Many old towns and villages in this country possess a lot of history with their interesting streets and alleyways etc. (If only walls could talk!)

The streets of Ellesmere for instance would be built clustered around the church of St Mary’s and the once proud castle that stood on the higher ground of the town. Names such as Watergate Street, Church Street, Church Hill, Sandy Lane, Love Lane, and Birch Road are so familiar to the residents of Ellesmere.

(In my opinion, when the new supermarket was opened and the canal area in the town was smartened up a few years ago it has really enhanced the town). St John’s Hill in Ellesmere has been recognised as far back as the 1200s. The Lords of the Manor mentioned in past times were Llywellyn and Joan, his wife, who was it seems referred to as being ‘the Lady of Wales’. These noted dignitaries separated the manor and bestowed it to the Knights Hospitallers of St John. As a result of this move, Ellesmere was then to be made up of two manors. This was to carry on until the Egertons were to become Lords of the Manor and once again it appears the town came together as one manor again.

Before the age of canals (1797) the majority of houses in Ellesmere were thatched and constructed of timber. Copnall’s shop in the town had retained the somewhat old manifestation resembling a prominent medieval similarity. In the main from the1830s, the buildings were showing more sign of modern brickwork due to renovation and replacement etc in the town.

A noted residence known in Ellesmere is Sheraton House. This house was given its name by Captain Adam upon purchase of the property from Mr McIntyre. A Mr Sheraton it appears was clerk to the Bridgewater Estates in Ellesmere. His widow at one time resided in the house even though the property was not under the ownership of the estate. It has been described as a beautiful house and there was a probability of it being built during the mid-1700s. Some alterations it seems have been executed over the years. The adjoining ancient barn and coach-house are said to be a great deal older than the house.

Another well-known house in the town refers to the Hill. There is a possibility it could have once been under the ownership of a family known as the Walfords or maybe from Frankton the Harris family. It is almost certain a Mrs Harris lived here with her daughters at the onset of the 1800s. According to recollections, the church minister of Dudleston and Welshampton Evan Evans (a man who lived to a great age) lived as a “mess-mate” at a house in Church Street with the Walfords. On Sundays he would pay undivided attention to his parishes. On weekdays he would spend much of his time paying visits to Sally Harris at the Hill of whom he was engaged to. While there, they would have supper and play card games of whist. Unfortunately, they were never to be married. It seems the consideration was as regards Sally, she was “to be too delicate to be married”.

The Hill was transformed into a Ladies Academy when the Harris family moved out. In 1831, Miss Young and fifteen other ladies resided with a manservant at the Hill. Another person who had lived at the house in the 1800s was a Francis Walker. This was the Bailiff of Ellesmere who dared to challenge the Earl’s agent for some reason. For this, misdemeanour, Francis Walker was cautioned. Surgeon Gwynne was also to the live at the Hill. However, he later moved to Church Street upon his marriage to a Miss Walker. On his retirement there was another relocation to the Isle of Man where Surgeon Gwynne died in his nineties.

The Hill had been sold by the Gwynnes the Reverend SH Burrows who was a curate who was married to the daughter of a vicar whose surname was Cotton. After extensive building work, the house was virtually rebuilt and restyled in 1859. On the western side of the property there was a prominence of the fives court and an observation tower. Not too long ago, the gardens of the house were used for the creation of St John’s Crescent.

Opposite the aforementioned houses were some cottages. Six cottages were given to Vicar Cotton by Earl Bridgewater. Subsequently the Vicar then had the cottages pulled down in order to create a larger garden which would then reach as far as Pinfold Lane. This Vicar was most enthusiastic about planting a variety of different trees in his garden.

Up till the mid-1840s, the Vicarage’s sole entrance was from Pinfold Lane. At that time, the garden of the Vicarage did not possess any form of terrace. Later on, a man by the name of Egerton took on the role of Vicar. Countess Bridgewater allowed him £1,000 in order to make certain improvements to the Vicarage. Unfortunately, the Reverend Egerton’s stay in Ellesmere was short one and he departed from his post before work on the new drawing room at the Vicarage was completed. Nevertheless, the gardens had been terraced; another driveway had been completed for the house being routed from Church Hill. There were also stables and a coach house. (I am not absolutely certain, but it seems the previous resident clergyman used some stables on Sandy Lane). Church Hill was it appears upgraded to some standard or other. This appears to have created a situation whereas the stability of the church foundations etc was threatened from 1845 to 1885!

The next Vicar of Ellesmere (a close friend of the Vicar Egerton) was an unpaid curate by the name of Mr Day. Vicar Day was a man of high energy and avid enthusiasm. From 1847-8 he was the man responsible for the instigation of the church at Ellesmere being fully restored. He also instigated the creation of a school for boys made of a wooden construction. Called Middle School, it was situated where St Mary’s Cottage was built at a later date. Vicar Day employed the services of a Master and aide for his own pupils and many would achieve places in Oxford and Cambridge Universities. One of them was to later become the Sainted Bishop of Lincoln, Edward King. Mr Day also encouraged rowing for his pupils when granted permission to use the mere.

A John Peake who was eventually to replace Mr Day as Vicar played a large part in educating the pupils at the school. It just so happened that the son of John Peake, Harold was to later become quite famous as a President of the Archaeology and Anthropology Associations etc. Harold Peake was heavily involved with the book series “Corridors of Time”. In his younger years, Harold was trained on the Bridgewater Estate as a land surveyor and progressed successfully thereon. He was very involved in the organisation of clubs, societies and museums. Eventually it seems when he married, he moved to Berkshire.

The Mount in Ellesmere in situated on Pinfold Lane in the vicinity of St John’s Hill almost opposite the past entrance to the original Vicarage. It is possible it was erected with its impressive shrubberies and gardens etc by Thomas Maddocks. It was eventually sold with three cottages to Major Dymock who lived at Penley Hall. The cottages were then pulled down by the Major thus extending the garden area as far as the coach-house. It appears the Dymocks and the Lelands lived at the Mount at a later date.