Monday, 12 May 2008

Interesting Cheshire Churches Part VI

A little way out of Wilmslow is the village of Dean Row, centered around the Unicorn pub and this Chapel, the Dean Row Chapel. It is a Unitarian Chapel and seemingly well to do, if the excellent state of repair and the new hall at the back are any indicators. This is a very well to do part of Cheshire, itself a very well to do county and this is traditionally the demographic in which unitarianism has flourished, being a cerebral, but accessible breed of Christianity. In fact, in my Guardian this morning there is a fascinating article ( ) about what can happen to Unitarian ministers with too much time on their hands, so this busyness is undoubtedly a good thing!

Dean Row Chapel is similar in design to the Nonconformist Chapels of the same period in Knutsford and Macclesfield although the latter is in stone rather than brick. It was build in 1693 and was originally a Presbyterian Chapel but became Unitarian. Access to the upper storey is from staircases on the outside of the building.

The War Memorial on the side of the Chapel reads, "To the Glory of God and in Memory of Robert (?) John Brandreth, Frank Brandreth, Arthur Blake Scott, Harry Williamson, Claude Swanwick Worthington, who counting not their lives dear unto themselves died for freedom and country in the Great War, 1914-1919. Beneath is a smaller plaque, "Also May Brandon, John Douglas Barber who gave their lives in the War 1939-1946"

A "resurrection" stone was placed on top of a grave to prevent grave robbers, or resurrection men as they were known, from stealing a body to sell to anatomists and medical students which is still visible. The practice came to an end after the Anatomy Act of 1832 which gave medical men a legitimate source of cadavers to dissect. This stone bears the inscription, "This stone was found in the grave when made for John Chorlton of Fulshaw Park Wilmslow, who died August 1880, was born Feb 2nd 1813". It seems likely that the stone had gradually sunk into the ground following a burial more than 50 years earlier.

The sundial bears a plaque with the following inscription: This 1871 sundial was restored in 1999 by contributions from chapel members to mark the 2000 Millennium. The three dials tell the time at differing periods of the day. The East dial for morning South for mid-day and West for evening. This is a charming Chapel, quite rare in it's being preserved so intact and the noble simplicity of the interior leds much to the overall effect of well-thought-out faith summed up in the motto of the Unitarian Church, 'A Free and Enquiring Mind'.