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Irvine, who collected the marks, informs me that Nos. t to 4, which are 4% inches in length, occur very frequently. The other marks measure from 1 ]/2 to 3 inches, except those on the steps of the tower stairs. Nos. 27 and 28 are 4 and 4^2 inches; Nos. 29 and 30, 5 inches.
Bidstox Church Tower (33).—Collected by Mr. Irvine. Each mark occurs many times, for the most part within 10 feet from the ground, except of course those on the staircase. They are all the same size—about i}4 to 2 inches.
The two marks (Nos. 32, 33) which resemble the Roman numerals XI and IX, on the two jambs of the tower arch, may be really numerals, and will compare with a modern mark from Spital Railway Bridge, where the flicks have been added to the lines of two examples, I imagine, to denote the proper position of the characters.
West Kirkby Church (29).—Collected by Mr. Cox. The marks are from 1 to 2 inches, in some instances larger (No. 10, 4 inches; No. 24, 4 inches; No. 25, 3 and 4 inches). The representation of an helmet (No. 28) is finely cut, about 5 inches in height; and the singular and doubtful mark No. 29 is coarsely cut, about 4 inches. They, together with the mark No. 27, are on the splays of three of the windows of the ringing room, that on the north side being unmarked. The north is a cold, cheerless quarter, from which no light was to be expected.
Bebington Church (143).—Collected by Mr. Cox. No. 46 is a doubtful mark; No. 91 is lightly cut, but fairly clear; No. 102 is badly made, and may not be a mark.
At the eastern angles, the marks run high up the walls; elsewhere they stand low, and run laterally. Mr. Cox suggests that when placed in vertical lines they are intended to indicate the number of men who worked on that particular part, thus indicating work or batches of work. Mr. Cox also points out, that though the style of window arches and other parts of the north and south chancel aisles differ—the north appearing to be earlier than the south—the masons' marks (Nos. 19, 106, 120, and 123) are found clearly cut upon portions of both, showing that the same masons worked on both.
Mr. Cox also points out that certain similarities in the architecture of the extreme west end of Chester Cathedral, and portions of Bebington Church, show personal style, both buildings having been in progress at the time of the Reformation. He also compares the marks upon these portions of the two buildings—Chester Nos. 55, 56, 62, 63, and 65; Bebington Nos. 108, 116, 118, 114, 123, 23 and 25; as well as the somewhat similar marks, Chester No. 15, and Bebington No. 22—thus connecting the same workmen with both buildings. The marks Nos. 19, 20, and 122, are found on the best work. To No. 101—a mark 18 inches in length —I have already referred.
Heswell Church Tower (43).—Collected by Mr. Cox. (See p. 188.)
Woodchurch Church (18).—Copied by Miss Cox. Here is also the mark (No. 9) of the skilled mason who worked at Bebington (No. 20). On the face of one of the buttresses is the extraordinary mark No. 3, which is about eight inches in length, deeply cut, weathered, and evidently old. Mr. Cox suggests that it may be a rude representation of an oxyoke.
Thornton-le-moors Church (32, 14 being given on the last plate).—Collected by Mr. Cox and Mr. Irvine. Only the best stones have retained the marks; the others, of coarse sandstone, have much perished. From the position of the various marks, Mr. Cox suggests that this is another instance in which portions of the building (tower, south aisle, and chancel) were each marked, and not the separate stones.
Eastham Church (52).—Collected by Mr. W. Fergusson Irvine.
Burton Church Tower (6).—Copied by Mr. Cox.
Wallasey Church Tower (3).—Copied by Mr. Cox and Mr. Irvine. No. 1 is about 5 inches; Nos. 2 and 3 about 3 inches.
Raby Watermill (5)—Collected by Mr. Cox. Sizes from i# to 2 inches; very finely cut upon the best stones of windowjambs, &c. No. 1 is found four times; No. 2 twice; No. 3, which looks like two marks joined, once.
Backford Church Tower (21).—Collected by Mr. Cox and Mr. Irvine. It resembles in all details Shotwick and Bidston. The marks measure from 1 inch to 2% J one (No. 3) is 4 inches.
Bromborough Manor House (8).—Copied by Mr. Cox. They are upon very well-finished and rather large ashlars, of which the house is built. The marks are clear and fine; No. 9 appears to be two marks combined, with the addition of a third—a small cross.
St. Patrick's Well, Bromborough, is hollowed in the rock, and contains a coarsely-cut mark, which may possibly not be that of a mason.
