Halton Village

Hello people and pooches. Joe the Cocker here reporting on a local during the Coronavirus restrictions. Because we can’t go on long countryside hikes, at the moment, we have had to adapt. My dad takes me out for a walk every morning so that he can exercise and not become a couch potato and even fatter. Sadly, I can’t go for my evening walk until this isolation thingamybob is over. In the evening my dad plays in the garden with me. He takes some of my toys out with us or a ball and he makes me run around like a lunatic while he stands still. Fortunately, there are still some interesting parts of our town that we sometimes walk around but, we don’t actually see what is in front of us. We have walked along most streets in our neighbourhood since I arrived on the scene, almost three years ago. So, we decided to investigate the village of Halton, which used to be a stand-alone village but has now been engulfed by the new town of Runcorn. My dad is an old Runcornian, that is he is old and from Runcorn and from Old Runcorn, if you get my drift. He likes to reminisce about some of the older parts of the town. He says that when he was a boy, hundreds of years ago, I think, it took an hour to walk to Halton Village from his house on the edge of Runcorn. Now it takes an hour to walk from Halton Village to the edge of Runcorn. He says that it is progress!

I was treated to a rendition of ‘Run to the Hills’ by Iron Maiden while we walked. Unfortunately, it appears that it is just those four words that my dad can recall from the song so, it was on a loop! ‘Spotify, man!’ was what I wanted to say to him. ‘Spotify!’

Seneschall’s House

Halton village stands on a sandstone outcrop and overlooks the Mersey Estuary and the surrounding Cheshire plain. Halton Castle’s remains sit on top of the hill giving it a prime position for spotting marauding Vikings as they approached through the Runcorn Gap on the Mersey. There is evidence that the hill was inhabited during stone age times and through the Roman occupation. As we approached the village, from Halton Brow, the first notable dwelling that we came to was Seneschal’s House on the corner of Main Street. This is the oldest remaining building in Runcorn being built in 1598. It was built for the court judge John King and was originally known as John King’s New House until it was given its current name in the mid 20th century. My dad tried his hardest to peek through the bushes to get a better view of the house but, I thought that he looked more like a burglar on a ‘reccy’. So, after we were nearly mowed down by a transit van as my dad took photographs while we stood in the middle of the road, we sought the safety of the narrow, overgrown pavement.

The Norton Arms
The Green cottages

A few yards along Main Street is the Halton Borough Camra pub of the year for 2020, the Norton Arms. Sadly, along with all the UK’s pubs, it is closed due to the Covid-19 virus pandemic. The pub was built in 1758 and is one of the village’s many Listed buildings. My dad managed to take a photograph this time without risking our lives by standing in the relative safety of the car park at the front of a row of charming cottages. I was starting to get the impression that I would not be the centre of his, or his camera’s, focus on this little hike. It was a bit of a relief because he usually wants me to stand in front of ‘stuff’ while he snapped away. I could concentrate on seeking out the local cats that were lurking on top of walls and behind garden fences. I will catch one, one day!

Halton House
The original lodge to Norton Priory

Further along Main Street there are several flights of sandstone steps leading to the castle but, we chose to investigate more of Main Street before we climbed up to the top of the hill. We passed Halton House which was built in 1779 out of brown brick with a slate roof. Further on we came across the building that was originally lodge for Norton Priory. We turned to walk up the steep narrow road to the top of the hill and stopped to photograph the numerous old buildings on the way. Firstly, we came to Chesshyre’s Library which is next to the vicarage for St. Mary’s church. The library dates from 1730 and is currently used as a church meeting room. The vicarage, next door, was built for Sir John Chesshyre in 1739 and has always been the home of the vicar of St. Mary’s. The church of St. Mary’s, that stands on top of the hill close to the castle was built in 1851 to replace an ancient chapel that stood on the same spot. Across the road is a war memorial sandstone cross dedicated to the fallen in the two world wars.

