On 12 May 2019 Greg, Peter, and I drove from Manchester to Liverpool, forty miles to the west. Charlotte stayed behind to catch up with one of her English friends. We visited St Helens, the Walker Art Gallery, a National Trust property called Speke Hall, and St Mary’s Church Hale.
There’s a family connection. Greg’s 3rd great grandfather James Cross (1791 – 1853) was from Windle, near St Helens, about half-way between Liverpool and Manchester (see ‘W is for Windle‘), and some of his forebears were from Hale.
It was a perfect spring day, and the countryside looked very pretty. We drove to St Helens, our first stop, wondering where the grimy industrial North had got to. Not a satanic mill in sight…
The Parish Church of St Helens associated with James Cross and his family burned down in 1916. However, the rebuilt church was open, with Sunday morning service just about to begin. We talked to a few people, all of them very friendly and welcoming.
In Liverpool we drove past the docks to get to the city centre. The enormous port handles about a third of England’s sea-cargo. (L is for leaving Liverpool)
The Walker Art Gallery has a splendid collection of pre-Raphaelite and other Victorian art, much of which we had seen in reproduction. It was great fun to see familiar works for real, close-up.
On the walk to the gallery we passed crowds of football fans on their way to the stadium, singing their team songs. There’s footy crowds in Australia, of course, especially in Victoria, where we live, but not much singing. A pity. A large number of voices raised in unison can be very stirring.
In the afternoon we visited the National Trust property of Speke Hall, a wood-framed wattle-and-daub Tudor manor house. It was presented as it had been used in Victorian times. For afternoon tea, I tried the National Trust tea-room’s local delicacy Wet Nelly, a bread and butter pudding. My own is better, says Greg.
On our way back to Manchester we visited the pretty village of Hale, ten miles or so up the Mersey estuary, home of Greg’s Bailey forebears. At the door of St Mary’s Church were Bailey headstones. Unfortunately these were not those of Greg’s fourth great grandparents Ellen Bailey née Swift (1771 – 1836) and her husband Thomas Bailey (1759 – 1843), but an Ellen Bailey who died in 1830 and a Thomas Bailey who died 1858. I shall have to work out if and how these Baileys are related. Even so, coming across the Bailey headstones was a bit of family history serendipity.