Ancient Monuments

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Site of the church of St Chad

A Scheduled Monument in Wybunbury, Cheshire East

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Latitude: 53.0453 / 53°2'42"N

Longitude: -2.4486 / 2°26'54"W

OS Eastings: 370020.90385

OS Northings: 349869.732855

OS Grid: SJ700498

Mapcode National: GBR 7W.D5QX

Mapcode Global: WH9BC.CQ79

Entry Name: Site of the church of St Chad

Scheduled Date: 14 December 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017060

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32564

County: Cheshire East

Civil Parish: Wybunbury

Built-Up Area: Wybunbury

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cheshire

Church of England Parish: Wybunbury St Chad

Church of England Diocese: Chester


The monument includes the footprint of the partly demolished church of St Chad
at Wybunbury. The nave and chancel of the church which used to stand on the
site were pulled down in 1976 because the foundations could not be stabilised
and the structure was becoming dangerous. The tower is still standing after
extensive engineering works to underpin the structure. This work has destroyed
any archaeological value of the ground beneath, and consequently the tower is
totally excluded from the scheduling.
The dedication of the church to St Chad, who was Bishop of the Mercians in AD
669, suggests that the church may have been important during the latter years
of the Kingdom of Mercia. The Domesday survey records the settlement of
Wybunbury as having a priest. From the 17th until the early 19th century the
parish included 18 townships, suggesting that the church had been an important
minster church (mother church) during the medieval period. The church tower
dates to the 15th century, although fragments of a 12th century building were
found near the tower during excavations in 1893.
The church was partly demolished and rebuilt in 1593 and again in 1760,
leaving only the tower. The chancel was demolished and rebuilt in 1792, 1833
and 1893. The restoration of 1893 incorporated the chancel into the existing
nave, leaving the area of the former chancel to become a burial ground which
is still in use as a memorial garden and as a place for cremation interments.
The scheduling includes the platform of the former nave of 1760, which is
considered to include below ground remains of earlier structures. This
platform measures 26m from east to west and 20m from north to south. On the
northern side of this area there are the remains of six buttresses which
project into the path made of former gravestones which runs beside the visible
stone foundations to the memorial garden at the eastern end.
The surface of the path to the north of the site, and the paths, memorials and
gravestones which are part of the memorial garden to the east are excluded
from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.
The church tower is totally excluded from the scheduling.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 1 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 remains of the parish church of St Chad form an important survival of
archaeological evidence for the succession of churches which have been built
on this site. Below ground features will include both building foundations
and burials which will provide insight into the methods of construction used
in different periods as well as the evidence for diet, disease and genetic
characteristics of the buried population inside the churches.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Preservation Trust, , Wybunbury Tower

Source: Historic England

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