Copyright 2014 Hidden Wirral
On the far north-eastern side of the Wirral Peninsula, east of the B5151 road, near Bidston village is Bidston Hill which is 70 metres high. On the summit stands the famous Bidston Hill Observatory (part of The Institute of Oceanographic Sciences). Close by there are two sets of rock carvings differing in age from the 9th century AD up to a much more recent 18th century !
On a long flat sandstone outcrop just north east of the observatory is a four and half foot long carving of a sun goddess with outstretched arms. The head of the goddess faces the direction to where the sun sets on Midsummer's day. Also, there is a carving of a cat-headed Moon goddess with a moon at her feet. These carvings are thought to have been done by Viking settlers in the area - probably the 9th-10th century AD. However, one source put the age of the carvings as being Gallo-Roman from the 2nd century AD.
A short distance away another stone outcrop north of the observatory has the figure of a horses head carved onto it. On its neck there is a carved sun symbol. However, the age of this rock carving is uncertain -some historians think it could be more recent - perhaps the 18th century ? the sun symbol may be older. There is a stone with a hollow cut into it that collects rain water just beyond Bidston Hill; this however is again fairly recent - being used for the horrid sport of cock fighting.
Bidston Hill is associated with Arthurian legend. It is thought that Sir Gawain brought the Holy Grail with him when he travelled this way, and there are connections here with St Joseph of Arimathea, Jesus' uncle.
The Ring O’Bells (now Stone Farm) in Bidston was owned by a local family, known in some sources as the Radleys or in others as the Pendletons. Later on in the mid-nineteenth century, a Miss Radley (or a Mary Pendleton) married a man named Simon Croft, under whose proprietorship the place became almost as infamous as Mother Redcap’s (the long demolished smugglers' tavern in Wallasey), although it retained its established reputation for their ham and eggs, which attracted visitors from all over Wirral at holiday time. The Ring O’ Bells had its own motto, which ran thus:
Walk in, my friends and taste my beer and liquor
If your pockets be well stored, you’ll find it comes the quicker;
But for want of that has caused both grief and sorrow,
Therefore you must pay to-day: I will trust to-morrow.
It is described in Albert Smith’s 1847 novel The Struggles and Adventures of Christopher Tadpole.
Simon Croft, who kept his own pigs to provide the ham, succumbed to the temptation of all landlords and became a noted drunk, while the pub itself attracted a lively and mixed crowd, including prize fighters such as Tom Sayers, Jem Mace and the “Tipton Slasher” who called in on their way to train on Hilbre. No doubt they -- and the many drunks for whom the place became notorious -- appreciated the contraband wine that Simon sold. He died, no doubt happily, in 1864, and is said to have inspired the song “Simon the Cellarer”. Four years after his death, Lady Cust, daughter of Mrs Boode of Leasowe Castle, prevailed upon Mr. Vyner, the lord of the manor, to revoke the Ring O’ Bells’ license due to the continuing scandal of drunkenness on the Sabbath. Bidston has been “dry” ever since.