Thu . 19 Feb 2019

St Peter's Church, Prestbury

st peter's church prestbury cheshire, st peter's church prestbury
St Peter's Church is the parish church of Prestbury, Cheshire, England It is probably the fourth church on the site The third, the Norman Chapel, stands in the churchyard The church is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade I listed building1 The Norman Chapel,2 the lychgate and west wall,3 the Hearse House,4 and the sundial in the churchyard5 are listed at Grade II It is a Church of England parish church in the diocese of Chester, the archdeaconry of Macclesfield and the deanery of Macclesfield6


  • 1 History
  • 2 Churchyard
  • 3 Church building
    • 31 Interior
      • 311 Nave
      • 312 Chancel
      • 313 North aisle
      • 314 South aisle
  • 4 Vicars of Prestbury
  • 5 See also
  • 6 References
  • 7 Media
  • 8 External links


There is compelling evidence that there was a church at Prestbury "priest’s enclosure" in the Anglo-Saxon era After the Norman conquest of England, the church, probably the second on the site, came into the possession of the powerful baron Hugh Kyvelioc who gave it to the Abbey of St Werburgh in 1170-1173

The monks demolished the Anglo-Saxon church and built what is now called the Norman Chapel7 The chapel served as a place of worship for the vast Parish of Prestbury until after the Magna Carta and the deaths of King John and Pope Innocent III in 1216

In 1220, the monks, supported by the Davenports of Marton and later Henbury, the Piggots of Butley and the family de Corona predecessors of the Leghs of Adlington started to build what became the chancel and nave of the present church Rather than incorporate the chapel into the new building, as was often done, they left it in the churchyard Some time later, it was given to the Davenports for use as a place of burial and perhaps as a private chapel

During the next three centuries, the church was enlarged and the tower was erected As a Roman Catholic church, worship in Latin was conducted at the high altar behind the rood screen Rich vestments and ornaments were in use

With the dissolution of the monasteries, the Abbey of St Werburgh ceased to exist The newly created Diocese of Chester 1541 administered Prestbury until Sir Richard Cotton purchased the manor and advowson in 1547 A few years afterwards, in 1580, Thomas Legh of Adlington acquired the manor and advowson and became Lay Rector of Prestbury The Legh family has held the manor and advowson of Prestbury ever since

St Peter's Church before the general restoration

Public worship in Latin was abolished by the Acts of Uniformity A pulpit was erected in 1560 The high altar and the rood loft were taken down during the years 1563-72 and a moveable Communion table was set up

The church was transformed during the Georgian period to suit the contemporaneous style of worship Pews 1707 filled the building In 1710 a canopied three-decker pulpit was erected in the nave Between 1711 and 1712, a large gallery was built at the western end of the church, with access from external staircases on both sides of the tower A ceiling was put up in 1719 and decorated in 1720 In 1741-1742, the north aisle was rebuilt

In a general restoration designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott which took place between 1879 and 1888, the pews were replaced, the three-decker pulpit was dismantled, the gallery and the ceiling were removed and the north aisle was again rebuilt

Further changes took place during the 20th and the first few years of the 21st centuries and no doubt will continue to take place


The Lychgate was built in 1715 and re-sited to its present position in 1728

St Peter's Churchyard

The outstanding feature of the churchyard is the Norman Chapel8 Dating from 1175-1190, it began to fall into disrepair a few years after the present church came into use In 1747 it was rebuilt by Sir William Meredith of Henbury so that his son Amos and other members of his family could be buried there Restored in 1953, it is now used for a variety of church purposes

Fragments of a cross of late Saxon origin were discovered in about 1880 built into the wall of the church At one time they were thought to date from the late seventh or early eighth centuries, but are now believed to be 10th or 11th century Pieces of the cross have been put together and now stand in the churchyard near the Norman Chapel It has been registered as a scheduled monument9

Yew trees in the churchyard date from the time of the Hundred Years' War

The sundial needed to correct the church clock dates from 1672 It was improved in 1771 but the gnomon is missing

The forerunner of the Hearse House was built in 1728 The present Hearse House dates from 1852 It is used to store garden tools

The churchyard contains the war graves of twelve Commonwealth service personnel, seven from World War I and five from World War II10

Church buildingedit

Ground plan

The nave is twenty-two feet wide The north aisle and the south aisle are twenty-one and ten feet wide respectively The chancel is nineteen feet wide The south porch is fifteen feet square The tower is twenty-three feet square with walls four feet thick It is seventy-two feet high

The main body of the church the nave and chancel was built during 1220-1230 in the Early English style The south Aisle and the first north aisle were added in 1310

The tower and south porch were built around 1480 and are the only parts of the building to survive in essentially their original form

The clerestory with four windows each side and the bell-cot are early sixteenth century

In 1612 three of the four fourteenth century windows in the south aisle were replaced by square windows

The 1741-2 north aisle had five round-headed windows which contrasted with the windows of the south aisle Two of the round-headed windows survived the general restoration of 1879-1888

The vestry to the north of the chancel was added during the general restoration of 1879-1888

