Copyright 2014 Hidden Wirral
The Norman font is sometimes the sole remaining portion of the older Norman church in which it once stood. In the modern church of Wallasey is an ancient font, which by the arcade of semicircular arches carved upon it is evidently the work of the Norman builders, and belonged to the Norman church that formerly stood on the site of the present building. The font of similar pattern at71 Grappenhall was dug up during a restoration three feet below the floor of the present church, where it had lain for centuries, and there are Norman fonts at Eastham, Bebington, and Burton. In addition to those already spoken of, the churches of Bebington, Bruera, Frodsham, Church Lawton, and Barthomley contain portions of Norman work in some shape or form. The Norman style of architecture is rarely copied nowadays in the building of churches, being considered too massive and sombre as well as costly. Boys who live in Wirral should, however, walk to the village of Thornton Heath, where they may see a new church built entirely in this style, with every detail copied faithfully from famous old Norman churches.
Other Norman barons were not slow to follow the example of their overlord the Earl of Chester. In 1150 Hamon de Massey, Baron of Dunham Massey, built a priory at Birkenhead for sixteen Benedictine monks. The tolls from a ferry across the Mersey were granted to them for their support, the charges being 'for a horseman two-pence, for a man on foot one farthing, a halfpenny for a footman on market days, and a penny when he had goods or produce with him'. The name of 'Monks Brow' still marks the landing-place of the ferry on the Cheshire side of the estuary. The monks were also freed from attendance at the 'Hundred' Court of the Wirral. The manors72 of Tranmere, Bebington, Saughall Massey, and Claughton were also given to the priory, and the priors sat in the council or parliament of the Earls of Chester. The ruined refectory is the only portion of the priory now remaining.