Building Name

Ellesmere Memorial (Worsley Monument) Wren's Wood Worsley

Date
1858 - 1860
Street
Leigh Road
District/Town
Worsley
County/Country
GMCA, England
Work
New Build
Listed
Grade II

Following the death of the 1st Earl of Ellesmere in 1857, £1,800 was raised entirely by donations from local people for a suitable memorial and an architectural competition organised, judged by Edward Barry and won by Driver & Webber of London . Originally 132 feet high the centre portion of the shaft was removed in 1939 when it was declared unsafe. The location of Wren's Wood near Worsley Hall is as given in The Builder. The wood is indicated to the north of the monument on both the 1844 and 1848 editions of the Ordnance Survey but has virtually disappeared by the 1927 edition. Josiah Webber appears to have assumed the main responsibility for its construction, attending the laying of the foundation stone and the top stone. By the time of its completion, the partnership had ended. At present, access to the reduced monument is problematic, the original access fro Leigh Road having been incorporated into the curtilage of a new house

THE ELLESMERE MEMORIAL – The foundation stone of the memorial to the late Earl of Ellesmere, about to be erected at Worsley, was laid yesterday afternoon, in the presence of the present Earl, a number of the committee and subscribers, and a crowd of the tenantry. The site of the monument is a gently rising ridge, about half a mile to the west of Worsley Church, - Worsley Hall lying between, and equidistant from each. The monument will be seen from a considerable distance and will be conspicuous object from the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, from which it will be distant a mile and a half to the northward. The surface of the site is at an elevation of 130 feet above the level of the line; and it is said that six counties will be visible from the tower or column. The ceremonial of yesterday was commenced by the singing of a psalm, after which Rev St Vincent Beechy, rector of Worsley, offered up an appropriate prayer. Mr Webber, of the firm Driver and Webber, the architects, then in suitable terms presented to Mr Fereday Smith a handsome silver trowel, together with an illuminated parchment, the latter of which was to be placed within the stone. Both bore an inscription, similar in character, with the Ellesmere arms emblazoned thereon. That upon the parchment was as follows:  Ellesmere Memorial – The first stone of this monument, erected by subscription to the memory of the Right Hon Francis Egerton, Earl of Ellesmere, was laid by Fereday Smith Esq on the 17th day of November 1858.  …   From the Builder we take some particulars concerning the plan of the proposed memorial, the correctness of which has been confirmed to us by the architect. “It is composed of an octagonal shaft, rising 132 feet from an enriched base, which is approached by bold stone steps, forming a spacious platform and footing to the whole, 49 feet square. On four sides of the base enriched panels are sunk, and bordered by breadths of coloured tiles. On one of these panels will be carved the arms of the late Earl, with an inscription to his memory below. The shafts of the detached columns are formed of marble, with carved caps and moulded bases. Above are arches of blue and red brick, surmounted by a crocketed and finialled canopy. Between each pair of buttresses is an arcade, with marble shaftlets and trefoiled heads; and at the four angles, over the buttresses, rise detached moulded pedestals, bearing carved lines and gilded vanes. At the bottom of the octagon, on each face, is a window, surmounted by an enriched canopy, crocketted and finialled, the space being filled in with trefoils and carvings. The shaft itself is filled with trefoil lights. At the top of the shaft a room is constructed, and lighted on each face by deeply recessed windows. The room commands an extended view, and may be used with advantage as an observatory, if desired. The shafts of the windows are of marble, and a wrought iron railing surrounds the balcony. The finial and vane are also of iron, the spindle being brought through the top stone, and bolted to a cross-bar. It is intended to make use, as far as possible, of the local marbles for the shafts to the various openings before described”. Such is the character of the memorial whose foundation stone was yesterday laid at Worsley. The only criticism that we would allow ourselves to make is that the detail, as it appears from the design, is perhaps small and too delicate for the position of the monument, when we consider it will be chiefly viewed only from a considerable distance. – We may mention that thieves were upon the ground yesterday, and that a lady was robbed of her gold watch. [Manchester Guardian 18 November 1858 page 3]

ELLESMERE MEMORIAL, Worsley On Tuesday the 1st of May, the first stone of this Monument was laid by Mr Webber, architect, of Seymour chambers, Adelphi. The Rev St Vincent Beechy, MA, Rector of Worsley, who at the laying of the foundation stone invoked a blessing on the work, was present at the ceremony, and in a beautiful and impressive prayer, returned thanks for its successful prosecution up to the present time. He also in a short congratulatory address to the men, made appropriate allusion to the fact, that not a single accident had happened to any of the men employed upon the work, notwithstanding its being carried forward through one of the severest winters we have known for years. Mr Webber having ascended the scaffolding and performed the ceremony of laying the stone, the proceedings terminated with a round of hearty British cheers from the assembly below. In a few weeks, we understand, the whole of the works will be completed, as the carving and ironwork are being proceeded with rapidly. It is worthy of remark that in spite of the severe weather and heavy gales that have wrought so much damage to buildings generally during the past winter; the monument, though standing 300 or 400 feet above the level of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, and exposed to every wind that blows, has not in the slightest degree been disturbed or affected thereby, but has by the most careful testing been proved to be perfectly correct and true from base to finial point. [Building News 18 May 1860 page 408]

