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Of old, West Kirby was noted for its ghosts. One haunted the narrowest part of the lane between West Kirby and Caldy, while the ghost of Mrs Glegg, a former lady of the manor, was said to walk abroad at night on the Mount (the part of Caldy Hill near Kirby Mount). The most feared ghost was “he who walked in Highfield Lane… nobody was bold enough to encounter him when darkness set in…”Welcome to the Hidden Wirral Myths & Legends Night Tour of West Kirby. Meeting outside The White Lion Inn situated on Grange Road in Wirral's Viking Capital. This is West Kirby’s most historical & mythical night walk! This Tour is Strictly over 16s only, and will appeal to those seeking knowledge, Mystery and the Strange, this tour has something for everyone. Discover West Kirby’s most famous People such as Philip De Gruchy and the legend of his strange ecclesiastical symbols built into the walls of West Kirby. The Great Storm of 1839, The Old Village of West Kirby, The Hidden Tunnels and of course the Ghost Legends of West Kirby. Join us as we intoduce you to the Myths, Legends and Ghost Tales and be taken on a journey through time.
Hidden Wirral Myths & Legends presents The Curious Walls of West Kirby, Breaking the De Gruchy Code. Join us as we take you on a journey around West Kirby showing you the beautiful and mysterious old walls built by Philip De Gruchy. We will also take you to the Old Village and the old church of St Bridgets, giving you a historic and memorable tour as we Break the DeGruchy Code.
We offer several different Times for this historic walk 12pm and 7pm.
Breaking the De Grouchy Code
By Tony Franks-Buckley
The name De Gruchy is believed to be Viking in origin, perhaps derived from the old Norse personal name Geiro. The De Gruchy’s were settlers in Normandy, who later eloped to the Channel isle of Jersey. Now begins the unique stone architecture connection between West Kirby and Jersey, the birthplace of Philip De Gruchy. How did a stonemason from Jersey end up building stone walls in a place hundreds of miles away and was also immortalised with the only street in West Kirby being named after him.
This connection is found in the surrounding walls of Abbey Manor and the mystery of the upside down heart that is etched into the wall. Local legend has it that, De Gruchy had his heart broken by a local female and this was the reason for the stone heart. There is another theory that the symbol is etched in honour of the death of Philip De Gruchy. The same symbols have been found on the Channel Island of Jersey where De Gruchy originated. The stone walls are thought to be of Ecclesiastical architecture, which translates to “Appropriate to a church or in a church” The De Gruchy walls surround the Abbey Manor also known as Grove Hill House, but is also local to places such as: Priory Road, Monks Way and Abbey Road which fits in to the Ecclesiastical architecture logic.
In 1819 a man named John Robin from Jersey, purchased the Lordship of Frankby in Cheshire. John Robin sworn in De Gruchy a fellow native of Jersey, to undertake the work of building a perimeter wall built entirely out of local red sandstone. This is similar to what occurred on the island of Jersey. There are a wealth of dated Ecclesiastical architecture stones around, or connected with, Jersey Churches and Churchyards. Each time St Lawrence extended the burial ground, the Churchwardens responsible had their initials carved in stone and mounted on the walls. John Robin who had amassed a large portion of land wanted and got the same design for his land in West Kirby. With the construction of the Abbey Manor already in place, the De Gruchy walls soon followed and by the end of the 1830s, John Robin’s vision had been reached and De Gruchy’s architecture completed.
But what happened to De Gruchy following the completion of the walls, he seems to just disappear from local history? He is listed in the local directories in 1860 as being a shop owner, yet he is not listed in the census of 1841 or 1851. De Gruchy is said to have lived in a dwelling on Darmond’s Green which could be “Ivy House” A local legend is that Ivy House and Abbey Manor have hidden tunnels beneath them, Was this further work of De Gruchy, or did he really have his heart broken? Was the upside down heart the last symbol of his masonry work and the unique Ecclesiastical architecture in West Kirby? It is a mystery that we may never know.
The name West Kirby is of Viking origin, originally Kirkjubyr, meaning 'village with a church'. The form with the modifier "West" exists to distinguish it from the other town of the same name in Wirral: Kirkby-in-Walea (now the modern town of Wallasey). The earliest usage given of this form is "West Kyrkeby in Wirhale" in 1285.
The old village lay around St. Bridget's Church, but the town today is centred on West Kirby railway station, which is about 1 km away. The town has a Victorian promenade, flanked by the West Kirby Marine Lake that permits boats to sail even at low tide. The original wall was built to create the lake in 1899 but suffered a catastrophic leak in 1985. A new lake was constructed on the site which is wider than previously and allows better sporting opportunities. The Hoylake and West Kirby War Memorial is a notable local landmark, designed in 1922 by the British sculptor Charles Sargeant Jagger, who was responsible for a number of war memorials around the world, including the Royal Artillery Memorial at Hyde Park Corner in London