The village of Churton

Area 412.6 hectares.

Population Census 2001: 268


Location
The tranquil leafy village of Churton lies 14 km south of Chester. It is 2 km kilometers (km) north of the small town of Farndon and 3 km south of the village of Aldford on the B5130 in southwest Cheshire.

The village nestles on the eastern side of the River Dee. The farmland surrounding the village is owned by two large estates; The Grosvenor Estate dominates the ownership of farmland in Churton by Aldford, and the Bamston Estate owns most of the land in Churton by Farndon area. The village is a commuter hamlet for people working in the near-by cities and towns of Chester, Liverpool, Manchester, Warrington and Wrexham.
Most of the buildings located within the central area of Churton, are today, part of a Chester County Council designated conservation area.
The 1971 census records that Churton by Farndon covered an area of 180 hectares and contained 40 households


Historical boundaries of the village

Today Churton is a small village with its own parish boundaries. Historically Churton has been referred to as two townships, Churton by Aldford and Churton by Farndon. Churton by Aldford is part of the ecclesiastical parish of Aldford, whilst the township of Churton by Farndon is part of the ecclesiastical parish of Farndon.


The origins for the division of Churton into two townships go back to the eleventh century. It has been suggested that in 1086 Aldford was originally part of the moiety of the manor held by Earl Edwin and Bigot. Churton by Farndon was a moiety belonging to the Bishop of Chester. The north south dividing line of this ecclesiastical boundary is formed by Knowl Lane, Hob Lane, and Pump Lane. The separation of the Aldford moiety into a district parish probably took place early in the twelfth century when, at the time, Churton was also believed to have divided by a parish boundary along the lines of a manorial border. Until the early twentieth century, the remains of steps of an ancient cross, which marked the boundaries of the manors of Aldford and Farndon, could still be seen. These steps were situated at the confluence of Pump Lane and the main road through the village. Unfortunately, today there is no trace of this boundary marker.

The Village

The village comprises principally of one street (B5130) running south to north, which is traversed obliquely by Pump lane and Hob Lane running east to west. At the very centre of the village and situated at the convergence of these roads, is the village public house -The White Horse whose current proprietors are Irene and Tony Jones. Originally there were two village public houses; in addition to an older version of the White Horse there was also the Red Lion. The Red Lion is now a private residence and a Grade II listed building situated almost adjacent to the present White Horse Inn.


Churton is somewhat unique amongst Cheshire villages in not possessing an Anglican Church. A small Methodist Church was established inl832. The church was known as Churton Primitive Methodist Chapel, and was used by parishioners until 1993. After 1993 the church became a private residence. An inscription on the gable of the former church can still be read, "My House shall be called the House of Prayer for all people". Parishioners living north of Pump Lane and Hob lane were obliged to attend Sunday services at the Anglican church of St John The Baptist in Aldford. Whilst those living geographically south of these lanes were instructed to attend St Chad's Anglican church in Farndon.


The Grosvenor Estate built a village school for the infants of local people. The school hall subsequently became a mission hall for St John the Baptist Church in Aldford. The sandstone school hall is the meeting place for Parish Council Meetings and the venue for practice sessions of the local Farndon and District Brass Band.


During the first sixty years of the twentieth century Churton was able to support its own Brass Band. Sadly, this musical institution no longer exists. Churton also had its own Football Club, but the club today, like its brass band - is no longer in existence.


Buildings in Churton

Possibly the oldest existing building in the village is Churton Hall, which is the ancestral home of the Bamston Family. Churton Hall is a; Grade II listed building, a farm, and the home (since 1945) of the Crump Family. Churton Hall was described in the 1882 edition ofOrmerod as being an "Ancient timber mansion, environed with stately trees, and though long abandoned to farmers retaining much of its former respectable appearance" The double gabled house has an inscribed date above the front door of 1569 . The date of 1569 is preceded and succeeded by the initials W ? and E ? respectively. These letters refer to William Bamston (died 1620) and his wife Elizabeth Bamston. The front wall of the house has two oval tablets one bearing the arms of the Bamston family. The other tablet illustrates the crest of the Bamston family. Prior to the Crump family taking over the Hall, it has also been (at different times) the home of the Bellis family and the Parker family.

The Red Lion Public House dates back to the early 17th century. Originally the pub had a thatched roof. At sometime in the twentieth century the thatched roof was burnt.


Cherry Tree Cottage on Chester Road now comprises of three cottages made into one house. Cherry Tree Cottage encloses a primitive 'A' frame Cruck. The Cruck was an early form of roof truss. Part of this building is dated as being built in 1650.


