The king to all who wish to have burgages in the town of Liverpool, greeting. Know that we have granted to all who take up burgages at Liverpool that they shall have all the liberties and free customs in the town of Liverpool as enjoyed by any other free borough on the seacoast in our land. And so we command that you may travel there safely and in our peace in order to receive your burgages and to live there. In testimony of this we send you our letters patent. Witness Simon de Pateshull, at Winchester, 27 August in the 9th year of our reign.
With these few words, in a document known as a letter patent drawn up in 1207, King John announced the foundation of Liverpool, a newly planned town alongside a tidal creek known as ‘le pool’ in the Mersey estuary.
from 1215 The Year Of Magna Carter by Danny Danziger and John Gillingham
In one of those happy coincidences which seem surprisingly, but which, in the normal course of things are probably almost bound to happen now and again, I was reading 1215 when we went to Liverpool, without having realised in advance that I would learn something about the town’s foundation in doing so.
I previously read The Year 1000 by the same authors, and like that book, found 1215 really fascinating reading.
A had art homework set over the Easter break: take photos of four interesting buildings.
She enlisted my help and I can honestly say that this was the most enjoyable homework I’ve never been set (if you see what I mean). The pair of us felt free to wander around the town unselfconsciously snapping away.
A’s favourite TV programme is ‘Grand Designs’ and at one point it was her ambition to be an architect, so this homework was right up her street.
A was impressed with the city centre’s wealth of Victorian splendour and opined that Lancaster had nothing to compare. Well, Lancaster is a lot smaller than Liverpool, and its buildings are generally smaller too, but I told her that she was being unfair and that she and I should have a wander around Lancaster with a similar brief to see whether we can see it from a visitor’s perspective, through new eyes.
It wasn’t just the older buildings we admired, however; A was really impressed with the ramps on this multi-storey car-park, in fact, I think it made her final four.
Whilst I liked this entrance to the Odeon Cinema…
She didn’t know it when she took the photos, but A now has to use one of her pictures as the inspiration for artwork in the style of the Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser.
It seems that Hundertwasser was himself an architect, although we didn’t come across any buildings in Liverpool even remotely in the style of the fantastical structures he designed (scroll down to the bottom of the page in the link above if you’re intrigued – they are definitely worth a look).
We finished our short trip with one last wander down to the river and along past the docks.
When we asked, before the holidays, where the kids wanted to go for a late-booked escape, S suggested Greece (because it’s the original home of the pizza he tells me) A wanted to go to ‘where goat’s cheese is made’, and B said (as he usually does) ‘Stay at home’. TBH would have preferred Amsterdam, but chose Liverpool in the face of the rest of the family’s indifference to that idea.
I think that Liverpool surprised us all to some extent.
And we didn’t get to either of the Cathedrals, to the Walker Art Gallery, to Speke Hall or Knowsley Safari Park, Formby beach or Rufford Old Hall.
It’s conceivable that I might even be persuaded to go back.