St Michael and All Angels, Middlewich, Cheshire
- Site Location
- National Grid Reference
- SJ 704 663
Lichfield to 1075
Chester to c.1086
Coventry and Lichfield to 1541
now: Chester from 1541
now (or name of monument): St Michael and All Angels
- Type of building/monument
- Parish church
II General Description
St Michael's is a large church, mainly Perpendicular, with a W tower of c.1500 over the end of the N nave aisle, and an aisled, clerestoreyed nave of four Perpendicular bays with a fifth narrow bay of late 12thc. date at the E end of each arcade. The aisles continue alongside the chancel, providing an organ loft and vestry on the N side, and a spacious chapel on the S. The chancel aisles are divided from the main vessel by two-bay arcades, that on the N of the 13thc. The S aisle is canted at the E and W ends. The exterior is faced with red sandstone, but its appearance owes much to the intrusive restoration of 1857-60 by Joseph Clarke. 12thc. work is found in the narrow E bays of the nave arcades and a loose chevron voussoir.
IV Interior Features
(i) N arcade
, E bay and pier 1 only, pointed. The low, narrow E bay of the arcade has an arch, which is double-stepped to N and S, carried on a round pier (pier 1) and half-round respond. The capitals of both pier and respond are octagonal in plan with multi-flat leaf decoration, the junctions between leaves drilled like waterleaf. Neckings are plain rolls and imposts plain chamfered. The E respond base is a plain, semi-octagonal inverted bell with a roll necking. Pier 1 has a base of the same form but decorated with many narrow fluted lobes with scalloped edges, each with a row of nailhead along the spine.
(ii) S arcade
E bay and pier 1 only, pointed. The arch and pier forms are as (i) above. The E respond capital is semi- octagonal in plan and carved with broad flat leaves, each ending in a ball-shaped volute. Overlapping the junction between each pair of broad leaves is a narrow flat leaf terminating in a small projecting volute. The impost is chamfered and the necking a plain roll. Pier 1 has a capital similar to those of the N arcade, but the flat leaves are decorated with spinal rows of beading, and the tip of another leaf appears to project between each pair of leaves. Imposts and neckings as before. The E respond base is a replacement of water-holding type, probably 19thc. and round in plan. The base of pier 1 is largely original, being octagonal in plan and decorated with broad flat leaves with ball-shaped volutes at their tips, with the pointed tip of another leaf appearing between each pair. Many of the volutes have been knocked off, and there is considerable 19thc. retooling.
VI Loose Sculpture
(i) Voussoir or jamb-stone
Centrifugal chevron voussoir or jamb-stone of red sandstone (seen at E end of N nave arcade lying on the floor)This large stone has six rows of lateral chevron beginning with a hollow on the soffit and a roll on the curved arris between face and soffit, and continuing on the face with roll, hollow, roll, roll profiles, quirked between each profile.
|length of block||0.405 m|
|w. at intrados||0.21 m|
|w. at extrados||0.21 m|
Middlewich is one of Britain's chief salt-producing towns and has been so since Roman times, when it was called 'Salinae'. The town lay on a major Roman road from the Mersey at Warrington to Derby. In 1086 it was the centre of a hundred, and the salt workings were shared between the king and Earl Hugh.
Benefice of Middlewich with Byley
The curious arrangement of the nave arcades should be compared with that at Frodsham, which also has a narrow E bay. At Frodsham, however, it is the main arcade that is 12thc. while the narrow bay is later. Here at Middlewich it appears that the narrow bay has been constructed from earlier elements during a late-medieval remodelling. It seems likely that the elaborate bases were originally capitals in a 12thc. arcade.
- N. Pevsner and E. Hubbard, The Buildings of England. Cheshire. Harmondsworth 1971 (repr. 1978), 279-80.
- R. Richards, Old Cheshire Churches. London 1947, 234-37.