A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1907.
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Wauretreu, Dom. Bk.; Wauertrea, 1167; Wauertre or Wavertre is the most usual form from 1200, with Wauertrie as a variant. Wartre occurs in 1381, and becomes common later; it gives the old local pronunciation, Wautry.
This township has an area of 1,838 acres. (fn. 1) The highest land is in the centre and north, rising to an elevation of over 200 ft.: the surface slopes away in the other directions, especially on the Liverpool side. The old village stood on the higher part of this westward slope, beside the road from Liverpool to Woolton, here called High Street; it has now grown into a town. The eastern half of the township still retains a rural or suburban character. The population in 1901 was 25,303.
The soil is sandy and loamy; the geological formation consists of pebble beds of the bunter series of the new red sandstone or trias. Wheat, oats, and potatoes are grown.
The principal roads are those from Liverpool to Woolton, with numerous cross roads. Portions of an old pack-horse track exist. The London and NorthWestern Company's Liverpool and Manchester line passes along the northern boundary, where is the deep Olive Mount cutting, celebrated in the earlier days of railway engineering. The same company's railway to the Bootle Docks branches off to the north, while its principal line from Liverpool to London goes through the western portion, where there is a station. The Liverpool tramway system extends to the top of the High street.
Near the terminus is a small green with a pond,
and close by is Monks' well, a pin well, on which it
is said there was this inscription:—
QUI NON DAT QUOD HABET
DAEMON INFRA RIDET. ANNO 1414.
reproduced on the modern covering of the well. (fn. 2) Close by is a clock tower commemorating Sir James Picton, the Liverpool architect and antiquary, who lived in Olive Mount. To the east is a piece of ground which by the terms of the enclosure award must remain an open space for ever. Near it is the old windmill. (fn. 3) Lower down, towards the railway, is the fine children's playground presented to Liverpool by an anonymous benefactor. (fn. 4) Wavertree Nook is in the north-eastern corner of the township.
Mrs. Hemans lived in the High Street for some time. (fn. 5)
A prehistoric cemetery has been discovered here. (fn. 6)
Gregson thus describes the place as it was in 1817: 'Wavertree is a pleasant village and has increased with Liverpool, within these few years, in a rapid manner… . The salubrity of the air is highly and very deservedly spoken of … . In 1731 the township contained fifty houses, (fn. 7) of which only three were untenanted.'
The township was constituted a local government district in 1851, (fn. 8) and a town hall in the classical style was built in 1872 in the High Street. In 1894 it became an urban district, and in November, 1895, was incorporated in Liverpool.
At the death of Edward the Confessor WAVERTREE was in the possession of Leving, assessed at 2 plough-lands and valued beyond the customary rent at the normal 64d. (fn. 9) After the Conquest it was added to the demesne of the honour, and in consequence its manorial history is identical with that of West Derby. In the Pipe Roll of 1176–7 is a record of the payment of 1 mark from Wavertree to the tallage levied that year. (fn. 10)
The Walton family, who held the master-serjeanty of the wapentake, had 4 oxgangs of land in Wavertree by reason of this office. (fn. 11) It would appear that the remaining 12 oxgangs in Wavertree had been given to Gilbert de Walton by King John when count of Mortain—and perhaps forfeited on the count's rebellion—for in 1198–9 Gilbert's son, Henry de Walton, rendered account of a palfrey and 100s. due for having this land. He would thus have the whole manor, though by different titles, the service for the 12 oxgangs being a rent of 2 marks. (fn. 12)
The old rent payable from Wavertree to the sheriff of the county was 20s.; this was increased half a mark in 1199, (fn. 13) and the increased payment continued to be made in later years; as, for instance, in 1323, when the stewardship of the manor came into the king's hands by the forfeiture of Robert de Holand. (fn. 14)
