William the Conqueror's nephew, Hugh Lupus, received the County of Chester and most of North Wales, together with other special privileges. He in turn found it expedient to divide the greater part of his possessions amongst his own friends, and Nigell or Niell received the barony of Halton. Nigell had five brothers, though whether they were actually related to him of whether they were merely close friends or retainers is not certain. They were called Odard (or Hudard), Edard, Womere, Horswyne, and Wolfaith. Odard seems to have received the township of Dutton, or Duntune as it was called, and he became known as Hugh de Dutton.
About 100 years later there is a record of the village of Clifton being given to Galfrid or Geoffrey of Dutton, a son of the then Lord of Dutton, by John the Baron and Constable of Chester.In due course this branch of the Dutton family lapsed and the two daughters of Sir Roger de Cheadle were the co-heirs. The elder daughter named Clemence chose Clifton as part of her share of the estate and later married Raufe de Baggiley. Their daughter Isobel married Sir Thomas Danyers of Bradley and Appleton who greatly distinguished himself at the battle of Cressy in 1346 by rescuing the Royal Standard of the Black Prince and also capturing the Chamberlain of France. For this service the Black Prince granted him an annuity charged on his Royal Manor of Frodsham.
Sir Thomas and Lady Isobel had a daughter, Margaret, who married Sir John Savage in 1357. She received as her dowry her mother's lands and lived with her husband at the Old Hall at Clifton. It is possible that it may have been erected as part of the dowry, as there is no mention of it before this time.The name "Clifton" is interesting, and may derive from the fact that the township was founded on a steep rocky slope rising from the flat land that was covered in those days with water - hence Cliff-Town - Clifton.Through his marriage John Savage seems to have succeeded to the royal favour granted to his father-in-law, Sir Thomas Danyer, for in 1397 Henry III appointed him bailiff of the Royal Forest of Macclesfield. Although Clifton long remained the home of the Savages, they had close ties with Macclesfield and Congleton, and are buried in the Parish Church at Macclesfield.
The first Sir John Savage died in 1386 and his son, also John, succeeded him. He was knighted by Henry V for his services at the Battle of Agincourt and died in 1450, succeeded by his son. This third son John was, by contrast, a quiet countryman and he was married to the daughter of Sir William Brereton. He died in 1463.
The fourth John Savage was knighted by Henry VI. He was a Mayor of Chester, held offices connected with the Royal Manor and Forest of Macclesfield, and Henry VI made him one of the "feofees" or trustees of the Duchy of Lancaster. He was married to the daughter of Lord Stanley. One of his sons, Thomas, eventually became Archbishop of York, and was buried there in 1508, his heart alone being buried in Macclesfield.The eldest son of the fourth Sir John Savage never lived to inherit the estates because he died during his father's lifetime. He was a warlike character, a Knight of the Garter, having fought at the Battle of Bosworth. He was killed during the siege of "Boloigne".
His son, the sixth Sir John, fought valiantly at Flodden field. He and his son had quarrelled with a man called Pauncefote, and killed him. For this they were put in the Tower, and would have been executed but for the influence exerted on their behalf by Cardinal Wolsey and the Earl of Worcester ( a near relative). They were both pardoned and then released on condition that neither of them should ever set foot inside the counties of Chester or Worcester without special permission of the King. Sir John died in this banishment seven years later, but the sentence on his son was revoked in four years.
The seventh Sir John Savage succeeded his father in 1527 and although he was released from the sentence on banishment he never returned to the house at Clifton, dying in Rythin Castle in 1528 and leaving a son of three as the heir.
