St Helen's Church

Churchtown

St Michael's Church

St Michael's-on-Wyre

 History

At the time of the Domesday Survey of 1086, St Michael’s-on-Wyre was known as vpracliffe or Upper Rawcliffe with Tarnacre, a name which has been used in government circles, parish council record and census returns. The name St Michael’s was first used in the twelfth century.

 

About the year 1068 King William gave the manor of Lancaster to one Roger de Poictou, amongst which were a number of manors and “vills”. Amongst these were the townships of Elswick, Eccleston, Inskip, Sowerby, Woodplumpton and Out Rawcliffe and most important, Michelescherce. At this time the village was only sparsely populated an a Church was built on its present site to serve all the townships mentioned above and became the Parish of St Michael’s which covered an area of almost 19,000 acres.

 

The Parish Church registers date from around 1659 and since that date it may be seen that thousands of baptisms, marriages and burials of people from all the neighbouring villages in the Parish have taken place. The village was one of only three to be named in the Domesday Survey (Preston and Kirkham being the other two). It was likely that the Normans, who were Christians, recognised that this was a religious community rather than a pagan Saxon one and therefore it escaped the destruction suffered by many areas throughout the north of England. It is apparent, therefore, that a church existed at the time of the Norman Conquest although, according to ancient historians, a church existed as far back as the fifth century. The construction of the present church has taken place at various times; it can be seen that the tower, which was built in the mid 16th century, is later addition to the main body of the building. On the north side may be seen the Butler Chapel which was erected between the years of 1480 and 1500. The Church is described as being in late perpendicular style.

 

Why then should a church and a village be established here at all? Firstly there was an important crossing point of the River Wyre at a point where the bridge is situated and the river was fordable at most times of the year – this is still an important crossing point at the bridge. Secondly there was an ample supply of wood for building houses from the nearby forests. Thirdly there was an ample supply of fish and fresh water from the river. Lastly when one looks at a map of the area it may be seen that all roads converge on the village – roads from Poulton and Great Eccleston; from Garstang; from Out Rawcliffe and the Over Wyre area; lastly from Inskip and Woodplumpton.

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