Reverend William Fergusson Barrett (1845 – 1892)


Margaret Ann  Barrett, nee Hughes (1846 – 1925)

Letters and postcards in the collection of Mr. A. Barrett, a great grandson of the Reverend William Fergusson Barrett and his wife Margaret Ann Barrett, provide not only a vivid account of the life and work of the Reverend and Mrs. Barrett in Parkgate and Neston but also a record of the community in which they lived and the people they knew.

William Fergusson Barrett

William Fergusson Barrett was born in Liverpool on 7th April 1845 the son of William Fergusson Barrett and his wife Jane.

He was a pupil at Mostyn House School when the headmaster was Edward Henry Price where he frequently played for the school’s cricket team. Price left Mostyn House in the hands of his nephew, the Reverend Algernon S. Grenfell, to become headmaster of Philbert House School, Holyport in Berkshire.  In 1871 William was employed as an assistant master at Price’s school. He left there to take up a post as assistant master at Kensington Grammar School, London.

On 23rd December he married Margaret Ann Hughes in Hammersmith, London. Their five children were all born in Hammersmith: Mary in 1873, John William in 1875, Andrew in 1876, Robert in 1878 and Ruth in 1880.

In 1882 William became headmaster at Mostyn House School and the family moved to Parkgate. He and his wife quickly became involved in work with the local community. They made the recreation grounds in Mostyn House available for the local Sunday Schools’ annual tea and organized musical entertainments.

William was ordained in 1895 and began holding church services for residents of Parkgate in the school.

In 1889 he resigned as Headmaster of Mostyn House. The Rev. Canon Gleadowe, Vicar of Neston was getting on in years and suffering from ill health had proposed that the Reverend Barrett should act in his stead.

The family moved to Church House, opposite the Parish Church, in Neston. Reverend Gleadowe did not make the decision to resign his position as Vicar until November 1892 when the Reverend Barrett was seriously ill with pneumonia. A few days later William Barrett died from pneumonia.

His obituary and an account of his funeral appeared in the Chester Courant on Wednesday 09 November 1892



The Rev. W. F. Barrett, who since the partial retirement of the Rev Canon Gleadowe, at the close of the year 1889, had had charge of the parish of Neston, died at his residence, Church House, a few minutes after midnight on Monday week, aged 47 years. No death within living memory had awakened such profound sorrow in this locality, and the whole district was plunged in mourning. The flag was placed at half-mast on the church tower, and the flags of the Neston and District Bowling Clubs and other local institutions were also lowered, while the shutters of the business premises and the blinds of the private residences were almost without exception partially closed. The rev. gentleman’s illness commenced on the 26th October with an attack of pleurisy, and this was followed by pneumonia and inflammation of the lungs, but not the slightest doubt existed in the minds of the inhabitants but that the primary cause of death was overwork. It had been noticed for some time that the untiring zeal and energy with which he was pursuing the work of his sacred office was telling upon his strength, and this fact had lately been a matter of such general remark that no one was greatly surprised when it became known that he had fallen a victim to disease. On Sunday week, at the parish church, the Roman Catholic Church, and at every Nonconformist place of worship in the district, earnest prayers were offered up on his behalf, and the course of the disease was followed with painful interest. The bulletins posted outside the residence were scanned by a constant stream of anxious inquirers, and when, on Monday week, the announcement appeared that he was “sinking”, a crowd of several hundred persons were to be seen weeping in the streets. As the deceased belonged, so to speak, to the whole parish, it may not be out of place to state that his last hours fully accorded with the sanctity of his life among the parishioners. He took a final farewell of his household and friends on Monday evening and gave the benediction with the utmost composure. One of his last remarks was, “I die with the fullest confidence in God’s mercy”. Immediately before his death Mrs. Barrett, at his request, sang the hymn, “Glory to Thee, my God, this night,” and he took part in it as well as he was able. His dying utterances were words of tender farewell to members of his family.

