This title is the first Chapter of “The Way to St. Werburgh’s”, and oh! Is it just the perfect title.
“It was 1819, perhaps a year of destiny. George III’s long reign was drawing to a close; his granddaughter Victoria was born, later to be one of the greatest rulers of the British empire; and soon the self-indulgent, sentimental reign of his son George IV would lower the past prestige of the royal family, despite the fact that he had served as Regent for some years.”
“The Northern spring was fast approaching, to gladden the hearts of all Englishmen Grand old oaks and spreading yew trees, majestic chestnuts and elegant birches vied with shy wood violets and bursting daffodils to greet the new season.
Blackbirds and sky larks, sparrows and finches, swallows and thrush, wrens and nightingales plied the air with ceaseless song, and the whole English landscape breathed new life with the melting snow”
“The colourful country of Cheshire was no exception. Here in the neatly hedgerowed fields of Norley stood a spacious old house with cradles and nurtured a big happy family. It was the dearly loved home of Rowland and Emma Egerton-Warburton”
“On the northern boundary of the rich rolling pasturelands of Cheshire, by the banks of the busy Mersey river, lies the little village of Warburton, where the family bearing that name can be traced back to the thirteenth century, and even today ruins remain of one of their former homes. Here the modern church lacks the atmosphere of the interesting old Warburton church of earlier times. It still stands in all its quaintness of stone, timber and brick, surrounded by a variety of gravestones and including a curious coffin of stone, unoccupied, with the lid lying beside it. the heavy timbered frame-work of the steep slate-covered roof is believed to be solidly fastened by deer horns.”
“On the splendid park-like estates of Arley (Northwich), situated not far from Great Budworth, with a secluded stately stone hall surrounded by charming gardens and massive yew trees; it was enhanced by a lovely lake, a collection of cottages, a moss-mellowed school, memorable stables and magnificent old trees.”
The Chapels of St. Werburgh
Chester City, in ancient setting.
Built upon the sands of Dee
Her curving wall is gently fretting
With restoration there to see
The Cathedral stands against the skies
Oblivious to her struggling past
Within her walls St. Werburgh lies
Where faith and fervour still hold fast
Yet in the quiet Australian outback
Stands another English church
Above a tree-lined winding track
Far from willow, fir and birch
Here craftsmanship and hand-wrought charm
Built St. Werburgh’s with Gods will
When Georges chapel, on his farm
Was fashioned with unfailing skill
Where high in holy rafters dwell
Memories of the passing years
The tinkling sound of cattle bell
Joins the praise of pioneers
It nestles on a gentle knoll
Beyond the banks of River Hay
Where we hear the church bell toll
A hundred years from yesterday
©DawnCrabb First published 1974
And I HAVE to put the popular poem in to marry it up with the rest of the theme.
Oh, to be in England
Now that April’s there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England – now!
And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops – at the bent
spray’s edge –
That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children’s dower
– Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!