By the time that this eighth Sir John grew up he had lost the family desire for martial glories, and had resolved to devote himself to the arts of peace. He became High Sheriff of Cheshire and was later appointed Seneschal of Halton by Queen Mary. He was also re-appointed to this post by Queen Elizabeth on her accession. In 1565 he was again High Sheriff and filled this office seven times in all, a unique achievement. It was he, who feeling the need for a more imposing home to enhance his high office, erected Rocksavage, a name derived from the rocky situation of the place and the family name. The old hall became a granary and outbuildings. The fine Tudor building was erected in 1568 by the same architect who designed Brereton Hall, a very similar place. It has been said that Queen Elizabeth herself put down the foundation stones of both these places.Sir John was elected one of the two M.P.s for Cheshire in 1585 and again in 1588, and he died in 1598 after serving as High Steward of Macclesfield and for a third time as the Mayor of Chester.
His son John was the ninth in direct succession of the same name, and seems to have been much of the same outlook as his respected father. When visiting Congleton officially he found that a cockfighting and a bear baiting had been arranged for his amusement, but although he attended the cock fight he could not be induced to attend the bear baiting and the crude festive orgies which followed it.
About this time the King required money for colonising and pacifying Ulster, his form of pacification being to maintain a large number of soldiers there. This cost a great deal of money, and Sir John assisted, together with 99 other men by contributing sufficient to maintain 30 soldiers. His Baronetcy followed in due course.
He died in 1615, and the continuity of the name was broken because his eldest son has also died, and the heir was named Thomas. This Thomas was created Viscount, and thus became the first member of the family to enter the Peerage. Sir Thomas married the daughter of Lord D'Arcy afterwards created Earl Rivers, and entertained King James I at Rocksavage on 21st August, 1617. In the reign of Charles I he was appointed Chancellor of the Queens Court at Westminster and he died in London in 1635. Buried at Macclesfield.
His son John, who succeeded him, was made Earl Rivers through his mother, and fell under suspicion as a "recusant, malignant, and delinquent", and became involved in the unhappy troubles arising between Charles I and Parliament. He put Halton Castle in a state of defence on behalf on the King, and the Brookes of Norton were on the side of Parliament. During the ensuing Civil War, Halton was beseiged and taken by Sir William Brereton, who dismantled it and ruined it. Rocksavage was also looted and rendered uninhabitable, and Earl Rivers retired to Frodsham Castle, stripped of the family honours and estates, and died there a few years later in 1654. On the same night, with his body lying within, the Castle was set on fire and burned down and it was only with great difficulty that the body was rescued, later to be buried unostentatiously at Macclesfield.
Thomas, his son, was Earl Rivers in his own right, and had been freed from prison when a charge against him of plotting against the life of the Protector was proved false. Halton, Rocksavage, and Frodsham all lay in ruins, and pending the restoration of Rocksavage he lived in London.Although a Royalist he was a strong Protestant, and when the heir to the throne declared his adherence to Popery, and the people raised the cry to exclude him from the succession, Sir Thomas was on the side of the people. He and his eldest son, the Duke of Colchester, entertained the Duke of Monmouth at Rocksavage during his progress through Cheshire, and for thus taking part in a "seditious rising" Lord Colchester was afterwards tried at Chester and ordered to find sureties for his keeping the peace. Undeterred by this he was the first to greet the Prince of Orange when he landed at Exeter in 1688.
Earl Rivers died in 1698, succeeded by his second son, Richard, as Lord Colchester had died the year before. Richard was a Privy Councillor, and attained high honour. His adulterous connection with the Countess of Macclesfield resulted in the birth of Richard Savage, the poet. He gave him his own name, but the poet's mother tricked him out of the estates by telling the Earl when he lay dying that the poet was dead. She herself was divorced from her husband by a ruling of Parliament, and the instance is remarkable for being the first divorce not to be first sanctioned by the Church. There was a "minority report" after the proceedings in Parliament - "Dissentient" - because we conceive that this is the first bill of that nature that hath passed, where there was not a divorce first obtained in the Spiritual Court: which we look upon as an ill precedent, and may be of dangerous consequence in the future.
