Monday, 5 January 2009

Georgian Liverpool: Part 1

So there we were in Liverpool, just as the Capital of Culture year came to a close. My boyfriend, having browsed around the new shopping centre Liverpool One - of which he strongly disapproves - did nevertheless manage to find a very interesting book: Georgian Liverpool: A Guide to the City in 1797 by Dr William Moss (with additional notes by David Brazendale). We had time on our hands and conceived an audacious plan - we would strike out into the streets of the city, following the advice of Moss and Brazendale, and see what was left of Georgian Liverpool. See below for the map we used.

After a nose around Albert Dock, where we compared the 18th-century map against the modern one on the dockside, we headed over to Liverpool's parish church Our Lady and St Nicholas - or St Nick's as people now call it - (see my picture below). Dr Moss tells us:
St Nicholas, or the Old Church commonly so called from being first erected is of very ancient date; but there are no traces of its antiquity father back than 1588... Here are a peal of six bells, whose welcome notes announce the arrival of our ships from foreign voyages, chiefly the West Indies. Here is a good, but badly placed, organ. A spire was added to the tower, in 1750; and the walls of the church were rebuilt a few years ago.

You won't see any evidence of the spire; David Brazendale's modern commentary (below) explains that a wooden one was erected in 1746 (seems that Moss was wrong about the date) to enhance its usefulness as a navigation mark. But this additional weight on poor foundations ended in tragedy; despite a further £20 being spent on reinforcement, on Feb 11 1810, as the congregation gathered for morning service, the north-west corner of the tower collapsed and the spire fell into the nave, killing around 22 people, many of whom were girls from the Moorfields Charity School.

Photographs © Memoirs of the Celebrated Mrs Woffington.

The steeple was replaced by the structure you can see in my photograph (now called Landmark Tower), which was designed by Thomas Harrison and completed in 1815. Tragically, in December 1940, the main body of the church was destroyed by an air raid, so virtually nothing remains of the Georgian edifice today. It was time to move on to the next stage of our Grand Tour.

Coming next... The Exchange.

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