THE HISTORY OF LYMM
The name, Lymm is reputed to derive from one of two origins, one being from the Latin, limes meaning on the “limit” of the County of Chester, the other is thought to come from the Old English hlimme meaning “the torrent”, which possibly refers to the noise made by the stream on its course through the ravine in the middle of the village.
The earliest documented reference to Lymm is in the Domesday Book of 1086 AD, where the name appears as Lime, The place name also occurs as Limme (1194), Lymmya (1270) and Limb (1673) although its neighbour Thelwall is mentioned in the Anglo Saxon Chronicles of 923 AD.
Research undertaken in the 1990’s suggested that the Old Rectory, latterly the Dingle Hotel, which stood opposite the gates of Lymm Hall, incorporated the original Manor House, which was mentioned in the Domesday Book.
It is thought that in the 14th or 15th Century when the House became too small for the Lord of the Manor, he built a new Hall a few hundred yards away. This building, still standing, is now known as the Moat House and still shows architectural features of the period of its construction.
A new house was built in the Elizabethan Period and this forms the nucleus of the present Lymm Hall, although much altered in the Victorian period
George Ormerod in his History of the County Palatine and City of Chester published in 1832 says of Lymm Hall, “It is an ancient low building of stone, venerably grey with lichens, seated within the remains of a moat, on an eminence above the village, commanding an extensive view into Lancashire. The old bay windows, enriched by the late proprietor with ancient stained glass, are preserved in the entrance-hall, which is an interesting apartment, surrounded with family pictures. Soon afterwards many modern improvements were made in the building and it was enlarged and its ancient moat was entirely filled up”.
The Hall and Estate remained in the ownership of the Domville family for over 500 years. In 1316 the estate passed from Gilbert de Limme to Thomas Legh de West Hall, in High Legh, whose daughter Agnes married John Dumbill. The Dumbill (Domville) family originated in northern France and settled at Brimstage on the Wirral after the Norman Conquest. The Estate eventually passed to the Reverend Mascie Domville Taylor and on his death, it was broken up and sold in 1846.
The Hall has had several owners since the 1840’s, James Barratt and William Battersby being two who are remembered for their generosity to the Parish Church of St Mary. The Hall and. Moat House has been in the ownership of the Cotterill family since the early 1900’s and the Hall and stables have now been divided into several flats.
George Ormerod also wrote: – “Lyme exhibits a description of scenery varying altogether from either that of the neighbouring district or of the county in general. The surface consists chiefly of land sloping gently towards the flat on the banks of the Mersey, along with a small stream called the Dane, descends to a junction with that river, and for about one mile of its course exhibits traces of some early convulsion of nature in the form of a romantic valley, averaging about 100 feet in width, and enclosed in the lower part, between parallel ranges of perpendicular rocks about 60 feet in height. The commencement of the valley below the Church is covered by the waters of an unusually large mill dam of the proportions and appearance of a fine natural lake. From this the waters descend by a deep and rapid fall into a valley below of most exquisite beauty, the sides of which consist of rocks, the middle of the valley forming the bed of the stream, which tears through a variety of successive waterfalls. At the head of the stream, where the valley is widest, a great fall exhibits itself through the trees under an alpine bridge, over which the tower of the Church is seen in the distance.
The continuation of the valley is broken up by the intervention of the village, on the other side of which it recommences on a scale of considerable grandeur. The rocks, assuming a higher elevation, are more conspicuous objects, and are finely broken up by shrubs and evergreens, the space beneath being almost entirely occupied by water, with the exception of a small pathway, at the side of which, on the left, is another waterfall of great beauty and boldness, near which the valley turns to the north, and shortly afterwards ends partly as the stream issues into the line of meadows which extend to the Mersey below.”
Sir Peter Leycester, in his Antiquities of Cheshire, written in 1666, says:-
“Here hath been a Church before the Norman Conquest, for it appears by Domesday Book that in the Conqueror’s time Gilbert Venables, Baron Kinderton, held half of this town, which Ulviet formerly held. This is half a Church with half a virgate of land. And Osbern, son of Tezzon, held the other half. He was ancestor of the Boydells, of Dodleston. One Edward held it of him, and he too had half a church, and a priest, with half a virgate of land.” (It is difficult to say what might be the measure of the virgate of land in Lymm, as it differed in different places. In some it was 15 acres, in some 10, and in some 20, 25, 30, or even 40 acres. It was, however, arable, and, therefore, cultivated); so that, continues Sir Peter, “either lord had one half of the church; and so at this very day, i.e. in 1666, two parsons are presented to Limme, who supply the ministry there one on one Sunday and the other the next Sunday after, and so by course, Warburton, of Arley, being now patron of one moiety ( a half) of the said church, and Legh de West Hall, in High Legh, patron of the other moiety, and one parson has one half of the tythes of Limme, and the other parson hath the other half of the tythes. Gilbert de Limme released all his right in the advowson (the right to name the holder of a church benefice)of the moiety of Limme Church unto Thomas Legh de West Hall in High Legh in 1316since which time that family have continued their right of presenting to that moiety which I conceive was the moiety belonging to Gilbert Venables, in Domesday Book.”