Storeton Hall (23), for which I have been indebted to Mr. E. \V. Cox. Some of these are from the interior; those from the outside are from weathered stones, and are therefore a little uncertain (Nos. 5,9).
Some marks are very deeply and boldly cut, and others very lightly, and it is to be noticed that several of the lines have nail heads.
In two cases the most strongly cut marks (Nos. 1 and 4) are nearly over doors leading eastwards, and are duplicated and cut close up to the top of the rooms. It is possible one of the openings is modern, but it may formerly have been a window. Here also, on an east wall facing west, there is a series of marks, standing alone, with few below, and none above them on the same wall.
Ince Manor (16).—Copied by Mr. Cox. A grange of St. Werburg's Abbey, Chester. The marks measure from 1 j4 to 4 inches. No. 1 is of very large size, being 9 inches; No. 10 is found on the best and best-finished stone.
Brimstage Old Hall (12).—Collected by Mr. Cox. The marks are large (being 4 and 5 inches; sometimes 2*4 and 3 inches) and strongly cut, and are taken from the older portion, none being found on that part of the house rebuilt in the seventeenth century. Mr. Cox thinks that in the mark No. 8 may be recognized the same manner of cutting as the same mark at Chester Cathedral porch, No. 61.
Aughton Church, near Ormskirk (16).—Copied by Mr. Cox. They are of different sizes. Nos. 1, 4 and 6 are 4 inches; Nos. 2, 3 and 7, 2*4 and 2 inches; No. 5, 6 inches. The later marks—Nos. 8 to 14—are small (i}4 inches), except No. 9—which measures 3 inches. Some of the marks resemble those found on the tower of Ormskirk Church.
Neston Tower—the only ancient portion of the church remaining—has only produced one mark, copied by Mr. Cox.
Southport Church (2).—From the oldest part. Collected by Mr. Gregson.
Shotwick Lodge—examined by Mr. Cox—produced only one
deeply-cut mark. Puddington Hall—also examined by Mr. Cox—appears to
bear only one mark of large size.
Chester Cathedral (67).—Collected by Mr. Cox and Mr. W. Fergusson Irvine.
Mr. Cox considers that the marks on the north transept and south door appear to be grouped, and that they were, like others, cut when the stones had been fixed in their places, denominating a considerable piece of work. He is inclined to think that this system was followed as often as that of marking separate stones.
Chester: Church Of St. Peter's At The Cross (ii).—Copied by Mr. Cox. Vary in size from j£ to 2 inches; finely cut.
St. Mary's Nunnery Gateway, now removed to the Park, has two examples of one mark, about 2 inches in length.
"cotsars Tower," Chester Castle (6).—Copied by Mr. Cox. Now used for military stores. The marks are from the stairs, in a space of about two square yards. Probably contains many other marks.
"thimbleby's Tower," Chester Walls (i).
St. John's Church, Chester (56).—Collected by Mr. Cox, the sizes ranging from 1 to 6 inches. They are very numerous, and are so much differenced that only a selection is given. The cross is the most abundant, and the letter A (No. 23) the next in number. Miss Cox observed that both at St. John's Church and the Cathedral, on the seventh course of stone from the top of the plinths or bases, there is almost always a mark on each piece of work, and that in St. John's Church it is nearly always a cross.
Chester City Walls (18).
As there has been a considerable amount of discussion with reference to the date of the various portions of the walls, it may be well to consider the marks in regular order.
No. 1 is said to be Roman; a similar mark is found from Norman times up to the year 1500, as follows:—St. John's Church No. 31, Birkenhead ?No. 91, St. Peter's Church (Chester) No. 67, Chester Cathedral No. 7, St. Peter's Church (Chester) No. 4, Brimstage No. 10, Woodchurch No. 5, and Sefton No. 38.
No. 2 is similarly placed: commencing at Bebington (No. n), it runs through nearly the whole series, ending at Ormskirk (No. 3), and Aughton (No. 14).
No. 3 resembles Sefton No. 5, Heswell No. 37, St. Peter's Church (Chester) No. 3, Woodchurch No. 9, Bebington Nos. 20 and 74.
These marks Nos. 2 and 3 are finely cut, after the manner of the mediaeval masons.
Nos. 4, 5, 6, and 7, are on the late media;val wall immediately above. No. 4 is a common mark. No. 5 (already mentioned) exactly resembles Ormskirk Nos. 34 and 35