St Chad’s Church has watched over Poulton town centre and the Market Square for over 900 years. It occupies a lovely spot, surrounded by the church yard and gardens.
Even though it’s sited in the middle of the hustle and bustle against the market square and the bus stops and whether you’re religious or not, there’s a feeling of peace and calmness in the churchyard. Once you go into the gardens surrounding the church a sense of calm seems to exist, which is welcome in this busy world. Sit there in the sunshine and enjoy an ice cream or two minutes of relaxation.
Of course the church is also open for quiet prayer and reflection, apart from times when services are carried out. St Chad’s has groups for children including Brownies and Guides, along with Mothers Union and Ladies Fellowship and more. Pop in and find out more.
Hidden in the greenery, between the footpaths and in some places forming the route that you tread, are the dozens of old memorial gravestones.
It’s fascinating to read how old they are, what people in days gone by did for a living, and what they died of – it seems so remote to this day and age. As you use the footpath through the gardens as a shortcut from one side of town to the other, just pause to have a look. Some of them are very old – like the next one from 1806.
Crocus Time at St Chad’s
The church grounds are famous for the display of crocus – they herald the arrival of Spring each year.
Depending on the weather, February into March is a good time to see this amazing display. A carpet of purple coats the ground from the Market Place to Chapel Street.
The gardens are a beautiful centrepiece to a town that prides itself on its floral achievements. All through the year there are changing views, as first the spring bulbs flower, then the trees come into leaf. Then summer plants carry on the show.
History of St Chad’s Church
The history of the Poulton area dates back hundreds of years. The earliest reference to a church is from 1094, so it’s likely that there was an Anglo Saxon church here. St Chad was a 7th century founder and first Bishop of Lichfield.
In 1751, the existing medieval church was rebuilt to form the mid 18th century church that still stands there now, including the still sturdy tower that dates back to Charles I. During the 1751 restructure, the outer walls were faced with grey stone to modernise the look of it.
There’s evidence of history all over the church. The panelled pulpit is Jacobean and dates from the early 18th century.
At the back of the church is a carved wooden pew screen and a small door dating from the 17th century. They were originally part of the pews of the Fleetwoods and Rigbys. At the time of the Reformation in 1538 the Fleetwood family were patrons of the church.
Evidence of the Past
Set in the south wall is the door to the Fleetwood Hesketh family vault where around 30 members are buried. The first one was Richard Fleetwood in 1699. His name and date are carved into the stone above the outside door.
Behind the choir stalls, fixed to the wall, are 17th century grave memorial plates. There are more in the choir vestry. They refer to the then Vicar, Peter White of 1622, and churchwardens of 1638.
The windows are mostly plain glass dating from 1908, but the stained glass windows are worth a second look. They date from the late 19th and 20th centuries. The one lighting the Georgian staircase shows the bread and wine of the Holy Communion. This window was originally behind the high altar when the church was rectangular.
Dating back in time
- The chandelier above the altar was specially made for St Chad’s in 1710.
- The apse, the present semi circular eastern end, was added in 1868.
- Until 1883 an assortment of box pews existed throughout the church, each with their own brass name plate. A few still remain upstairs.
The graveyard which surrounds the church is full of fascinating and age old memorial stones. Some of them are almost worn smooth, after years of being exposed to the weather and passing footsteps. For example, the one above, dated from 1806, is over 200 years old.
There’s much more detailed history about this fascinating building in an official guide book. You can find it on sale in the church.
While you’re here…
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