The church in Neston has been in existence since before the Norman conquest of 1066. It is recorded
that the church was given by Ralph de Montalt to the abbot of St Werburgh by charter prior to 1182.
The church remained in their hands until the dissolution when impropriation was granted to the newly
formed see of Chester, and from there into the hands of the Cotton family. The church we see today
has been rebuilt many times, the current one dating back to 1875.
In 1874 Mortimer writes:
"The present church is a handsome and spacious edifice, of considerable antiquity; dedicate to the virgin
Mary and St Helen. It contains a nave, chancel and side isles, formerly terminating in small chapels and it
has a tower. The nave and chancel are now united. The latter was formerly separated from the side isles
by four pointed arches, springing from cylindrical octagonal pillars on both sides; but several of the pillars
have been removed and only the first arch remains complete ob both sides. The font is an extremely
elegant piece of workmanship erected rather more than four hundred years ago. The base is octangular
with a slender shaft, and basin corresponding in form and diameter with the lower part of the base. The
lower part of the shaft is ornamented with niches and trefoils and each side of the basin with paneling,
containing quarter foils and other ornaments of the early part of the 15th century. The exterior of the
church is a mixture of various styles and ages, indicating its erection about the same time as the font. The
tower is supposed to have been rebuilt in 1697 as that date appears cut into the stone. Some remains of
a roodloft, over the ancient partition between the nave and chancel, about fourty feet eastward of the
tower, are visible on the third pillar on the West end of the South side. Tradition says that the bells were
brought from Wales, but there are no inscriptions to identify them, nor do the registers supply the
Omerod gives the names of three rectors of Neston between 1882 and 1210, and fourteen vicars prior to
1336, but he was unable to render it more complete. There are no monuments particularly interesting in
the church or church yard, although there are many which confirm the almost proverbial salubrity of the
climate of this part of Wirral.
Among others is the tombstone of John Hancock of Ledsham, who died 4th December 1775 at the age of
112 years. The same stone records the death of his son, also called John, who died on the 5th August
1781, ages 70 years. The grave of the old mans wife in another part of the churchyard mentions her
decease in 1799 ages 73 years. She must therefore have been 63 years younger than her husband. It is
recorded that at the age of 104 he daily walked to the public house half a miles away from his residence.
In another part of the church yard are the remains of a farmer and his wife, of the name of Broughton
respectively ages 106 and 100".
The church is situated in the centre of the town, it boasts many items of interest for tourist, visitors
and researchers alike and is the first faith site in the country to receive the North West Multi Faith
Tourism Award, The Marque of Excellence. Among the treasures on view, are what some say, is the
finest collection of stained glass windows in the region including those of Burne- Jones, Harding and
Kempe. Also on view is a collection of Viking Stones Found in the foundations, that link Neston with
the Viking presence on the Wirral in time gone by. Being open every day, and on somedays coffee
being served, guides can be arranged for conducted tours.
The current building was designed by Francis Doyle, who was also the architect of the Presbyterian
church nearby. The rebuilding was necessary because some galleries had been added inside the
church during the previous century which had caused the integrity of the church structure to become
unstable. In addition to this it was also found that the founding walls had become structurally
unsound due to the digging of the burial vaults underground, in addition to poor basic foundations.
The church as a fine peel of eight bells; four cast in 1731 by Abraham Rudhall of Gloucester and the
remaining four cast by Mears and Stainbeck of London in 1874. Each bell bears its own inscription.
You can find the link to the Church website here.