The deceased was educated as a boy at Mostyn House, Parkgate, and he afterwards became one of the masters of Kensington Grammar School. About ten years ago he succeeded the Rev. A. Grenfell as Principal of Mostyn House, Parkgate, and he was ordained a deacon by the Bishop of Chester on March 25th, 1885, his object at the time being to attend to the spiritual welfare of Parkgate. On the partial retirement of the Rev. Cannon Gleadowe, he retired from the school, and accepted the charge of the Parish, with the Rev. A. Humphreys as his assistant. He commenced duty on January 1st, 1890, and since then he had keenly interested himself in every movement which was calculated to benefit the neighbourhood. He was a member of the Neston and District Bowling Club, and he took the principal part in establishing the Neston Quoit Club(which has a membership of over 100), the Neston Football Club, and was connected in some way with every institution in the parish where his influence was likely to be of service. His lo ss will be severely felt by the school managers, the Neston and District Literary Society Library and Club, his adult Bible class – in fact there was no organisation in the neighbourhood that did not benefit by and appreciate his genial and sympathetic presence. The Parkgate fishermen remember with gratitude his labours in connection with the Shipwrecked Mariners Benevolent Society, and the numerous concerts which, in conjunction with Mrs. Barrett, he organised for charitable objects in connection with the parish were always a success. He was one of those very rare individuals who “gets everyone’s good name”, for he never made an enemy or was tempted to give an angry retort, no matter how his patience was tried by the very mixed population he had to deal with. He was as popular in the pulpit as elsewhere, and there is no doubt but that the proposal, which is already on foot to provide a permanent memorial of his work here, will be adequately supported.


The muffled bells commenced to toll on Friday afternoon at three o’clock, and at half-past three the cortege left the deceased’s residence. The surpliced choir (each of the boys bearing a beautiful wreath of flowers) and Drs Russell and Blunden led the way, followed by the relatives and general mourners. The clergy came next, and after them the medical attendants. The coffin of polished oak with massive brasses, surmounted with beautiful floral tributes, came next, borne by Sunday School teachers, members of the Bible class, quoit club, etc and the family, the relatives, and general mourners followed. The church was filled with parishioners, and as the procession entered the south-west door and proceeded up the nave to the chancel “Surely he hath borne our griefs”, from the Messiah, was played on the organ. The body was deposited in the centre of the chancel, and the choir, clergy and congregation chanted the 29th and 90th Psalms. The hymn “O God, our help in ages past” (a favourite of the deceased’s) was also sung, and a number of persons were visibly affected while the service was in progress. As the procession retired from the church, the impressive strains of the “Dead March” in Saul sounded from the organ, and when the churchyard was reached the bells again tolled, and the procession moved to the grave. The service at the graveside included the hymn, “Now the labourer’s task is o’er”, impressively rendered by the choir and mourners, and was brought to a close by the hymn “Thine for ever, God of love”. The shield on the casket bore the words “William Fergusson Barrett, M.A., borne April 27th 1845, died November 1st 1892. The chief mourners were Mrs. Barrett (wife), Miss Mary and Miss Ruth Barrett(daughters), Messrs. Andrew and Robert Barrett(sons), Mr. and Mrs. J. Hughes(brother in law and sister) and Mr. and Mrs. R. D. Barrett(brother and sister in law). Among those present in addiction to the chief mourners were Revs. Canon Gleadowe, Canon Feilden, T. A. Bury(New Ferry), W. E. Torr(Eastham), T. Dunn(Burton), Canon Blencowe, J. Pulliblank, J.O. Young, A.P. Reynolds (Kingsley), the Hon. C.F. Cross(Shotwick), J.W. Aldom(Thornton Hough), R.J.L. Fox(Heswall), John Towert(Neston Presbyterian Church), J. Lyon(past curate at Neston), the Hon Henry Holbrook…

The bearers were Messrs. J. Parry (Bible class), S. Jones (old servant of Mostyn House), S. Scarratt (superintendent Neston Sunday school), G. Bell (captain Quoit Club), and A. Coventry (Bible class).


There were special services on Sunday morning and evening, and the bells remained muffled, while the chancel and the vacant stall of the absent pastor were still decked with a profusion of the crosses, wreaths, and other floral devices which had been forwarded for the funeral. The congregation were attired in deep mourning, those who appeared in other than sombre-hued garments being the exception; but in accordance with the wish of the relatives, the morning service was of a particularly bright description, and the hymns, which were selected with special reference to the occasion, were in keeping with this view.

Margaret Ann Barrett

Margaret Ann Barrett,  was born Margaret Ann Hughes in Liverpool in 1846, the oldest child of architect John Brandreth Hughes and his wife,Ellen. She lived in Liverpool until her marriage to William Fergusson Barrett on 23rd December 1871.

