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St Oswalds Church

The church lies in the heart of the village of Bidston on school lane.  The  village of Bidston was
mentioned in the Domesday book written in 1086, as a part of the manor of Eastham.  Records exist
of a church in Bidston from at least 1150, though we do not know what kind of building it was back
then or what it was used for.  Travelling from Birkenhead in the east, the visitor passes Bidston Hill
and Observatory and descends to see the church at the bottom of the hill, sitting on a steep grassy
bank and surrounded by farm buildings left largely unchanged for over a hundred years. From the
south-west, the tower is visible for a mile or so from the road which runs alongside the area now
known as Beechwood and which was named the Ford Estate when it was built in the early 1970s to
re-house the inhabitants of the North End of Birkenhead when a large number of houses were
demolished.   

It has been confirmed that a church was in existence in Bidston when Birkenhead Priory was
founded in the middle twelfth century.  The church was re-built around the middle of the thirteenth
century and the tower added in 1520.  The church eventually fell into disrepair and was rebuilt again
in 1856.  The tower still stands today and is the only part of the church structure that dates back to
before 1856.  This is the tower which still stands today and which is the only part of the present-day
church dating back to the previous church.  

It is likely that the tower contained bells in the sixteenth century and that these were replaced by a
ring of three cast in 1615.  One of these is said to have come originally from the Shrine of St
Hildeburgh on Hilbre Island, which lies off the north-west tip of the Wirral Peninsula at the north end
of the Dee Estuary. These bells were replaced by a ring of five, cast by Mears and Stainbank, in
1868. The treble was added in 1882.

The present dedication of the church - Saint Oswald - arises from an inscription on one of the old
bells. The original dedication was not known and it was assumed from this inscription that the patron
saint was Oswald.  The church was therefore formally dedicated to Saint Oswald in 1882. However,
since the bell in question had actually been brought from St Oswald's Church in Chester, it appears
that the assumption may have been unfounded.
Below:  The tower at St Oswalds, which
is the oldest part of the building
remaining today.
Below:  the front of the pulpit is this figure
of St Oswald.
Below:  One of the spectacular stain
glass windows at St Oswalds.
Left: The
entrance
Left:  The entrance way to St Oswalds
and date stone above the door way
which clearly shows "rebuilt in 1856"
and one below a little less clear.
Left:  View of the impsoing Beechwood estate
from the top of the tower.

Below: St Oswalds today from School Lane.
Left:  View from the top of St
Oswalds tower facing back
showing the grave yard.
Photograph by Rob Morsley.
Photograph by Rob Morsley.
Photograph by Rob Morsley.
Photograph by Mike Kemble
Right:  The
tower at St
date stone.