St Olave Street

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St Olave in 2014, with the retaining wall supported.

Hughes writes:

  • "Only a step or two from the Albion and on the same side near the residence of Mr Snape the eminent dentist is St Olave's Lane so named from the Lilliputian church dedicated to that saint at its south west corner. This Church dates back earlier than the Conquest. The advowson in the eleventh century was vested in the Botelers or Butlers from whom it passed by gift of Richard Pincerna in 1101 to the Abbey of St Werburgh. St Olave's appears to have been always in low water a starving rather than a living for in 1393 on account of its poverty the parish was temporarily united with St Mary's. Down to the seventeenth century however it eked out a precarious existence but after the close of the civil war the ordinary services of the church were discontinued for about a century when they were again resumed until the final extinction of St Olave's as a distinct parish in 1841. In that year the Church was finally closed and the parish united to that of St Michael. The "powers that be" are fast allowing this ancient structure to develop into a ruin."

Founded in the 11th Century, the present St Olave is probably of mid 15thC, restored with some alteration 1859 by James Harrison and converted to exhibition centre with little alteration in the 1980s. The forecourt walls, which formerly supported a building in front of the Row walk, are of medieval origin. The side walls lean outward noticeably. The forecourt at former Row level has sandstone rubble retaining wall with a flight of ten simple stone steps up from St Olave's Street.

A St Olave Street Gallery

To the rear of the church building is a stone plaque set into the wall of a small extension. The plaque reads:

  • "AD 1744. This curacy of St Olave was augmented with lands purchased for (£)400 whereof were given by queen Anne's bounty (£)200, collected by Thomas Mather Esq (£)100, pur(suant) of M Barons legacy 100."

Queen Anne's Bounty was a scheme established in 1704 to augment the incomes of the poorer clergy of the Church of England, and by extension the organisation ("The Governors of the Bounty of Queen Anne for the Augmentation of the Maintenance of the Poor Clergy") which administered the bounty (and eventually a number of other forms of assistance to poor livings).

53 Lower Bridge Street

On the north side of St Olave Street the framing of 53 Lower Bridge Street displays phases of building in a remarkably clear manner. Medieval red sandstone rubble walling remains towards the rear, and a few visible stones can be seen further west. The late medieval posts, west of the bay containing the westernmost window to the first and second storey, marks the front of the former Row walk. Carpenters' marks are numbered from rear of the former Row walk, westward in the Row and stall-board bay, eastward in the domestic bays behind. The secondary framing in the Row and stall-board bay is probably late 17thC. The flue from the fire is taken up through what would otherwise appear to be a south chimney of the adjacent number 51, probably when that much taller building was constructed and the Row closed in 1700.

The ragged school

A marked increase in the number of very poor children unable to pay the fees charged by National Schools led to the formation in 1851 of the Chester Ragged School Society, which recognized the need for free education for poor, orphaned, and neglected children. Ragged schools were established at Boughton (1852) and in St. Olave's parish (1852), with a third in Princess Street (1868) known as the Bishop Graham Memorial school. In March 1876 the St Olave's Street school was handed over to the curate of the parish of St Michael with St Olave because the disused chapel in which it was held was required by the parish. It appears to have continued under the curate until the pupils could be transferred to the new parochial school of St Michael with St Olave, opened in 1879 and closed in 1941.