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Thelwall 2023: A City of Dreams

todayThursday 27 April

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The Lost City

Neatly located between Lymm and Grappenhall lies the mysterious, yet charming village of Thelwall.

With its pleasing range of pretty buildings, a national monument, exciting tales of witchcraft at the old White House and other ghostly goings-on, we thought we’d take a closer look at our neighbouring village.

One thing’s for sure.  There’s a lot more to Thelwall than the famous viaduct!  Although, if you are interested in finding out more about the viaduct check out our post:  10 Questions About the Thelwall Viaduct (because you asked). 

You don’t need a Cathedral to build a city – just a decent pub!

1: Thelwall – Smallest City in England?

It would be lovely to think that Thelwall is the smallest City in England, let alone that it is a City at all.

But unfortunately, these claims have long been lost in historical translation.

What we do know is that in 923 AD, just a few months before his death, Edward the Elder (who was then King of the Anglo Saxons) ordered a burh – a fortified garrison – to be built as a defence against the Danes in Thelwall. 

It seems that the word ‘burh’ has been loosely translated over the generations – and somehow led to Thelwall being called a City.

But nevertheless, locals are rightly proud of their City status – and even celebrate this with an inscription above the doors of the Pickering Arms pub: “In the year 920 King Edward the Elder founded a city here and called it Thelwall”.

Something to contemplate as you enjoy a pint or two!

Incidentally, even if Thelwall was a City, it wouldn’t actually be the smallest in England.  That claim fairly and squarely goes to the City of London – an area which is even smaller than Thelwall!

At 11p per crossing, the ferry is cheaper than the Warburton Bridge!

2:  The Penny Ferry

Take a short stroll down to the end of Ferry Lane and you’ll find the Manchester Ship Canal. 

You’ll also discover a unique part of living history in the form of the Penny Ferry.  A small 4 seat aluminium rowing boat that carries passengers from one side of the canal to the other.

The ferry service has been in constant operation since the canal opened in 1894 – and is currently operated by ferryman Kevin Wilkinson between 7am and 6pm, when there is demand (though it has to be said, there isn’t a great deal to see in the immediate area once you alight at Woolston).

The crossing is no longer 1p however.  It’s now 11p.  But that’s inflation for you!

3:  Public Houses & Entertainment

For such a small village, you are not short on options when it comes to eating, drinking and entertainment.

The iconic and much-loved Pickering Arms has been a focal point of the village since the 16th Century and is very popular with visitors and locals alike.  It’s a cosy, old-fashioned pub with exposed oak beams, open fires and a warm welcome from the family team.

You’ll find plenty of comfortable nooks and crannies to sit and enjoy a drink – or for something to eat.  The food is very good here, above average pub grub.

The Little Manor, just down the road is a 17th Century manor house which once home to the Percival family.  It’s now a splendid gastropub offering highly-rated food and drink options.  They offer alfresco dining in the lovely gardens when weather permits – and interestingly, also offer an extensive gluten free menu too.

The Little Manor is far from little – but is often fully booked at weekends, so best to book in advance.

Just across the road you’ll find the Grappenhall & Thelwall British Legion – a members social club offering a range of activities including snooker, darts, quiz nights, stage entertainment and bingo.  They show live SKY and BT sport and have a well-stocked bar serving cask ales.

Non-members are welcome.

The club is also home to the Bridgewater Players, a long established am-dram society, originally formed in Lymm in the 1950’s.  The society present three full-length productions every year to packed out audiences.

The Old Farmhouse – the most expensive property in Thelwall

4: Historic Buildings

Take a stroll through Thelwall and you’ll understand why it has been designated a Conservation area.

Just across from the Pickering Arms, is the picture-perfect old post office – now a private home – and directly outside, a grade 2 listed cast iron K2 telephone box (and guess what, the telephone still works!) 

This area was the heart of the village until the mid 1950’s.  There’s still a post office in Thelwall – it’s now in the convenience store on Barley Mow Road.

Half way down Ferry Lane you’ll see Thelwall Old Hall.  A fine, grade 2 sandstone house which dates back to the mid-17th Century.

Perhaps the most pleasing sight is the timber-framed Old Hall Farmhouse which you see on the approach to the village from Lymm.  A very fine-looking building indeed – and actually, the most expensive property in Thelwall.  It last sold in 1998 for £265,000 – but probably worth five times more by now, if not more!

In the grounds of Chaingley School there’s remains of an embankment which are thought to have formed part of the fortifications.  These remains (sadly not accessible to the public) have been designated National Monument status by English Heritage.

There’s been many ghostly sightings in Thelwall

5 Witches and Ghosts

A village so steeped in history, you’d perhaps expect tales of paranormal activity and there appears to be no shortage of ghostly sightings, particularly between the Little Manor and Ferry Lane.  Legend has it that at one time, witches cast spells and danced around the well at the Old White House, just outside the village. 

Unfortunately, very little documented evidence exists, but if you can add to our story please get in touch as we all love a good ghost story!

It’s a pleasant 1.2m walk along the Manchester Ship Canal to Lymm

6  Walks

Just beyond Thelwall Old Hall there’s a kissing gate which takes you to an expanse of countryside bordering the Manchester Ship Canal.

It’s a pleasant area for dog walking and horse trekking, though the pathways are often muddy in winter and overgrown in summer.

It is however, perfectly possible to walk to Lymm directly from here – a 1.2 mile route which follows the Ship Canal and under the Thelwall Viaduct, ending up just by Statham pools in Lymm.

Best time to do this walk is early spring before the brambles grow too much!  A pleasant walk all the same.

7: Local Shops

Until the 1950’s the centre of the village was around the Post Office.  In modern times, a parade of shops was built on Barley Mow Road.

Thelwall isn’t exactly a shopping destination – though it does have a small convenience store (which also houses the new post office), a beauty salon, hairdressers – and even a funeral parlour!  On a brighter note, there’s also a pizza takeaway which sells ice cream too!

So, as you can see Thelwall is well worth a visit!  If you’d like to share your experiences and knowledge, please do so in your comments below and we’ll add to this article as time progresses!

Written by: ian

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