St Mary's Church, Eccleston
|St Mary's Church, Eccleston|
St Mary's Church, Eccleston, from the south
|OS grid reference||SJ 412 626|
|Website||St Mary, Eccleston|
|Heritage designation||Grade I|
|Designated||1 June 1967|
|Architect(s)||G. F. Bodley|
|Parish||Eccleston and Pulford|
|Rector||Revd Ian M. Thomas|
St Mary's Church is in the village of Eccleston, Cheshire, England, on the estate of the Duke of Westminster south of Chester. The church is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade I listed building. It is an active Anglican parish church in the diocese of Chester, the archdeaconry of Chester and the deanery of Chester. Its benefice is combined with that of St Mary, Pulford. The Dukes of Westminster are buried in the church grounds.
There was a medieval church on the site which was entirely rebuilt in 1809 by William Porden for Earl Grosvenor. A chancel was added in 1853. This was replaced by the present church in 1899, designed by G. F. Bodley for the 1st Duke of Westminster at a cost of £40,000 (£3.93 million today).
The church is built in red ashlar sandstone. Its plan consists of a west tower, a continuous six-bay nave, a chancel with a clerestory, north and south aisles, and north and south porches. A long vestry block projects to the north. The tower has long bell-openings, irregular buttresses and an embattled top. Canopied niches above the south door contain statues. The church is considered to be an example of Bodley's mature style anticipating features of Liverpool Cathedral.
The authors of the Buildings of England series are impressed by the furnishings of the church, in particular the reredoses by Farmer and Brindley, the chancel screens, the organ case and the bench ends. All the stained glass is by Burlison and Grylls. The font is made from Thessaly marble, and has a lifting oak cover decorated with the carvings of eight saints. In the baptistry is part of a memorial to the Grosvenor family dated 1624 that has been moved from the old church. The east end of the south aisle is occupied by the Grosvenor Chapel. Above its altar are the carved figures of Jesus, Saint Augustine and Saint Paulinus. In the church is a monument to the memory of the 1st Duke of Westminster dated 1901, which consists of a tomb-chest and canopy designed by Bodley with an effigy by Farmer and Brindley, sculpted by Léon-Joseph Chavalliaud. Opposite on the south wall is a bronze bust to the 2nd Duke. Elsewhere in the church are memorials to the 4th Duke, and to Captain Hugh William Grosvenor, who was killed in the First World War. The organ was built in 1899 by Gray & Davison. It was modified around 1910 by Henry Poyser and further modified in 1984. There is a ring of eight bells which were cast by John Taylor & Co in 1899.
The churchyard has an avenue of lime trees. The gates date from the early 18th century. They were made by the Davies Bros., and were originally at Emral Hall, Flintshire. In the northeast part of the old churchyard is a fragment of Porden's former church on the site which was retained as a "picturesque feature". This consists of a sandstone wall with the lower parts of two windows measuring about 60 feet (18 m) long by 18 feet (5 m) high. It is designated as a Grade II listed building. Also listed at Grade II are the walls and gates between the old churchyard and Old Church Lane.
The churchyard contains ten CWGC registered war graves, seven from World War I and three from World War II, and besides the grave of the Boer War Victoria Cross recipient, Farrier Sergeant Alfred Ernest Ind (died 1916).
Persons buried here
- Sir Richard Grosvenor, 1st Baronet
- Sir Thomas Grosvenor, 3rd Baronet
- Richard Grosvenor, 1st Earl Grosvenor
- Robert Grosvenor, 1st Marquess of Westminster
- Richard Grosvenor, 2nd Marquess of Westminster
- Hugh Grosvenor, 1st Duke of Westminster
- Alfred Ernest Ind
- Grade I listed buildings in Cheshire West and Chester
- Grade I listed churches in Cheshire
- Listed buildings in Eccleston, Cheshire
- Historic England, "Church of St Mary, Eccleston (1138410)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 13 May 2012
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- Historic England, "Remains of former Church of St Mary, Eccleston (1138376)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 13 May 2012
- Historic England, "Walls and gates between Old Church Lane and the old churchyard, Eccleston (1138375)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 13 May 2012
- Eccleston (St Mary) Churchyard, Chester, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, retrieved 14 September 2012
- Grave location for the holders of the Victoria Cross in the County of Cheshire, retrieved 14 September 2012