The Earl died in 1714 leaving a daughter, Elizabeth, wife of the Earl of Barrymore. After the Earl's death the estates and title passed to a cousin, John Savage, a Roman Catholic priest, who, because of his vows, declined them. By an Act of Parliament the estates passed to Earl Richard's daughter, and she and her husband lived at Rocksavage as the Earl and Countess of Barrymore. The priest, John, died in 1728, and thus the direct male line of the Savage family became extinct.
The building itself was restored and enlarged at this period. The daughter of the Earl of Barrymore, Penelope, was married to the Hon. James Cholmondeley in 1730,so the estates passed to the Cholmondeley family, and are still their property (1898).As this family had many estates, Rocksavage became neglected, and its decay and dilapidation followed rapidly. Its downfall was hastened by the stones being used in the building of the farm on the site.
[ unfortunately some of the article at the top of the newspaper columns is missing and where this occurs *********** has been inserted to indicate missing sections]
Most Runcornians, if invited to make a list of Cheshire's most historic places, would probably omit the name of Rocksavage. True, they well know its location, and will readily recall that tall fragment of a ruined wall** which comes within view of the thousands people who, every working day, enter Runcorn via Clifton Road. Only a comparatively few realise that the ruined wall, standing out so clearly against the sky, is really a ghost of a glorious past. It is now normal to refer to Rocksavage as a "castle". It never was. It is also normal to retail the story of an underground passage leading direct from this site to the castle at Halton. That is moonshine. Rocksavage needs no such fables for the telling of its entrancing story, which is a grand mixture or war and chivalry, of honourable deeds and dark intrigue, and of fickle women and designing men.
** This "tall fragment of a ruined wall" (below,left) finally blew down in a gale in about 1980. Now the only "in-situ" remains to be seen are the huge orchard gateposts,part of the orchard wall itself and the remnants of the house garden wall,which has had a road driven through it.
Even a bishop was among the designing men of Rocksavage. He had been born out of wedlock, and was a different type to yet another bishop from Rocksavage who became Archbishop of York. The lavish entertainment at Rocksavage was enjoyed by royalty, and two of the Savages released from prison in the Tower of London through the influence of Cardinal Wolsey, were banned from ever entering Cheshire. But this is jumping into the middle of the story.But, before the story is fully launched, consider carefully a difficulty over names. Should a stranger desire to visit the spot, about which we are here concerned, he will naturally board a bus labelled "Rocksavage Village". There he may have a shock when the first person he meets may say the place is named Clifton. The well known fact is that some people use one name and some use the other. As this brief history proceeds it will become apparent that the label on the buses, like the "pure fruit" label on some jars of jam is not correct. The proper name for the village is Clifton. The name Rocksavage applies only to the site of the Mansion wherein the Savages lived and was not "invented" until about 1565. In the previous two centuries their home was known as Clifton Hall.
Another point arises concerning the village. The one we know today cannot claim to be picturesquely antique. Probably it does not even occupy the exact spot of the old village. It fact its main road** on the hill, actually cuts through the site once occupied by the gardens of the Rocksavage Mansion. Of this there is ample evidence for all who walk up the hill.
**When this article was penned, there was a road through the village, but with the coming of the Runcorn New Town Expressways and the M56 motorway, the "main road up the hill" is now blocked off at one end and is no longer the vehicular access to the village, which has also seen a reduction in the number of its inhabitants.
To start at the very beginning of the story of Rocksavage it is necessary to mention William the Conqueror who, incidentally, would feel thoroughly at home in the Runcorn of today - his mother was the daughter of a tanner ! (When this newspaper article was written, the Runcorn area still had several large tanneries operating, by 1980 these had all closed down). It was the outcome of his founding of the feudal system that, in due course, Clifton came into the news in 1375 as part of the marriage dowry given to Margaret, only child of Sir Thomas Danyers. Her bridegroom bore a name which was to become famous in these parts. He was John Savage, who is believed to have come from Scarcliffe in Derbyshire.