The Warburton moiety appears to have been granted by charter, between 1209 and 1220, to Adam de Dutton, ancestor of the Warburtons, by Eda, daughter of Adam de Limme. This moiety of the advowson and its appurtenances was conveyed by R. E. Egerton Warburton, Esq.., of Arley, to G. C. Dewhurst, Esq., of Lymm, about 1868, and is attached to the Church of St Peter, Oughtrington, built by him. This arrangement of two rectors, after lasting for certainly more than 800 years, came to an end on the resignation of the Rev. T. R. Branfoot, a former Rector of Lymm (1863-81).
EARLY PARISH CHURCHES
Itis impossible to say when the first church at Lymm was built and equally impossible to say positively when it was taken down to make way for the second church; but from the fact that a church was in existence at the time of the Conquest, it is certain that it must have been designed in the Anglo-Saxon style of architecture, and was probably of considerable antiquity when Domesday Book was compiled. About that time most Anglo-Saxon churches were taken down and rebuilt, or otherwise extensively altered to that style of architecture introduced by the Conqueror and known as the Norman style, and it is probable that the second church was of that style and period. The second fabric was in its turn replaced by a structure designed in one of the earlier pointed styles of architecture, and architectural evidence goes to show that this third church was probably built towards the beginning of the fourteenth century, so that the second church must have been standing, at any rate, more than 300 years. It is interesting to know that at a considerable depth below the floor level of the present church, in preparing to underpin a portion of the western wall, which is, in fact, a part of the wall of the third church, the masons came across a moulded base, of deep red sandstone, which could have formed no part of that church, but which was probably a relic of the first or second structure. The carved head inserted in the south wall of the chancel, near the outer door of the vestry, is said to have been dug out of the foundations of the third church, and is also most likely a relic of the second church, if not of that standing at the time of the Conqueror. The third church, of which a portion in the form of an arch in the south wall of the decorated period of architecture, i.e. about 1320, probably the monument of some parishioner of importance, still remains, seems to have undergone much alteration from time to time and in the end consisted of a tower, nave, aisles, chancel and two chantry chapels. Of these latter, that on the north side was appropriated by the Lords of the Domville moiety of the manor, and that on the south side to the patron of the moiety of the advowson anciently attached to the same share of the manor. In the north chapel were fixed the hatchments of the Domville and Limme families. Over the door leading into the chancel was fixed an angel bearing the shield containing the arms of the Baron of Halton, or of Limme of Limme.
THE PRESENT CHURCH
In 1850, the building, having stood for over five centuries, was deemed to be inadequate for Lymm’s growing population and the then Rector, the Rev. W. McIver oversaw the rebuilding of body of the Church. The tower of 1521 was raised, but kept its original foundations causing it to become unsafe in 1887. The bed of sand on which it was built was considered too unstable and the whole tower was rebuilt resulting in the structure that can be seen today. The tower contains a clock and a peal of eight bells, the tenor being the heaviest in a Parish Church in Cheshire
THE GRAMMAR SCHOOL
Lymm Grammar School was founded c1597 by Sir George Warburton and W. Domville, the original building was situated adjacent to the Parish Church. A new school was built in 1885 on land donated by G. C. Dewhurst in Grammar School Road and in the1940’s the Governors authorised the purchase of Oughtrington Hall as an annexe to the Grammar School road site. The school moved completely to the Oughtrington Hall site in 1955 and Grammar School Road became the Lymm County Secondary Modern School. With the advent of Comprehensive Education the two schools amalgamated on the Oughtrington site, becoming Lymm High School and the old Grammar School was demolished to make way for modern housing.
TRANSPORT IN LYMM
As with any other rural community, the mode of transport up to the 18th Century was by foot for the majority and horseback or coach for the privileged few. This changed dramatically for Lymm in the mid 1760’s with the cutting of the Duke of Bridgewater’s Canal. This literally cut the Village in half and no doubt caused tremendous upheaval. Water transport opened up opportunities for the community and established relatively easy links to both Liverpool and Manchester.
The Warrington & Stockport Turnpike Trust built the toll road which passed through Lymm in 1824-5, resulting in the construction of Church Road crossing the Dam head, this dramatically altered the route between Lymm and Manchester. Prior to this the road had been via Eagle Brow, Pepper Street, Sutch Lane, Stage Lane, Warrington Lane and beyond to Altrincham.