After her husband’s death she remained at Church House (later Gittins shop) until her death in 1925. The 1901 Census records show her at the home of her daughter, Mary, who was living in Parkgate with her husband Harry Martindale Speechly. Mary and her husband emigrated to Canada the following year. Mrs. Barrett was a woman of great energy and the obituaries which appeared in the local newspapers after her death in 1925 gives records some of the work she did.

Cheshire Observer 21 November 1925


Neston has been suddenly plunged into mourning by the death of Mrs. W. F. Barrett, which occurred at 6.15 on Thursday morning. She had been in failing health for some time, but was present at the evening service in the parish church on Sunday, and on Monday attended the Parkgate Mothers’ Meeting. She also attended the lecture on Canada, given in the Town Hall on Tuesday afternoon, and heard the happy reference to her granddaughter’s marriage, which takes place in Winnipeg to-day (Saturday). The end came very suddenly on Thursday morning, and as yet the loss to the district is hardly realised.

It is about 45 years since Mrs. Barrett first came to Parkgate, when her husband, the late Rev. W. F. Barrett, succeeded the late Rev. A. S. Grenfell as head of Mostyn House School. From that time sha has always taken a deep and active interest in all that appertained to the welfare of those around her, and it is almost impossible to enumerate her activities, which covered a wide area. She, with the late Mrs. Comber, inaugurated the Mothers’ Meetings at Parkgate over 40 years ago, and this she attended regularly until her health began to fail, when her visits grew less frequent. She was also head of Little Neston Mothers’ Meeting for well over 30 years and was regarded with deep affection by all who attended.

On the death of her husband in 1892, she courageously undertook much of the work which he had started while acting as senior curate of Neston, notably the Men’s Bible Class, which she continued with great success for several years. She had also a Bible Class for young women and her quiet, earnest work will long be remembered by those who witnessed it. The missionary societies found in her an ardent supporter, and she acted as local secretary for the S.P.G. and the C.M.S., only relinquishing those duties a few months ago. She was keenly interested in temperance work, and was formerly secretary of the C.E.T.S., a diligent and welcome district visitor, and an honorary member of the Neston Ladies’ Club, never failing to take her place in the annual procession. She was a brilliant pianist, and as a musician had few equals, and for many years acted as the accompanist to Neston Choral Society, and no entertainment was considered complete unless Mrs. Barrett contributed to the programme. She was a competent music critic, and her contributions to these columns, which appeared with the initials “M.A.B.,” were both enjoyable and educational, and showed how deeply she had probed into the history of music. Mrs. Barrett possessed an exceptionally keen sense of humour, which made her at all times a delightful companion, and she will be very keenly missed by a host of friends in all parts of the country. She was 79 years of age and leaves a family of three sons and two daughters the two eldest of whom are abroad.

Cheshire Observer – Saturday 21 November 1925



The funeral of Mrs. Barrett, whose death was recorded last week, took place at the Parish Church on Saturday, at noon. High. street, which is usually a busy thoroughfare at that time. wore an unwonted air of quiet. all blinds being drawn, and overhead on the church tower the flag drooped sadly at half-mast. Beautiful floral tributes were carried from the old Church House across the way, where Mrs. Barrett had resided for 35years, and placed in the chancel and under-neath the memorial tablet to the Rev. W. F. Barrett, and while, the mourners were assembling, suitable selections of music, including, “Blest are the departed” and “O, rest in the Lord,” were played on the organ by Mr. A. B. Coleman.

