WRENBURY

Grid Ref: SJ 593 478
9 July 2005 & 14 August 2013

 

St. Margaret's spacer The Tower
St. Margaret's, Wrenbury   The Tower
 
West Gallery   Nave and Chancel Arch
Dog whipper's pew   Parish chest
Dog Whipper's Pew   Parish Chest
 
Clerestory & arcade   Floor tiles
 
Bier   Cast iron grave monument of Hassall family

 

St. Margaret's Wrenbury is a fine church with many interesting features to reward the visitor. There you can obtain a copy of a booklet published by Cheshire County Council as part of the Cheshire Churches series. It is from this that the following brief notes are taken. The current church dates from about 1500 and is made from the Cheshire sandstone typical of this part of the county which was quarried in the Bickerton hills. It was built on the site of a church dating from the 12th century, which was a daughter chapel of Acton. The Cistercian monks of Combermere Abbey were given Acton and its associated chapels in 1180. At the dissolution in 1542, the church became a chapelry of the parish of Acton. Part of the church was rebuilt in 1606, again in 1806 and was restored in 1865.

The West Gallery, built in 1791, probably as a replacement for an earlier one, at a cost 15 guineas (£15.75). The sandstone font dates from the end of the 16th century. The church is one of only nine in Cheshire to retain box pews; they were installed in 1608 and were originally four feet high. They were reduced in height in the 1930s. The Starkey pew was originally 5 feet 7in high. The pew doors added in the late 18th century carry the arms of the families who owned them, mainly the Starkeys and Cottons. This latter family acquired Combermere Abbey at the dissolution. Sir Stapleton Cotton became became the 1st Baron Combermere in 1814 and Viscount Combermere in 1827. He had a brilliant military career. In the Peninsula War, he won the Battle of Salamanca, and in India, the Battle of Bhurtpore. There is an equestrian statue of him in front of Chester Castle. There are two hatchments belonging to the Cotton family. One is for the first Viscount, who died in 1865 aged 92. The one for his son, the 2nd Viscount Combermere, who died in 1891, is seen in my photograph of the nave. The church has a fine three decker Georgian pulpit, an impressive iron bound parish chest, and the unusual dog whipper's pew. In the church yard, near the porch is a remarkable cast iron gravestones dating from the middle of the 19th century.

There are impressive monuments in the church to two local gentry families - the Starkeys of Wrenbury Hall and the Cottons of Combermere who were great rivals. In 1748 a dispute between the families was settled such that the Cotton family were allocated the south side and the Starkeys the north side of the chancel for their memorials and vaults.

 

 

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Cheshire Antiquities
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