Saturday, 2 February 2008

Interesting Cheshire Churches Part II

Lych Gate and Church.

Timber framing from 1645.

Chancel, altar, pulpit and reading desk.

The other day, finding myself in the very far Eastern reaches of the County, I went over the toll bridge to Warburton, which although now is in Manchester by about 300 yards, used to be in Cheshire. Therefore it is that I present Old St Werburghs as part two of this occasional series. The Church is first named in the foundation charter of the Priory of St Werburgh in 1187 where it is named as a Chapel of Ease belonging to the Norbertine Canons, who have had a chequered history in Manchester ever since and seem to be on the move once more. Maybe they could rescue this old Church and restore it for use once more!

There is intermittant mention until 1278 when Robert the rector of Eccles is mentioned in a territorial dispute with John the Rector of Lymm over who had the rights to the Chapel. By the mid 17th Century, the disputes still were unsolved, with the Chapel used on alternate Sundays for alternate sides of the Parish! In 1645 the Church was reordered extensively and in 1748 the lean to on the North Transept was added. 1711 saw the addition of the tower, 1813 the extension of the vestry and in 1868 it became a separate Parish, finally, which sadly led to it's demise as a new Church was built nearby soon after! It is only thanks to the dedication of Fr G Egerton-Warburton in the 1880s and 90s that the building survives at all. It is now in good repair and is one of only a handful of timber framed churches from this period left in the country which escaped the heavy modernising hand of the Victorians.

It is now locked and generally not used, although I note there was a Choral Mass last year. The key is obtainable from a local house at reasonable hours if you want to visit. I had hoped to arrange a service of Choral Evensong and Benediction there last Advent, but events and the great coldness of the building conspired against me. Maybe this year, but in the meantime I have secured Bolton Priory near Skipton for a High Mass on the 30th of August. More information closer to the time.