We went on a trip to Manchester yesterday and I am so glad it was yesterday, because the whole of the North of England at this moment in time is deep in snow, closed roads, stranded cars and by tonight it should be snowing here in the Fens, so maybe this week-end I might get some snow photos of St Mary’s at Islington. Anyway, on the way to Manchester we stopped to see some friends at Newton-le-Willows, in Warrington, they had been looking at my blog and said you must do the pig church. Pig church…..what an earth is the pig church, well on St Oswald Church in Winwick, just up the road from them, is the craving of a little pig……yes a pig……
As luck would have it, the pub we were having lunch in, was opposite the church. Strangely I have been to this pub twice but have never noticed the church before….I wonder what else I miss going on around me. My lunch went down quite quickly, but everyone knew I was desperate to see the pig, the pig is on the other side of the church that you can’t see from the pub window. The weather is a lot colder here than at home, so I quickly walked up the road to the church and thought I’ll just take a few photos, half an hour later I’m still snapping away, impervious to the cold.
Winwick is an ancient site with lots of interesting stories, but today its the pig’s story that I want to tell you about. St Oswald was the King of Northumbria, he died in 642 at the Battle of Maserfield. Maserfield in Winwick lays one of the claims to the battle and St Oswald’s Church is thought to be close to where the King fell.
Legend says that Winwick at the time of the Kings death was just a small clearing with a few huts as dwellings, a small church was built near to where the King had died. Travellers would leave tributes to the hero on a stone that mark the spot were the King had fallen. One day it was decided that they would build a bigger and better church for St Oswald.
The stone masons laid new foundations on the original site of the old small church, but one night a pig was seen to be running to the site of the new church crying ‘we-ee-wick’ and then he took up a stone in his mouth and carried it to the spot where King Oswald had died, the pig then remove all the stones that the stone masons had laid that day. In the morning when the village elders gathered they were amazed at what had happened and thought it was an omen, they decided that they would build the church on the hill where the pig had taken all the stones. In memory of the pig they craved his form into the stone that had marked where the King had died. In the 14th Century the church was re-built in stone, that very stone was built into the tower and is still there to this very day…….well thats what the Legend says……..
I like to think that the little pig choose the spot where King Oswald died for this wonderful church and also that he named Winwick, with his cry ‘we -ee -wick’
The church building has over the centuries been rebuilt and restored, built with sandstone the west tower in 1358 and has 3 stages with a recessed stone spire. The figures of the Saints Anthony and Oswald are in a niche to each side. The bell tower has a peal of six bells. At the moment the body of the church is having extensive restoration work carried out, on the inside of the roof, so it was difficult to have look in the interior. They are still holding services but not in the main church. I took a photo of a large sign showing the work they are carrying out inside.
I was really excited when I found the next little guy…..please remember that I have only just start looking at churches so I do tend to get excited over the smallest thing…. I’m not too sure about his friend though…..
There is some interesting reading on the headstones in the churchyard and to one side of the church they have laid the larger headstones flat.
This church is not a ruin or abandoned, it is a living church which still has a heart and is much loved by the locals and it has a tale to tell…..a pigs tail…