsham is mentioned in the Domesday book of 1086 and in the year 1093, Hugh Lupus, second Norman Earl of Chester gave the tithes of the Norman church in Frodsham to the abbot of St Werburgh’s, Chester. Frodsham was indeed a very important manor to the medieval Earls of Chester and by the early 13th century it was to become a borough. Between 1160 and 1180 the Earl of Chester himself would occasionally reside at Frodsham.
As with many villages and towns across Cheshire, it is the church that holds many clues and historical information to the ancient past of the area and Frodsham is no exception with the magnificent 12th-century St Laurence standing proudly on a rocky sandstone outcrop overlooking the town below.
The structure of the church we see today dates back to the year 1180, and it’s interesting to note that in 1209 the first vicar was named Ralph de Frodesham.
St Laurence’s has a great story to tell of the longevity of some of its parishioners from centuries gone by. Within the church records at Frodsham there is a note concerning four very special burials. The first entry records that one Thomas Hough was buried on the 13th of March 1592 at the age of 141 years. Was this his real age or did the clerk recording the entry that day make an error? The following day, the 14th of March 1592, a Randle Wall was buried at the grand old age of 103.
On the 15th of April 1695, Margaret Knowles de Helsby died at the age of 107. During the 18th century, one more special burial took place at St Laurence’s when on the 21st of November 1791, Thomas Blain was laid to rest in the churchyard aged102. It seems that if you wanted a long life, Frodsham was the place to be.
My film, Taking the High Ground shot at St Laurence’s Church in Frodsham can be viewed for free with many other local history films by visiting my channel, youtube.com/Tvpresenter4history.
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Look out for
Helsby Hill Fort – once part of an Iron Age promontory fort
The 12th-century church of St Laurence
Medieval stone coffin in St Laurence’s churchyard
Medieval stone cross base with copper sundial, dated 1879