Parish History

History

Woodplumpton lies about five miles northwest of Preston; and the church is part of the Garstang deanery.  

The Parish of Woodplumpton itself was recorded in the Domesday Book; and the name simply means the ‘Plum Tree Farm’ or ‘enclosure.’Woodplumpton Church, dedicated to St Anne (‘the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary’) was known to have existed before the year 1340, but there is evidence of a place of worship on or near the present site as early as the 11th century.  Records show that the present church was rebuilt in 1639 and again in 1900; and during restoration many sections of the original stonework were found in the walls, dating back to the 12th century.

 

                           

 

Even within the vestry; within a recess can be seen part of a Norman tombstone.  The north doorway has early Christian symbols carved into the stonework and this, together with the nearby old window, is undoubtedly the oldest part of the present building.  The main entrance into the churchyard is through the Lychgate which was erected in 1912, flanked on one side by the old stocks and a mounting stone, used in earlier days when individuals arrived on horseback.  Further information regarding the church history can be found in an information booklet produced by local historian Mr Peter Shepherd; available within the Parish Church.

 

                     

 

The churchyard is often visited by many individuals, seeking the grave of the local witch Meg Shelton.  Meg’s grave is marked by a large boulder; and she is remembered as the Fylde witch; people still bring flowers secretly to her grave.  It is believed that Meg had the ability to make crops fail, or even make cattle seriously ill; and turn sour; which made her very unpopular with the locals.  It is even said that Meg was able to assume the shape and form of animals, which enabled her to escape when about her infamous deeds.  While her misdemeanours are wildly exaggerated, Meg really did exist.  Her name was Margery Hilton, who was found dead in her cottage crushed between the wall and a barrel.  She was buried face downwards and a huge boulder, one of the largest natural stones ever to be found in the district, was placed on top of her grave.  Meg never surfaced again, and is now probably scratching herself deeper downwards!

 

The stone on top of Meg Shelton's burial place. Stand on the stone and turn round 3 times and make a wish                                                                                               

 

Since the 1930s the village had doubled in size; and still tries to maintain itself as a village community.  The Church, the local school and the Wheatsheaf Public House are still at the centre of village life.  The modern age brings many changes to local communities; but it is the prayer of St Anne’s parish church, that the vibrant community spirit which is so treasured within the village is always maintained forever; especially for all of the future generations.