by John Headon
On the 8th August 1614, Christopher Minshull B.A. Rector of Ashington-with-Buncton in Sussex, died at the age of 33. He was of the Minshulls of Eardswick line and their family home, Eardswich Hall, was in Minshull Vernon and although rebuilt since his time, the house is still there and part of the old hall moat survives to this day.
In his will he left £200 with his overseers (financial advisors), to be kept until it was £400, when it would be given to the Church in Church Minshull to go towards 'The maintainance of a Free School for ever'. He also provided £17 per annum for the payment of a schoolmaster, 4 marks per annum ( £2.66 ) for eight sermons to be preached every year in the church, Five shillings per annum ( 25p ) for the poor and 20 old pennies per annum ( 8p ) for a piper to play in the village every Shrove Tuesday.
The day was special to him, because he had been born on that day in 1581 and the head of the Minshull Family was to administer the legacy going forward. We know all this because the details are in the church records, now in the Chester Archives and the £200 school gift is recorded on one of the Charity Boards at the back of St Bartholomew's.
Sadly, all this legacy has been seized or dispersed over the years. With the Minshull lordship passing to the Cholmondeleys of Vale Royal in 1654 and then Thomas Cholmondeley selling the village to Thomas Brooke in the 1780s, the Brooke family took over the administration of all the charities and legacies. They did not survive for long and the estate was sold off in bits, in the early 1920s. With no lord to pay the dues, all the payments ceased and the school, which had been sold to Cheshire County Council in 1905, was closed in 1982.
This year (2017), with a new broadcasting sound system in the church tower for playing bells when we have no bell ringers visiting, we thought we should revive part of the Reverend Christopher's legacy. So at midday on Shrove Tuesday, 28th February, the sound of a "Galoubet" ( old name for the pipe ) and "Tambourin" ( old name for the drum ), the instruments used by a piper, will once more be heard from the Church tower, echoing across the ancient lands of the Minshulls.