Birkenhead Priory’s Chapter House is one of the oldest standing buildings on Merseyside, dating to about 1150. The whole site comprises a mixture of Grade 1, Grade 2* and Grade 2 listed buildings and is a scheduled monument.
The recently refurbished museum in the Undercroft tells the story of the medieval Priory. The ruins of St Mary’s, the first parish church in Birkenhead, can be seen on the site, with stunning views of the Mersey from the tower.
This place has strong significance in the history of the Birkenhead area. Also on site is a museum devoted to HMS Conway, a Merchant Navy school ship moored on the Mersey until 1941. John Laird and various members of his family are buried on the site, and the Cammell Laird shipyard is right next door.
- When Cammell Laird’s Princess dry dock was built in the 1950s, the entire churchyard of St Mary’s and half the foundations of the medieval church were cleared away to make space.
- The monks of Birkenhead Priory were granted the right to run the Mersey ferry service by Royal Charter in 1318. They charged passengers for the ferry, and for food and accommodation, and were accused of excessive charging!