MARTON

Grid Ref. SJ 850 680
3 & 18 June 2005

 

Timber Church spacer Tower
The half-timbered church of St. James and St. Paul   The Tower
Window   Wall painting
Windows on the south side   Wall painting above the nave door
Effigy   Effigy
Effigy at south west corner of the bell tower   Effigy at north west corner of the bell tower
Cottage   Davenport Arms
Half-timbered cottage in the village   The Davenport Family Arms on an estate house

 

The church of St. James and St. Paul, was founded as a chantry chapel and endowed in 1343 by Sir John de Davenport and his son Vivian.  In 1370, Sir John gave a further 60 acres of land and farm buildings to provide income for a priest. The effigies inside the belfry may be those of John and Vivian de Davenport. Both figures have their heads resting on the Davenport crest which has the felon's head indicating their status as Serjeants of Macclesfield Forest. (See also Bromley Davenport) The Serjeants had extensive powers to prevent poaching including the right to impose capital punishment.

In 1547, the Chantries Act dissolved chantry chapels and the proceeds were taken by Edward VI.  Later the land and chapel were recovered by the Davenport family. The nave is the oldest part of the current church. The belfry was built separately, about 1540, and has a shingle roof. Originally there were four bells but now there are three, the oldest inscribed "God Save the Queen and Realme 1598". A gallery at the west end of the nave and a dormer window on the south of the nave were removed in 1804. The current entrance at the west end under the bell tower was made at the time of restoration work in 1871. Extensive restoration took place in 1930-31 with renewal of many of the wall panels, some rafters and the shingles on the belfry.

My picture shows the remains of a wall painting above the entrance to the nave. This was discovered during the 1930 restoration work. Also on the west wall are paintings by Edward Penney showing Moses and Aaron holding the Ten Commandments. The parish registers commence in 1563. The pulpit dates from 1620.

For additional information on the Davenport family see the Capesthorne page. Until recent years the symbol of the felon's head with a noose was also to be found on the Davenport Arms but I notice in 2015 that it has now been removed as it is probably regarded as inappropriate on a pub and restaurant.

I am grateful to Archie Miles, an expert on oak trees, for bringing to my attention the story of the Marton Oak, reputed at one time as the largest oak in England. The illustration below is taken from Earwaker's East Cheshire. In 1877 he mentions the tree standing in a farmyard being used for tethering a bull and as a pigstye. The circumference about four feet above the the base was said to be 43 feet. Twenty years earlier it had been reported to be 47 feet at three feet above the base. Writing initially in 1903, T. A. Coward in his Picturesque Cheshire, states:

"Down the lane by the inn is the Marton Oak, a forest veteran, shored up and crutched to prevent total dissolution.  Fifty years ago this venerable tree was healthier, and measured 14 feet in diameter three feet above the ground, and was 71 feet 10 inches in circumference.  Never a lofty tree, all its energies ran to width; it was only 30 feet high.  Though still very much alive it has suffered grievous internal decay, and in fact no longer has internals. Once there was only a small hollow in the trunk, and a few geese were housed in it; when this gaping wound grew it was converted into a shippon for a bull, and afterwards ploughs and farm implements were stored in the natural outhouse.  Now, it is open to all the storms of heaven, so that nothing can be kept within its bosom.  Poor old tree!.  It has seen many vicissitudes and has done its best to be useful, but its days are numbered and I doubt if the next generation will know the Marton Oak, which bears the reputation - one that is claimed, however, by many another tree - of being the largest oak in England."


Marton Oak
The Old Oak at Marton

 

Sources

Pamphlet available in the church for 20 pence in 2005.
East Cheshire Past and Present by J.P. Earwaker, London, 1877. (Available from the Family History Society of Cheshire on CD ROM.)
Picturesque Cheshire, by T. A. Coward, Sherrat and Hughes, Manchester, 1903, revised edition

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Cheshire Antiquities
© Craig Thornber, Cheshire, England, UK.  Main Site Address: http://www.thornber.net/

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