|St. Boniface, Bunbury|
|Village sign||The Nave looking east|
|Image of St. Boniface over south porch||The nave looking west|
|Window in north aisle||The rood screen & loft made after World War II|
|Screen of Ridley chapel from 1527||Nave ceiling|
|Tomb of Sir George Beeston||Tomb of Sir Hugh de Calveley|
The church of St. Boniface at Bunbury Church ranks with that of St. Oswald at Malpas in its beauty and range of interesting historical features. In the church you can obtain a small pamphlet from which the details below have been abstracted. The church of St. Boniface has its own website which includes a ground plan of the church and small photographs.
There was a church on the site in the Saxon period and traces of burnt wood have been found beneath the 12th century foundations of some piers of the nave. In the Domesday survey the settlement of Boleberie was mentioned but not the church. A Norman church existed from end of the 11th century but the current church dates from 14th century, albeit with many modifications since. It was founded by Sir Hugh de Calveley in 1385/6 as a collegiate church and chantry. This subsequently became the parish church. There is a magnificent alabaster effigy of Sir Hugh de Calveley (1315-1394) in the chancel. He paid for the rebuilding of the chancel and left money for a chantry chapel with eleven priests. The effigy was originally coloured and traces can still be discerned.
Sir Hugh first appears in history in 1351 when he was one of 30 combatants involved in a skirmish with 30 Bretons. In 1364 he was involved in the battle of Auray and is given and honorable mentions by the historian Froissart for his role in the battle of Navarete in 1367. In 1377 he was sent to keep the town of Calais and that year attacked Boulougne, burning 26 ships and part of the town. He also laid waste the town of Estaples and was involved in a storm at sea where Sir John Arundel and over a thousand men were lost. Sir Hugh and seven others escaped drowning. Later he was made governor of Brest and accompanied the Earl of Buckingham to France. It was said that Calveley was about 7 feet tall, could eat as much as two men and fight like ten. After a life of action he returned to Bunbury and founded the church. The Calveley family ran out of male heirs and the heiress, Katherine, married Arthur Davenport in the mid-14th century, giving rise to the Davenports of Calveley.
The Ralph Egerton chantry chapel, known also as the Ridley Chapel, was constructed in 1527. It has notable carved doors. The manor of Ridley, previously belonging to Sir William Stanley, was granted by Henry VIII, as a reward for taking the French standard at Tournay, to Sir Ralph Egerton of Egerton. Ralph was the second son of Philip Egerton. Sir Ralph received his knighthood from Henry in 1513 for his conduct at the battle of the Spurs, and the seiges of Tourenne and Tournay. The following January he was made Standard Bearer of England for life with a salary of £100 per annum. He was made Marshall for his bravery at the battle of Flodden.
Among other monuments are those to Dr. Everrit Dutton who died in Africa while performing research into tropical diseases, William Williams, who was vicar for 52 years and his father, Sir John Williams, who helped to defend Queen Caroline, Consort of the Prince Regent, later George IV, when she was tried by the House of Lords. (see also my notes on Henry Holland, one of her physicians.)
There is a sedilla on the south side of the sanctuary, and on the north side the tomb of the 101 year old Sir George Beeston, who commanded the Dreadnought against the Spanish Armada in 1588. He was also involved in the siege of Boulougne and the battle of Musselbarrow.
The church appears remarkably wide and light. This is in part because of the slender columns of the nave, the large windows in the north and south walls and the additional light from the clerestory. Another reason for the brightness of the scene is that stained glass windows were destroyed in 1940 by a freak occurrence. German aircraft returning from a raid on Liverpool jettisoned bombs which destroyed several houses in the village and killed a number of people. Many of the windows were replaced with clear glass; the stained glass of the east and west windows and the east window of the north aisle are by Christopher Webb of St. Albans. I show a picture of a modern stained glass window that is in the north wall. The high pitched roof dating from a restoration in 1865 was replaced by one of lower pitch and a new ceiling was installed after the war with bosses showing the EIIR emblem and the date 1952. The screen is also part of the restoration following the bomb damage. The clerestory is the work of Pennington and Brigdon as part of the restoration work in the 1860s. The font is from 1663. The screen in the Ridley Chapel is from 1527 and the door in it has linen fold panelling.
Below I show pictures of some of the picturesque houses near the church. The village could take a leaf out of the book of Castle Combe and hide its wires!
|Estate cottages near the church||White cottage|
|Church Bank Cottage||The Dysart Arms|
Pamphlet available in the church.
Additional information on Sir Hugh de Calveley, Sir George Beeston and Sir Ralph Egerton was drawn from Cheshire Heroes by W. I. Wild in Cheshire Notes and Queries, Vol 1, page 179, December 1896)
The King's England - Cheshire by Arthur Mee, published by Hodder and Stoughton in 1938, fully revised and edited by E. T. Long in 1968, SBN 340 00075 9
The Peace of Bunbury was a declaration during the early phases of the English Civil War and came about as follows. In early December 1642, the Royalist James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby, who was Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire, entered Cheshire to join up with Lord Cholmondeley a Royalist commander in Cheshire. They planned to attack the home of the Parliamentary commander, Colonel Mainwaring of Kermincham (variously written in old documents at Caryncham or Kirmincham). However, Colonel Mainwaring had advance warning of the attack and gathered a force to fight off the intruders. On hearing of this, Lord Derby decided to return to Lancashire. Mainwaring intercepted Lord Cholmondeley and captured 29 men in Northwich and took their equipment and horses.