The cortege was met at the church gates by the Vicar (the Rev. W. Bidlake), and the surpliced choir, while members of Neston Ladies’ Club. their white wands draped with black, lined the path on either side. The service, though simple, was very impressive, and the hymn. “0, God, our Help in ages past,” was sung, followed the 90thPsalm. After the lesson had been read and prayers offered. the choristers slowly led the way into the churchyard, singing. “Blest are the pure in heart.” The committal sentences were read by the Vicar, and afterwards the Nunc Dimittis was softly sung to Barnby’s well known chant.     The chief mourners were: Mr. A. Barrett, Mr. R. Barrett (sons), Mrs. Miller (daughter), Mr. Miller (son in law) Miss Daisy Miller (grand-daughter), Miss M. Hughes (niece). Mrs. A. A. Miller, Mr. Rawdon Smith, Mr. Douglas Miller, Mrs. Cartmel, Miss D. Cartmel,Miss Blackburn, Mrs. A. Jones, Miss A. Marle, Mr. and Mrs. Pemberton, Major R. Eaton Hall, Mr. T. S. Comber, Mr. T. A. Jenning., Mr. Philip Lloyd, Mr. Alec Lloyd, Mr. Preston Witter (Chester). Mr. Dunstan Walker. Mr. M. Richardson. Mr. J. G. Lee,Mr. R. L. Price. Dr. Gunn. Mr. and Mrs. Hargreaves, Mr. H. C. Agnew (representing Mr. A. G. Grenfell and Mostyn House School). Mr. Wilson (representing Dr. Grant). Mr. A. D. Prentice, Mr. H. Smith. Miss Cadby, Miss Finch, Miss Wilkinson and Miss Newall (representing Ashton House), Mrs. Gill, the Misses Wulff, Mrs Johnson Houghton, Mr. and Mrs. H. F. Russell, the Rev. C. Steedman Davies, Mr. G. Troughton, Mr. and Mrs. A. Wood, Mr. and Mrs. Nicholson, Mr. P. Maddocks, Mr. and Mrs. C. Coventry, Mr. F. Parrington, Mr. Beamer, the Misses Marle.  The hon. members of the Ladies’ Club included Mrs. Harrison, Mrs. Larden Williams, Mrs. Livermore, Mrs. Barber. Mrs. Mansfield. Mrs. Rimmer, Miss Ward, Miss Fryer; and the benefit members were led by Mrs. Bushell and Miss Henderson. Practically the whole of Little Neston Mothers’ Meeting were present, and there were also representatives of Neston, Parkgate and Colliery Mothers’ Meeting, and very many members of the Parish Church congregation. The arrangements were carried out by Messrs. W. Fleming and Co., and Messrs. G. Bell, James Smith, T. Metcalfe, E. Jellicoe and W. Bartley acted as bearers. Among the numerous floral tributes were wreaths from the Parish Church choir, Parkgate Mothers’ Meeting, Little Neston Mothers’ Meeting, Committee of Ashton House and the Girls of Ashton House.

The service at the Parish Church on Sunday morning was of a memorial character, appropriate hymns being sung, and many were deeply affected as the Vicar alluded in his sermon to Mrs. Barrett’s long life, spent in the Master’s service. Even through sickness and infirmity she bad kept in intimate touch with the whole of parochial life, and her influence would long be felt. A touching service closedwith the hymn. “For all the saints, who from their labours rest.”


But now, alas! The place seems changed;

Thou art no longer here:

Part of the sunshine of the scene

With Thee did disappear.

Mrs. Barrett has fallen asleep, and the anguish of the parting is still upon us. When a little time slips by, and the trees cease their sighing, and the mists become clearer, we shall look down through the years, and see glowing far away in the distance the little recording lights of her life, and we shall feel the calm of a Benediction ever us. We shall look up from all the scenes with which she brightened, and her whisper will reach our ears.

My soul is ready to depart

No thought rebels, the obedient heart

Breathes forth no sigh.

The wish on earth to linger still,

Were vain, when ’tis God’s sovereign will That we shall die.

She lived like that, intensely. steadfast in faith and courage. She seems to have been always with us. In our baby days we knew her and loved her. How she loved us. too! Her eyes always smiled a on great big crowd of fat jolly children, and some music in her life drew us from our games and our homes. She would teach us to be temperate in all things. Merrily we laughed with the live little anecdotes she read to us. We were very plastic in her hands, and her discipline was wonderful. Again, I see her in the schools, this time at the harmonium. She always came to us before Christmas, and taught us to sing carols. The memory comes to us, all delightful, all happiness. Days passed, and the years, Mrs. Barrett still was with us. The tall old home seemed to absorb some of her personality, and the children, new grown up were drawn by the old sweet force to her home. Those happy talks, the music, the cosy little teas, and the virile atmosphere bespeaking God’s work. It was all so quiet, so homely, so comfortable, so progressive. Many feet will pass that door in the years to come. Many eyes will glance swiftly in tender respect. Little notes popped into many a home. They were typical of her. Were, it a marriage morn, a personal gift and the message “For you and the good man. May God bless you”; of a christening, a day of sorrow – she knew them all and her tender message of joy or consolation was not delayed.

