Vicar's Cross

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The First Edition OS Map of 1835. "Viccarscrose" can be seen on the Roman Road from Chester to the Gowy and the toll is marked.
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Vicars Cross (originally “Vicar's Cross”) is a large residential suburb constituting to the civil parish of Great Boughton situated on the east side of Chester. The main road crossing the suburb, today known as Vicars Cross Road (A51), once made up part of the Roman roads of Watling Street and Via Devana. For most of Chester's history, the area which now makes up Vicars Cross was farmland situated just over a mile from the city centre. In the 19th century, large nurseries were operated by Samuel Dobie and John Kirk in the Vicars Cross area. The firm “Dobies of Chester*” Seed Merchants was particularly well known throughout Britain, symbolising high quality seeds for garden flowers or vegetable plots.

The place name derives from a stone cross which stood at the cross-roads between Tarvin Road and a pair of lanes which are Hare Lane to the north and Littleton Lane to the south. The cross being a landmark on the Chester-London route. The cross was pulled down by the puritans (John Bruen, John Eaton and Hugh Jones) on Ascension Eve 1613. While they were out they also pulled down the cross at Christleton. They, or their associates also destroyed several other crosses.

A Brief History

The line of Tarvin Road was the Roman Watling Street, which led from Chester to Manchester and was later reused (1769) by the Chester Tarvin Turnpike Trust to replace the former Chester-London route which crossed the Gowy by the "Roman Bridges" (they are not actually Toman) at Hockenhull Platts. There seems to have been some dispute over the route of the turnpike road, with the landowners, the Grosvenors, objecting to the route over the Platts and competing interests from other turnpike trusts. There was also opposition fron the packhorse and drovers trade using the Platts route, for the tolls would have been their undoing.

A toll-cottage was built at Vicar's Cross and for many years was the old building along this stretch of road. While the original building doesn't exist (it is now replaced by the "Barn House" vet surgery) there is an in part very similar "Toll Bar Cottage" further back along Littleton Lane. This second one was used to prevent travellers from avoiding the first by dodging round it using the parallel back road through Littleton. The toll-cottage later became the local post-office.

Rebuilding the Cross

The commissioning of a new landmark within Littleton Parish was the result of much indirect debate involving members of the Parish Council and those it represents over many years. The new sandstone cross was put up to commemorate the Millennium by Littleton Parish Council led by Ted Kirk. A stump of the old cross was found in the Kirk’s garden. The cross was cast in reconstituted red sandstone and sited at the junction of the A51 and Hare Lane, opposite Barn House Veterinary Surgery. The original stone “Vicar’s Cross” stood by the road a short distance to the the East of this.

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