THE lych gate is the entranceway to St Oswald’s Parish Churchyard in Oswestry and to the old grammar school, situated just off Upper Brook Street.

The gate was first mentioned in 1594, when the churchwardens hired Mr Gruffyth ap Roger to install four stays. Subsequent mentions of the gate are made in 1599, 1604, 1605 and 1608, when Messrs David ap Owen, Richard Gruffyth, Hugh Lewys and Ellis ap John were hired to maintain the construction of railings and to provide other general cleaning work.

One question pertaining to the nomenclature of the gate springs to light. Many hundred years ago, the gate was also known as the ‘griddle gate’, which itself derives from the Medieval term of ‘grille’ or ‘grilled doorway’.

A grilled doorway was usually a common feature with monastic properties, but records of market activity and the construction of a stay – to prevent cattle from roaming towards the yard – suggest that the gate actually incorporated some kind of cattle grid, possibly suggesting that this is the origin of the term ‘griddle gate’. As of 2005, the etymology of the name remains a mystery.

The date plaque on the gate indicates that the lych gate was built in 1631, which begs the question of – was the ‘griddle gate’ the same gate as the lych gate, or a predecessor?

Only a payment made by the churchwardens in 1588 for “boorde nayles and a boorde for the portch next to the Schole house” gives any official indication as to the possible location of the griddle gate.

No parish records, churchwarden records, Oswestry School records or Oswestry Corporation records give any further description and so, begs the next question – who was the gate built for? The church or the grammar school?

The lych gate was refurbished between 1994 and 1995, with some of the decaying timber-work being replaced. Some of the timber-work removed included four sets of initials, which provide a clue as to the ownership of the gate.

If the gate was built for the grammar school – another question also raised – there would only have been two sets of initials for the two bailiffs of the town, as the grammar school was owned and operated by the Oswestry Corporation at the time; the four sets could belong to the four churchwardens for the year of 1631, as was a common feature on other church property, including the pillars at the Broadwalk Gates.

The initials are: ‘IG’, ‘HI’, ‘TI’ and ‘RI’. If anyone has any idea who these initials could belong to, we would love to know.

Our source concludes that the gate was built for St Oswald’s Parish Church, but any further information would be most useful to confirming this claim.


Oswestry Parish Church, the churchwardens’ accounts for 1579-1613 [Pages 25, 52, 83, 119, 126 and 162], by W. Day (1970);

Oswestry Parish, Church and People [Pages 16-18], by John Pryce Jones (2005); and

n British Listed Buildings