Upton and the land before Upton Park
England's first well recorded 'census' - the famed Domesday Book - records Upton as having two Manors and a population of between 20-29. These would have been the male heads hence true population is usually advised as times five to include the families. Only one other village in the surrounds of Chester had a population above 20.
From the 1839 Upton-on-the-hill parish tithe map
held in the Cheshire Records Office;
we see that the site of the original covenanted Upton Park
was pasture land.
The name suggests poor damp agricultural land and Sour Field is adjacent to a pond. It would follow that this land would be cheaper for building development than good quality farming land. It is interesting to note that many of the early Park deeds refer to Lower Field rather than Sour Field. The word 'sour' was often spelt 'sower' in northern districts of England and in old script the letters 'S' and 'L' are not dissimilar. So either the name got confused by the manuscript writers or possibly it was a useful marketing ploy when selling building plots for grand houses to avoid the name 'Sour Field'.
The lane into field 33 was in existance and the Park Avenue was later taken along the boundary between fields 36 and 37.
Fields 33,34 & 35 were all owned by Samuel Brittain, a Chester solicitor and occupied by Joseph Lloyd who appears to have lived in the house on the corner with Mill Lane (shown as 31 on the Tithe map) and also used the orchard plot (shown as 32). In common with much of the district the Tithe rent was payable to the Earl of Kilmorey and for fields 33,34 & 35 amounted to a total of £2/13/4d.
Upton Mill with its yard and associated buildings including the mill house and garden (shown as 30 on the Tithe map) was also owned by Brittain and occupied by William Carter the miller. Carter used field 36 and other fields within the parish.
Upton Villa (later known as Upton House and then Stanton House) is the house standing in field 29. House and field (named as White field) are recorded as owned and occupied by Francis Dickson and her husband James.
The full 1839 parish tithe map shows two clusters of housing in Upton - one around the junction of Church Lane and Upton Lane and the other at the junction of Upton Lane and Mill Lane.
Around the middle of the 1800s; Upton started to grow. In 1840 the Chester to Birkenhead Railway started on a line along Upton's western boundary although Upton was not to get a train station until the next century. Upton had been in the Parish of a Chester church - St. Mary's-on-the-hill but a "chapel-of-ease" was built in Upton; consecrated in 1854; and became an independent parish around mid-1880's. With a chapel built in 1860 and a public house (the beginnings of the Wheatsheaf Inn ) from around the mid-1850s; a school was finally built in 1885 - so clearly the population was growing.