Backford, Mollington & District
Local History Society

Backford Township - Landmarks
St Oswalds Church

Prominent buildings include St. Oswald’s church, probably established in the 12th century although the oldest part, the Chancel, dates from the 13th century. The tower is from the 16th century and the Nave was rebuilt and fully restored in the late 19th century. The church is situated at one of the highest points in Backford, about 100 ft above sea level. In the nave there are two very old Church Chests, one dated 1636 and the other 1702. Also in the nave, and kept in a glass case, is an ancient chained bible. It is the second oldest bible in Wirral and bears the date 1617 and was printed by Robert Barker of London. The first “patrons of the living” at the church were priors from Birkenhead Priory and this practice continued until the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

The aforementioned tower contains a peal of six bells, four from 1714 and two from 1887 though all six were refurbished and rehung in 1945. To hear the bell ringers practising on a Tuesday evening is a wonderful experience.

There is a beautiful Millenium window in the church initiated by the bell ringers the cost of which was raised within seven weeks by way of a bequest from the family of the late Bill Littler and other fund raising.

Since 1541 the church has been part of the Chester diocese and the Bishop of Chester has been the Patron of the living of Backford. There are extensive registers held by the church going back to 1562. These provide great mines of information for anyone interested in carrying out research into family trees etc.

Backford Hall

The township of Backford is the centre of the parish and appropriately contains our Church and Village Hall as well as Backford Hall, home for so many years of the Gleggs, a leading family in the area. That family, indeed at one time owned much of the township.

The present Backford Hall was built in the early 1860’s . The original hall was built in the 16th century and replaced in the 18th century. Following the previously mentioned development it now consists of 10 apartments. Early residents of the hall were the Birkenhead family and when Thomas Birkenhead died in 1704 without issue it was passed to his nieces who had married into the Glegg family. A tithe map of 1842 shows that Birkenhead Glegg owned most of the Parish of Backford through which passed the important Chester to Birkenhead turnpike. Edward Holt Glegg had the 18th century hall rebuilt in the 1860’s at a cost of £10,700.

In 1928 following the death of the last of the Gleggs the hall passed to Lettice Townshend. She never lived in the hall and it was leased to various tenants until 1941. These tenants included a boys school, Mr. and Mrs. Jacobs of the famous biscuits family, a Salvatorian Order, and for a short while it was a country club. A shipping company had bought the hall in 1941 and in 1946 it was sold to Cheshire County Council for use as office accommodation. In 2012 the hall and grounds were sold for development as mentioned earlier. 

One interesting footnote regarding the hall is that over the years there have been many stories of ghostly activities in its walls and anybody interested should read Cheshire Tales of Mystery and Murder published in 2002.

A strange story from Backford Hall tells of a young servant girl, who met a violent death there many years ago, and whose ghost remains to haunt the mansion. The ghost was sensed at the time of the Salvatorians, and was the subject of an attempted, but apparently unsuccessful exorcism in 1936.

Backford School

Backford school was opened in 1844. In 1944 it became known as Backford C.of E. Aided Primary School and in 1996 it closed, all the pupils being transferred to the new St Oswald's School in Mollington.

Hospice of the Good Shepherd

The Hospice of the Good Shepherd occupies the former vicarage of St. Oswald’s and was bought in 1985. Following the building of the in-patient unit it was opened by Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1989. The Living Well Centre was then added and opened in 2017 by the Duchess of Westminster.

First class care and support is provided for people with life limiting illnesses and there are 12 beds for inpatients. Relatives of patients are provided with a wonderful support system to help them through the difficult times and also through the bereavement process. Its work covers Chester, West Cheshire, part of South Wirral and the Deeside area of Wales.

Backford is ideally situated with good access to the M53 and M56 motorways, Cheshire Oaks, North Wales and of course Chester itself.