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Site of St John's Church and surrounding burial ground, 400m north west of Booths Mere

A Scheduled Monument in Knutsford, Cheshire East

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.3056 / 53°18'20"N

Longitude: -2.3532 / 2°21'11"W

OS Eastings: 376558.087743

OS Northings: 378792.815013

OS Grid: SJ765787

Mapcode National: GBR DZ06.BR

Mapcode Global: WH997.T5LQ

Entry Name: Site of St John's Church and surrounding burial ground, 400m NW of Booths Mere

Scheduled Date: 9 April 1981

Last Amended: 22 March 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014378

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25728

County: Cheshire East

Civil Parish: Knutsford

Built-Up Area: Knutsford

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cheshire

Church of England Parish: Knutsford St Cross

Church of England Diocese: Chester

Details

The monument includes the remains of a church and an enclosure surrounded by a
slight bank and ditch which was the churchyard and burial ground of St John's
Church in Knutsford. This was a parochial chapel, the equivalent of a parish
church, formerly attached to the church at Rostherne. The churchyard is
situated on a plateau close to Booths Mere and overlooks a slight valley known
as St John's Wood. The enclosure is ovoid in shape but irregular. It measures
70m by 50m with its long axis lying east-west. The bank of the enclosure is
only 1.5m wide and reduced to 0.4m high. The ground inside has not been built
up by burials as has happened in churchyards that have a long history of
interments within. Outside is a shallow ditch, now only 0.4m deep and 3m
wide, visible on the north west and south sides. On the east side a trackway
has obscured the ditch.
In the south west quadrant the outline of the former church is marked by
modern concrete slabs laid in the turf. Inside this is a paved area formed
from the grave slabs formerly in the burial area of the churchyard. The
dimensions of the church so defined are 12m by 8m orientated east-west, with a
small projection attached to the south west side measuring 5m by 5m which may
have been a porch. On the east side is a separate building measuring 6m by 3m
which has been interpreted as a chapel. Unusually, the main part of the burial
ground lies in the northern half of the yard. The northern side of a medieval
churchyard was usually reserved for the unbaptised.
The dates of the tombstones range from the early 17th century to the mid-18th
century. This bears out the date of the abandonment of the chapel which
occurred when the new parish church was completed in 1748. The church is said
to have been dedicated to St Helena in the 14th century. It is unclear when it
gained its present dedication to St John.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A parish church is a building, usually of roughly rectangular outline and
containing a range of furnishings and fittings appropriate to its use for
Christian worship by a secular community, whose members gather in it on
Sundays and on the occasion of religious festivals. Children are initiated
into the Christian religion at the church's font and the dead are buried in
its churchyard. Parish churches were designed for congregational worship and
are generally divided into two main parts: the nave, which provides
accommodation for the laity, and the chancel, which is the main domain of the
priest and contains the principal altar. Either or both parts are sometimes
provided with aisles, giving additional accommodation or spaces for additional
altars. Most parish churches also possess towers, generally at the west
end, but central towers at the crossing of nave and chancel are not uncommon
and some churches have a free-standing or irregularly sited tower. Many parish
churches also possess transepts at the crossing of chancel and nave, and south
or north porches are also common. The main periods of parish church foundation
were in the 10th to 11th and 19th centuries. Most medieval churches were
rebuilt and modified on a number of occasions and hence the visible fabric of
the church will be of several different dates, with in some cases little
fabric of the first church being still easily visible.
Parish churches are found throughout England. Their distribution reflects the
density of population at the time they were founded. In regions of dispersed
settlement parishes were often large and churches less numerous. The densest
clusters of parish churches were found in thriving medieval towns. A survey of
1625 reported the existence of nearly 9000 parish churches in England. New
churches built in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries increased numbers to
around 18,000 of which 17,000 remain in ecclesiastical use. Parish churches
have always been major features of the landscape and a major focus of life for
their parishioners. They provide important insights into medieval and later
population levels or economic cycles, religious activity, artistic endeavour
and technical achievement. A significant number of surviving examples are
identified to be nationally important.

The enclosed churchyard and burial ground at St John's church site is well
preserved in a recreation ground. The remains of the church under the turf are
outlined by a kerb of concrete slabs. The foundations of the church and the
former chapel of St Helena will be preserved under the ground. The burial
ground will contain evidence of a whole local population from the late
medieval period to the 18th century. The shape of the churchyard and the
former dedication to St Helena suggest that the remains may be of greater
antiquity.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Richards, R, Old Cheshire Churches, (1947), 195

Source: Historic England

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