The official website for the historic village of Hale
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The Home Of John Middleton
The Childe Of Hale
St Mary`s church is situated just outside the centre of Hale Village, along
Church Road. The church is made of sandstone and the main building
has been altered over the centuries.
St Mary`s is situated on the site of a former chapel which was built in -
1081 by Johannes De Hiberniaother wise known as John Of Ireland
who was buried there in 1088. The original graveyard which is totally
square has two enterences at the south and north, and enterence is
gained via two wooden arched latched gates.
The original graveyard is surrounded by an ancient sandstone wall, but
over the last 30 years it has been extened into an adjacent field.
The earliest graves in St Mary`s date as far back as the 18th century,
but the Childe of Hale`s (John Middleton) grave dates far back as 1623.
There are two graves in the intereior of St Mary`s, one of these is of -
John Irelande who was intered into the church in 1462.
A monument was built in memory of John Ireland, but this has dissapeared around 1758 when the body of the church was rebuilt.
Very little is known about the early church, as there are no
records. The church was dedicated to St Mary, and in 1308
Adam Ireland built a new isle and also restored the stained
glass windows. Around 1380 John Leyot a churchman at Hale
obtained a licence from Pope Urban VI to found a charity chapel
wich was to be built to the church by him, John Leyot died in 1428
and was buried in Hale Church Chancel. His tombstone was
removed in 1758 by those rebuilding the church as the Minister
thought it unsuitable for protestant congregation. The very early
chapel was replaced by a new one during the 14th century, the
present tower you see today is of that period, the 14th century,
but the body has been replaced at least once. The sandstone
tower at one point was pinnacled but at some point was removed.
In and around the walled churchyard you can see at least two engraved sandstone slabs,
in the stone wall, indicating when the old churchyard has been extened. These are
located at the rear of the churchyard in the middle of the stone wall at the back of the
Ireland Blackburnes grave facing the now, Jubilie Bridge, the other engraved stone is in the
wall nearest the large Yew tree's, facing the Manor House.
Looking closely at these stones, it is clear to see that they are a slightly different color to
the original sandstone wall, you can also notice in places how the new parts of the wall
have been constructed .
The last alterations that were done to the church were around 1971, of which I have some
memories of. These including an oak and glass screen beneath the gallery which was to
form the western rooms, a toilet and a reception room were incorperated into the front of
the church. The church had been altered many times, including the previous alterations
mentioned in 1971.
But six years later in 1977 on the evening of 19th 0ctober, all the grandure and living
history of Hale church was to be destroyed in a devastating blaze. As can be seen in the
photograph on the right, only the sandstone building remained, all the furnishings had been
Over two years passed as St Mary`s was rebuilt, but for the first 12 months the church
was an open shell, and lay victim to the elements of the weather, and legal considerations
regarding the insurance had to be discussed. Not only was insurance
discussed but also design problems arose such as the roof.
The original roof was too steep and was putting too much pressure on the side walls of
the building. The end product was that the roof was lowered several feet, and you can
see today the marks on the tower were the original roof was. With all the problems
overcome,, finally on May 28th 1980 the reconsecration of Hale Church took place by the
then David, Lord Bishop of Liverpool...
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As mentioned above, there are two graves intered into the church. The second grave belongs to the Rev. Francis Ellison. In 1758 the old wattle daub body of the church was demolished and rebuilt, this took place while Rev Ellison was minister., an inscription was placed above the south enterence of the church in memory of the event. Rev, Ellison died in 1772 and was buried in front of the pulput where his worn
grave stone is/was.