SWETTENHAM

Grid Ref. SJ 800 671
12 May 2002 & 9 July 2005

 

St. Peter's spacer Church
St. Peter's from the south   View from the East
Bryce monument   Nave
Prestwich Family Monument   The nave looking westwards from the choir
Font   Saxon fragment
The 18th century font   Fragment of an ancient cross set high in the wall between
the nave and the south aisle
Ass head   Public House
Ass's head with coronet   Swettenham Arms

 

In addition to its church, Swettenham has the Swettenham arms, which has one of the biggest pub car parks in Cheshire and the arboretum, known as the Quinta, set up by Sir Bernard Lovell, the pioneering radio astronomer of nearby Jodrell Bank. The exterior shots above were taken at 8.30 am in early July under a cloudless sky. The photographs inside the church were taken in 2002.

The church is not mentioned in Pope Nicholas IV's taxation list of 1288 but is included in 1304, so it is assumed that the first church was built between these dates. The list of rectors begins with William de Swettenham in 1304.

Raymond Richard's wrote that there may have been a Norman chapel followed by a timber framed church built in the late 13th century. However, in the 18th century the timber church was beyond repair and in 1720 it was clad in brick. Richards describes this as a process without imagination or understanding. The timbered sides of the chancel were not lost in 1720 but subsequent repairs and restorations have removed all that ancient woodwork. Richard's describes the wooden supports of the chancel roof as among the most interesting features. The plaster ceiling of the nave dates from 1722. The pulpit, thought to be from the beginning of the 18th century was installed in 1722 but the stone base is thought to be from before the Reformation. The churchyard walls and gates date from 1761.

In 1846 there was restoration work in an attempt to recreate a Norman appearance. The wooden supports in the nave were replaced with stone columns with decorated capitals.

Over the north porch is an ass's head upon the coronet of a marquess. This is the crest of the Mainwaring family. One of the Mainwarings of Peover was in the crusades. His horse was shot so he mounted a donkey or ass. As a consequence the ass's head became part of the armorial bearings and the motto "Forward if I can" was adopted.

I am grateful to Peter Ferguson for additional information on the Prestwich family, who are commemorated on the plaque in the church.  The inscription is visible on my original full-sized photograph.  It reads: 'In loving memory of Henry Bryce Prestwich, his wife Joan and their daughters Elizabeth Ann  and Jane Caroline of Swettenham Hall, Swettenham, 19 August 1949 and their son Michael Bryce (Prestwich), 24 September 1959'.   The family were involved in an aeroplane crash on a flight from Belfast to Manchester.  The son, Michael, was one of eight survivors but died ten years later.

Sources:

Old Cheshire Churches, with a supplementary survey of the lesser old chapels of Cheshire, completely revised and enlarged by Raymond Richards, published by E. J. Morten, Didsbury, 1973, first published in 1947.
Notes in the church.

 

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

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