Chesshyre’s Library
The Vicarage
The cross
St. Mary’s Church

It was time for a run around for me. It was still fairly early in the morning as we reached the large grassy area in front of the Castle Inn so I was allowed a bit of freedom. My dad was busy taking photographs while we were still on the move because, after all, this was our allotted exercise period for the day. It’s a shame that we couldn’t have lingered a while as the weather was warm and sunny. The views from the top were amazing over Runcorn and the estuary with the two road bridges and the railway bridge. We proceeded to walk around the perimeter of Halton Castle while it was still deserted. Sadly, the interior of the remains are closed to the public due to erosion of the ruins. When we were back at the front of the castle my dad stopped to read the historical information board. The current castle structure has been in ruins since the 1600’s and dates back to the 1200’s. It replaced a motte and bailey castle constructed in 1071. The Castle pub was originally built as a courthouse with prisoner’s cells beneath. It was used as a courthouse until 1908 when it was converted to a public house and the courtroom is now a function room.

The Castle ruins and pub
Halton Castle
Halton Castle
The Castle pub
The Silver Jubilee Bridge
The Mersey Gateway Bridge

While we were looking down from the hill we spotted the Millennium Village Green. That would be our next port of call after clambering down a flight of sandstone steps through the somewhat overgrown gorse on the side of the hill. Rather than allow the green to be sold for a residential development, the villagers purchased the land to enable it to be a kept as a public space. It is currently utilised for village fetes and as a popular dog walking area.

Millennium Green
Sandstone steps to the castle
Halton Trinity Methodist Church

We moved on, returning to Main Street where we passed Halton Trinity Methodist Church, that was built in 1875. The next building that my dad wanted to see was Halton Old Hall. This house is a Grade II* listed building and can be found next to Halton Common on a rough track. It was damaged during the English Civil War and later rebuilt, with extensions, to the original footprint. Now, this area was fun for me with its trees and footpaths. I had a good sniff around while the big feller looked at houses. I know which I prefer. Then again, I suppose that I have as much chance of catching a squirrel or a sparrow as he has of catching a 16th century mansion.

Halton Old Hall
Old farmhouse

So, we had killed two birds with one stone. I had had my exercise and he had had his fill of old buildings. Sorry for all the hads. After we had circled the bottom of the hill a couple of times we set off for home in the direction that we had walked earlier. We walked down Halton Brow until we entered Boston Avenue where we turned off through Stenhills Open Space as it is called on the map. It is an open space, surprisingly, where I can run around before we returned home. It was a good ‘Boris’ walk from our doorstep and completed in just under an hour. Halton village still manages to maintain its village feel considering its position within a new town.

11 thoughts on “Halton Village

  1. We did a similar walk through Halton village recently which brought back lots of happy memories. My husband went to school in the 50’s in the village, the school house was then on The Common, and we both spent a lot of our teenage years in the village with friends. Lovely to read your blog and you’re right, despite now being surrounded by large estates Halton village is still quaint and pretty
    .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good stuff. The Vicarage is now a private residence. Given the extent of the dry rot in the building and the tendency of vicars to favour St Mary’s whilst also being tasked with looking after Christ Church Castlefields. The diocese looked for a replacement house and bought our family home nearly ten years ago. 27 Halton Brow (White House, green roof, opposite Petrol Station), is now Halton’s Vicarage.

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  3. Thank you for your bloggs. Loved this one about Halton village. My husband Merv’s family are originally from Halton and apparently Rowlinsons have lived there for hundreds of years. We used to walk in the places you mentioned in the 1960’s – takes me back. We left Runcorn in 1974. Now live in Southampton.
    Did you live in Sycamore Road? If so, I lived next door.

    Best wishes and look forward to your next blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Being as I am classed as severely vulnerable, and restricted to my house and the back garden, it’s really much appreciated that you and Joe can include us in your ventures around the town. looking forward to your next little adventure!!

    Liked by 1 person

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