Far away, out among the heathen. out in our colonies, she accompanied them all. for many who played in the Neston fields are scattered over the globe. Picture her at the head of her long table, with a list of her distant friends, and piles of magazines, interesting papers. and Christmas or Easter cards. She remembered all, and many a lone soul in foreign climes thanked God for the life in Neston. It was a wonderfully active life, the details of which have been well written elsewhere, and I purpose only some glimpses of little inclinations which appealed to me. It seems so strange to be writing the past tense. We are numbed with it yet. It seems that we must we her again, as we saw her almost yesterday, outside our dear old church, resting awhile on the arm of her loved nurse and attendant (Mrs. Cartmell),  ‘ ere going in to partake of Holy Communion, or sitting in her familiar seat leading off the hymns and psalms; or again in the Town Hall, as we saw her last week. When the sun rose two mornings, later Her soul to Him who gave it rose, God led it to its long repose. She passed in the twinkling of an eye, and a cloud swept over our happiness.

It was just noontide with the sun high in the heavens when they brought her into church and everyone seemed to come with her or was represented. The bells were not muffled, there were no funeral marches or dirges. No, Mrs. Barrett was not like that. We sang hymns. “Blest are the pure in heart.” and “0 God, our help in ages past.” and the ninetieth psalm. The singing choristers came in with her, and flowers were everywhere. She loved them so. All the mothers, rich and poor alike, came to give tribute of their love, and many friends were present in thought. In a little vase she was wont to place a few flowers in memory of her husband, whose saintly life is well remembered in the parish. and flowers were there this day, and wreaths or great beauty were placed near his memorial tablet. Yes, her heart was known to the people and then a great quietness fell. The aisles were flooded with softened colour, and as we thought of her and listened, the pure notes came from the organ, “0, Rest in the Lord.” Like a psalm from Heaven it came on our ears, and when they laid her in a spot which was very dear to her, under the tree, all the flowers were round about her, everyone sang, or tried to sing, the beautiful Nunc Dimittis, and we left her in God’s keeping.

Mrs. Barrett in a barouche landau outside Church House

Cheltenham Place, Parkgate where Mrs. Barrett’s daughter lived after her marriage to Harry Martindale Speechly

Mrs. Barrett and her housekeeper, Mrs. Evans, outside Church House

Mrs. Barrett with the Little Neston Mothers’ Meeting.

Neston Female Friendly Society (Ladies Club)

On several occasions the Reverend Barrett delivered the sermon during the service held at the Parish Church on Ladies Club day. His notes of his sermon on the 5th June 1885 still survive along with other family papers (click here) and are transcribed below.

Proverbs XIV, 1

“Every wise woman buildeth her house.”

To-day should be and I trust will be a day of happiness to you all. It is all the more likely to be a day of happiness, because according to a rule wisely appointed by the heads of your society you are now present in this church to ask God’s blessing on your work. Without His blessing this association of yours however well supported or skilfully managed could not hope to stand. Moreover this wise rule by securing your presence here gives you all a time & place for calm & serious thought. I am sure that there is not one of you who is worshipping in this Holy place to-day who does not feel that there is something more to be got through than the usual business and recreation in which this day is passed. It is true that the business must be done, and that the recreation as long as it is innocent may be indulged in with benefit to all, but something more is needed. It is your duty and I am sure it is your pleasure to express your gratitude to God that He has spared you for another year, and allowed you to be present here to-day in health & strength – to remember the many benefits that you have received at His hand since you stood in this church this time last year – to pray to Him for a continuance of those benefits – to look forward to the coming year with an inward resolution to try to do what you have to do “as to the Lord & not unto man” – but above all to pray that God’s blessing may rest on your society & not on it only but also on all mankind.

Now the worldly benefits of such a club as yours are many. It carries out the well-known principle that “Unity is strength”. By acting together you are enabled to do far more that the same number of persons could hope to do if they acted singly. You can lay up for yourselves a certain provision for sickness or for old age. But it is unnecessary for me to dwell at any length on such benefits as these. You know them well enough and show by joining the society & remaining in it that you appreciate them well enough. I would rather now direct your thoughts to the effect produced on your inner lives. First then you are called upon to make certain sacrifices periodically in order to gain the advantages which the club offers you. You have from time to time to exercise a certain amount of self-denial by refraining from getting certain things which you think you would like, but the purchase of which would perhaps interfere with the payment of your subscription – in fact you are obliged to deny yourselves certain present pleasures in order to secure certain future benefits. It may happen, too, that personally you may never stand in need of those benefits. By God’s good Providence you may keep your health and strength during the prime of your life & in your old age may be in such circumstances as to be quite independent of the help of the Society. How anything which will lead you to join in a work which is to benefit others & not necessarily to benefit yourselves must be a good thing. Secondly you are taking upon you the duty of providing for yourselves & are therefore cultivating a spirit of self-reliance a spirit which it is the business of all of us to cultivate. Thirdly you are teaching yourselves the habit of thriftiness – you are not only making both ends meet but putting by something over & to spare & thus you are relieving yourselves of an anxiety which is very likely to distract your minds & keep them from the consideration of heavenly things. Lastly – and this is a most important point – you are by your example teaching others to be prudent, thrifty, & self-reliant. All these you may learn to be & with prudence, thriftiness, and self-reliance each one of you may as a wise woman build her house. Such are some of the moral benefits which you will reap if you make right use of the Society to which you belong.