Colonel Thomas Legh of Adlington was a Royalist and decided to capture Macclesfield for the King but was displaced there by Colonel Mainwaring. Legh escaped dressed as a common soldier but lost several of his men. A large number of Parliamentary supporters from the Manchester area then gathered at Macclesfield. Lord Cholmondeley and other Royalist commanders took refuge in Chester. Colonel Mainwaring took the opportunity to attack Legh's home at Adlington and seize arms for 120 men and then proceeded to Wrynehill Hall, on the Cheshire Staffordshire border, where he captured more equipment before proceeding to Nantwich on 16 December. A large force of Parliamentary troops gathered in Nantwich.
At this point the Royal Commission for Array, i.e. the Royalist commanders charged with raising forces for the King comprised John, Viscount Savage (Earl Rivers), Lord Cholmondeley, Thomas Savage, and Robert Needham (Viscount Kilmorrey) of Shavington Park in Shropshire. They had gathered their forces in Chester. They sent word to Nantwich that they wished to have a conference. It was commonplace at this period that most of the fighting was done in the summer and early autumn because of weather conditions and the problems of transport on muddy roads so by December 1642 the campaign season was over. A meeting was arranged on 23 December at Bunbury between Henry Mainwaring and Mr. Marbury of Marbury Hall for Parliament and Lord Kilmorey and Orlando Bridgeman for the Royalists. The latter was the son of the Bishop of Chester.
These four agreed The Peace of Bunbury under which fighting would cease in Cheshire. They would combine to escort any forces from elsewhere out of the county and would not let other forces pass through the county. All prisoners were to be released and fortifications removed at Chester, Nantwich, Stockport, Knutsford and Northwich. Material taken during the conflict was to be returned to its owners and losses were to be compensated by a levy on both sides. Both sets of commissioners agreed not to raise further troops, to seek the permission of their national commanders for their actions and to urge peace on them.
The action of these men was understandable in that they had common interests in the welfare of the county but the peace did not last long. Chester was important to the Royalist because of its strategic position; it was the gateway to North Wales and also a port where troops from Ireland could be landed. Sir William Brereton of Handforth Hall, one of the leading Parliamentarians in Cheshire was in London and was not pleased by the news of the peace treaty. He was sent north by Parliament on 9 January 1642/43 to take control of the Parliamentary forces in Cheshire. (Note that at this period the old Julian Calendar was in use so the 1643 did not begin until 25 March.) Colonel George Booth, of Dunham Massey, another leading Parliamentarian and commissioner of the Cheshire Militia was also sent from London.
Sir William Brereton despatched an advance party of dragoons to Nantwich, and they arrived early on Saturday 28 January 1642/43. They were under the command of Captain Broomhall. The Nantwich garrison repulsed an attack by Royalists under Colonel Ashton later that day. Ashton then set out to ambush Sir William Brereton and his main force at Cheerbrooke near Willaston. Sir William was warned in advance and although he was outnumbered attacked and dispersed the Shropshire dragoons under Sir Vincent Corbett. After this first charge, Brereton found himself fighting at close quarters but routed the Royalist and relieved Nanthwich. This action came to be known at the First Battle of Nantwich. Breretons men captured about a hundred prisoners including Captain Cholmondeley, the illegitimate son of Lord Choldmondley, and Captain Bridgeman. In addition they seized sixty horse, arms and money. In the following days further Parliamentary commanders gathered at Nantwich including Colonel Mainwaring, Captain Dukinfield, Captain Robert Hyde of Hyde, and Captain Marbury.
Civil War in Cheshire; The King's Divided Palatine, by D. J. Brownsword-Hulland, published by Guildmaster Books, Welsh Row, Nantwich, 1994.
Note that in this book there is a lack of clarity as to which of the Mainwarings of Kermincham are being discussed. On page 49 we read of Colonel Edward Mainwaring's home at Kermincham being the subject of a possible Royalist attack. In the next paragraph we are told that Colonel Thomas Mainwaring had frightened off Lord Derby and then that Mr. Henry Mainwaring represented the Parliamentarians at the Peace of Bunbury negotiations. On page 38, one of the Parliamentary Commissioners for the Militia is named as William Mainwaring of Kermincham such that four apparently distinct Mainwarings of Kermincham are mentioned as Parliamentarians. As shown in the Mainwaring family trees, Henry Mainwaring of Kermincham, born about 1607, succeeded his father, also Henry, in 1637. None of his brothers was called Edward, Thomas or William. Henry had a son called Edward who became a minister at Wybunbury. According to Ormerod, volume iii, page 79, it was Colonel Henry Mainwaring of Kermincham who was the distinguished Parliamentary leader who defended Macclesfield against Colonel Legh of Adlington. There was at this period a Thomas Mainwaring of Peover and there were also Mainwaring families in Nantwich.