This young man must have been impressed by the distinction of the family into which he had married. His father-in-law, Sir Thomas Danyers, had fought alongside the Black Prince at the Battle of Cressy where the Cheshire archers played havoc with the French. In that battle Sir Thomas gained honour by capturing Count Tankerville, the "Chamberlain of France". For this Sir Thomas was given an annuity charged on the Royal Manor of Frodsham.
It is in connection with the marriage of Margaret and John that we find the first known mention of "the Old Hall of Clifton". It was included in the bride's dowry and became their home.
The Savage family was associated with the Stanleys (the Derby family) and so it is not surprising to learn that John was destined for preferment. He was appointed Bailiff of the Royal Forest of Macclesfield. With that town the Savages built up a strong attachment for although for centuries they lived at Clifton they found their last resting place in Macclesfield. The first John Savage was buried there in 1386
He was succeeded by his son, another John, who at that time was still in his minority. From his grandfather he learned about the wars in France and thrilling stories of the Black Prince, so it is no wonder that he placed his services at the King's command when Henry the Fifth decided upon another invasion of France. To help support his rank his mother conveyed the Clifton estate to him in his own right. She also made him a grant of right to bear the arms of his grandfather, the hero of Cressy. By his own bravery at the Battle of Agincourt this young man brought new distinction to the family name. He was given the honour of Knighthood and was an old man when he died in 1450, to be succeeded by his son John.
This third John married the daughter of Sir William Brereton. He preferred the quiet life, and was quite content to be just "a simple country gentleman". When he died on 29th June,1463, he was succeeded by his son - created a Knight of the Body of King Henry the Sixth.
This Sir John, the fourth in succession, devoted his life to the public service. He must have been a very busy man, for in addition to having at least nine sons (number of daughters unknown), he served as the Mayor of Chester and was favoured by Henry the seventh who showed special favour by appointing him to special office in the Duchy of Lancaster. His wife was the sister of the first Earl of Derby. Sir John still holds the record of having nine sons admitted as Freemen of Chester during one ceremony. He died in November 22nd, 1495 and was buried with his forebears in the family chapel at Macclesfield Parish Church where there is a fine monument of him and his wife.
That chapel was built by Thomas, the second of the nine sons already mentioned. Thomas, devoting himself to the Church, became Bishop of Rochester, then Bishop of London and eventually Archbishop of York. Although he was buried in York Minster in1507, his heart was taken to Macclesfield and interred under the altar of the chantry he had completed only a few years earlier.
The Archbishop's elder brother was a soldier and did not live long enough to succeed his father in the estates. He fought on the side of the Lancastrians in the Wars of the Roses, and for helping to place the crown on the head of Henry the seventh was made Knight of the Garter, and given estates in various parts of England. Later he was in command of part of the English forces which besieged Boulogne in 1492, and was killed by a French arrow fired from the walls of the city. His body was brought home and buried at Macclesfield. Little is recorded about John Savage, the fifth in succession to enjoy the estates but he comes into the picture because he had an illegitimate son, George Savage, who became the Rector of Davenham. This Rector himself had several illegitimate children, one of them being a son who was born to Elizabeth Frodsham. In accordance with the then not uncommon custom she was conveniently married to a workman on the estate, and her son, Edmund, took her husband's name and became Edmund Bonner. This boy succeeded his father as Rector of Davenham and , no doubt through the influence of his natural father, became the Bishop of London. He was that Bishop Bonner of Queen Mary's time - the man she detested as a cruel persecutor. Sir John Savage, the sixth heir to the estates, was a soldier who lived to regret that he was ever born. His career has the elements of a thrilling historical novel. Raising troops in this area and in Macclesfield, he marched north with the English soldiery and played a big part in the victory over the Scots at Flodden Field. Sir John's archers played havoc with the brave, half naked clansmen, but it was a costly victory. The slain included the mayor of Macclesfield (Christopher savage) and so many gentlemen and commoners of the town that there were not sufficient substantial burgesses left to form a corporation.