THE ELLESMERE MEMORIAL AT WORSLEY - A lofty and elegant memorial tower was, on Friday, inaugurated at Worsley, to the honour of the late Earl of Ellesmere. The weather was, unfortunately, exceedingly wet; rain fell in torrents during the whole of the open air proceedings, which took place at the front of the monument, near Wren's Wood. A platform had been erected for the visitors, with a desk for the reporters, but it was useless, on account of the rain. A brief account of the origin of the memorial, with a description of its design, may here be given: -   Soon after the death of the late Earl of Ellesmere, at the commencement of 1858, a meeting of the inhabitants was held in the Court House, to decide upon a fitting mode of perpetuating the memory of the deceased nobleman, who was greatly honoured and beloved by his neighbours, friends, and dependents. At this meeting a committee was appointed, and it was decided to erect a monument near Worsley Hall. Mr Fereday Smith was appointed chairman of the committee. A subscription was opened, and a sum of £1,800 was soon received. In February, the committee advertised for designs, specifying that the monument should not be a statue, and that it should be " substantial and durable rather than elaborate and ornamental, and that it should be easily seen from a distance. About 101 models and designs were sent for competition, and were exhibited in the Royal Manchester Institution. The committee selected what they considered the six best designs, which they submitted to Mr Edward Barry, of London, who, without knowing their authors, adjudged the first prize to Messrs Driver and Webber, of London, who would have to erect and complete the monument for ,1,800; the second prize of forty guineas was awarded to Mr John Lowe, of Manchester ; and the third of twenty guineas to Mr. Edward Bassett Keeling, of London. The site of the monument is known as Wren's Wood. Worsley Church is situated about half a mile to the east side of the site, Worsley Hall lying between, and equidistant from each. The memorial is a tower of transition Gothic character, and is composed of an octagonal shaft, rising 132 feet from an enriched base, which is approached by bold stone steps, forming a spacious platform and footing to the whole, 49 feet square. On the four sides of the base enriched panels are sunk, and bordered by breadths of coloured tiles. On one of these panels are carved the arms of the late Earl, with an inscription to his memory engraved below. The shafts of detached columns are formed of marble, with carved caps and moulded bases. Above are arches of blue and red brick surmounted by a crocketed and finialled canopy. Between each pair of buttresses is an arcade with marble shaftlets and trefoiled heads; and at the four angles, over the buttresses rise detached moulded pedestals, bearing carved lines and gilded vanes. At the bottom of the octagon, on each face, is a window, surmounted by an enriched canopy crocheted and finialled, the spaces being filled in with trefoils and carvings. The shaft itself is filled with trefoiled lights. At the top of the shaft a room is constructed, and lighted on each face by deeply recessed windows. This room commands an extended view, and may be used with advantage as an observatory, if desired. The shafts of the windows are of marble, and a wrought iron railing surrounds the balcony. The finial and vane are also of iron, the spindle being brought through the top stone, and bolted to a cross bar. The structure is of an exceedingly pleasing and artistic design, and looks well viewed from any point. It commands a wide and lovely prospect, and, we believe, maybe seen from six counties. Even on this wet day, the lofty and graceful shaft was greatly and justly admired. It contrasts well with the massive Elizabethan hall and the Early English architecture of Worsley Church, while the three buildings form as picturesque and perfect a group as can be shown in any county. The monument is visible from the Manchester and Liverpool Railway, from which it is distant a mile and a half to the northward, the surface of the site being 180 feet above the level of the line. The foundation stone was laid on Wednesday, November 17, l858, by Mr Fereday Smith, in presence of the present Earl and a large number of the tenantry. [Building News 17 August 1860 page 649-650]

Reference    The Builder Vol. XVI Pages 482, 485, 499, 747i
Reference    The Mechanics’ Magazine vol 69, 3 July-Dec 1858 Ed R A Brooman and E J ReedSaturday 24 July 1858 Page 83
Reference    Building News 18 May 1860 page 408
Reference    Manchester Guardian 4 August 1860 page 1 (Notice) Unveiling on Friday 10 August
Reference    Building News 17 August 1860 page 649-650
Reference    The Builder ? September 1860 Page 593
Reference    Harper, Roger H. :Victorian Architectural Competitions;    London 1983
Archive        The original drawings of the monument are understood to be included in the Bridgewater Estates papers held in Salford archives.