Important times in Neston and Parkgate

During the early nineteenth century, Neston was one of the most populated and important places on the Wirral, consisting of eight townships, Great Neston, Little Neston, Leighton, Raby, Ness, Willaston, Thornton Hough and Ledsham.

However, it dates back long before then. Believed to be a former Saxon settlement, Neston is mentioned in the Domesday Book and in 1086 part of the area was under the control of the Monks of St Werburgh.

It passed to King Edward III in 1327 and later in 1454 to the Earl of Salisbury. Subsequently the manor was acquired by the Sixth Earl of Derby and in 1602 William Whitmore of Leighton obtained it from his father in law, Sir Hugh Beeston.

A great deal has been written about the town over the years but despite delving in the archives by local historians, little has been discovered about medieval Neston.

What is known, however, is that like many other settlements along the Dee Coast, it was at times used as an anchorage in the Middle Ages.

Today, it is a thriving town with a large variety of shops and is probably most famous for its annual Ladies Day Walk which is held on the first Thursday in June.

The organisation was formed as a self-help group for women in 1814. The first of its kind in the country, it was set up to help the regular subscribers to a fund, to receive assistance when in financial difficulty such as sickness and old age.

It is believed to have been formed following an idea by then the vicar, Prebendary Thomas Ward, who was also a leading social worker.

Following its inception societies were formed throughout the country but to-day it is the only one of its kind remaining.

Less than a mile down the road from Neston is Parkgate, possibly Wirral's most popular tourist attraction.

Neston and Parkgate are closely linked and Parkgate's name derives from Neston Park, which was closed about 1250 after being a deer park for 350 years. It is now a playing field.
The eighteenth century was a boom time for both Neston and Parkgate with houses springing up for merchants and professional men who came to settle in the area.

Parkgate as a village was firmly established in the 1700s and was renowned as a port and terminal for packet ships crossing to Ireland.

What is now marshland used to be golden sands and sea bating became fashionable. As result it became one of the country's leading holiday resorts.

In 1874 the village received recognition when it was visited by Lady Hamilton, the mistress of Lord Nelson. A blacksmith's daughter born in nearby Ness, she bathed in the sea at Parkgate in a bid to cure a skin disease she was suffering from.

In those early days many famous people visited the village. They included the painter Turner who is reputed to have painted some of his glorious sunsets there.

The discontinuation of the packet service from Parkgate was as a result of the Dee Estuary silting up and it led to a rapid change in the prospects of the area.

However, to-day it is still extremely popular with people travelling from far and wide to take in the history of Parkgate and sample the nationwide renowned shrimps and home made ice-cream.