But there is a common saying that there are two sides to every question. So far we have considered what you, by being members of s friendly club may learn to be, next let us consider what you may learn not to be. And on this point there are two questions which I should like to bring to your notice. My first of these questions is – “Have any of you joined this society & are you remaining in it for the good of others or simply for your own. This is a very serious consideration for you all. I am not here to undervalue the present sacrifices you are making in order to provide for yourselves in sickness or in old age – God forbid! – but I do wish you to consider whether you are satisfied with that. If you are acting for the good of others as well as for your own, well & good : but if your motive is to benefit yourselves only then I would pray you to consider the course you are taking & see whether you cannot alter it. If you feel that by thus providing for yourselves you are shutting out form your hearts all desire to sympathise with & help those who may not be so well off as yourselves, then you may be sure that you are acting without God’s blessing. The object of your society as I understand it is not only to put its members into the way of helping themselves, but also to suggest to their minds the desire to help others. I judge that that is its object because I have read on the title page of your book of rules a very suggestive & appropriate text. When S. Paul wrote those words which form your motto “Bear ye one another’s burdens & so fulfil the law of Christ” we can hardly suppose that he meant to limit their application only to such bearing of one another’s burdens as is implied by just carrying out the bare letter of the rules of a friendly society. It is quite true that to carry out such rules as yours is a most excellent and useful thing to do but S. Paul’s words have a far wider meaning. He meant us all – men or women, young or old, rich or poor, club-members, or non club-members to bear one another’s burdens whether of poverty, of sorrow, of crime or of sin. Such, I am sure, is the way in which those who chose this text for you wished it to be applied & such is the way in which I would ask you to apply it yourselves. And you who are members of a friendly society are more likely to carry out S. Paul’s commands than those who are not, for you have many opportunities of learning the lesson that it is a duty to help others, & you have frequently brought before you a practical proof of the happiness that may be given by timely help & sympathy.

And there is the second question. Do any of you pride yourselves overmuch on the position that you have taken up by becoming members of the Society? i.e. in other words Do you stand on high ground & look down with a certain amount of contempt on those who are not doing as you do, although through their circumstances they may have more need to do so? I trust not. If any of you should ever feel such pride in your hearts I pray you dismiss it, as you would dismiss the selfishness which we spoke of just now. Neither pride nor selfishness can have a place among the materials with which every wise woman buildeth her house. By all means lay up a treasure to be ready for sickness or old age but let not your doing so be sullied by pride or selfishness. Be thrifty but not miserly, be self-reliant but not proud. By all means exercise self-denial but let it be exercised sometimes to help a neighbour as well as to keep up the subscription to the club. So then by virtue of your position as members of the Neston Female Friendly Society you may learn to cultivate prudence, thriftiness, self-reliance, and to shun selfishness & pride.

But there is a far more important lesson that we may all learn from the Words of the wise man. The desire to provide for sickness & old age is praiseworthy, but we must not stop there. Our Saviour Himself says “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven”, & His words, in this as well as other respects, should be our law. We may be worldly wise & build our house, but if it is an earthly house only it can last but for a season. Like all earthly things it must have an end. The house that we should aim at building should rest on a more solid foundation – it should be built by God’s help. “Except the Lord build the house, thy labour in vain that build it.” It should be founded on faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ – on a real belief that He died for our sins & for those of the whole world.

This foundation of firm faith in Jesus Christ, once gained the superstructure will be built up of charity, meekness, loving kindness & long-suffering & good works done in the name of God & to His glory. These Christian qualities & these good works will by God’s grace follow as naturally & as certainly in Jesus Christ as night follows day. With such a foundation & such a superstructure we may well hope that we shall build up for ourselves a heavenly house as S. Paul describes when he says “We knoweth that if the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building from God, a home not made with hands, eternal in the heavens”.

