Two churches named St Oswald

THERE are two churches in Warrington with the name St Oswald, the one at Winwick – of which our first Junior Warden was Rector – and St Oswald Roman Catholic Church in Padgate Lane.

It is impossible to do justice in our story to the full history of Winwick Parish Church for all available documents agree that the fascinating early days of this beautiful building are lost in “the mists of antiquity”.

There is little documentary evidence of St Oswald Church in Pre-Norman times but the Domesday Book of King William the Conqueror of 1086 says that St Oswald Church had a vested interest in land of an area sufficient for two teams of eight oxen to plough in a single day. At one time Winwick was one of the largest parishes in England.

The oldest part of the present church is the bell tower which was built in 1358 and it is a fact that an earlier church was sited close to the present building in Saxon days for the remains of a stone cross were discovered in 1873 in the churchyard. The original Wheel-head cross was thought to be 12 to 18 feet high and 5 feet wide.

Throughout Warrington the church’s “Winwick Pig” is famous. The pig on the wall is the subject of many stories. A booklet on the Legend and History of the church says: “Day by day, the stone walls were built by our masons on the chosen field – but night by night the carved stones, laid by day, were mysteriously carried up the hill by a miraculous pig, and re-laid, fair and true, on the higher site.”

The church has undergone many changes and additions in its life and members of St Oswald Lodge who have never visited this special building which holds such an import role in our history would find it a worthwhile experience to do so.

In 1997 repairs costing £150,000 were necessary and our Lodge did make a contribution to the Church as it has done several times over the years.

St Oswald Church in Padgate Lane is the second church on the site. The first was opened on 17 June 1928 and was the fourth Benedictine Parish in Warrington. It cost £3,428 to build and was replaced with the present church 37 years later at a cost of £60,000 exclusive of fittings. The new church was opened on 16 June 1965 by Archbishop Beck and its 75 feet tall bell tower is a feature of the area.

On the actual day of St Oswald Lodge’s 75th Anniversary a large number of members with their families and friends attended Morning Service at Oswald Church, Winwick. In addition to making a special donation to the church on that day the lodge has continued to support the church with donations.