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Brief History of Much Woolton

Much Woolton was once part of the ancient Childwall Parish and was one of the ten parish divisions mentioned in the Domesday Book survey of 1085-86: Allerton, Childwall, Garston, Hale, Halewood, Little Woolton, Much Woolton, Speke, Thingwall and Wavertree.

Camp Hill
The earliest known settlement in Much Woolton is the Iron Age encampment, located in Camp Hill but, because a Victorian Villa was built on the site, it is difficult to ascertain how long the camp was occupied or who may have built it.

'Much' Woolton
Why 'Much' Woolton? This probably derives from higher or lower (as in Bebington), great or little (as in Crosby), Much or Little (as in Woolton), and suggests land that is an offshoot from a larger part or possibly higher/lower in elevation. The name Woolton - Uluetune in the Domesday Book - derives from Wulfa's tun (tun: village farm, homestead), which is Anglo Saxon in origin.

Boundaries
The boundaries of Much Woolton were mentioned as early as 1658:* "beginning at the bottom of Out Lane - as following Halewood Road to Gateacre, turning up the brow [Gateacre Brow] and then to the hill called Gallowtree... and so lineally to some Meer Stones against a pit, marking the edge of Allerton [about the north end of Vale Road] thence the line followed the old watercourse [across Menlove Avenue and just east of Elm Cottage on Springwood Avenue] to a nook of a Close called Pendleton's and then met the boundary of Speke [by the railway bridge under Speke Hall Road] followed Hillfoot Road [once Poor House Lane] and Hillfoot Avenue, and so down the middle of the lane from Mackett's House... and to the Out Lane End."

* Source: 1658, Rental of Much Woolton, (MS) in Salisbury Papers, Liverpool Record Office.

Shortly after the Domesday survey Woolton became part of the barony of Halton and Widnes.

Knights of St. John of Jerusalem (Knights Hospitallers)
In 1113 a religious brethren of Hospitallers, the Order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, were guarding routes to protect Christians who were on a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land. By 1189 the Order had charge of Woolton, granted to them in a Charter by John, Constable of Chester. In 1421 the Order appointed Sir Henry le Norreys of Speke as seneschal (Steward in charge of administration) of all of the lands in south Lancashire, which included Woolton. The Knights Hospitallers held land in Woolton for nearly 360 years (confiscated by Queen Elizabeth in 1559 who held the land until 1609), and in England for over 400 years.

Present owner
The manorial rights to Woolton passed from Queen Elizabeth to James 1st who sold them to William, 6th Earl of Derby. Woolton then passed to Isaac Green, through his daughter to her son Bamber Gascoyne of Childwall (MP for Liverpool 1780-96), and are presently owned by the Marquis of Salisbury.

Village Cross
A Village Cross was erected c.1350 (which remains to this day) to mark what was then the north boundary of the village centre, the 'town garden' or 'the green' with the Hunts Cross marking the southern boundary. The Village Cross, damaged at an unknown date, was restored by Arthur S Mather in 1913 in celebration of Woolton being incorporated into the City of Liverpool.

Estates
Whilst agriculture may have been the mainstay throughout Woolton's early history, this fact changed when the gentry of Liverpool sought more peaceful, quieter and less polluted surroundings to live. From then on business at the local quarries increased as the gentry purchased large parcels of land in and around Woolton, especially from the sale of the Allerton Hall estate, to build their mansion houses, most notable of these being: Allerton Priory, Allerton Tower, and Springwood etc. Woolton also has the estates of Camp Hill, Woolton Wood, and land for the erection of the Convalescent Home (presently the privately owned Woolton Manor Nursing Home) and the sale of the estate of Gateacre Hall that ultimately gave us Reynolds Park.
   One can only sigh in frustration at the reasons for the demise of many of the fine mansions that were built on these estates: Woolton Wood, Camp Hill, Allerton Tower, Grove House (Allerton) etc, but take solace from the land that remains, which have become recreational woodlands, golf courses (Doe Park) and parks, the most worthy of the latter being Reynolds Park and Woolton Wood, both within Woolton and which proudly fly the Civic Trust Green Flag award.

Woodland surroundings
Woolton today must surely be the most desirable district to reside, the area being surrounded by the parklands of Calderstones, Beechley, Allerton Tower, Woolton Wood, Black Wood, Clarke Gardens, Eric Hardy Nature Reserve, Camp Hill, Childwall Woods, Halewood Triangle Country Park, Reynolds Park, and the golf courses of Woolton, Netherley and Allerton.

Social scene
The village centre boasts two of the most respected 'members only' clubs, and some of the finest restaurants and pubs (some of the latter with strict dress code) you would expect to find in a city centre and all within a few minutes walk of each other.

Woolton Hall
The 'jewel in the crown' of Woolton is, without question, Woolton Hall, a Grade I listed building that was saved from demolition and now stands as the finest example of Robert Adam's work in the north of England.

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Last updated :: December 2006
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