Site of church and churchyard at Overchurch 875m north west of Upton Hall


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015602

Date first listed: 15-Apr-1980

Date of most recent amendment: 22-Jul-1997


Ordnance survey map of Site of church and churchyard at Overchurch 875m north west of Upton Hall
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Wirral (Metropolitan Authority)

National Grid Reference: SJ 26405 88905

Reasons for Designation

A parish church is a building, usually of roughly rectangular outline and containing a range of furnishings and fittings appropriate to its use for Christian worship by a secular community, whose members gather in it on Sundays and on the occasion of religious festivals. Children are initiated into the Christian religion at the church's font and the dead are buried in its churchyard. Parish churches were designed for congregational worship and are generally divided into two main parts: the nave, which provides accommodation for the laity, and the chancel, which is the main domain of the priest and contains the principal altar. Either or both parts are sometimes provided with aisles, giving additional accommodation or spaces for additional altars. Most parish churches also possess towers, generally at the west end, but central towers at the crossing of nave and chancel are not uncommon and some churches have a free-standing or irregularly sited tower. Many parish churches also possess transepts at the crossing of chancel and nave, and south or north porches are also common. The main periods of parish church foundation were in the 10th to 11th and 19th centuries. Most medieval churches were rebuilt and modified on a number of occasions and hence the visible fabric of the church will be of several different dates, with in some cases little fabric of the first church being still easily visible. Parish churches are found throughout England. Their distribution reflects the density of population at the time they were founded. In regions of dispersed settlement parishes were often large and churches less numerous. The densest clusters of parish churches were found in thriving medieval towns. A survey of 1625 reported the existence of nearly 9000 parish churches in England. New churches built in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries increased numbers to around 18,000 of which 17,000 remain in ecclesiastical use. Parish churches have always been major features of the landscape and a major focus of life for their parishioners. They provide important insights into medieval and later population levels or economic cycles, religious activity, artistic endeavour and technical achievement. A significant number of surviving examples are identified to be nationally important.

The remains of the enclosed churchyard and church at Overchurch remain identifiable. The former presence on the site of important Anglo-Saxon sculpture points to a 9th century church foundation on the site. The former presence of Romanesque carved masonry, in the form of a voussoir among the stones retrieved from the demolished church, show that the structure was from a date in the immediate post-Conquest period. The curvilinear form of the yard is taken to mean that the foundation may be early and possibly in the pre-Conquest period. The remains below ground will contain evidence of a buried population from the 9th century onward. The silts which have accumulated in the ditch will also preserve the remains of whatever has been discarded over the years including important organic material in those sections which remain waterlogged. The foundations of the Romanesque and earlier churches will also survive beneath the present ground surface.


The monument includes the curvilinear embanked enclosure which formed the churchyard of a church at Overchurch. The church, of which little remains, was demolished in 1813. Among the stones taken from the site to build a new church at Upton was a fragment of an Anglo-Saxon cross slab inscribed with runic lettering. The fragment points to a church on this site before the Conquest. In addition, a stone voussoir was found on the site and confirms that much of the original fabric of the demolished building was from the Romanesque period.

The remains of the churchyard enclosure consist of a bank and outside ditch enclosing an oval area 26m from west to east and 16m from north to south. The interior of the enclosure is raised from the surrounding ground level by 0.45m. The bank is well preserved on the south and west sides and is 4m wide at the base with an entrance on the west side. The ditch is now visible on the north and north west sides and is 3m wide and 0.3m deep on average.

In the interior there are the remains of gravestones, now heaped up in the centre of the yard. Many are damaged and there is evidence that they have been broken to provide stone for rockeries in neighbouring gardens. Yew trees grow out of the bank on the west side.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 27607

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Bu'lock, J D, Pre Conquest Cheshire, (1972), 48-9
Thacker, A, The Victoria History of the County of Cheshire, (1987), 280
Voussoir from South Door Overchurch Church, (1993)

End of official listing