Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Georgian Liverpool: Part 4

At this point in our Liverpool journey we deviated from Dr William Moss's guide book and walked over to Rodney Street: an area filled with fine Regency terraces. This and the surrounding streets can certainly compete with areas of Bath and Dublin for beauty and authenticity, and it's amazing that they aren't as well known. Here we took a short detour to see St Andrew's Presbyterian Church (below), built in 1823 and once described as 'an ornament to the town'.

Above: St.Andrews, Scotch Kirk, Rodney Street, engraved by Henry Jorden after a picture by G & C Pyne, published in Lancashire Illustrated, 1831.
Source: Ancestry Images.

Henry Jorden shows it in its prime, but below is my picture of its current dilapidated state. Most of it has been shored up to avoid accidents (you can see the left tower has been removed entirely). At some point it was gutted by fire, and gives off a sad atmosphere.

As we were peering through the fence at the graveyard, I spotted this strange pyramid tomb (below).

I did wonder if it was Masonic, but it was only later I discovered it's the tomb of William Mackenzie: a wealthy Victorian railway engineer and Liverpool's most notorious gambler. As the story goes, Mackenzie - hoping to win at poker - had promised his soul to the devil. He won the game, but falling ill shortly afterwards, began to fear that the devil would demand his part of the bargain. So with his winnings he constructed this tomb, leaving instructions that his card table and chair should be placed inside. He's supposed to be interred seated at the table holding the winning cards, thus cheating the devil out of his Faustian pact (presumably because his body was not in the ground). Mackenzie is said to haunt Rodney Street, so that explains the eerie, sad feel of the place!

Photographs © Memoirs of the Celebrated Mrs Woffington.

Coming next... Liverpool's lost pleasure garden, and the end of our tour.

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Chole White said...

I absolutely LOVE this series. Very much looking forward to the next installment. Thanks for sharing it with those of us who don't live in such a wonderfully historic area.


Heather Carroll said...

Who doesn't love a story about a gambler cheating the devil!

Mrs Woffington said...

Thanks so much both - I'm thrilled you're enjoying it! We had a lot of fun doing it; it was fascinating, and sometimes a bit sad, to see what's happened to these glorious Georgian buildings.

Anonymous said...

Great work Mrs W, and great to see other people enjoying it. As an old Liverpool hand myself (if you know the area you'll have worked that out from my name), it's good to see this stuff recognised. People think of Liverpool as a slightly run-down Victorian / Edwardian city, but I read once that it has more 18th century buildings (and more listed buildings) than any UK city other than London or Bath. The prosperous Georgian merchant city is still there, just beneath the surface, if you but look for it.

Mrs Woffington said...

You're so right MV Overchurch. I was amazed at those beautiful doorways on Rodney Street with all the fanlights intact. You can buy postcards of Georgian doorways in Dublin, but in Liverpool they go unnoticed!

Anonymous said...

Everyone's too busy buying Beatles memorabilia and Superlambananas! Apparently, though, a whole load of Regency-set films and TV adaptations have been filmed around Hope Street, because it looks more like Dublin or Bath than they do themselves!

Anonymous said...

I love it ! Very creative ! That's actually really cool Thanks.