St. Michael's: The Savage Chapel and Savage Family

Grid Ref: SJ 918 737
24 January 2003

Effigy of John Savage   Effigies of John and Elizabeth Savage
John Savage the 7th, with his wife, Elizabeth, daughter
of the Earl of Worcester. He died in 1528.
  John & Elizabeth Savage: detail of the heads and hands
Effigy of a civilian   Savage Chapel
Effigy of a civilian, possibly William Legh, in which
the central section has not been completed
  View across the chapel towards the two effigies, taken
by natural light with a long exposure.
Savage Chapel   Tomb of John Savage
Right of the effigies is a chart of the ministers,
the Legh Pardon Brass, and the Breeches Bible
  The tomb of John Savage and Elizabeth Manners
Legh Pardon Brass   Tomb of John Savage
The Legh Pardon Brass. Roger Legh died 4 November
1506 and his wife Elizabeth died on 5 October 1489.
  Canopy of the tomb of John Savage with inscription in
Latin and the date of 1597


The Savage Chapel was built by Thomas Savage between 1502 and 1507. It was built as a chantry chapel. Thomas Savage became Archbishop of York and in this capacity was responsible for the marriage ceremony of Prince Arthur, eldest son of Henry VII, to Catherine of Aragon. Arthur died young and his brother Henry, who became Henry VIII, then married Catherine. The chapel is reached from the south aisle. The three storey porch has the shields of Rocester, London and York - the three places where Thomas Savage was a bishop before becoming an Archbishop. Note in the picture top left the small dog tugging at the folds of the dress of John Savage's wife. The tomb with the canopy at the bottom right and the effigies in the picture above it belong to John Savage who built Rock Savage near Runcorn, a house on which Brereton Hall was modelled. Elizabeth Manners, daughter of the Earl of Rutland, lies higher than her husband because of her more noble birth.

The Legh Chapel was built in 1422 for the burial of Piers Legh of Lyme. He fought at Agincourt in 1415 and died at the seige of Meaux. He and his father are commemorated by a brass plaque on the wall of the chapel, but it is difficult to photograph.

The East Window in the Savage Chapel was bought in memory of Francis Brocklehurst and created from the pattern book of Burne Jones.  Among the figures depicted are St. Chad and Eleanor of Castille.  Francis Brocklehurst was a banker from the silk weaving family; his bank was in King Edward Street near the Unitarian Chapel.  Francis Brocklehurst paid for the East Window in the Nave and the West Window in memory of Queen Victoria.  He gave Victoria Park to the town.

The Legh Pardon Brass and a Summary of Changes during the Reformation

The Legh Pardon Brass was made in 1506 to commemorate Roger Leigh and his wife. It is a survival from the period before the Reformation. It refers to the practice of buying indulgences. The idea of purgatory was created by Pope Gregory and the Council of Lyon in 1274. It was said to be a place where the soul awaited judgement. People hoped to reduce the length of time their souls spent in purgatory by endowing chantry chapels where priests would pray for them, or by buying indulgences. In 1505, Pope Julius II rebuilt St. Peter's by selling indulgences. The brass used to show Roger Legh, his wife Elizabeth, six sons and seven daughters. This is known from a drawing made by Randal Holmes, the Cheshire Historian, in 1660 but the right side of the brass has been lost. The pardon granted for saying five Paternosters, five Aves and a creed was 26 thousand years and 26 days. It is not related how much money changed hands or indeed how the authorities calculated the amount of pardon that corresponded to various prayers or payments. This practice was seen as one of the more corrupt elements of the church at the time of the Reformation. Martin Luther was a vehement opponent.

Although the Church of England broke away from the control of the Pope during the reign of Henry VIII, in terms of doctrine and practice it remained essentially the same. The real Reformation took place under Henry's son, King Edward VI, who reigned from 1547 to 1553. He was strongly influenced by Archbishop Cranmer, a proponent of reform. On 25 December 1547, Edward ordered the confiscation of the money and land bequeathed to support chantry chapels. Chantry priests were pensioned. In the same year Edward ordered that candlesticks, paintings, statues and holy water stoops should be removed from churches. The bones of saints, that were formerly held in reliquaries, had to be buried and stained glass was destroyed in many churches. The use of incense, worship of saints and statues, and prayers for the dead were abolished. In 1552, it was stated that purgatory did not exist. It was during this reign, in 1547, that churches were first required to have pulpits. The view of the King, expressed through the archbishop and bishops could be passed to the priests for communication to the populace. It was the introduction of the sermon that then led, in subsequent years, to the installation of pews. Before this the congregation stood in the nave except for a few, who could sit on a stone bench around the edge - hence the expression "the weakest to the wall". Hitherto the priest had remained in the chancel speaking only Latin while the largely illiterate congregation stood in the nave. With the introduction of the new prayer book and the translation of the bible into English, the congregation were in a position to follow what took place. Services were brought into the nave with the use of a reading desk for the priest. Cranmer's book of Common Prayer was introduced on 7 March 1549 with a revised version in 1552.