Occasional escheats reveal something of the value of the place. In 1205–6 the sheriff had 70s. from corn from Wavertree and other lands of Henry de Walton, whose estates were then in the king's hands. (fn. 15) In the inquisition taken in 1298, after the death of Edmund earl of Lancaster, it was found that 1 oxgang of land was held by Roger de Thingwall for a rent of 4d., and the other fifteen by various customary tenants at the rate of 3s. an oxgang; there were also 131 acres 1½ roods of land improved from the waste rented at 4d. the acre, the total amounting to £4 9s. 1½d. (fn. 16) Again, after the forfeiture of Thomas of Lancaster in 1322, when a detailed extent was made of lands held by him, Wavertree, as part of the demesne of the honour, was included. (fn. 17) In 1346, in the extent of the lands of Henry, earl of Lancaster, the turbary had increased in value to £6 13s. 4d., while the free tenants continued to pay 4d., and the tenants at will paid £4 10s., double the former amount. (fn. 18)
The local surname is not common, but in 1307 Henry de Wavertree was vicar of Childwall, and in 1329 Thomas son of Roger de Warrington was accused of the death of Robert de Wavertree. The jury found that the accusation was due to the malice of one William de Schukedale, who thought that Thomas had been insufficiently punished (fn. 19) by the hallmote court of West Derby for striking him, and so accused him of this more serious crime. Thomas son of Gregory the shoemaker was the guilty person. (fn. 20)
The Norrises of Speke had lands here. In 1495 Sir William Norris acquired from William Brown of Penketh an additional portion called Long Hey, abutting on the Sandfield towards the west. Robert Lake of Wavertree in 1499 transferred to William Lathom of Parbold and Thomas Harebrown of Wavertree a butt of land, running up to the 'stone divisions' on the north, in trust for the chaplain at the chantry altar in Childwall church, to pray for the grantor's soul and the souls of his parents and successors. This seems to have been the Stonyfield, which the churchwardens in 1552 exchanged with Sir William Norris. At the hallmote of West Derby in 1594 John Lake of Bromborough, Alice Holland, widow, and Robert Ellison transferred a close called Widow's Flat to Edward Norris, who was admitted and paid a fine of 5d. (fn. 21)
John Crosse of Liverpool purchased several parcels of land in Wavertree in 1497 from the above William Brown of Penketh and Gilbert his son; (fn. 22) while in 1505 Richard Crosse bought from Sir John Ireland of Hale land in Wavertree, held by William Lake and paying 15½d. a year to the king. (fn. 23)
In Queen Elizabeth's time the tenants had a dispute with the lord of the adjacent manor of Allerton about some 50 acres of waste 'bounded by Calder, Roger, or Way stones, as appears by a plan then made and laid down, now in the chest at Wavertree.' (fn. 24)
When Charles I in 1628 sold the manor of West Derby it was contended that the manors of Everton and Wavertree were included, but the tenants in these townships objecting, the matter was settled ten years later by an amended grant of West Derby lordship and manor and the towns of Everton and Wavertree; thereupon the tenants of these townships paid their rent to the purchasers. Next year the latter transferred their rights to Lord Strange, afterwards earl of Derby. (fn. 25) The manor was sold in 1717 to Isaac Greene, from whom it has descended to the marquis of Salisbury. (fn. 26) In 1817 Gregson states 'the court for Wavertree and West Derby was held under Bamber Gascoyne for the copyhold lands, which are of inheritance and fine certain.' (fn. 27)
The common lands were enclosed by Act of Parliament in 1768. (fn. 28)
In 1717 Darcy Chantrell of Noctorum as a 'Papist' registered an estate of £39 in Wavertree. (fn. 29)
The land tax returns of 1785 show the principal landowners to have been Bamber Gascoyne, Thomas Plumbe, and Rev. Thomas Dannett.
In connexion with the Establishment, Trinity Church was built in 1790; a small burial-ground is attached. (fn. 30) A separate parish was formed for it in 1828, (fn. 31) and the incumbents are styled rectors. (fn. 32) In 1871 St. Bridget's was erected as a chapel of ease; it possesses a reredos of Venetian mosaic work. A separate ecclesiastical parish was constituted in 1901. St. Mary's, Sandown Park, was built in 1849, and a district assigned in 1856; the incumbents have the title of rector. (fn. 33) St. Thomas's was built in 1896. (fn. 34)
The Wesleyan church in Victoria Park was built in 1872. Trinity Congregational church, Hunter Lane, was founded about 1836, and the building opened in 1839; there is a mission in Wellington Road. (fn. 35)
The Roman Catholic church of Our Lady of Good Help was opened in 1887, (fn. 36) and St. Hugh's, on the Toxteth border, in 1904. (fn. 37) Bishop Eton, on the Woolton Road, has been the novitiate house of the English province of the Redemptorists for nearly forty years; the order acquired the place in 1851. The church, Our Lady of the Annunciation, was designed by Pugin. The Convent of Mercy (St. Anthony's) in Green Lane is served from Bishop Eton.