Thursday, April 04, 2013

I walked from Hoylake to the neighbouring village of West Kirby this morning. In doing so, I passed the (obviously mis-named) Royal Liverpool Golf Club, the venue of the 2014 British Open. As I did, I noticed there was a public footpath to St Hildeburgh's church, cutting across a corner of the golf course. Researching the name of Hildeburgh, I discovered she'd been a holy woman of the 6th century who'd led a hermit-like existence on the nearby island of Hilbre – itself a corruption of Hildeburgh. And that there was no other church in the UK dedicated to Hildeburgh.

The church is situated in a road called The King's Gap, which runs from the centre of Hoylake down to the nearby sea. And it gets its name from the fact that King William sailed with his army from this point to Ireland in 1690, to fight the famous Battle of the Boyne. In those days, of course, Liverpool was nothing but a fishing village and all departures for Ireland were made from the Wirral peninsula. You'll doubtless recall that Handel sailed from nearby Parkgate for the debut of his Messiah in Dublin.

As if that wasn't enough historical revelation for the day, I later learnt from a BBC podcast that the English king, Athelstan, had inflicted a heavy defeat on the Scandinavians and Scots in 937 at Brunanburh, Or Bromborough as it's called today, not terribly far from Hoylake on the Wirral peninsula.

Something else I learned today – Not only was Philip II of Spain king of England for a few years – when he was married to Mary Tudor – but during this period he was partly responsible for reorganising the very English navy which would defeat his armada a couple of decades later in 1588. How ironic is that? By the way, it's not generally realised that 75% of the Spanish ships made their way back home, after a long voyage around the British Isles. One of the earliest cruises on record.

Final historical fact - The artist Turner rented a room on Hoylake's main street and attempted to paint what he regarded as the “remarkable sunsets” along the coast here. For which I can vouch.

Finally . . . I loved this comment from somebody or other today:- I have no opinions on anything, really – the default position of feckless liberals down the ages.


Ferrolano said...

A little more irony regarding the 75% of the Spanish armada that returned to Spain – one of them floundered and sank in the Ferrol estuary, from where it had probably been built. There is now a salvage operation in progress and some remains have been recovered (canons).

Azra said...

Very interesting fact (or irony) re King Phillip II. I love history, and I love these tidbits of information. Fascinates me to no end.

Perry said...


You mentioned Ladies' Day.

Nothing there, but tubs of lard. By its fruit shall ye know the tree.

Where's the vomitorium?

I know. It's a myth.

All the best,


Colin said...

@Azra. I'll try to keep 'em coming!