He again delivered the sermon a few years later in 1888 which was reported in the local newspapers account of the day.

Cheshire Observer – Saturday 09 June 1888

‘ …a capital sermon was preached by the Rev. W. F. Barrett from 1. St Peter, iii. chap and 4th verse – “The ornament of a meek and quiet spirit”. In the course of his remarks, which were specially addressed to the female portion of the congregation, Mr .Barrett spoke of the vast amount of good which could be achieved by women who possessed the attribute referred to by the apostle. The influence of women for good or evil was untold, and the meek and quiet spirit was a potent weapon for good. There were women whose self-sacrificing exertions in the cause of humanity had made them famous- such as Florence Nightingale- but there was a great work for them in their own homes where their gentle and soothing influence would affect all with whom they came in contact. The apostle had been speaking for the fashion which prevailed among the women of his day of “plaiting the hair” in massive coils upon the crown of the head, and he (the preacher) could not help commenting upon some of the ridiculous fashions of the present time. Some women for instance compressed their bodies until they resembled the form of an hour glass, while others wore boots which threw the whole weight of the body upon the toes…”

Mrs. Barrett was an honorary member of the Society and walked in the annual procession. Amongst the correspondence sent to her children and grandchildren were postcards of the annual walk, identifying some of the members, clergy and doctors taking part.


Mrs Thornely and Frank.

Stringer and Tozer [carrying the standard]

Mrs. R. L. Price, Mrs. Pem[berton], Mrs. W. A. Gray, Mrs. Grant.

And Dr Grant. And Dr Carlisle and Mr. R. L. Price, Miss Carlisle.

The foot belongs to Mr. Gray with whom Mrs. F. Jones and I walk.


You will easily recognise “the Aged P.”[Mrs. Barrett often referred to herself as ‘the Aged P.’ in her letters] to whom Mr. Ariel Gray is talking.
Mrs. Gray is to my right, with the chiffon scarf.
Next to her is Dr Carlisle with Mrs. Pemberton’s waterproof cloak over his arm – the owner  thereof is by him in the shade. (Mrs. Gray eclipses her partner, Mr. R. L. Price)
Before Dr Carlisle are Dr Grant and Mrs. Price – Mr. Graham and Edith Grant, all invisible.
Dr Yeoman is escorting Mrs. Turner, in front of him you may descry Mary Lyon; the Vicar you can just see his hood.
Next to Mr. W. A. Gray come Miss Carlisle, Mrs. Stone, and Mrs. Yeoman. Gertie Lacy, Dorothy Richardson, D. Livermore and D. Seager.
The short petticoat under the banner is, if I mistake not, a characteristic bit of Miss Webb. I have marked
her position with a ‘x’. Not bad?!

[‘Miss Webb’ refers to Miss Elizabeth Webb (1830 – 1912) who was an active member of Ladies Club for sixty years until her death in 1912]


I know you will all like to have this view.
Behind me you will descry Miss Webb’s profile. I am sorry my pole  came right across the view of her purple complexion. She is talking to Martha Henderson.
Dorothy Livermore you will recognise – her staff was of pink peonies – very handsome.
Mine was of double scarlet geraniums and lilies of the valley, with long wild oat grass.

“Mr. Richard” comes out well. Mr. Harry is in front of him, and is eclipsed by Mrs. Yeoman’s staff (of choice blooms of pelargoniums).
Next week I will send you a good photo with Mrs. Pem[berton] well represented.
I had no idea I had been ‘snapped’ so well.


Just under the ‘x’ you will, with the help of a magnifying glass, make out Miss Webb.
Connie Gill is standing in front of Mrs. Scott’s, the tobacconists, leftside.


My smile is quite a revelation to me!
Mr. Richard Gleadowe is greatly excited at his prominent appearance.
Mr. W. Ariel Gray’s profile may be seen  on the  left, lower corner.
Edith Grant’s staff had the handsome lilies on it.
Miss Webb’s black ‘sink’ dress is just behind Mr. Richard.


The new building in the background is the Wesleyan Chapel, where the ‘Tin Tabernacle’ used to stand. It is built of red brick and is really cleverly designed, on the small triangular plot of land. The building to the left is the police station.