The building of the road caused the valley to flood forming the Dam as seen today
With the advent of the railway in 1853, travel became fast and affordable encouraging factory owners and businessmen to re-locate to Lymm. The large Victorian houses in Brookfield Road and Church Road were built by them, providing more employment in their large households for local people.
Quick access to the large cities also enabled local farmers to send their fresh produce to market in a much shorter time
In 1894 the Manchester Ship canal passed to the north of Lymm and although didn’t contribute a great deal to the transport links for Lymm, there was a landing stage at Statham. Another effect of the canal’s cutting was to alter the boundary causing part of Statham to be absorbed into Woolston
INDUSTRIES IN LYMM
Lymm has always been, predominantly, an agricultural settlement, records exist relating to the extensive field systems which dominated the landscape. This remained the case until the mid 19th Century, when the industrial scene in Lymm changed dramatically with the introduction of Fustian Cutting. Space precludes the full description of the process here (further information can be obtained from the Lymm & District Local History Society on firstname.lastname@example.org ) woven cloth was brought to Lymm by canal and the “loops” of the material were cut using a purpose made long knife causing them to form a pile. The fustian was otherwise known as poor man’s velvet and was similar to corduroy. Nearly 50 % of the working population listed in the 1851 Census were employed in the Fustian trade working at home or in purpose built Fustian shops built as a row of terraced housing with the workshop above (examples can still be seen in Woodlands Avenue and also in Church Road)
There were several working quarries in Lymm, mostly to the south of Higher Lane (A56) none of which are still in use.
Gold Beating came to Lymm in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries and William Wright was a big employer of local people, the process is still carried out in Lymm to this day.
In 1910 salt was discovered in Heatley and Agden and huge quantities were extracted, it is estimated that there are approximately 10 million tons of salt reserves under Heatley, but extraction ceased in the late 1950’s, mainly due to the threat of large scale subsidence.
There have been several small scale industries in Lymm as in most communities, these range from Chemical Works, a Slitting Mill for the manufacture of iron nails and barrel hoops, file making, tool manufacture, basket making and numerous other small undertakings.
Crosses were once one of the commonest features of the English scene. Thousands were put up from the advent of Christianity until the Reformation in the Sixteenth Century, and they make a fascinating study. Roughly speaking, those erected before the Thirteenth Century were tall shafts set in sockets, with an actual cross at the top, such as those at Sandbach whereas in late medieval times they tended increasingly to be plain shafts, sometimes with masonry canopies, set at the top of steps. Clearly, that at Lymm belongs to the latter group, although it might possibly have replaced an older one.
But of course, it was a work of man, and, as such, has needed a little attention from time to time, the last substantial face lift was in 1897, when the top was slightly modified, C.E. Ardern, a historian from the late 19th Century, described the work as follows:-
“The steps of the Cross, which have been greatly worn away by successive generations of schoolchildren, were partly refaced and the worn steps cut out and replaced. The defective stones in the masonry of the Cross, especially the base shafts and the lower base of the central portion, were replaced by new stone to match the old…..” it goes on to say that the finials and gables were replaced by ones of “more appropriate design”, and that a new and much higher central finial and weather vane were added, together with the bronze sun-dials and commemorative panels which one now sees.
Ardern also remarked that the Cross had been “tinkered with several times during the last fifty years” (i.e. prior to 1897), and it was perhaps this “tinkering” which led a Mr. Bayley to write to the Manchester City News in the 1890’s:-
“The Cross remains practically as it was fifty years ago, with the exception of the two dials which used to be upon it, but are there no longer. Judging however, from the nondescript style of the present erection, it can hardly one would think, be older than Seventeenth Century work.” He ended with a remarkably modern thought:-
“As the present structure is in need of repair, it is desirable the Urban District Council should see to it without delay; and as such an old-time relic ought by all means to be preserved. I would like to suggest that it should be suitably railed in.”
In 1897, to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee, heed was taken of his first suggestion, but not, so far as we know, of his second. the tinkering still continued, as witness the gas illuminations of 1911.
There seems no justification for thinking that Mr. Bayley was right in ascribing a Seventeenth Century style to the Cross, although the finials he saw may well have been even later. Indeed, he himself had little doubt that the Cross had a more ancient origin, and one might indicate where one’s own sympathies lie by ending with a quotation from Rimmer’s”Ancient Stone Crosses of England”. Referring to Lymm, he wrote-
“The Crosses are called by local authorities Fourteenth Century work. There is nothing in the style of work to indicate their age with any kind of precision, but there is no reason to suppose the date is incorrect. History is silent regarding them.”
This is a brief history of the area and obviously is not totally comprehensive, further information can be obtained from the Lymm & District Local History Society on 01925754651 or email@example.com