The doctrinal changes were reversed when Edward VI was succeeded by his half sister, Queen Mary (1553-1558) who was a Catholic. By this stage, many of the artefacts associated with the old religion had been lost. When Elizabeth I succeeded Mary, the country swung back to Protestantism. She reintroduced the Prayer Book of 1552 and confirmed Edward's reforms by issuing the "Thirty Nine Articles" in 1563. Rood lofts were small platforms above the rood screen. They were demolished by Puritan factions but Elizabeth allowed them to be moved to form West Galleries used by musicians. Hence the expression "turn to face the music".

During the Civil War, the Puritans were responsible for destroying what they saw as remaining items associated with Catholicism and during this period Cheshire lost most of what remained of its Norman fonts. In the 19th century, a number of the old practices were reintroduced by the supporters of the Gothic Revival in the Church of England. For example, a 19th century rood loft can be seen at Manchester Cathedral. Stained glass and candles are seen in most Anglican churches as illustrated on this web site but statues with candles burning in front of them and pictures are seen in only a few "High Church" establishments; they are uncommon in Cheshire.

The Savage Family

The Savage family tree is complicated by the fact that no less than nine in succession were called John. The following is taken from Ormerod's History of Cheshire, which draws on Sir Peter Leycesters work for the pedigree prior to about 1673. For the most part I concentrate in each generation on the heir but notes are included on their siblings where there is some historic interest or a connection with other Cheshire families mentioned on this site.

The tree starts with the first John Savage, who married Margaret Daniers or Daniell. She was daughter and heir of Sir Thomas Daniers of Bradley in Appleton, commonly called Daniel. Her mother's name was Isabel, daughter and heir of William Baggiley by Clemence his wife, daughter and coheir of Sir Roger Dutton of Chedhill in Cheshire, commonly styled Sir Roger de Chedhill, lord of Chedill and Clifton. This Margaret Daniell had all her mother's lands but her father's lands were settled on the male heirs of the Daniels, initially her father's younger brother John.



Ormerod comments as follows on the tangled situation that soon developed from the 12th generation shown above in which the Savage estate passed out of the blood line and into the Cholmondeley family.

Thomas Savage, 2nd Earl Rivers, had a son, Thomas Savage, Viscount Colchester, who died in his father's life-time and Richard a second son who succeeded to the title and estates. He left one daughter, Elizabeth who was the wife of James, Earl of Barrymore. On the death of Richard, 3rd Earl Rivers, without legitimate male heirs, the title went to his cousin, John Savage who was a Catholic priest and died without assuming the title. Under a settlement of 1711, made by Richard Earl Rivers, this John Savage had an interest in the estate for life but after his death descended to lady Penelope Barry, daughter of Elizabeth countess of Barrymore. She was married to James, the second surviving son of George Earl of Cholmondeley. She died without issue in 1786. Her estates then passed to her husband's great nephew, George James, Earl and later Marquis of Cholmondeley.

Archbishop Savage

Tableau showing Archbishop Thomas Savage in the sanctuary of St. Michael's


Ormerod's History of Cheshire
The King's England - Cheshire by Arthur Mee, published by Hodder and Stoughton in 1938, fourth impression 1950.
St. Michael's & All Angels, Macclesfield, text and research by Matthew Hyde, photography by Philip Banks, design by Taffy Davies, a new colour brochure on the church was published in June 2010.

Back to list of  families
Introduction to Cheshire Gentry

Macclesfield Page 1: Town Centre
Macclesfield Page 2: Town Centre
Macclesfield Page 3: Halls
Macclesfield Page 4: The Canal
Macclesfield Page 5: Christ Church
Macclesfield Page 6: St. Michael's, the Nave
Macclesfield Page 7: St. Michael's the Savage Chapel
Macclesfield Page 8: Nonconformist Chapels
Macclesfield Page 9: Some Macclesfield Mills

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