St Wilfrid’s is now at the heart of the Grappenhall conservation area, with its pubs and cricket ground by the Bridgewater Canal. In the Doomsday Book (1086) Grappenhall was laid waste by 'the harrowing of the north', but the Normans were enthusiastic church builders, and early in the 12th century, local masons were commissioned to create a small stone church which today forms the foundation of the present, mostly 16th century, building.
The church has a plaque with a continuous record of Rectors of Grappenhall going back to Robert of Gropenhale, who witnessed a charter in 1189. Throughout the turmoil of the reformation, civil war and then the 20th century aerial bombing that hit much of the Mersey valley, Grappenhall people have treasured their church and protected it’s artefacts. Today, babies can be christened in the Norman (maybe Saxon) font, which was saved from destruction by being buried during the reformation. Visiting schoolchildren (and distinguished historians) can see the fragile windows that in 1316 the Boydell family installed to illustrate their honoured Saints.
Around the church there are reminders of the generosity of parishioners through the centuries, from the 12th century parish chest; the Jacobean oak table; the bells dating back to 1700; a fine 19th century oak carving depicting the Last Supper and a similarly oak carved lectern and pulpit. They provide tangible evidence that St Wilfrid’s continues to serve local people, and be cherished by them.
Visible on the tower is a relief sculpture of a 'Cheshire Cat' which may have inspired the young Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll), whose father was vicar of the nearby Daresbury church. There is an inverted V shaped marking on the tower showing where the roof beams of the original St Wilfrid’s School were attached in 1712.
This is an active and growing church with midweek as well as Sunday services. Everyone is very welcome during the day, 7 days a week. Children love our knitted mouse trail!
Walkers along the Cross Pennine Trail or the Bridgewater Canal footpath may enjoy eating their lunch in our new annexe.