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The attractive village of Bidston, now a conservation area, is situated near Hoylake on the Wirral Peninsula.
Bidston is mentioned in the Domesday of Book, but evidence of occupation in the area goes back as far as the Stone Age.
Bidston was once once owned by the influential Stanley family, Bidston Hall was built by William, 6th Earl of Derby in 1595, by whom it was used as a shooting lodge. Following the Civil War, William's heir, James, refused to recognise Cromwell as ruler and fled to his estates on the Isle of Man. He was beheaded at Bolton in 1651. Constructed of yellow sandstone, the front approach to the hall is through a square court, with a handsome gateway decorated with the arms of the Stanley family. The western front has bay windows and projecting gables, and the entrance is in the centre of the front, formed in a semicircular porch, which rises the entire height of the building.
St Oswald's Church was rebuilt in the 13th century on the site of an earlier church. Its tower added in the early 16th century. This tower survives but the remainder of the present building dates mainly from the rebuilding of 1855-6. The stained glass include windows by Morris & Co. Church Farm Cottage, which stands opposite the church, dates from the seventeenth century.
Bidston Moss Nature Reserve, although greatly changed from the salt marsh of the original mossland, is haven for waterfowl and birds of prey. The moss is .an important wildlife site in North Wirral, particularly for its ponds, reedbed and marshland. In Autumn there are of finches and roosting Swallows to be seen, while visiting birds of prey include Merlin, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Barn Owl. The increase in the number of wildfowl in winter consists mostly of mallard with some Teal while Snipe and occasionally Jack Snipe and Water Rail can also be seen. Bidston Moss is the largest of the four sites with native broadleaf woodland and much open grassland There is a network of paths and cycle tracks including a 2km perimeter cycle trail.
Bidston Hill consists of around 100 acres of heath land, woodland and sandstone outcrops that contains several historic buildings and mysterious rock carvings. The summit reaches 231 feet, making it one of the highest points on the Wirral. There are a number of places of historical interest on the hill which has associations with Arthurian legend. Sir Gawain was said to have brought the Holy Grail with him when he travelled this way.
Bidston Windmill (pictured above) replaced a wooden mill that was destroyed by fire in 1793, and was used to grind wheat until 1875. A windmill has occupied this site since 1596. It was restored in the 1890's.
Bidston Observatory dates to 1866. In 1929 its work was merged with that of the University of Liverpool Tidal Institute. There has been a lighthouse on the hill since 1771. The present lighthouse was constructed in 1873 and last saw use in 1913.
An ancient rock carving (pictured left) measuring four and a half feet depicting the 'Sun Goddess', may be found ona sandstone outcrop just north east of the observatory (OS grid reference- SJ288900). It faces the direction of the rising sun on midsummer's day. There is also a carving of a cat-headed Moon goddess with a moon at her feet. These carvings are thought to have been done by Irish-Norse 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.
Another ancient carving of a horse can be found on the rock north of the Observatory, just before the path turns down to Bidston Village. Some authorities consider this carving could be more recent.
Tam O Shanters Urban Farm on Bidston Hill is a working farm, designed as a family attraction. It is based at Tam O Shanter's cottage which is itself around 300 years old. The farm is home to a variety of farm animals, including pigs, sheep, goats, chickens and geese. It's a great opportunity for children of all ages to meet and learn about farm animals up close.
Nearby places of interest
Birkenhead Priory which is located in Priory Street, Birkenhead, was founded about 1150, probably by Hamon de Masci, 3rd Baron of Dunham Massey for the Benedictine Order.
Thurstaston Common a popular spot with walkers for the superb views, at just 90m above sea level, it offers some of the best scenery the Wirral has to offer, from the summit of Thurstaston Hill the views encompass the Dee Estuary and the hills of Wales. Legend records that Thorstone Rock, a large sandstone mound, was thrown by the Norse God, Thor. The site is now jointly owned by Wirral Borough Council and The National Trust the site is managed by Wirral Rangers.
Leasowe Lighthouse Constructed of hand made brick in 1763 by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board, Leasowe Lighthouse on the Wirral Peninsula is the oldest brick built lighthouse in the United Kingdom.
Fort Perch Rock at New Brighton on the Wirral, is a coastal defence which was constructed built between 1825 and 1829. It was built to protect the Port of Liverpool and as a fortified lighthouse to replace the old Perch Rock Light.