Welcome to the Parish Church of St Mary, Cheadle, Cheshire
This brief guide will explain some of the main features of this ancient building. The notes are from our Guidebook by Dr G V Chivers which can be purchased from St Mary’s bookroom.
There has been a church in Cheadle since at least 1200AD, as we have the first Rector of Cheadle named in the Domesday book as Hamo, however there is no independent record of what type of building there was.
The church is basically a 16th century building, described in 1523 as ‘lately in great ruin and decay and now a building’. From then until 1556, the church was substantially rebuilt, but no further structural changes took place until the 19th century.
The main body of the church, between the pillars and under the high roof, is the nave, and the parts of the building on the outside of the pillars, with the lower sloping roofs, are the aisles. Following tradition, the church points east, so the two aisles are described as north and south (although unusually the church is not in a strict alignment with either compass or existing roads).
The chancel is the eastern part of the church containing the communion table and choir seats, or stalls.
The nave is divided from the aisles by five pointed arches, supported by four plain octagonal columns with similar capitals. The odd feature of these capitals is that those on the south side have three lines of shallow moulding while those on the north side have four, perhaps the result of a short time gap in the construction. Masons’ tool marks are visible on all the stonework in the church.
The Nave Roof
This is oak camber-beamed, beautifully but simply ornamented, many of the bosses carved with stylised flowers. It was coloured in 1981.
The Chancel Screen
The lower part is 16th century, the upper part is Victorian with some fine carving of four tiny faces on each pendant.
Looking up, above the chancel screen, there are clearly cut grooves where a rood loft once fitted. In the north wall, the doorway can be seen which led out onto this gallery.
The chancel is 16th century, with 19th century alterations. Both side walls lean outwards, but this probably occurred during construction. The old Tudor roof was taken out and replaced in 1859 (it was coloured in 1981), and the Tudor east window was replaced in 1861.
The Green Man
This carving is on the right hand side where the small south arch abuts the chancel wall. There are the usual acanthus leaves coming from his mouth and ears. It is a pagan symbol of Spring, but folk traditions die hard and examples of the Green Man can be found in churches and cathedrals across Europe.
16th Century Chapels
The Savage Chapel is at the end of the north aisle and was build in 1529 by Sir John Savage and his wife Elizabeth.
At the end of the south aisle is the Brereton Chapel. The screen around was put up by Sir Urian Brereton who also put the original glass in the east window of the chapel about 1525.
The single stone effigy in the chapel is of Sir Thomas Brereton (d.1674) and the two alabaster effigies are 15th century and must have been in the earlier church building.
Since 1990 the Brereton chapel has been used as a church bookroom and missionary display.
The refurbishment was completed in 1992 after the installation of the bellringers’ platform. It now serves as a coffee room and is sound proof so that it can be used as a crèche during services.
You can find an EarthCache for St Mary’s here: https://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC7DHPN_rock-of-ages
You might also be interested in our Information about Church Fixtures page.