The existing structure of Stanlawe Grange on the north side of Aigburth Hall Avenue close to Aigburth Road was originally a medieval cruck (oak beam) and sandstone farm building that was converted in the 1970's to residential use. It is the oldest existing structure in the city of Liverpool. The building was in existence at least as far back as 1292, it seems, according to a record in the Coucher Book of Whalley Abbey compiled in that year. The remaining building was part of a complex of monastic farm buildings under the supervision of Stanlaw Abbey near present-day Ellesmere Port. The Cistercian abbey was later taken over by Whalley Abbey near Preston.
I first became interested in this building as a schoolboy living in Mossley Hill just up the road from the old structure in the early 1960's and at that time I met Miss Frith, an elderly lady who lived in the building. I believe she told me she was a relative, possibly a grand niece, of Francis Frith (1822-1898), the noted photographer, who has left us various images of Liverpool and other locales throughout the British Isles. Miss Frith had a marked interest in the fact that the buildings appear to have been used to hide Catholic priests who were persecuted under the Tudor and Stuart monarchies. The priests would have been coming to minister to the then occupants of nearby Aigburth Hall, then owned by the Tarleton and Harrington families. There are some crude initials inscribed on the outside wall of some steps leading up the "granary" -- the southeastern end of the building which are believed to be those of Jesuit priests who are believed to have been buried on the property.
I took black and white photographs of Stanlaw Grange in the Sixties that I hope to post soon but meanwhile the following are new colour photographs I took eleven days ago.
Shown first is the western end of the property with a sandstone mullioned window with mason's marks that match similar mason's symbols seen at Birkenhead Priory on the Wirral. Next a wider view of the range of the 104 foot building and third a shot of the granary steps mentioned above, now overgrown with creeper.
Next is seen the eastern gable end of the remaining that adjoined a "monk's house" so-called in Griffith's The History of the Royal and Ancient Park of Toxteth (1907) which contains a photograph of it before its demolition in the early years of the twentieth century. Door and window (?) openings are still evident in the gable end. The building with chimney at back is a new addition. Last is shown a remnant of a wall remaining from an "upper barn" with window embrasures that forms the eastern boundary of the nursery that now occupies where the monk's house and barn stood. A "lower barn" stood on the western end of the existing building, toward Aigburth Road.
For more information on Stanlaw Grange, see Mike Royden's Local History Pages.