SWORDS ARE DRAWN
That position had no more than righted itself when Sir John and his eldest son (another John) found themselves in dispute with a gentleman named Pauncefote. Apparently both parties became heated, and in the end swords were drawn. Sir John and his son lived long to rue their hastiness. In the fight - a common incident in those days - Pauncefote received a thrust from which he died. There must have been a sensation in court circles when the two Savages were arrested. The elder prisoner, in addition to his properties at Clifton and other parts of Cheshire also had large estates in Worcestershire, and in fact, was the High Sheriff of that County. That office was of much greater power and interest than that enjoyed by any High Sheriff in present days. But that power and influence did not help either Sir John or his son. Both were sent to the Tower of London, probably to await execution.
***************** the two prisoners were released. A heavy fine was imposed but, more serious still, they were both banned from ever setting foot in Cheshire or Worcestershire without the King's consent. This happened in 1520 and seven years later Sir John passed away without again seeing his fair home at Clifton. In the meantime the banishment on his son had been lifted but he too never returned to the old home. He succeeded to the title but only a few months later (on 26th July,1528) this John Savage, seventh in the line of succession, died at Rythin Castle.
His infant son, John, succeeded to the family estate at the age of three years. This seems to have been a blessing because by the time he reached man's estate the Pauncefote affair had had a chance of passing from common talk. This young man with good reason to forsake the risky path trodden by his father and grandfather, sought to render service nearer home. He was hardly more than in his 20s when he was appointed High Sheriff of Cheshire. It seems strange that this distinction was given to him when there were so many older men available among the nobility. Perhaps something of the reason may be found in the fact that, due to the Reformation, there was still an uneasy balance between Rome and the reformers and there may have been a general reluctance to take on the responsibilities of the high office. Be that as it may, Sir John, the eighth John in the succession - filled the post with distinction. Indeed, he served as High Sheriff on at least seven different occasions.
Other posts awaited him. Queen Mary appointed him seneschal of the Honour and Castle of Halton, and so also did Queen Elizabeth. Twice a month he held court as a Judge in Halton Castle. In 1585 and again three years later he was appointed as one of Cheshire's two Members of Parliament. During his period there occurred two events which shook the Government and the people. One was the arrival and defeat of the Spanish Armada. The other was the attempt to assassinate Queen Elizabeth in order to place Mary Queen of Scots on the throne. One man concerned in the plot was caught at Frodsham and subsequently beheaded.
Sir John had many other interests. On three occasions he was Mayor of Chester and he also found time to keep in constant touch with Macclesfield where for years he was High Steward of the borough.
But this Sir John has a local claim to fame. It was he who introduced the new name of "Rocksavage" in the mid 1560s, when, no longer satisfied with the Old Hall of Clifton, he built a new and more imposing mansion on adjoining land. In many ways it was similar to the existing Brereton Hall built at the same time and designed by the same architect. There is an unconfirmed story that Queen Elizabeth laid a foundation stone. About the same period he forsook the arms of the old Danyers family and created arms of his own. He was again Mayor of Chester when he died on December 4th,1597, at the age of 73 years. There was much pomp when his body was taken to Macclesfield for burial.
************ money chest. To raise the necessary funds he decided to create a new order of Knighthood to which only men of the Estate of Gentlemen could be admitted - and then only on payment of a sum equal to the cost of maintaining thirty soldiers for three years. Sir John paid his £1,000 and thereby his title became merged into the new and higher rank of baronet. He died in June 1615, but it was not until the dead of night on July 14th that he was buried without pomp in the family chapel at Macclesfield.
