St Oswald’s Church, Winwick
St Oswald, King of Northumbria (Born 604 – Died 5 August 642) was killed during the Battle of Maserfield (Maserfelth) against the pagan Mercian King Penda (Died 15 November 655). The site of the Battle of Maserfield is generally thought to be around Oswestry, however, Makerfield in Winwick also lays claim to it and site of St Oswald’s Church is thought to close to where the Northumbrian king fell.
St Oswald’s Church is a Grade I listed building dating from 1358, though the Legh Chapel could be as early as 1330 and the bases of the north arcade are thought to be from the early 13th century. The building is thought to be on the site of an earlier church and there is a tradition that prior to this a pagan temple occupied the site. Three giant skeletons were discovered under the Chancel in 1828 which was thought to support this theory.
There is a siting legend attached to the church describing the events which led to the building being constructed there and the story concerns the ‘Winwick Pig’. The founder of the church had originally chosen another site “but after progress had been made at the original foundation, at night time, ‘a pig’ was seen running hastily to the site of the new church, crying or screaming aloud We-ee-wick, we-ee-wick, we-ee-wick.’ Then taking up a stone in his mouth he carried it to the spot sanctified by the death of St. Oswald, and thus succeeded in removing all the stones which had been laid by the builders.” [Antiquary, Vol. III]
There is a carving of a the ‘pig’ on the tower’s west wall. However, the pig was the symbol of St Antony of Egypt (Born 251 – Died 356) (aka Anthony the Great, Antony the Great, Saint Anthony, Anthony the Abbot, Anthony of the Desert, Anthony the Anchorite, Anthony of Thebes, Abba Antonius, and the Father of All Monks) and a statue of the saint was thought to occupy the niche beside the carving. The statues were renoved by the forces of Oliver Cromwell during the English Civil War (1642–1651) and replaced in 1973.
Note: Edward Smith (27 January 1850 – 15 April 1912), Captain of the RMS Titanic married Sarah Eleanor Pennington here on 13 January 1887.