The History of the Parish

The History of the Parish

The ancient Parish of Thurstaston lies some fifteen miles from Chester and historically is centred on a quiet village just off the now busy A540; the area overlooks the Dee Estuary and North Wales coast. Thurstaston, whose name is recorded in the Domesday Book as 'Turstanetone', remains to this day a tranquil and picturesque place for its many visitors and a gateway to the nearby Wirral Country Park and Thurstaston Hill.
 
The area has an ancient history; in the last few years a probable Iron Age site oval enclosure has been identified and a Romano-British site has been partially excavated in Mill Hill Road, Irby, revealing possible Iron Age and Romano-British evidence as well as the Roman settlement.
 
Much has been written about the Viking origin of many of the place names in the Wirral. Perhaps the most credible of these referring to Thurstaston and Irby are; 'Torstein's Tun' - the farm of a farmer named Torstein, and Irby, the settlement of the Irish.  The latter refers to research that suggests that  Viking settlers around Dublin were made to leave and were then granted land in the are of what is now Irby.  A derivation 'Thor's Stone' for Thurstaston is almost certainly fanciful.  Thor's Stone on Thurstaston Common, once thought to be an ancient man-made feature is either a glacial erratic, a result of weathering of the bedrock of the hill or most likely the site of a small quarry. The origin of Thurstaston Hall, which stands next to the Church, can be traced to A.D. 1070; in this year Hugh Lupus presented the manor house, which had formerly belonged to Levenot (a Saxon?), and other estates in Wirral and North Wales to his relative, Robert de Rodelent. Samuel Bagshaw, writing in 1850, describes the Hall as an 'ancient structure with gables and bay windows, the seat of John B. Glegg Esq.'  He also mentions that additions and alterations were made to the Hall in 1836, creating the East Wing of the house.  The central part of the Hall bears the date 1680 and the entrance goes back even further to 1350; the origins of the Hall are mediaeval.
 
Dawpool Manor is part of the history of Thurstaston village, though sadly it no longer exists.  It was designed by Norman Shaw in 1884 and eventually became the home of Thomas Henry Ismay (1837-1899) who retired to Thurstaston after 40 years of business life, during which time he founded the firm of Ismay Imrie & Co and became the chairman of the White Star Shipping Line. When he died, his estate was estimated to be worth £1½ million.  Wealthy and influential, Ismay was able to move the main Heswall to West Kirby road, which came too close to the doorstep of his mansion, by means of a cutting through Thurstaston Hill.  The White Star Line owned the Titanic, a connection that brings many visitors to Thurstaston and the family tomb each year.
 
The  Parish of Thurstaston has grown considerably over the years and most of Irby now lies within the Parish boundary. Tangible proof of this is provided by the Thurstaston war memorial which unusually has more names inscribed for the Second World War than it does for the First World War.  In recent years, new development in housing in Irby has pushed the population of the Parish to around 7000. The daughter church of St. Chad, Roslin Road, Irby, serves the need of a growing population in the Irby area and was built in 1967 with the generous assistance of many parishioners.  Again supported by many very generous benefactors, this church has recently been considerably enlarged to cater for the growing congregation.
 
The Domesday Entry for Turstanetone: 'The same Robert (Robert de Rodelent) holds Turstanetone, and William holds in under him.  There are two hides assessable; in desmesne is one; and there are two herdsmen, four villagers, and four borderers, who have one carucate and a half.  It was valued at thirty shillings and afterwards at eight, and is now worth sixteen.' Translation from Mortimer's  'The History of the Hundred of Wirral' Published in 1847.