His eldest son, John, died at the age of three years, so that the succession devolved upon the eldest surviving son, Thomas Savage. So for the first time in more than 200 years, there was not a John Savage as the rightful owner of Clifton. Sir Thomas was soon created a Viscount and was the first member of the family to enter the Peerage. He married the daughter and heiress of Lord D'Arcy, and when their first son was baptised the Prince of Wales stood as sponsor at the ceremony as the representative of King James the First. Royal favour was shown again on August 21st, 1617 when King James and his retinue were entertained at Rocksavage. Later Charles the First appointed Sir Thomas the Chancellor of the Queen's Court at Westminster and it was while attending these duties in London (1635) that he took ill and died. He was buried at Macclesfield, at the same time and place as his mother, Lady Mary of Bostock Hall.
With the passing of Sir Thomas his eldest son, Lord Viscount Savage, became the 11th holder of the family privileges. There were great hopes in him because once again, a John Savage was in control. The hopes rose higher still when, in 1639, he became Earl Rivers. The usual family distinctions and dignities were showered upon him but, somehow, he did not know a good thing when he had it in his keeping. He soon got into trouble which caused him to be placed under suspicion. This did not deter him. He got into more trouble - right up to the neck - and as we will see paid the full price. Siding with Charles the First against Parliament he put Halton Castle in a state of defence. This antagonised his near neighbours, the Brookes of Norton, who attached themselves to the Parliamentarians. Sir William Brereton, who was in charge of the Parliamentary forces in Cheshire received orders from Cromwell and marched upon Halton. Those were stirring days. For a while the defenders of the Castle withstood the siege, but in the end had to capitulate. To make sure that Halton Castle could never again be used against the will of Parliament, Sir William Brereton's troops were launched upon the task of its total destruction. They did this completely and then marched upon the fair mansion of Rocksavage which was looted. The roof was torn off, walls were destroyed and the building left quite uninhabitable.
*********** While the Earl's body was still resting within the walls someone set fire to the castle (Frodsham Castle, now remembered as Castle Park, Frodsham), which was destroyed. No doubt this fire was intended as the Earl's funeral pyre, but someone rescued his body and carried it to Macclesfield where it was buried privately two days later. His son Thomas, the new Earl Rivers, was soon in trouble. An attempt was made on the life of Cromwell, and Earl Rivers (in the first year of his succession) was arrested on suspicion of having played a part in the effort. Eventually he was released, but for six years he was a homeless wanderer - Halton Castle, Frodsham Castle and Rocksavage all still being in ruin. His estates were returned to him when the monarchy was restored, and while Rocksavage was being repaired he made a temporary home in London. He appointed a deputy seneschal at Halton Castle with a steward to attend court on his behalf and look after his affairs as in the old days.
Although a pronounced royalist, he was also a robust Protestant and proved the strength of this when in 1680, the heir to the throne openly avowed his attachment to Rome. A general cry was raised that the heir should be excluded from the succession. Earl Rivers supported that demand and, in 1682, joined the Duke of Monmouth in his progress through Cheshire. The Earl and his eldest son (Lord Colchester) entertained the Duke at Rocksavage. This march through Cheshire was described by authority as "a seditious rising" and for his part Lord Colchester was tried at Chester Assizes. He escaped the consequences by being merely ordered to keep the peace.
PRINCE OF ORANGE
This did not discourage either Earl Rivers or his son from displaying the Protestantism. Six years after Monmouth had been entertained at Rocksavage, Lord Colchester rode to Exeter to meet the Prince of Orange and was the first nobleman to offer his services to the Prince. Lord Colchester died five years later (in 1693) and on September 14th in the following year the old Earl also passed away and joined his forefathers at Macclesfield. He was 67 years of age.
His second son, Richard, Viscount Savage, became the thirteenth in succession. Like his elder brother and after gaining distinction he was appointed a Privy Councillor and entrusted with the delicate mission to the court at Hanover. He rose in the councils of the State and became Master General of Ordnance.
****************** boy was born, and doing his best to make reparation, the Earl acknowledged his paternity, and giving the boy the family name of Savage, stood as his sponsor at the baptism. The boy, who became Richard Savage the poet, was spirited away by the Countess and placed in charge of a poor woman and brought up as her son. His paternal grandmother knew of his whereabouts and through her generosity he was given a liberal education.
