The Noctorum

The name Noctorum is of Irish origin, originally pronounced "Cnocc Tirim", meaning 'Dry Hill'.  This may be in
reference to Bidston Hill the west side of which the Noctorum is situated on.  The Noctorum sits upon the
slope of the hill which occupies a large ridge overlooking the now urbanised streets.  The village was
recorded in the 10th century in the Doomsday book and may go back even further to a Hibernian
settlement of the west coast in the Sub-Roman period (early 5th century).  

The Noctorum appears as 'Chenotrie' being of Norman descent in the Domesday Book of 1086.  The term
"Chêne" derives from the French meaning oak.  This can also be seen in the old name for Landican which
was 'Landechene'  meaning the Oak Enclosure.  The latter part of the word "trie" is of British origin and
literally means town.  This would translate the original name as "Oak Town".  There is sufficient evidence
to back this up as both Noctorum and its neighbour Prenton were renowned for their large oak trees.  

The Doomsday book records the manor as being owned by the Barons of Nantwich with whom it remained
for only a short period.   It then passed into the hands of Richard de Priares who subsequently passed the
manor onto the abbot of St Werburgh in Chester.  At the time of the dissolution the manor changed hands
eventually finding its way into the notorious Cotton family before finally becoming owned by the crown.  
The next family to own the land was the Crosse of Lancashire before selling it a century later to the

In 1847 Mortimer describing the area states:

"The increasing value of property in this vicinity may be instanced by the fact that the township that contains
only two houses and is all farmed by one party was sold in 1844 by Mr Patten to William Vandrey of Liverpool for
thirty seven thousand pounds".  

Today most of the Noctorum is divided up into large housing plots with most of the old extravagant
buildings having been demolished in the 1970s or turned into flats.  The boundary of the Noctorum and
Oxton was originally set by a mere covering several acres.  The mere was drained for agricultural land in
the nineteenth century and developed for building in the l960s.  A large house that was formally a coach
house occupies some of the land and takes the name of Mere Hall.  The building is a large red brick
Grade II listed edifice which retains many of its original features.  The photograph below by Edmund Kirkby
shows Mere Hall, Noctorum Lane in 1882 and is part of the English Heritage collection re NMR(BL18424).
Mere Hall Dining Room 1882
Mere Hall Dining Room 1882
Despite a bad reputation in the
1980s the Noctorum has cleaned
up its image in the 21st century
although there is little in the way
of archaeological finds.  In the
20th century a Neolithic polished
stone axe was found in the old
Noctorum Dell area.  People have
lived in the area of Merseyside
since around 9,000 years ago.

Most things don't survive in the
ground that long, but
archaeologists have found flint
tools in the Wirral and Liverpool
area which people chipped into
shape and used as arrowheads,
spearheads, axes and saws.  The
Noctorum would have been a
much different place in the Stone
Age and tools like the one found
would have been an essential
part of day to day life.  Finds like
these are rare today although
Mesolithic and Neolithic remains
have been found in  Bromborough,
 Caldy, Eastham, Greasby, Higher
Bebington, Hilbre Island, Moreton,
Thurstaston and  West Kirby.  
There are few references left of the old houses and farms but digging through the records in the local
archives reveals that there were scattered farm buildings and cottages located around the fields.  The
oldest seems to be a large stone built cottage which stood opposite the entrance to Jacksons Farm.  I
have also found references to Thomas's farm and Witty's farm in the same area.  There also appears to
have been an old stone quarry now covered completely and built on by houses which sits under Bentham
Close, just off Noctorum Way.  Mere Hall still sits proudly behind the large stone wall on the ridge of teh hill
over looking Townfield Lane.  I can remember many kids trying to sneak over the wall and into the gardens
of the large red bricked house in an attempt to have a nose around the huge gardens.  I heard many
stories of them being chased by the owners and some by their dogs.  I cannot say if these are true, as i
was never stupid enough to venture over !