St Thomas, Mellor, Cheshire
- Site Location
- National Grid Reference
- SJ 982 889
Cheshire, Derbyshire to 1936
Lichfield to 1075
;Chester to c.1086
;; Coventry and Lichfield to 1541
now: Derby since 1927
now (or name of monument): St Thomas
- Type of building/monument
- Originally chapel of ease, now parish church
II General Description
Mellor stands in the High Peak on the border with Derbyshire. Indeed it was in Derbyshire until 1936 when it was reassigned, along with neighbouring Ludworth, to Cheshire. Recent excavations have disclosed an Iron Age hill fort alongside the church. St Thomas's was formerly a chapel of ease to Glossop in Derbyshire, and remains in the Glossop Deanery of the Diocese of Derby. The church has a 15thc. W tower, but whatever was to the east of this was replaced from 1815 to 1830 with a simple aisleless nave and chancel of brick. Something similar took place at Church Lawton. The only Romanesque feature is the font, one of the most interesting in the county.
At the E end of the nave, on the S side. An almost cylindrical sandstone bowl, slightly tapered towards the bottom. The bowl has a broad lower rim and an angle roll at the top rim. It stands on a two-course cylindrical plinth with thick mortar beds. The surface is carved with an incised design of figures and animals. At the SE is a small naked man between two long confronted horse-like beasts, their heads turned back to bite tails which curve over their bodies. Raised pellets are carved under the chin of one beast, in the position of the genitals, and under the loop of the tail. This pair of beasts occupies some two-thirds of the carved surface of the bowl, and the remainder is taken up by a third beast; a horse trotting anticlockwise, ridden by a diminutive warrior in a helmet who holds the rein in his right hand. The bowl is lined with lead and has been fitted with a spigot. Traces of the removal of a lock remain on the upper rim.
|overall h.||1.12 m|
|h. of bowl||0.60 m|
|h. of carved field of bowl||0.47 m|
|external diam. at top||0.67 m|
|internal diam.||0.48 m|
Formerly chapel of ease to Glossop.
Mellor is not recorded by the Domesday Survey, and the church was apparently not noted before it appeared on a 1589 map of the parish. of Glossop.
A similar incised technique with large beasts appears on the fonts at Tissington and Thorpe (both Derbyshire), but Mellor's font is more adeptly and rhythmically carved. It is certainly an 11thc. piece, but whether pre- or post-Conquest is uncertain. Bond (1908) included Mellor in a list of fonts 'which have been credited with undue antiquity, owing to the rudeness or uncouthness of their ornament; but it by no means follows that what is archaic is always ancient.'
- F. Bond, Fonts and Font Covers. Oxford 1908, 139.
- A. Hearle, Mellor Church (Church Guide). Chapel-en-le-Frith 2000
- N. Pevsner and E. Hubbard, The Buildings of England. Cheshire. Harmondsworth 1971 (repr. 1978), 279.
- R. Richards, Old Cheshire Churches. London 1947, 232-34.