Birkenhead Priory, Priory Street, Birkenhead, CH41 5JH – Visit Now
On a visit to Birkenhead, a great port of call is the Birkenhead Priory – the oldest standing building in Merseyside. The Priory was founded way back in 1150 for the Benedictine Order, and today it stands in a remarkedly good shape. Walls that have tipped over into ‘ruins’ mark out the space while the windows that remain in place beautifully catch the sun. Birkenhead Priory has a history that includes royalty, the birth of a city, and a religious life. Sitting on the banks of the Mersey, the Priory is the gateway to understanding how the Wirral grew over almost 1,000 years.
Birkenhead Priory is easy to visit on a daytrip from Liverpool – the two places are separated by the River Mersey making for an unusual sense of being close together, and far apart. The most popular way to cross the River Mersey is to go under it. Cars can drive through the tunnels for the price of a small toll, and buses regularly make the trip. The more adventurous way to go is to take the ‘Ferry Across the Mersey’ – made famous by the 1965 hit from Scouse band Gerry and the Pacemakers. Ferries have been making this trip since the 12th century, and it’s still a crowd-pleasing way to travel.
However you cross the Mersey, be sure to take a walk around the priory. If you’re lucky and time it just right you could catch an amazing sunset casting the ancient Priory in golds and reds. In recent years Birkenhead Priory has been animated with contemporary culture. Liverpool photography gallery Open Eye has installed exhibitions in its spaces, and culture magazine Bido Lito hosted their first music festival, Future Yard, partly in the Priory in 2019. Even without these events, a walk round Birkenhead Priory is charged with history and the enduring romance of ruins.