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The interior of the stable, following restoration.

The interior of the stable, prior to restoration.

The south wall, following restoration.

In spring 1993, a few enthusiasts from Shocklach, encouraged by the support of a number of others, managed to save from demolition an old and apparently insignificant building close to St Edith’s church.  Above the door is the date 1700.  Slates had been removed from the stable roof some time previously and the contents were in a sad state.

A restoration team was lead by two Shocklach men whose families had lived in the village for generations (note the plaque on the new south wall).  Professional advice was provided by the Environmental Engineering Department of the then Chester City Council.

Some older residents refer to the stable as “the old school” but there is little evidence for this.  Certainly, in 1778, there was “no free or charity school” and in 1789 “no free or voluntary charity school” (see “Articles of Enquiry Preparatory to Visitation of Bishop”, 1778 and 1779).  However, it may be that some kind of teaching did take place there.

The building, on inspection, was more interesting than its northern, Victorian aspect suggested.  When all the contents had been removed, a careful examination was carried out.  The casual observer would have seen an old stable with a brick floor, rotting partitions, pegs in the walls for tethering the horses, a manger (dated 1890) and the remains of hay racks.  A hay loft occupied part of the first floor, stretching the width of the inner west gable and reaching to about one third the length of the building.

A later examination revealed a number of anomalies.  For example, below the level of the hayloft (possibly a Victorian addition) and along each gable end are small “cushions” of wood with a square section of brick above, indicating the position of earlier joists.  Some of these brick squares have been replaced with wooden joist ends to show where the original upper floor rested.  The ground floor walls had been simply whitewashed with lime and water but the first floor walls had been plastered using lime, sand and animal hair with a touch of “Dolly Blue”.  This colour was reproduced as closely as possible during the restoration.

There are the remains of an old fireplace in the south west corner of this interesting first floor.  It seems to have been potentially very snug.  Why was it decorated to a higher standard than the stable below?  Was a stable adapted to provide shelter and warmth for someone?  Or was a dwelling, no longer needed, used as a stable?

Another curious object is the cut beam, directly opposite the present  door, which may have stretched across the width of the building to help support the upper floor.  If this were so, then the original door would have been elsewhere, the present one being in the path of the beam.

Mention of the stable in various extracts

From Raymond Richard’s Cheshire Churches (Appendix):

1743  Flagging from church gates to stable

1775  A load of coals for the stable at the church 8s

1768  Rd. Griffiths for mending the loft 1s.  (This may have been over the stable.)

1780 To making the stall in the stable at the church 2s/6d

1839  Repairs and new roofing the stable £11.4s.7d.

From the churchwardens’ accounts:

1877  James Chalinder for repairing church stable 2s.0d

1878  Sept. 11th. to Aldars for C. Stable for Bill 1s.8d.  (Aldars = halters?)

1879  To Head Collar for Church Stable 6s

1880  To White and Brown Paint for Church and Stable Door £1.2s.10d  

Compiled by the late Margery Waddams


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