Church of St. Aidan
Part of Group:
At Risk: No
Historic England Ref: 1075923 (Link)
Grade II* LIsted. Built 1718.
Designed by renowned mason and architect Henry Sephton.
St Aidan's is an active Anglican church in the deanery of Wigan
In the southern section of St. Aiden’s Parish Church graveyard in Billinge, the somewhat macabre “coffin shaped’ grave of George and Kitty Smith can be seen. This dates back to 1720 and the “coffin” lid shows a skull with a winged serpent. It is rumoured that George died having been bitten by a snake on Billinge Hill. The skull represents death that comes to us all and the wings represent the ascent to Heaven or the afterlife. A snake eating its own tail is called an Ouroborus and is an ancient symbol for eternity and the cycle of life and death.
The legend goes that George Smith was bitten by a snake and died, whilst taking a break from his work in the quarry. Kitty Smith subsequently died of a broken heart and the grave of George was reopened for them to be reunited in death. A Gothic love story for the ages!
Text and images by SI Travels
Note: Henry Sephton (c. 1686 – 2 June 1756) was the leading mason and architect in the St.Helens area during the second quarter of the eighteenth century, the architect-builder of Ince Blundell Hall, including the expansion of Prescot Parish Church.