The Arts Society Wirral
Trails of Interest for Children
Member Societies of the Arts Society all over the country have been compiling Church Trails for children for some years now and we are delighted that The Arts Society Wirral's second Church Trail has been launched.
Church Trails are designed to appeal to the 8-12 age range, encouraging them to observe and learn about the architecture, history and furnishings of a church - whether with a school group or individually while visiting with parents or grandparents. Children are provided with a double sided sheet of trail questions while for adults there is an answer sheet with further detailed information
Saint Michael's Church Shotwick
It was with great pleasure that we completed the Church trail for Saint Michael’s Church Shotwick. It was presented to the Church just in time for the Historic Churches Open Day, where it was used by many parishioners and visitors. The trail took us through many centuries of English social, political, artistic and ecclesiastical history. Shotwick was a small village on the banks of the River Dee and is mentioned in the Domesday Book (1068). The Saxon church was replaced by a Norman church in 1100. The porch has a Norman arch and marks where archers sharpened their arrows. Inside a triple decker pulpit, Georgian pews and a mysterious effigy in a glass case can be seen. In the fifteenth century the church was extended and is now a very fine example of a double aisle church. Indeed it could have been a very long trail as there was so much of interest to be seen! We hope our work will be of use and we will move on to our next trail this year.
Holy Cross Church Woodchurch
In September 2017 we had the great pleasure of presenting our second Church Trail to the clergy and parishioners of Holy Cross Church, Woodchurch, Wirral. Our small team found the church fascinating and our trail spans a long period of English history from the twelfth century nave to the fine rood screen carved in the 1930’s. Artefacts and objects of interest include the original seventeenth century bread shelves - a food bank in the past. The Tudor porch bears witness to countless marks where arrows were sharpened for necessary archery practice. Again we had difficulty in writing a trail to cover all the treasures of this church in a short enough format. We have had very positive feedback from the parishioners and now we are all set to tackle our next trail at St. Michael’s Church, Shotwick.
The Trail Team
Suzanne Cook, Sara Postlethwaite, Ann Sutcliffe, Diana Lane and Ann Cowling
St Mary and St Helen Church, Neston
For our first Trail, four members of the Arts Society Wirral have been researching the parish church of St Mary and St Helen, Neston. This church is full of interesting artefacts ranging from unique Viking remains to the Falklands War by way of Emma Hamilton and some glorious Burne Jones stained glass windows and much, much more - so much so that our main problem has been what to cut out of the trail to fit it to The Arts Society template.
The 18th century weathercock, now safely indoors.
Viking stones found as rubble under the church depicting men on horseback fighting with spears
Emma Lyon, later Lady Hamilton, Nelson's mistress, was baptised in this font on May 12th 1765
The Trail Team
Sara Postlethwaite, Anne Sutcliffe, Suzanne Cook, Anne Cowling
The Trail has now been handed over to the Church who are delighted with our work.
Following is Sara's handover speech:
Our small team has great pleasure in presenting this Church Trail for Children to the parish of Neston.
The Trail is an A4, two-sided questionnaire that guides 8 to 12 year old children, and anyone else who is interested, round this church. It encourages them to engage with its architecture, furnishings and history. We have written and illustrated it in a clear and attractive way that we hope children will find interesting.
A corresponding sheet is provided with the Trail. This is for the adults, be they parents, grandparents or teachers. It gives them the answers to the children’s questionnaire and as much information as we can pack into another two-sided sheet - ammunition for them to answer the inevitable awkward questions children ask.
These days children tend to be focused on some kind of screen for hours. They expect that their senses should be bombarded with images and information all the time. Encouraging them to stop and look about them and think about something that is real and different is an invaluable and, we hope, an enjoyable experience for them.
Christianity underpins so much of our European history and culture and if young people know nothing of it then they are prevented from understanding and so truly appreciating their own heritage. We hope that our trail that leads them round this beautiful church will be a spark that encourages them to want to find out more.
Our team, two Anns, Suzanne and I are members of The Arts Society Wirral. Our society is a Member Society of the Arts Society, a leading national arts charity, which works to advance decorative and fine arts education and appreciation, alongside promoting the conservation of our artistic heritage. We have prepared this Trail under the auspices of The Arts Society with the help and considerable back up it can provide. Its volunteers have already made church trails for more than 300 parish churches all over the country. Our next project is to do one for Holy Cross, in Woodchurch Birkenhead.
Finally I would like to say we four have so much enjoyed getting to know St Mary and St Helen with its long and interesting history, the grace and beauty of its architecture and windows and, not least, the fascinating stories and artefacts to be found here. But above all, it has been everyone here who have made our journey such a huge pleasure. Thank you Vicar and all of you who have made us so welcome and helped us in so very many ways. The Trail has been great fun to do for us and we hope it will be fun for many, many children.
The Trail Team and Parishioners with The Rev'd Alan Dawson