The Vicar and Miss Mary Lyon lead the procession, followed by the Curate and Mrs. Grant – Dr Grant and Mrs. Pemberton – Dr Carlisle and Mrs. W. Ariel Gray – Mr. R. L. Price and Grannie – Mr. W. Ariel Gray and Mrs. R. L. Price – May Richardson and Annabel Russell.


95th Anniversary

On our way to church: just passing the Church (vestry end) gates. Mr. R. L. Price was discoursing to Grannie about Robert Bushell of Parkgate!

Mrs. R. L. Price’s face is hidden by her club pole. The ‘tiny’ in white behind May Richardson is Mrs Gray, the Curate’s wife, she is walking with Mrs. McCubbin who is very tall.

Sorry Miss Webb is not visible in this photograph. Grannie’s Club pole was decked with crimson semi double geraniums and grass.


95th Anniversary

We are just between Pyke’s Wyndt and Mr. Prentice’s (ironmongers) shop. The Church wall is seen on the left.

Dr. Carlisle and Mrs. W. Ariel Gray are in the front. She was as usual much the youngest and certainly the most elegant in the procession!

Mr. Harry Gleadowe is on the left near the back – he is walking with one of his youngest nieces Lydia Seagar & ‘Mr. Richard’ was absent.

We are on our way to the church.


Coming from the Church along Church Lane and just passing Mr. Barnett’s (The Florists) cottage.

Mrs. Morris is standing by the house.

The 2nd behind Annabel Russell (whose face is obscured by Grannie’s Club Pole) is Mrs. Seager – just behind her is Mrs. Fred Jones.

Grannie is walking with Dr. Carlisle and Mrs. W. A. Gray as her partner, Mr. R. L. Price, had to go to Liverpool directly the service was over.

We are on our way to the Cross, where we stand and ‘GOD save the King’ is played.




The Vicar is to Mary Lyon’s right, and to her left is the our Curate, Mr. Mostyn Jones.

Miss Roberts you will at once recognise.

Dr. Grant is to her left, & next is Mrs. Brooke Gwynne whose staff hides Edith Grant.

Mrs. W. Ariel Gray is all there!

Mrs. Pem[berton] just appears to her right.


The Ex Sergeant (Wharam) leads the way – as the fore-runner clearing the way.

The Vicar and Lady President (Mary Lyon) follow.

Then the Curate and I suppose Miss Roberts – Dr Grant and Annabel Russell.

Dr. Carlisle and Edith Grant – Mrs. W. A. Gray and Mr. R. L. Price – Mrs. Pemberton and Mr. W. A. Gray. Etc, etc.


Mrs. W. A. Gray is ‘the young thing’ in a white feather boa.

Mrs. Pemberton is just behind her.


The Ladies Club Procession is on its way to Church.

To the Vicar’s right is Miss Roberts whose scarf was of Indian workmanship embroidered in divers, gorgeous colours.

Mrs. Troughton, our new President, walked on the Vicar’s left.

I was in the second row, in the shade of Mrs. Troughton’s head.


89° in the shade!

My label is rather disconcerting!

My partner, Dr. Grant is to my right.

My floral staff is eclipsing Rev. L. Sharples, our Curate.

The ‘plump and pleasing person’ to Mr. Sharples’ left, is Mrs. Edith Grant.

We were on show at our new cinema for two weeks.

These have been photo’d by the Manager there, for the benefit of our Church Fete which is due on the 19th July.

[The label Mrs. Barrett refers to is the Birkenhead Brewerey sign on the White Horse which Appears above her head. She refers to it in a letter written shortly afterwards ‘ I expect to be most unmercifully chaffed by you all, as over my photo is the “White Horse” Public House’s sign, “Birkenhead Brewery Co, Celebrated Ales”. No use my asserting I am a veteran Teetotaller with such a label over me! As our Vicar said when I told him, “Murder will out!”]


Right to left

Vicar , Rev. Walter Bidlake.

Mrs. Troughton, Lady President.

Dr. Grant.

Mrs. Livermore.

Dr. Gunn.

Mrs. Lewis Grant (in white)

Mrs. Barrett (behind)

Mr. R. L. Price (hidden by flowers)

Mrs. Pemberton (white glove)

Mr. Pemberton (hidden)

Rev. L. Sharples (Curate).

Mrs. Pakenham Walsh (white scarf)

Rev. N. M. Grindon (Curate)

Marion Ward. Tall. White gloves.

Other postcards of Ladies Club from Mrs. Barrett’s collection.