The Earl, having arrived at his deathbed, wanted to do still more for this natural son. He sent messengers to the Countess to learn where the young boy was living and back came the answer that his son was dead. Due to that falsehood the Earl could not make the provision he had intended, and the boy was robbed of his birthright. Not until the death of his foster mother did Richard Savage learn these facts and then "going off the handle" he generally made a shipwreck of his life.
The Earl's death occurred on December 14th, 1714 and as his only legitimate issue was a daughter, the title rested in his cousin John Savage. This cousin was however a Roman Catholic priest, and he declined the title and the estates. By his death in 1728, the title Earl Rivers and the direct male line of the Savages became extinct.
When the priest declined the title and honours it was natural that the Earl's only daughter, Elizabeth, the wife of the Earl of Barrymore, should claim the estates. Her petition was granted in a special Act of Parliament, and the Earl and Countess of Barrymore having restored and enlarged Rocksavage made it their home. There they entertained in the style of the old time hospitality and splendour. A traveller of those days wrote about "the magnificent fabric of Rocksavage " and " to the late additions of delectable gardens, orchards and walks " .
On the death of the Countess the estate went to her only child, the Hon. Penelope Barry, who in 1730, married the Hon. James Cholmondeley, second son of the second Earl of Cholmondeley. It was by this marriage that the estate passed into the possession of the present owners, the Cholmondeley family, where the eldest son is known in his own right as the Earl of Rocksavage.
More information about the lineage of the Savage family can be found here
DISUSE AND DECAY
With its absorption into the Cholmondeley Estate, Rocksavage fell into disuse and finally into the decay we can see today. When the farm known as Rocksavage Grange (now the home of Mr. C. H. Johnson) was built a little over 150 years ago, sandstone from the old mansion was used in the construction of the farm buildings. Other pieces of the old fabric are to be found in various walls about the farm. The gateway to the old mansion still stands and I have often had the privilege of walking on the foundations and tracing the approximate whereabouts of the mansion's main door. From there ***************** to examine a tunnel which had been disclosed by a subsidence in the farmyard. The first reaction was, that after all, perhaps there was something in the old fable about an underground passage. But -- . Although the "tunnel" was tall enough to give standing room, it was constructed of brick. Iron footholds, something the shape of horseshoes, had their open end embedded at intervals down the wall at the place where the subsidence had occurred. These gave a cat ladder means of access to and from the cavity.
The bricks and condition of the ironwork decided the issue. Certainly they were not ancient. They were in a better state than one would expect after the passing of 200 years, even supposing that the "tunnel" - which was only about two feet below the level of the farmyard - was a passageway to the cellars of the last mansion on that site.
More interesting still was a "find" in the neighbourhood of that well known tall fragment of the old mansion wall. A hole was being dug by Mr. Johnson's farm workers when they uncovered a sandstone wall. Although it had been completely buried with earth for how long no one knows, it still bore very clear evidence of whitewash! Probably this was a cellar wall. In great measure it is due to the researches of that grand historian of Runcorn, the late William Handley, who lectured on this subject, that it has been possible to retell the story of old Rocksavage. From it we can learn that, although Runcorn is a seeming prosaic town, and Clifton not now a picturesque village, the locality is as rich in historical association as many places more widely known for their past glories.
Indebtedness is also acknowledged to Miss M. Knight, Runcorn Librarian, and to Mr. James Hill for permission to reproduce the picture of Rocksavage Grange at the time of its glory - the only such picture the writer has seen.
(note - the newspaper cutting contains a photograph of "the last remnant of the ruined wall" and also a "drawing of Rocksavage as it appeared about the year 1725". The photocopy reproduction of the photograph and drawing are too indistinct to be able to copy. The author and date of publication are also not known).
HN.1 - 10.03Return to