South Porch and South Aisle


The main west door leads through the West Porch, the Parish's memorial to the dead of the two World Wars

Above the porch is the ringers’ gallery 1637 It was formerly an organ loft The bells date from 1820 They were recast in 1968


Warden’s pews at the west end of the nave survived the general restoration

The roof 1675 11 replaced an earlier one The timbering is rough as it was not designed to be exposed

The nave chandelier is dated 1814 Electric lighting replaced acetylene gas in 1936 Ancient candle brackets remain on the pillars and the south wall

Paintings above the pillars represent the twelve apostles and the twelve tribes of Israel They were executed in 1719 by the travelling painter who had decorated the eighteenth-century ceiling which was removed as part of the general restoration

The pulpit is Jacobean 1607 It was found in 1858 encased in the three-decker pulpit which had been made in 1710 It had replaced the 1560 pulpit

A fragment of heraldic glass from an early window in the Legh chapel 1601 is now kept in an illuminated cabinet at the west end of the nave,12 near a memorial book remembering those who lost their lives in the two World Wars

In 2001 a three-manual Allen Renaissance Digital Organ was installed to replace the pipe organ At the same time a dais was installed with space for a nave communion table


Incised slab commemorating Reginald Legh

The chancel is entered through a screen which had been erected in 1740 for the Legh Chapel It has borne the Hanoverian Arms since 1787

A memorial slab built into the north wall of the sanctuary is the oldest memorial in the church 1482 It commemorates Reginald Legh who helped to build the tower and south porch This and other slabs were built into the walls when the church was cleared of altar-tombs

The two-tier chandelier in the chancel is dated 1712

The east window 1915 represents the river and tree of life as described in Revelations, 22: 1-2 It replaced an earlier window which was had been inserted sixty years previously

A thirteenth century three-light window in the north side of the chancel is filled with simulated organ pipes

The main window in the south of the chancel has a representation of Christ’s call of St Peter It was inserted in 1981 Most of the other glass in the church dates from 1882-1896

North aisleedit

The 13th century font at the west end of the aisle was refaced and recut in 1857 The sculptured heads may represent monks or lay brothers from the Abbey of St Werburgh

At the east end of the north aisle is the Legh Chantry Chapel,13 separated from the rest of the aisle by a heavy oak screen

South aisleedit

At the east end of the south aisle, the Tytherington Chantry Chapel, dedicated to St Nicholas, was created in 1350 A 14th century piscina with a carved head typical of the period projects from the wall

A small figure of St Nicholas at the top of the east window of the south aisle is 14th Century, the oldest piece of glass in the church14

Vicars of Prestburyedit

See alsoedit

  • Cheshire portal
  • Grade I listed buildings in Cheshire East
  • Grade I listed churches in Cheshire
  • Listed buildings in Prestbury, Cheshire
  • Norman architecture in Cheshire



  1. ^ Historic England, "Church of St Peter, Prestbury 1221919", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 14 May 2012 
  2. ^ Historic England, "Chapel in St Peter's churchyard, Prestbury 1221896", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 14 May 2012 
  3. ^ Historic England, "Lychgate and west wall of St Peter's churchyard, Prestbury 1221894", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 14 May 2012 
  4. ^ Historic England, "Hearse House in St Peter's churchyard, Prestbury 1221897", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 14 May 2012 
  5. ^ Historic England, "Sundial in St Peter's churchyard, Prestbury 1274911", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 14 May 2012 
  6. ^ St Peter, Prestbury, Church of England, retrieved 30 April 2011 
  7. ^ Prestbury, Norman Chapel, Cheshire, Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Britain and Ireland, retrieved 13 June 2010 
  8. ^ Prestbury Cheshire Website Retrieval date: 26 September 2007
  9. ^ Historic England, "Cross shaft in St Peter's churchyard, Prestbury 1012883", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 14 May 2012 
  10. ^ PRESTBURY ST PETER CHURCHYARD, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, retrieved 3 February 2013 
  11. ^ Scrapbook of Cheshire Antiquities, accessed 27 September 2007
  12. ^ Prestbury, St Peter 1, Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi CVMA of Great Britain, retrieved 2 January 2011 
  13. ^ Scrapbook of Cheshire Antiquities, accessed 3 October 2007
  14. ^ Prestbury, St Peter 2, Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi CVMA of Great Britain, retrieved 2 January 2011 


  • "Old Cheshire Churches" by Raymond Richards, Revised and Enlarged Edition, EJMorton Publishers, Didsbury, 1973, ISBN 0-901598-90-9
  • “St Peter’s Prestbury: a Personal Response” by Gordon B Hindle, Church of St Peter, Prestbury, Cheshire, 2001
  • “Prestbury and its Ancient Church”, St Peter’s Church, Prestbury, 2006


The Village People: life around St Peter's Church, Prestbury, Cheshire A Granada Television series, spring 2002

External linksedit

  • Musical tradition
  • Daughter church
  • A Scrapbook of Cheshire Antiquities: Prestbury
  • Medieval stained glass information from CVMA

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