|Tower of old St. Chad's from the East||Tower from the South|
|The St. Chad's complete, probably taken in early 20th century|
|The Swan Inn|
Wybunbury (pronounced Wynbury) lies about 3 miles SE of Nantwich.
There is an information board near the tower from which we learn that Wybunbury is on the site of one of the earliest Saxon settlements in Cheshire and the name may come from Wibba, a ruler of Mercia in the period from 593 to 606 AD. Another theory is that it relates to the stronghold of a man named Wigboern. It there was a spring or well nearby, and this is a common feature of churches named St. Chad's, then it is likely that it would have been used long before the Mercians. By 1085, the Domesday Book recorded Wimbrie and mentions William who may have been William Malbedeng, or Malbank, the Baron of Nantwich. There was a Saxon church on the site but the current tower remains from a church built in the 15th century. The tower began to lean to one side because of subidence and an attempt was made to straighten it in 1832 by the builder, architect and engineer James Trubshaw (1777 – 1853). He was responsible the construction of the Grosvenor Bridge in Chester, Cheshire, then the longest stone span. In all five churches on the site have had to be demolished. Trubshaw achieved the straightening by drilling holes under the higher side and filling them with water allowing the tower to settle. Trubshaw demolished the old church in 1832 and rebuilt it but this too had to be demolished in 1892.
The final church built on the site was begun in 1892. About one third of the cost went into the construction of solid foundations. When Pevsner first published his volume on Cheshire in 1971, he was able to describe this church built by James Brooks although the chancel had been demolished; he caught it just in time. The five stage Perpendicular tower has on its west end five statues including two bishops.The lych gate serves also as a War Memorial. The picture showing the church complete, probably in the early 20th century, was taken from a photograph hanging in the Swan Inn.
By the 1970s it was evident that this church too was sinking. Drilling showed that beneath the sandy clay there was rock salt. The cost of undepinning the church was thought to be too great so the church was closed after Christmas in 1972 and demolished in 1977. A new church was on a different site in the village
The tower was also declared unsafe and closed to the public. In 1982 it was planned to demolish the tower but local people approached the Bishop of Chester to seek an alternative plan and in 1983 set up a Tower Preservation Trust. By this time the tower was 4 feet out of the vertical. It took six years to raise the funds but in 1989 the foundations were strenghthened with concrete rafts and 85 hydraulic jacks were used to straighten the 2000 ton tower. The entrance to the tower from the east has been secured with new stonework and a door. The Tower now belongs to the people of Wybunbury. The six bells are believed to date from 1791 and while I was there I heard the clock strike for noon.
Arthur Mee mentions that the medieval church would have been known to Sir John Delves, one of the local landowners, who fought at the Battle of Poitiers (1356). There was formerly a monument to him in the medieval church. However, in the Victorian church there was a brass depicting his heir, Ralph Delves. Another monument was to Sir Thomas Smith of the early 17th century. It had a huge marble arch on massive pillars with effigies of Sir Thomas in armour, his wife and two children. I wonder what became of them.
The Buildings of England: Cheshire, by Nikolaus Pevsner and Edward Hubbard, first edition 1971, Yale University Press edition in 2003.
The King's England, Cheshire, edited by Arthur Mee, published by Hodder and Stoughton, 1938, fourth impression 1950.
Information Board by the Tower.