NANTWICH, ST. MARY'S

Part a: Architecture. 
Part b: Furnishings & Monuments

Grid Ref: SJ 652 523
29 Sept 2001, 28 Aug 2002 & 9 July 2005

 

Ceiling spacer sedilia
Ceiling of the crossing   Triple Sedilia
Tapestry   font
Jubilee Hanging at West End   Font near entrance
Choir canopy   pulpit
Detail of choir canopy   Pulpit of 1601
misericord   minshull brass
Misericord   Minshull brass
bread chest   knight effigy
Bread Chest   Tomb of Sir David Craddock
Sir Thomas Smith   Detail of tomb
Tomb of Sir Thomas Smith   Detail of effigies

 

The sedilia and piscina have ogee arches in the Decorated style. There are two pulpits, a stone one in the crossing and the wooden one made by Thomas Finch in 1601, which is at the front of the nave. It was badly damaged by a fallng beam in 1683 and altered to its present shape in the restoration of 1855.

The choir stalls have magnificent carved wooden canopies made in about 1390. They are said to be made of oak grown at Vale Royal. The canopies are very dark and hard to photograph without additional lighting but I show a detail of the canopy taken with flash. Twenty seats have carved misericord. One shows the face of one of the ministers carved on the bottom of a fowl, said to have inspired the expression "the parson's nose". Other scenes depicted are a woman beating her husband with a ladle, Samson and the Lion, a devil pulling open a nun's mouth, Virgin and Unicorn, skinning a stag, a pelican, St. George and the Dragon, a mermaid and wrestlers. The one shown here is a fox pretending to be dead to attract birds. The figure on the right is a fox with a bow and arrows and the one on the left is a fox in a dress holding two dead fowl. A complete list of figures on the seats and their supporters at left and right is given in Raymond Richard's book.

In the south transept there is a badly damaged alabaster effigy of Sir David Craddock (c1342-1390) lying on top of a 20th century copy of the original tomb. Sir David survived the Black Death and must have seen much of the church built in his lifetime. He was a local landowner and also exported sheep and imported wine from Bordeaux. The effigy was damaged in the Civil War and buried but was found during the restoration work of 1855 and placed in the cellar of the treasury. Later it was rescued and replaced in the south transept. Also in the south transept is a monument commemorating Sir Thomas Smith, which has a plaque reading:

Here lieth Sr: Thomas Smith of Hough, Kt: & Dame Anne his wife, daught to Sr: William Brereton of Brereton, Kt: who had issue one sonn & one daugt. Wch: Sr: Thomas died the 21 of December 1614, whose ladie in remembrance gave him this monument.

The Minshull Brass, dated 1637 commemorates Richard Minshull (1582-1637) a local textile dealer who at the early age of 17 was a captain in the army of the Earl of Essex, sent to subdue an Irish rebellion in 1599.

The earliest parish registers are from 1539 but these are only fragments; there is an unbroken set of records from 1572. Raymond Richards lists the incumbents of Nantwich from Reginald Stevenson in 1533.

Sources

Old Cheshire Churches, with a supplementary survey of the lesser old chapels of Cheshire, completely revised and enlarged by Raymond Richards, first published in 1947 and reprinted by E. J. Morten, Didsbury, 1973.
The Buildings of England, Cheshire, by Nikolaus Pevsner and Edward Hubbard, Yale University Press, 2003, ISBN 0 300 09588 0

Nantwich: Page 2, Holy Holiday
Nantwith: Page 3, Town Centre

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Cheshire Antiquities
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