The present day adjacent dwellings of Sibbersfield Hall and Sibbersfield House were originally built as one house (Sibbersfield Hall) in the early eighteen seventies for the Parker family Farndon. The winner of the 1870 Chester Cup 'Our Mary Ann' was trained in the vicinity and today, a gilded model of the horse can be seen mounted on the top of The Hall clock tower. Sibbersfield Hall was sold in 1975. Its contents were auctioned. The new owner divided the Hall into Sibbersfield Hall and Sibbersfield House. The servant's quarters were converted into what is now Sibbersfield House. Over the past thirty years the gatehouse, some stables and outbuildings have also been converted into private dwellings.


Rowley Place. A row of four late Victorian terraced houses was built in 1889.


Church Farm (now a collection of private residences called Churchmead) is dated as being built in 1682.

The Restored village Pump.

A millennium project has recently been completed. This operation took longer than anticipated. The project to restore the iron pump and to get it working was initiated in 1999. The restored village pump and its up-graded surrounding granite setts were officially unveiled in 2005.

Communications

Today Churton is serviced by the B5130 road, which is the main road through the village, and the minor road to Coddington. These roads allow road traffic into and out of the village. An infrequent public bus service exists and the bus stop is located outside the former Red Lion public house. Generally, the inhabitants of Churton are dependent upon the car for transport to work and domestic duties such as shopping.


However in previous times Churton had additional modes of communication available to its inhabitants. The village is exactly 8 km from the old Waverton railway station and 8 km from the former railway station at Broxton. Both stations served the London and North Western Railway.


This railway line disappeared with the Beeching cut backs of the 1960's.


Until the outbreak of World War I, the Almere ferry across the river Dee was available to the villagers of Churton, the ferryman being one Neddy Williams. Neddy would be summoned by calling across the Dee to the Welsh side of the river. He would row people (but not cattle) across the Dee in a flat-bottomed boat. Neddy, apparently, did not charge for this service.

Village Development

Monitoring the development and growth of the village is difficult. Indications of the
increase in population can be gleaned by consulting the census returns and by researching
ordnance survey maps.


The Enumerator's Summary for the 5th of April 1851 shows that Churton had a
population of 191 males and 207 females, a total population of 398. The Enumerator in
1851 was one John Speed. He was a locally elected official who acted as village
constable, he dispensed funds to the poor and he also surveyed the condition of the roads.
Kelly's Directory for 1902 gives 1901 census population of Churton by Aldford as being 223 individuals. Churton by Farndon contains 126. A grand total of 349 people. This actually indicates a decline in Churton's population since 1851 when the census was compiled by John Speed.


The First Edition of the 1874 6" map shows that Churton by Aldford has an area of 574.264 acres (i.e. 232.4 hectares) (Whilst Churton by Farndon has an area of 445.396 acres, (i.e. 180.2 hectares)


In the 1874 (First Edition) ordnance survey map the following buildings are clearly marked.
Churton Lodge Stannage Farm Churton Farm (now Churchmead)
Churton Hall Sibbersfield Hall The Smithy Grange Farm
The School (boys and girls) Red Lion Public House The Primitive Methodist Chapel
The streets of Knowl Lane and Hob Lane are clearly listed
The Third Edition (1911) Ordnance Survey map shows that Crab Tree Cottage has been built on Stannage Lane and that there is a gasometer in the grounds of Churton Lodge. Foxes Cottages are shown as being built just off, what is now New Lane. The village school is referred to as an Infant School. The following Churton residences have been built (this is not a definitive list) Kingsmead (1905), Pump Cottage, Churton Stud, White Horse Inn (the present building dates from 1902), Dee View, Rowley Place and all the present day houses found south of The White Horse which front the B5130.


Stannage Lane is marked and the map also shows part of Pump Lane as being called Marsh Lane. This road leads from the village pump, out of Churton towards Edgerley Lane and Coddington.

 

The Future of Churton Village


In the past twenty years Churton, like many small villages has lost some of its amenities. Churton's only chapel ceased to function in 1993.Its Post Office closed in 1997. The village has also lost its shop, which was situated at the junction of Pump Lane and the main Chester Road. The Village Hall is not used as much as it was in past years. The Village Hall had been used for several years as a crèche for young children. Currently, only the Farndon and District Brass Band regularly use the hall for their band practice once a week. The Parish Council holds their bi-monthly meetings in the hall. Until ten years ago, Churton had its own branch of the Women's Institute (W.I). Regrettably, the Churton W.I. is now no longer functioning.

There are relatively few inhabitants of Churton who can trace their ancestry with the
village. Most of the present day inhabitants have moved to the village from other regions
of the country.

Traffic through the village has been monitored and there is some considerable concern at the number of vehicles which pass through the village breaking the statutory speed limits.


The Parish Council has initiated plans to restore the village notice boards and to develop a small park for villagers to enjoy. Churton is a delightfully tranquil village with an abundance of charm and character. How the village will progress in the coming years will largely be determined by the actions of its inhabitants.