as researched by Kate Roberts (the article refers to images that will be included on the website later)
The Township of Bache is within the Ecclesiastical Parish of Saint Oswalds and is one of the smallest townships in Cheshire at 95.7 acres. It is situated just over one mile north of Chester’s cross and can be found on the OS Landranger map No 117 at SJ 4068. It is roughly L shaped with Liverpool Road following its eastern boundary, Bache Brook the southern and partly following Finchetts Gutter, but its upper portion has now been absorbed into the Countess of Chester Hospital complex. See map OS SJ 3968 and 4068. Its contour height is at ~18m.
The historical physical landscape contained many more features than the present day, as much of the lower portion of the township has been drastically altered in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
Bache brook had cut a small valley through the Bunter sandstone and a large pool was present until the late 19th century, but the vast majority of the township has been pastureland and continues so today. Present day, the Deva link road cuts along the southern boundary and in doing so alters the path of Bache Brook.
GEOLOGY AND SOILS
Triassic sandstone underlies the whole of the Cheshire Plain with often extremely deep deposits of boulder clay. Around the Bache the older Bunter sandstone beds occur in some places less than 1m below the surface.
Soil deposits are fast draining sandy and course loam, which are of good quality for horticulture and arable use. (See (future)drift map). In the valley made by the brook the red sandstone is exposed as a shear cliff up to 4 - 5m high. (See photo (to follow).
The tithe survey took place in 1844 by C. Brittan and the apportionment was confirmed in June 1845. (See Tithe Map and Apportionment). The scale used was 3 chains to 1 inch. It tells us that the landowner at the time was Robert Brodhurst – Hill but the hall was occupied by Henry Garnett. Bache cottage was occupied by Thomas Seacome who was also working the fields 11 – 18. This shows that Seacome was doing all the farming, with 5/7 of his fields with arable crop and 1 meadow and 1 pasture. Of the 9 areas marked for the hall there is only 1 arable field, 1 meadow, 3 pasture and the rest plantation or garden, this indicates a gentlemen’s residence.
If you add up the values of the individual fields of the hall and the farm you see that at £13 8s 8d the halls land is more valuable than the farms at £11 1s 4d.
Field name references in the tithe map are strongly relate to the hall and to farming e.g. Garden Field (No 7), Barn Field (No 13), Croft Field (No 14) and Moat Field (N0 3). Early names for some fields reveal other uses, Dovehouse Hey, Fishers Hey and Kiln Hey from 1660. Surnames have also been used Glasiers Hey from Glazier and Collys Hey from Colly (1555).
There were several main periods of activity found on investigation, the first being the Mesolithic era and this was followed by a minimal Roman presence. The medieval period however begins the significant habitation and industrial activity in the area. The hall and mill sites take the story into modern times.
THE PREHISTORIC PERIOD
The township name of Bache means `The valley – stream’ which aptly describes the areas main features. Such a fresh water source would have been a natural asset to man, the lightly wooded valley with sandy soils could have given a opportunity for settlement and cultivation. The evidence for mans presence in the Mesolithic period at the Bache came with the discovery of flint blades and cores found in 1892 by W. Shone. (See SMR No 1922 and photo 2). Of these initial pieces found, on the borders of Bache Pool prior to it being filled in, one of the microliths shows possible traces of use on one edge.
The Bache Pool area came under closer examination more recently (Unpublished site excavation for Safeway Ltd 1997) when another flint flake was found. This matched the earlier pieces but they do not match the local drift material in colour or quality. These pieces are of high quality flint typically found in the Vale of Clwyd and the Pennine foothills, indicating trade of some kind. This site evaluation was also trying to find the possible location of any settlement site, although none were found. >< The site was likened to the excavated site at Tatten Park Mere, which has very good evidence for the exploitation of the animal and plant resources of the adjacent mere. The Bache Pool material it has been suggested could mark a similar temporary or even seasonal encampment beside the stream. These few flint pieces offer a tantalising glimpse into prehistory and illustrate what a valuable resource the area could have been.
The Safeway site excavation plan shows the trench locations and site layout. Trench I was located on the higher ground overlooking what would once have been the course of the original stream. It produced the greatest quantity of finds (70%). Trench II was trying to locate the edge of the pool and trench III within the pool itself. Finds here were solely from the post-medieval period. None of the material found was in a single context in an individual deposit or layer, which showed that modern disturbance of the site had distorted the archaeology too much. It was felt however that there is a `presence’ probably close by and that trench I on the higher ground was the significant factor to locating any more.
In the Upton Village Scrap Book 1951 from the WI, is mention of a ground formation at the Dale, they also name a nearby field as Flint Hill Field. The tithe map for Moston of 1839 (EDT 279/2 apportionment) does not list such a name making the claim difficult to substantiate. The Dale area is approximately ¾ mile distance from the Bache, it too has a small stream and spring and could be worth future investigation. Field names on the tithe map of interest include Sand Hole (No4) and White Field (No7) which has a small pond.
THE ROMAN PERIOD
Only trace activity has been found in the Bache and neighbouring Upton area of Roman mans presence. In Upton a stray coin find and the possible temporary or practice camp features are noted, but in the Bache physical evidence is even scarcer. In 1965 Hugh Thompson found Roman pottery from the 3rd century though the precise location is unknown, and a few sherds were found in the Safeway excavation. It seems that the Bache and Upton form a sort of `no mans zone’ between the Chester to Wirral road and the Chester to Warrington road. The former runs on a NW alignment from Chester although its initial course is not certain it is thought that the Parkgate Road is the most probable course. The latter also comes into close proximity as traces of it were found at Liverpool Road / Parkgate Road junction heading to Brook Lane and on to Hoole Bank. As the Bache was so close to the fortress it would not have any independent settlement except perhaps land used for agricultural purposes as it fell within the Prata Legionis.
THE MEDIEVAL PERIOD
The township of Bache consisted originally of a single estate, Bache Hall was a moated manorial site of Medieval date. There was also a water mill site associated with the hall and this has its origins in the same period. The Bache was unfortunately not included in the Domeday Survey although neighbouring Upton was, so the origins of Bache Hall as a manor are unknown. The earliest reference to the Bache is the granting of the mill to St Werburghs Abbey by Earl Richard in 1119 and so begins a 700 year long history of corn milling at the Bache. For the many possible origins of the name & the history of the Pool and the Mill as noted in the 1951 WI History